Nel's New Day

March 9, 2017

Betsy Devos: Huge Danger to the Nation

Billionaire activist Betsy DeVos and her family have given over $4 million to Republicans who have now confirmed her for Secretary of Education. Of that sum, $250,000 went directly to members of the education committee, $950,000 were given to 21 senators who voted to confirm her, and another $2.25 million was sent last fall to the Senate Leadership Fund, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) super PAC. The National Republican Senatorial Committee got another $900,000. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who promised to keep a rein on DDT, took $98,000 from DeVos and paid her back with his vote.   She followed the same process in Michigan, paying state Republicans $1.45 million in seven weeks after they passed the no-accountability charter school law. DeVos has said that she no longer takes offense at the accusations of buying politicians because “we do expect something in return.”

Before the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, I posted about how she would be a disaster for education in the nation. Her blunders during the first few weeks on the job show that she is worse than many people may have predicted. In summary, she is a billionaire who wants all children to be force-fed her brand of Christianity in charter schools that massively profit already wealthy people—like her.

Her gaffes began on her first day as head of the education department when she tweeted, “Day 1 on the job is done, but we’re only getting started. Now where do I find the pencils? :)” Most schools in the United States are so poor that teachers have to buy their own pencils.

Devos’ actions thus far:

  • insulted teachers at a middle school for not helping students succeed
  • supports the idea of her department being erased
  • says that critics want “to make my life a living hell”
  • misspelled W.E.B. Du Bois in a tweet for Black History Month—and then had to fix the tweeted apology that stated “our deepest apologizes”
  • ignored the first Twitter chat that she held for teachers
  • asked teachers to make up for children’s troubles at home such as absent fathers
  • made U.S. marshals protect her and ran away because protesters blocked her entrance to a DC school
  • accused protesters of “keeping kids in and new thinking out,” “how hostile some people are to change and to new ideas”
  • sold out transgender students to allow AG Jeff Sessions to discriminate against them in using facilities corresponding to their gender identity
  • and, surprise, gave her top priority as “school choice” that destroys public schools

DeVos’ responses to the hearings were so bad that her  confirmation required Mike Pence to be the first vice president in history to break a 50-50 tie to confirm a Cabinet nominee.

Her job may not last long. A House bill, HR 899, dissolves the Department of Education and another, HR 610, provides educational vouchers and repeals the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, including nutritional standards for school meals. The only responsibility left to the department—if it continues to exist—would be to award block grants to states with the $20 billion for vouchers that DDT wants. There may not be enough support to shut down the Education Department, but Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants $20 billion for vouchers, most of the department’s budget for local communities largely used for low-income students, students with disabilities, English language learners, and other vulnerable children.  

After trying to compliment teachers at Washington’s Jefferson Academy by calling them “wonderful,” she told them that they were “not going to bring success to an individual child” because they were in “receive mode, waiting to be told what they have to do.”

DeVos tried to help DDT woo blacks for the 2020 election in her statement:

“Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) … are the real pioneers when it comes to school choice.  They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”

Her revisionist history purports that the Jim Crow education system of legal segregation gave black students “more options” as if they had the option of attending all white schools before the Supreme Court ruling that began to eliminate permissible racial discrimination. The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo’s analogy:

“To paint historically black colleges as pioneers of ‘school choice’ is like saying the Montgomery bus boycott was a transportation startup.”

There was much controversy about the perch of Kellyanne Conway, DDT’s counselor, during the meeting with HBCU leaders. Some photographs show her taking a photo, but her real insult was that she couldn’t even get the name for the group correct when she talked to Lou Dobbs on his TV program. In addition, the photo op, proposed at the last minute to show DDT’s comfort with blacks, left those attending with little time to communicate with the man in the White House about the current state of these institutions. DDT plans to fund only the private sector instead of directly supporting HBCUs and requested that the White House Initiative on HBCUs be removed from the Department of Education.

In reality, DeVos has little power because Congress weakened the power of the executive department two years ago. Congress will be the one to create a voucher system and remove more standards for education in the nation. But she can create trouble by taking no action in other areas that creates more difficulty—for example, not investigating, complaints in the area of sexual assaults and reverse rules requiring colleges to use a lower standard of proof in determining sexual assault. DeVos might also ignore part of Title IX, reversing the progress of female athletes in schools. One way is to divert funds to the Office of Civil Rights which leaves the Department of Education unable to address IX complaints even if DeVos chooses to do so. The percentage of female high school athletes has gone from seven percent to 42 percent since the law was implemented. Title IX isn’t just about sports and transgender issues: it protects “pregnant and parenting students, women in STEM programs, and victims of sexual harassment and sexual violence,” according to Neena Chaudhry, Director of Education and Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center.

