Nel's New Day

December 15, 2018

DDT: Week 99 – More Highlights

Biggest news today! Ryan Zinke resigned (was fired?) as Secretary of the Interior because the House may investigate multiple allegations of his violating ethics rules. Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, former lobbyist for fossil fuel industries who may be more evil than Zinke in policy-making, will temporarily assume leadership at the agency that oversees federal land, wildlife, and American Indian relations. Will someone still have to fly the agency flag when Bernhardt is in his office, and what will happen to all the commemorative coins with Zinke’s name?

In yesterday’s surprise, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) named Mick Mulvaney, Budget Director and controller of the gelded Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for his “acting” chief of staff. Mulvaney plans to keep his Budget gig as an escape hatch. Earlier, he indicated he wouldn’t take the position, preferring Treasury or Commerce. DDT may have promised Mulvaney the position he wants after he fires Mnuchin or Wilbur Ross, in trouble for the citizenship question on the 2020 census. A lawsuit against Ross goes to trial on January 7, 2019.

The chief-of-staff job opened after DDT fired John Kelly and Nick Ayers, DDT’s choice, fired DDT. Steve Mnuchin (Treasury) and Robert Lighthizer (Trade), said they liked their jobs, and Chris Christie turned down the gig. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), leader of the House Freedom Caucus, begged for it, but DDT turned him down. AG Matt Whitaker and son-in-law Jared Kushner were possibilities, but they might both be indicted soon. Part of Mulvaney’s new job includes coping with the Russian scandal, handling DDT’s instability, and getting Democrats in the House to do what DDT wants, but House Democrats don’t like the former far-right representative.

At Arlington Cemetery today, DDT praised the Texas judge who ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional—an excellent place to call no health care for people “a great victory.” Concern about health care among voters during the recent election led many GOP candidates to falsely state that they had always supported insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. Republicans will again be in trouble if a health care crisis reappears front and center.

Pandering to his base, DDT issued a directive to stop creating mice with human-like immune systems using human fetal tissue, an order that shuts down HIV research. The mice were ready to be shipped, but HHS called a halt to the delivery. More research can be destroyed if non-NIH labs receiving NIH funding are banned from using the fetal tissue. Scientists at UCLA have used these mice for 25 years; getting the directive immediately reverse still extends any discovery for at least a year.

Department of Energy plans to reclassify high-level radioactive waste residue from producing nuclear weapons to low-level, like hospital wipes and clothes, so that it can be more easily—and dangerously—distributed. Among affected facilities is Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state on the Oregon border, the most highly contaminated area half the size of Rhode Island. Public comment originally stopped on December 10, but Sen. Rn Wyden (D-OR) asked for an extension until January 9.

DDT’s new “Opportunity Zones” for “economically distressed” areas, created in the 2017 tax bill, benefits his own business and those of his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his New York developer friend Richard LeFrak. DDT’s planned developments in Greenville (MS) and New Jersey could be eligible for the tax break as could Kushner’s two Maryland properties. State governors can pick places such as downtown Charleston (SC) and West Palm Beach. Legislation lacks accountability by failure to require that investments benefit the community or collect and report data about investors, kinds of investments, and subjects impacted by the program.

When the government hired Accenture Federal Services $13.6 million to recruit border protection staffing, taxpayers gave the company $13.6 million for two accepted job offers with no records for any other applicants.

Texting, a common form of telecommunication, can now be blocked and censored because DDT’s FCC classified it as an “information service.” People who live in areas with a variety of wi-fi providers can switch to keep their texts from being blocked, but those with limited providers lack the same advantage.

DDT’s coalition with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Russia weakens a UN report on the disastrous climate change through their refusal to endorse the document. He also reaffirmed his removal of the United States from the Paris agreement to reduce fossil fuel emissions. At the G20 summit, only the U.S. refused to endorse a statement affirming the Paris climate accord, signing a document only after language about DDT’s decision to exit the Paris compact. Fifty-eight percent of people in the U.S. agree that human activity accelerates climate change.