DDT will definitely “relax” the past crackdown on for-profit colleges, including a new regulation relieving students of loans if they prove their college defrauded them. Under DDT, Trump University might not have had to pay $25 million. An indicator is the way that stocks have shot up—DeVry over 40 percent, Stayer’s 35 percent, and Grand Canyon Education over 28 percent. The GOP will also try to disappear the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that tries to protect consumers from predatory for-profit colleges.

About Betsy DeVos, education historian and researcher Diane Ravitch wrote:

“She was never a student, a parent, an educator, or school board member of public schools. It is her life’s work to tear down public education. She does not respect the line of separation between church and state. She supports for-profit charter schools…. She is ignorant of federal law, federal programs and federal policy. When asked at her Senate hearing about the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, she did not know it was a federal law. She had given no thought to lessening the burden of debt that college students bear, which now exceeds $1 trillion. At a time when the federal role in aiding students with the high cost of college needs to be redesigned, she knows nothing about it.

“… DeVos has financial conflicts of interest which she refuses to divest. She told the Senate committee that she had no role in her mother’s foundation, which has funneled millions of dollars to anti-LGBT organizations, but her name appears on 17 years of the foundation’s audited tax returns. She told the committee that online charter corporations produce stellar results, but researchers demonstrated with facts that she was wrong.

“Choice policies in Michigan have caused the test scores in that state to decline. Detroit, overrun with charters and choice, is a chaotic mess….

“She personifies the privatization movement. She is the leader of the Billionaire Girls Club, spreading her millions across the land to reward and enrich allies in Congress, on state and local school boards, and in any setting where she could tout school choice as a magical remedy for poor performance. Charters and vouchers, whether for-profit or nonprofit, is her sole idea. She has singlehandedly stripped bare the ‘reform’ movement, showing it to be not a civil rights movement but a privatization movement funded by billionaires and religious zealots.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) told his protesting constituents at a town hall meeting that they cared so much about Betsy DeVos that she probably had too much power. Our conservative representatives don’t want people to care about what happens in the government.

In a country that almost never recognizes the name of the Secretary of Education, almost half of the people have an opinion—and two thirds of them have an unfavorable opinion of Betsy DeVos. Her lack of approval at 31 percent is worse than that for Jeff Sessions (23 percent) and Mike Pence (28 percent).

The greatest danger that DeVos might do to education in the United States is the proposed voucher program—the subject for the next blog post.

February 24, 2017

DDT: Week Five – Part 1

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) can make his supporters believe anything—including a fondness for a country that conservatives have traditionally hated. Since 2015, approval of Vladimir Putin has increased 20 points to 32 percent among Republicans and 11 points to 23 percent among Independents. Putin’s popularity with Democrats has decreased five points to ten percent. The 32 percent is the highest since 2003 when George W. Bush looked into Putin’s eyes and liked what he saw—before he didn’t. Conservatives like Putin in spite of—or perhaps because of—the Russian hacking to influence the presidential election, Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, suppression of the press, brutality toward LGBTQ people, murders of people opposed to Putin, lack of free elections, violation of the nuclear treaty, and national control by oligarchs.

FBI Director James Comey got DDT elected, and now the White House wants Comey’s help to keep DDT in the White House by telling reporters that the connection between DDT’s campaign staff and Russia weren’t true. The communication violates a Department of Justice memo during George W. Bush’s time that the White House should advise the department on criminal and civil enforcement “only where it is important for the performance of the president’s duties and where appropriate from a law enforcement perspective.” DDT still has Attorney General Sessions in his pocket to keep the current DOJ from investigating him, but the GOP legislators are getting antsy about the situation after their crowd’s anger expressed during the “Resistance Recess.”