VP Mike Pence may have been roundly ridiculed for being a silent bobblehead at DDT’s disastrous meeting with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), but he took time to cast a tie vote in the Senate that put Jonathan Kobes onto the 8th Circuit Court for a lifetime appointment—the first time any VP broke a tie to put a judge on a circuit court. The ABA gave Kobes a “not qualified” rating because he “has neither the requisite experience nor evidence of his ability to fulfill the scholarly writing required of a United States Circuit Court Judge.” Over 200 civil and human rights groups opposed Kobes because he opposes marriage equality and defended crisis pregnancy centers (fake women’s health care centers).

Other “not qualified” nominees to be confirmed are U.S. Circuit Judge Leonard Steven Grasz, “unable to separate his role as an advocate from that of a judge” because of his strong anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion views; U.S. District Judge Charles Goodwin, lacking the ability to fulfill the demands of a federal judge because of his frequent absence from the courthouse as a magistrate judge; and U.S. District Judge Holly Teeter, without trial court experience. DDT and the GOP have seated two Supreme Court justices, 30 circuit judges, and 53 district judges—most of them anti-LGBTQ rights, anti-voting rights, and anti-abortion.

Facing a government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has caved in to a possible vote on a criminal reform bill after DDT’s specifically demand. McConnell had avoided a vote on the bill because of “no” votes from the most conservative senators, according to Whip John Cornyn (R-TX). https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/421328-senate-heads-toward-floor-fight-on-criminal-justice-bill  The Senate may have to stay in session over Christmas instead departing this week as scheduled.

At least 14 DDT associates interacted with Russians during DDT’s campaign and presidential transition, Russians who seemed to take cues from DDT or coordinate with his requests. DDT continues to lie about the cost of Mueller’s investigation, falsely stating an estimate of $40 million instead of the actual $25 million. Ken Starr’s six-year investigation of Whitewater, leading to the president’s impeachment for lying under oath, cost over $70 million, but no one was indicted. During his 18 months’ investigation, Mueller indicted 34 people and three companies while garnering guilty pleas from seven of them including five ex-DDT aides. Mueller has paid for his investigation thus far with fines, penalties, and forfeited real estate properties.

In honor of DDT’s lying, WaPo has created the Bottomless Pinocchio, awarded to politicians who repeat a false claim so many times that they engage in campaigns of disinformation. The claim must receive at least three Pinocchios from the Fact Checker and be repeated at least 20 times. Only DDT, with at least 14 qualifying statements, has thus far achieved the Bottomless Pinocchio, for example: the U.S. spent $7 trillion in the Middle East (36 times); the U.S. pays most of NATO costs (87 times); Democrats colluded with Russia during the election (48 times); Robert Mueller has conflicts of interest (30 times); the U.S. economy is the best in U.S. history (99 times); a wall is necessary to stop drugs from crossing the border (40 times); U.S. steel is building new plants (37 times).

DDT’s lies trickle down to his agencies. After repeated DDT falsehoods about having started to build his wall, DHS announced that it has begun building a 30-foot “border wall,” higher than any ever built. NBC patiently explained “construction on a new section of border barrier has not yet begun and won’t this year.” The DHS is also the agency claiming that they aren’t separating migrant children from parents and that they have returned them. They also tried to conceal the death of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl from lack of care in their custody before blaming her father.

Last month, DDT told a reporter that he cannot imagine anyone else being Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.” He has always felt it to be an honor instead of “the man, woman, group or concept that has had the most influence on the world during the previous 12 months.” For 2018, Time picked “the Guardians,” journalists who have been persecuted throughout the world, including attacks by DDT, in an ongoing “war on truth.” Four separate covers honor these brave people, including Jamal Khashoggi, tortured and dismembered by Saudi Arabia royalty, and the staff of the Capital Gazette, where five of them were shot dead in their Maryland newsroom. Time has never before selected someone no longer alive for this honor. They did so because his influence grew because of his death. DDT has responded to Time with tweets displaying increased invective against the media.

A Fox poll shows that at this time 55 percent of respondents would definitely/probably vote against DDT. Only 38 percent could vote for him.