DDT also asked legislators to tell reporters that he has no ties to Russia, and they did it. Last week, senior lawmakers, who should be in charge of investigating the Trump-Russia connections called news organizations and challenged these stories. This is not a rumor; the lawmakers admitted that they called the reporters to dismiss the information of DDT associates’ contacts with Russia as infrequent and inconsequential. Press secretary Sean Spicer said the White House asked the legislators to do this, but he claimed that there was nothing wrong with asking them to contact reporters and tell them what DDT wanted. Two members of Congress who followed DDT’s orders are Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees. Nunes has refused to investigate the Russian connection.

In the Washington Post Greg Miller and Adam Entous wrote:

“U.S. intelligence reports cite multiple contacts between members of Trump’s team and Russians with links to the Kremlin, during the campaign and afterward, according to officials who have seen them. Such reports were based on intercepted Russian communications and other sources, the officials said.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who has seen this information as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, concluded that the investigation “may very well be the most important thing I do in my public life.”

Other DDT news from the past week:

DDT Cooks the Books: DDT has figured out how he can prove his GDP growth target of 3 to 3.5 percent a year: just start with that fantasy number and then put in statistics to show that it’s right. Forget the old-fashioned way of figuring out how policies either increase or decrease the rate. DDT’s projections are at least one percentage point above the consensus reality projection. DDT also told economists to change the way that the trade deficit is calculated by omitting as exports anything that is imported and then sold to another country. For example, a car sold to a company in the United States from Mexico and then re-sold to one in Canada is considered only an import and not an export which inflates the overall trade deficit. DDT plans to use his artificial system to rail against trade deals or demand border taxes. It’s hard to understand why he bothers to create this system  because he invents his own numbers for anything, for example citing a $800 billion deficit when it’s only $500 billion. He also consistently argued that the employment rate of 4.6 percent is, in Trumpland, 42 percent because he includes everyone without a job such as retirees, college students, and many other people who don’t want jobs.

DDT Reduces Military Child Care: DDT’s promised to provide “all men and women in uniform [with] the supplies, support, equipment, training, services, medical care, and resources they need to get the job done incredibly well and perfectly.” But DDT’s hiring freeze has caused at least two Army bases to suspend childcare programs including preschool. An exemption in the hiring freeze includes “child care to the children of military personnel,” but another Army memo has caused personnel shortages by putting another layer of bureaucracy on its already burdensome hiring system.

Christie Turns DDT Down: The New Jersey governor has crawled to get crumbs from DDT, but the meatloaf may have been the last straw. On Valentine’s Day, Christie lunched at the White House and was told that he would have the meatloaf. Then DDT asked Christie if he wanted to be the Labor Secretary after Andrew Pudzer left in disgrace—hard to do when one considers DDT’s nominees. Christie said no. He’s considering a gig as host of a sports talk radio show when his term has expired.

DDT Employees Fail Background Checks: Gerrit Lansing, White House Chief Digital Officer, is only one of at least six staffers dismissed because they failed their FBI checks. Some of them were “walked out of the building by security” because they could not muster security clearance. Caroline Wiles, director of scheduling and daughter of DDT’s Florida campaign director, was one of those who left, but she said she’ll get another job in Treasury.

Conway Gets in Hot Water: DDT’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, had been pulled from doing interviews after White House officials claimed that she repeatedly made statements “at odds with the administration’s official stance.”  Even DDT sycophant Joe Scarborough said she wouldn’t be on The Morning Show because she didn’t tell the truth—although he didn’t use the “T” word. Now 15 law professors have filed a professional misconduct complaint against her, calling on Conway to be sanctioned for violating government ethics rules and “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Among other concerns, the complaint cited Conway’s lie that President Obama had “banned” Iraq refugees from coming into the country for six months after the non-existent “Bowling Green Massacre” and for her hawking Ivanka Trump’s products. Another issue was her claim that the White House put forth “alternative facts.” The filing stated, “Alternative facts are not facts at all; they are lies.” The complaint stated that Conway “is currently acting in a way that brings shame upon the legal profession.” One of the filers, Abbe Smith, said she had never before filed a complaint and goes not generally believe that lawyers should face discipline under the stated rule, which includes conduct outside the practice of law, but called Conway’s conduct “so outside the norm for a member of the legal profession.”

DDT’s Conflicts of Interest, Profit Making from the Presidency Continues: No new businesses. That was DDT’s promise in January. Sons, Eric and Donald, Jr. cost the taxpayers more big bucks on their weekend in Dubai when they opened a new Trump golf course. The club still hasn’t gotten its liquor license from the United Arab Emirates which means that DDT will need to provide his standard “pay for play” deal. The government also has to provide all the club’s services including water and roads. It’s a guarantee that the sons will take part in the negotiations. DDT deals are pending in India, Indonesia, Uruguay, and Canada, and another one may be created in the Dominican Republic where Eric visited on February 2. Meanwhile, DDT’s DC hotel, another illegal venture at this time, was bankrolled by Deutsch Bank, currently under DOJ investigation. At least, taxpayers can follow the plans because we pay for Secret Service to follow Eric and Donald Jr. everywhere.

China may be breaking its own laws by giving trademarks to DDT, something that they refused to do until DDT achieved the candidacy for president. Once again DDT may have violated the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign states unless approved by Congress. The one trademark that DDT received for construction services, but he’s wants them for condoms, toilets, and many other items. DDT brings a new definition to presidential dignity.

In a movement toward further dictatorship, DDT is blocking reputable news outlets from Spicer’s briefings. The Huffington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times CNN, Politico, Buzzfeed, and reporters from several foreign news outlets were not allowed in this afternoon’s closed-door briefing. Associated Press and Time boycotted in the meeting because of that decision. A reporter from Wall Street Journal attended but said that he would not go again if other outlets were excluded.

Before DDT’s inauguration, Spicer had said that he might skip televised briefings in exchange for off-camera briefing or gaggle with reporters. Yet in December, Spicer said that news organizations can’t be banned from the White House because “that’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.” At least he understands what he’s doing. Conservative, tabloid-type outlets such as Breitbart, Washington Times, and One American News Network were still allowed to attend.

The other big story today was the report from the Department of Homeland Security refutes the need for DDT’s Muslim ban. But that’s a story for tomorrow.

 

February 11, 2017

DDT: Week Three – Part 2

trump-signature-photoMost of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) publicity during his first three weeks was vigorously signing Steve Bannon’s executive orders, actions, and directives and then proudly holding up leather-bound documents like a toddler being potty trained. Some of these, such as the recently overturned Muslim ban, had teeth, but many of them are just—publicity. For example, the three on “strengthening” police. They were supposedly “designed to restore safety in America,” to “break the back” of cartels, and “stop as of today” violence against the police. Yet the text reveals that policy steps were missing. Instead they showed DDT’s displeasure with the cartels and order task forces that will actually stop investigations into the spike in killings of black people, many of them by law enforcement officials.

An earlier order about ISIS asked for a plan—not really a news breaking concept. The one on killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership merely fired another shot into the TTP’s decaying carcass. An examination of his 26 “executive actions” disclose most of them to lack substantive value, according to Mark Rozell, the dean of the government school at George Mason University. Yet he presents them as if “he’s doing something very dramatic, very significant.” That’s DDT—a theatrical showman signifying nothing. [DDT’s signature with his inauguration photograph.]

Yet pieces of what he has done are extremely destructive:

Return of Dakota Pipeline: The Army Corps of Engineers will approve the final easement allowing the pipeline to cross underneath Lake Oahe, the primary source of drinking water for the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. DDT said he didn’t get a single phone call opposing his pipeline approvals. Maybe because the White House has removed the availability for calling and people can’t call the White House anymore? And the fact that DDT still has money invested in the company building the pipeline.

Disappearance of Fair Internet Use: After the election, Breitbart.com bragged that net neutrality would be “dead” under Trump. DDT’s appointment for the Federal Communications Commission, former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, is achieving that goal by cutting the federal assistance program for low-income broadband users and refusing to defend existing FCC rules that cap inmate intrastate calling rates. He also stopped an investigation into Verizon and AT&T that offer free data for preferred apps.

USDA Purge of Animal Welfare Information: All inspection reports about monitoring of animal treatment at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities have been removed from the federal website and now accessible only through FOIA requests, requiring years for approval. That means that puppy mills and other animals abuse are back with impunity.