September 8, 2016

‘Special Treatment’ for Hillary Clinton

Last night’s precursor of the presidential debates shows the importance of a good moderator. Matt Lauer isn’t one. He started by grilling Hillary Clinton on her emails—taking up a full one-third of her time—that he could have used for issues such as military strategy, leadership goals, policy positions, etc. When he finally got around to the subject of the townhall—national security and veterans issues—he hurried her through her answers by interrupting her, something he didn’t do once to Trump. She was limited in discussing policy while Trump was permitted to lie without confrontation and then spend much of his time in generalities such as defining his qualifications to be commander-in-chief as having “good judgment” and “common sense.” MSNBC should be embarrassed about this debacle; it felt much like a performance on the Fox network.

Trump’s major position in protecting the country is that it has bad generals, “reduced to rubble” to be specific. Trump’s plan to defeat ISIS: he already has a plan. But then he said he’ll tell his top generals to create a plan. Which is it? And he’ll do it in 30 days. George W. Bush said “Mission Accomplished” 40 days after he invaded Iraq, and the U.S. is still in a quagmire there. Trump is also under the misguided impression that he can change all the generals to those who agree with him, but he doesn’t appoint them. He may nominate them, but the Senate has to approve his appointments.

Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is better than Obama, Trump said, because Putin’s approval ratings are higher. Throughout the townhall Trump had nothing bad to say about Putin and nothing good to say about the U.S. president. Lauer also failed to point out that dictators typically have high approval ratings.

Trump claims that he’s studying policy but excuses himself from knowing anything by saying, “I’m campaigning, I’m running a business, I’ve got a lot of hats right now.” Trump doesn’t want to remove women from the military, but he blames the high number of sexual assaults in the military on the fact that men and women are serving again. Trump is unaware that 53 percent of these assaults in 2012 were of men and almost entirely by men. Over half the assaults in 2015 were still of men. Lauer appeared totally unaware of this information.

Lauer’s introductory question to Trump was what he had done to be commander-in-chief. He answered, “Well, I’ve built a great company. I’ve been all over the world.” Then he proceeded to lie about opposing the Iraq War from the beginning and the U.S. intervention in Libya that overturned late dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Lauer failed to point out that Trump initially supported the Iraq War and called on the U.S. to intervene—leaving the audience with the idea that Trump was being truthful. By the finish, Lauer had failed to ask Trump about his dodging the draft, ridiculing POW Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), smearing a Gold Star family, comparing experience in prep school to serving in the military, calling on Russia to hack Clinton’s email server, and bragging about getting a Purple Heart because a soldier gave Trump his medal. Nor did Lauer ask about the affect that a Muslim ban would have on potential ISIS terrorism in the U.S. This in a discussion about national security and veterans affairs in front of an audience of veterans.

In the past, journalists believed that the truth had value. Now their position is that political candidates lie however they want with no questioning. Chris Wallace, moderator of the October 19 presidential debate, said, “I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad.” Lauer also showed his inability to handle Trump. Although he told the candidates to not be negative, Trump spent over half his time attacking Clinton and President Obama—perhaps because he doesn’t know anything about being a commander-in-chief. Lauer also failed to gather any specifics from Trump.

Trump has spent several months saying that he can’t release his tax returns because he’s being audited, despite his statement that the years 2002-2008 are no longer being audited. (Of course, no one knows for sure that any of his tax returns are being audited.) Then he switched to saying that it would be “irresponsible” to do that. The most recent statement before last night was that “I think people don’t care. I don’t think anybody cares, except some members of the press.” Actually, the man who follows polls so closely should know that 74 percent of the people think he should release them—including 62 percent of the Republicans. Even his running mate, Mike Pence wants him to make the returns public.

Last night, Trump tried a different tack. He’ll release them “immediately” if Clinton makes public personal emails that were deleted years ago. He also said that no one in business would delete emails although that’s exactly what his business did several years ago when he brought a lawsuit ten years ago.

“If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS,” Trump said last night. He suggested that the way to defeat ISIS is to “take the oil.” Asked how to do that, he said:

“Well, you—you just, you would leave a certain group behind. And you would take various sections where they have the oil. People don’t know this about Iraq, but they have among the largest oil reserves in the world.”