CNN’s Refusal to Interview Kellyanne Conway—and Its Backtracking: Last week, the White House declared a boycott on CNN, and DDT accused the news network of being “fake news” at his speech about Black History Month. The position was briefly reversed: CNN turned down the White House for a number of guests, including Kellyane Conway, to be on CNN’s State of the Union. The network declined. Conway wanted to appear to discuss her MSNBC complaint about the media not covering the fictitious “Bowling Green massacre” caused by refugees. There has never been a terrorist attack in Bowling Green (KY), but two Iraqis were arrested for donating to Al Qaeda. The situation was covered in at least 90 major newspaper articles as well as on television news. If the term “massacre” was a slip of the tongue, as Conway declared, she has had other slips about the situation in Bowling Green, including false details for an interview with Cosmopolitan. CNN told a reporter that Conway was turned down because the network has “serious questions about her credibility.” Within two days of its bravery, CNN caved, and Conway was back on the network peddling her lies—like how DDT deserved credit for not lying some of the time.

hitlerWhite Supremacists Rejoicing at White House Direction: Last week we reported on DDT’s removal of white supremacist groups from the government’s attempts to stop “homegrown” terrorism within the United States so that they are no longer targeted. The Daily Stormer, named after a Nazi propaganda publication, wrote:

“Yes, this is real life. Our memes are all real life. Donald Trump is setting us free.”

The publication sees DDT’s action as the same as their own writing and their reward for helping elect him, and their colleague, Steve Bannon, is running the White House. Bannon called himself “the platform for the Alt-Right [aka white nationalism]” when he published Breitbart.com. Just one example of joy from the white supremacists is a post on another neo-Nazi site, Infostormer:

 “We may truly have underestimated President Trump’s covert support of our Cause (at least in some form), but after this proposal, I am fully ready to offer myself in service of this glorious regime.”

Deportations: For the party supposedly supporting “family values,” the saddest piece of the new DDT regime is the massive ICE roundups of parents to separate them from their children. These sweeps, primarily in California which voted against DDT, do not target dangerous criminals. Other deportations were of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos in Arizona which she reported into ICE as she always did after being caught in a workplace raid ten years ago and Francisco Alvarado who was taken from his three children and wife. Garcia de Rayos came to the U.S. when she was 14 years old, and Alvarado fled Honduras because the “Maras” gang begun in the U.S. killed several of his wife’s family members. ICE agents find their prey by following children home from school.

Among those detained are two U.S.-born children with no criminal background and another youth considered a “gang member” simply because of old speeding tickets and tattoos. Lawyers cannot find their clients because ICE refuses to reveal information about whether they have been deported. These people are not the “killers and rapists” who DDT said he would deport.

Super Bowl ads were a highlight of last Sunday. The ads—costing $10 million a minute—were remarkable. During more progressive times, many of these ads bashed women, but DDT’s ascendancy changed that focus. Check this out for a great piece on the television commercials shown last Sunday.

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It’s been only three weeks, and the victorious Republicans are “moving the goal posts” of their dreams. Promises of dumping Obamacare, overhauling the tax code to benefit the rich, and funding a wall to separate Mexico are being stalemated by budget deadlines. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) bravely says that things are better between the GOP Congress and DDT, but conservatives are upset by their slow pace. The House Freedom Caucus, worried that the entire agenda will be halted until a repeal of Obamacare, doesn’t see any urgency for the task. They’re also amazed by the virulent attacks from constituents highly disturbed by the loss of the Affordable Care Act although they maintain that the protests are from big money.

Just the wall that DDT promises will run $21.6 billion, according to the Department of Homeland Security, and take almost four years. That’s $157.31 per person for everyone who paid income taxes last year–even the 63 percent of the people who don’t want the wall. And Mexico won’t be paying for the wall. Raise the tariff as DDT said? People will have to buy 36 billion avocados to pay for a wall. Then consider the problems of terrain, Native American treaties, and problems with eminent domain in Hillary Clinton territory. And maybe the fact that DDT doesn’t have an investment in construction companies for the wall. And that entire issue just one facing the Republicans in 2017.

[Correction: Although Adolf Hitler made a comment similar to the one above, he actually wrote in Mein Kampf that “they will more easily fall victim to a large lie than a small lie … the most bold and brazen lie is sure to stick.” Joseph Goebbels stated, ““If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” He also stated, “The truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” ]

February 10, 2017

DDT: Week Three – Part 1

Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) third week was rougher than the first two. His declaring moral equivalence between the United States and Russia called out condemnation from both conservatives and progressives. General Barry McCaffrey, now retired, said his statement was “the most anti-American statement ever made by the president of the United States.”

The UK’s House of Commons Speaker said that he didn’t want DDT to speak before Parliament because of its opposition to racism and sexism and support for equality and an independent judiciary. One of three people to make the decision about DDT’s speaking in Westminster Hall, John Bercow said to applause, “An address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right. It is an earned honor.”

Dissatisfaction with the government—now entirely Republican—is the most important issue facing the nation. DDT, in his continued war against the press, tweeted, “Any negative polls are fake news,” and deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka added that the White House will use the phrase “fake media” to attack journalists “until the media understands how wrong that [anti-Trump] attitude is.” In DDT-World, all protesters are also paid; his counselor Kellyanne Conway told GOP legislative staffers that the constituents calling their bosses don’t represent “real people.”

Other DDT disasters in the past week:

Russia & Michael Flynn: Nine intelligence officers have declared that DDT’s National Security Advisor discussed lifting sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last December, and two of them said that Flynn promised that the problem would be reviewed just immediately after DDT’s inauguration. Until two days ago, Michael Flynn denied doing this, but yesterday his spokesman said that Flynn couldn’t remember but maybe he did. Flynn’s behavior can be considered an illegal interference between the President Obama’s White House and Russia as well as continuing the conclusion that Russia had interfered in the recent presidential election. VP Mike Pence, who swore that Flynn never discussed sanctions with Russia, is disturbed about finding out the truth, according to his aides. DDT, who cannot be separated from his television watching, said that he is unaware of the controversy.

Judicial Review of White House Muslim Ban: A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled to continue blocking DDT’s travel ban because it violated the Fifth Amendment’s due process access to courts. Some of the findings:

The ruling applies nationwide even if no federal court blocks it.

Two states have standing to sue on behalf of thousands of foreign students, employees and residents with legal visas.

Courts can receive classified information to determine its findings—in answer to DDT’s statement about how the courts don’t know how scary the world it.

The court cannot rely upon the government’s contention that the Executive Order no longer applies to lawful permanent residents….

“Moreover, in light of the Government’s shifting interpretations of the Executive Order, we cannot say that the current interpretation by White House counsel, even if authoritative and binding, will persist past the immediate stage of these proceedings.”

Before the decision, DDT tweeted nine times criticizing and threatening the judges if they didn’t rule in his favor. He hasn’t decided whether he will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. My guess is that he’ll sign more executive orders to ban Muslims, ones written again by Steve Bannon, that DDT thinks will survive a court hearing.

Lies about Terrorist Attacks: DDT accused the press of “intentionally” covering up terrorist attacks and then issued a list of 78 “underreported” global attacks since 2014 to prove the statement. The list included the San Bernardino shooting, the nightclub massacre in Orlando last summer, and the terrorist attacks in Paris, all widely reported, but skipped any terrorist acts by white supremacists and Islamophobes, including the mass killing by a white French Canadian at a Quebec mosque.

Trouble with Obamacare?: DDT suggested that he might wait until 2018 to do anything about the Affordable Care Act. Protesters are inundating town hall meetings with members of Congress who are sneaking out of meetings, calling the police for protection, locking the door so people can’t get in, or just canceling scheduled sessions. Even the representative from the reddest district in the nation is afraid to hold  town hall meetings because of protesters supporting health care. It’s just like the Tea Party from 2010 but in reverse.

Keeping the health care plan doesn’t stop DDT from hurting the people who voted for him—and others who didn’t. Proposed new rules would increase premiums for older customers 3.49 times as for the young, people applying for coverage during the year would have to prove a qualifying life change, and insurance could cut off insurance if premiums are a month late.

What Voter Fraud?: Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won’t spend federal money to investigate a non-existent 3 million illegal voters in last fall’s election, DDT has assigned VP Mike Pence to head up a commission for that purpose. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 3 million votes.

Revised Executive Orders: DDT has been given a new version of his torture order that retreats his decision to open “black site” prisons with “coercive interrogation methods.” Thus far, DDT has not signed the new order. Even John Yoo, the George W. Bush DOJ torture official, expressed concern about the White House’s alarming conception of executive power.

Ridicule for Hotelier in the Oval Office: DDT’s obsession with his décor leads him to schedule as many events in the room as possible. Although suffering from a lack of concentration on intelligence details, DDT dwells on the new opulent golden drapes as he gives tours to visitors as he pages “through a book showing 17 window covering options,” according to The New York Times Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman.