So Trump’s plan is to pillage a country of all resources after the U.S. idea has invaded it.

Trump has long valued Russia and Putin over the United States and President Obama, but he went over the edge in a townhall meeting on national security when he talked about his experiences at the his first classified briefing—after he talked about the dangers of Clinton’s emails. He said he was shocked by the way that the briefers disdained his political opponent and the current president and finished by saying, “Our leaders did not follow what they were recommending.” With this massive breach of ethics, concerns about giving Trump classified information were accurate. This is the first time that a presidential candidate has politicized these briefings.

Members of the Trump campaign staff also leaked information about the briefing. For example, it was reported that retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn interrupted the proceedings so much that Chris Christie, also invited by Trump, told him to shut up.

clinton-smileRNC Chair Reince Priebus couldn’t fault Clinton for her statements in last night’s townhall so he complained about—yes!—her not smiling. She answered, “Actually, that’s just what taking the office of President seriously looks like.” Priebus was also wrong: she did smile as this photo shows.

The male moderator at a townhall doesn’t allow the female candidate to address the issues and constantly interrupts her while telling her to hurry up. Then he gives the male candidate easy questions and fails to correct most of the candidate’s lies. The moderator also orders the female not to attack her opponent while asking the male candidate to “keep his attacks to a minimum.” The moderator didn’t limit the male candidate’s constant attacks in any way. And finally the leader of the Republican party complains because she won’t “smile” while talking about serious issues. Might this be called sexism?

Trump may have had a pitiful performance last night in the townhalls, but Gary Johnson, the Libertarian who disaffected Republicans consider as an alternative had a worse morning. When he was asked on Morning Joe about Aleppo, Johnson answered, “What is Aleppo”? The U.S. public may not need to know about Aleppo, but the President of the United States needs to know that Aleppo is the “epicenter” of the Syrian refugee crisis, as Mike Barnicle explained to Johnson. All of Hillary Clinton’s opponents are pathetic, and almost all the “journalists” focus on how she is perceived as not “likable.”

The bar is so low for Donald Trump that he’s admired if he doesn’t drool on his shoes—to quote Democrat Eugene Robinson and Republican Nicole Wallace. That means that Hillary Clinton definitely gets special treatment the way people claim—it’s just that she cannot achieve their high standards no matter the extent of her knowledge and preparation. Trump would have disappeared a year ago, if expectations for him were only one-fourth what they are for Hillary Clinton.

July 28, 2014

Time for GOP Shill Gregory to Leave ‘Meet the Press’

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:38 PM
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Back in the day of Tim Russert, Meet the Press had good journalists who verified its news. After Russert’s death six years ago, host David Gregory, who took over from interim moderator Tom Brokaw, has demonstrated a serious bias on the conservative side. Last Sunday was no different: he played an unconfirmed Israeli video allegedly showing Hamas shooting rockets from a UN school. This video was accompanied by a sympathetic interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who explained, among other positions, that the only way to “peace” is to militarily destroy Hamas.

In response to Gregory’s question about whether Hamas is using civilians and the UN in a propaganda war, UN Relief & Works Agency spokesperson Chris Gunness pointed out the ridiculousness because of his inability to even see the video:

“To bring me on a live program and expect me to comment live on air on pictures I haven’t actually seen, I think anyone looking at this program would agree that’s really unfair. I mean, if I can see it, I’ll happily comment on it.”

Although Gregory did say at the end of the program that the UN confirmed the video does not show what Gregory early purported, he still gave credence to the Israeli report, “So this is a back and forth that we are not able to settle at this point.”

Gregory’s conservative bias is nothing new. Over a year ago, I wrote a piece beginning with his pandering to conservatives from his start on the show when he promised Mark Sanford the ability to “frame the conversation” when he talked about abandoning South Carolina for an assignation with his mistress and lying about his whereabouts.  Esteemed journalist Frank Rich pointed out that Gregory may be “playing the part [of Joe McCarthy] to make some noise” when Gregory attacked Glenn Greenwald for supporting Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks.

On the Jay Leno show, Gregory said:

“I think it’s deeply disturbing when someone takes it upon him or herself to decide they’re uncomfortable with some program and they decide they want to undo a government program. I don’t think that’s what the founders of the country envisioned and it’s not a real way to do that.”

That position is in direct opposition to journalism’s requirement of  in-depth reporting.

On a program last October, Gregory called for more “leadership” from President Obama. Typical of conservatives, Gregory wanted to know when Obama was going to “demonstrate he can bring along converts to his side and actually get something meaningful accomplished.” Unfortunately for the host, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne was present to gently explain the confusion between presidential “leadership” and giving in to GOP demands:

“A lot of times, though, when people say the president should lead, what they want him to do is adopt Republican positions and then push for those. That’s not leadership, that’s capitulation. I think we should stop talking about a Grand Bargain and try to have normal government in the next two months.”

The Republicans have refused to have a “normal government.”

Gregory specializes in asking leading questions that permit his conservative guests to present their far-right positions. An example occurred during his interview with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2012 Benghazi deaths. Gregory allowed Paul to again smear Clinton with the false opinion that she denied additional security forces at the compound although she knew the need. Not satisfied with Paul’s attack on Clinton, he then encouraged more smears by asking if Benghazi disqualified Clinton for presidential candidacy.

Earlier this month on Meet the Press, Gregory supported House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) lawsuit against the president because Democrats would have been just as upset if a Republican president had delayed some of the Affordable Care Act’s implementation. Fortunately, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm was present to bring the program back to reality. She reminded Gregory that George W. Bush had delayed parts of the Medicare Part D implementation with no negative reaction from Democrats. That was before she called Boehner’s lawsuit “the legal equivalent of birtherism.”

Granholm also filled in Gregory’s omission that the Republicans had voted overwhelmingly—time and again—to delay the exact provision that they are now using to sue the president. But that wasn’t all. In talking to former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who was discussing the problems within the Republican party needing a positive message for blue-collar workers, Gregory said, “the Obama economy,” blaming one person for the disaster that the GOP has supported. This was the same show when he asked if the border immigration crisis is “Obama’s Katrina moment.”

That Gregory is in trouble with the network has been obvious for some time. In March, the head of NBC News, Deborah Turness, met with him and executive producer, Rob Yarin, to discuss “format changes” for the show. Fourth-quarter 2013 ratings showed the lowest total viewers in the show’s history which started in 1991. A “format change,” however, won’t change the fact that the program caters to Republicans, with its base of old, white men. A diverse guest list that didn’t include John McCain and his cohorts almost every Sunday could make the difference. Hispanics and blacks are almost invisible on the show except for a few appearances on the panels; the women, segregated to the roundtable, are mostly members of the media.

Beyond adding accuracy and lack of bias to Meet the Press, these ideas could improve the show:

One way that Tim Russert used to grill politicians was to put some of their past quotes that contradicted their statements on the show and ask them to explain their positions. No host now uses this approach; it’s a “format change”! And it works well on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. 

Russert also appeared skeptical of all answers. Gregory needs to expose inconsistencies while being respectfully aggressive.

Gregory could also invite guests that aren’t visible elsewhere. Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell, who appear on MSNBC almost every day, frequently appear on Meet the Press.

The drums beating the rumor that Gregory will be gone after the fall elections are getting louder. Viewership is down 43 percent since he took over six years ago, and only the Winter Olympics saved the show from third place this year. Sadly, suggestions for a replacement are Chuck Todd, Joe Scarborough, and Mika Brezezinski—more conservatives. At least Brezezinski would mean that a woman would finally host one of the Sunday political talk shows, but she needs to lose the submissive behavior that she demonstrates on the Scarborough show.

On June 15, when Iraq was the focus of all Sunday talk shows on CNN, Fox, CBS, NBC, and ABC this Sunday, no women or people of color were featured on the solo interviews. Two-thirds of the participants on the roundtable discussions were men. Of the 38 guests on the shows were five people of color, and no one show had more than two women or two non-white guests.

That same week, Melissa Harris Perry’s show had ten guests: four women and five people of color. It was the only show to feature an Iraq war veteran. Now there’s an idea: replace Gregory with a black woman.

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