DDT’s Ownership of Business: Despite his claims that he has nothing to do with his businesses, DDT still retains ownership and personally benefits from the government’s decisions, and his sons, who now supposedly operate the business, also participate in governmental decisions. DDT may no longer be president of the multiple companies, but he still financially profits from its activities. Documents show that the trust does not do away with other conflicts, such as his being executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice, which DDT cited in his speech last week, asking his audience to pray for the program’s ratings. A question also exists about the legality of his continued lease of the Washington hotel, owned by the federal government which prevents any elected official from benefiting from the property.

Attack on Nordstrom: After the retail chain decided not to carry Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, her father launched official tweets about how the corporation had treated her “so unfairly.” Former Obama White House ethics expert Norm Eisen called Trump’s tweet “outrageous” and offered to help Nordstrom sue the president. Two more retailers downgraded publicity on Ivanka’s “made in Asia” clothing line, eliciting a statement from Press Secretary Sean Spicer that the decision, based on the free market, was an attack on Ivanka.

Even “roll over and play dead” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chair of the Oversight Committee, chastised Kellyanne Conway for her blatant endorsement of Ivanka’s clothing line on Fox network. He found it “unacceptable” while ethics experts call it a definite violation of regulations banning executive branch employees from endorsing products and using their office for private gain of friends. Earlier Chaffetz had said that DDT’s attack on Nordstrom was not “a big deal” and that he was just acting like a doting father.  Thousands of people showed up at a Chaffetz town hall meeting, booing and chanting “do your job.”

Loss of Second DDT Legal Case in Two Weeks: South Carolina environmental regulators denied DDT’s request that he get state-paid pollution cleanup at his son’s company. Donald Trump, Jr. bought a company on possibly polluted land and named it Titan Atlas; when it failed, DDT bought out the debt, called the new company D B Pace, and then claimed he didn’t have to pay for the cleanup because he was a brand new owner. To qualify for state cleanup, the buyer can’t be related to the seller, and regulators stated that DDT didn’t give them enough financial information to rule in his favor. Last week, a judge ruled that DDT had to pay $6 million to members at the Trump National Jupiter Golf Course

Melania Trump’s Lawsuit against the UK Daily Mail: Four days ago, DDT’s wife announced in a defamation lawsuit that it would damage her ability to make new “licensing, branding, and endorsement” deals while she is the U.S. president’s wife. Her lawyer described this opportunity as a “once-in-a-lifetime” money making opportunity for clothing, cosmetics, fragrance, etc. She told the court she intended to pursue deals in “apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care, and fragrance.” The publication retracted information from a Slovenian magazine that she had once been a paid escort. Like her husband, Melania Trump admits that she is illegally using her position to make “millions.”

In addition to selecting a “security advisor” who sides with Russia, losing lawsuits, and finding himself involved in conflicts of interest, DDT’s popularity is dropping in Europe as well as in the United States. Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign minister, listed the differences of opinion between EU and DDT, including refugees, migration, climate change, the Iran deal, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She said that putting “America First” can find Europe, vital to U.S. economy and security, to be equally self-interested. Donald Tusk, EU Council president, has put DDT on a list of threats with radical Islam.

And that’s just part of DDT’s week—more tomorrow!

January 9, 2017

Streep Not ‘Over-rated,’ Trump Loses Temper–Again

For 74 years, The Golden Globe awards have recognized excellence in domestic and foreign film and television as identified by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). Political statements vary from year to year, but last night was memorable. Jimmy Fallon opened the program by calling the selection as “one of the few places left where America still honors the popular vote.” He wasn’t necessarily on target because only the HFPA makes the choice, but it was a nice jab.

Fallon wasn’t alone in his criticism of the recent election. Hugh Laurie, who won an award for The Night Manager, said that he accepted his accolade “on behalf of psychopathic billionaires everywhere.” Winner of Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Elle), Isabelle Hupert, finished by saying,  “Do not expect cinema to set up walls and borders.” Animated feature Zootopia co-director Byron Howard added a statement about “embracing diversity, even though there are people in the world who want to divide us using fear.”

The Mooncast cast and crew accepted an award for Best Picture by saying:

“No one could have anticipated that we would be sitting on the president-elect that we have coming into office in the next 12, 13 days; however, we all made these films because we felt something was lacking in the soil at the root: These stories that hadn’t been told.

“Honestly, we have to give people things… to reaffirm. If you’re feeling something and you want to speak it, you speak it, and someone will be there to hear your truth, and I think that’s been the spirit of ‘Moonlight’ so far.”

Supporting actress Janelle Monae, winner for her performance as a NASA mathematician in Hidden Figures, talked about racism and hate speech:

“I’ve been very supportive of love, and at the end of the day I think that no matter where you come from and who you love, you deserve to have a right to the American Dream. I think anybody who is representing hate is part of the problem. I hope we can all remember that at the end of the day, we all bleed the same color.”

meryl-streep

The viral internet presence, however, was Meryl Streep in her acceptance of the Cecil B. Demille award for her lifetime achievement. Following is part of her speech, that she delivered in a scratchy voice because, according to Streep, “I have lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend”:

“Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said, you and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments of American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press.

“But who are we and, you know, what is Hollywood, anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey, Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls,  R.I. Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids from Ohio, Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy and Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates?

“And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in Lon—no, in Ireland, I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a small-town girl from Virginia. Ryan Gosling, like all the nicest people, is Canadian. And Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London and is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners and if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts….

“An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, compassionate work.

“But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart, not because it was good, it was—there’s nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.

“It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege and power and the capacity to fight back. It, it kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can’t get it out my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.

“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose. OK, go on with that thing. OK, this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage.

“That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood foreign press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, ’cause we’re going to need them going forward and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”

Donald Trump (DT), who has never seen a criticism that he could ignore, denied mocking a reporter in 2015 during his campaign and attacked Meryl Streep in angry tweets. Starting at 3:27 am this morning, he tweeted:

Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a…..

Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him…….

“groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!

It’s hard for DT to keep himself to 140 characters. And  by the numbers, Streep has received 29 Golden Globe nominations and won eight awards. The tweets followed questions from New York Times reporter Patrick Healy about Streep’s statements. DT told Healy he wasn’t surprised by the comments from a “Hillary lover” and “liberal movie people.”

A video shows DT cruelly imitating New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from arthrogryposis, a disease that limits the function of his joints. DT jerked his arms and said, “Now, the poor guy, you ought to see this guy, ‘Ah, I don’t know what I said, I don’t remember, I don’t remember, maybe that’s what I said.’” Kovaleski had denied his 2001 article supported DT’s claim that “thousands” of people in New Jersey cheered the fall of the World Trade Center. DT was never able to find evidence to substantiate his statement.

DT’s incoming counselor, Kellyanne Conway, did what she’s paid to do—try to mope up DT’s screwups. On the Fox network she used the GOP ploy of blaming others for what they themselves as she attacked Streep for “inciting people’s worst instincts.” Streep’s speech was about empathy for others and opposing bullying. An hour later Conway told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that people listening to DT should ignore anything he says because he doesn’t mean his words. She asked, “You can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this and he’s telling you what was in his heart?” Conway added, “You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.”

Streep’s words have far more impact when you hear them.

[Update: Andy Borowitz’s satire column today is headlined “Trump Urges Spy Agencies to Lay Off Russia and Focus on Threat Posed by Actresses.” Read more!]

January 3, 2017

Day One of the 115th Congress, Its Stumbles

Filed under: Congress — trp2011 @ 10:22 PM
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The 115th Congress is one day old, and a strange thing happened: some Republicans seemed to exhibit shame—or perhaps just fear of constituents. Their embarrassment began yesterday when GOP members of the House voted in a closed session to put the House in charge of ethics charges for House members. The process seems to be a redux of the 2004 GOP decision to weaken ethics rules in the GOP-controlled House, led by then House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) who was later convicted of violating election law. Vice-president Mike Pence, a representative at that time, strongly supported the move.

After the vote to weaken the ethics procedures, a large number of House members, almost all Republicans, were caught in illegal scandals—one of these the Abramoff affair—that put some of them in prison. When Democrats ran against this “culture of corruption” in 2006, they won both congressional chambers and set up an independent committee to take care of House ethics matters.

History repeated itself yesterday when GOP House members voted 119-74 to put the Office of Congressional Ethics under the control of the House Ethics Committee despite opposition for leadership House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy. Yet the majority had decided to keep investigations from public view and allow the House committee to stop investigating at any time, based on a House vote. Anonymous tips would not be investigated, and crimes could not be sent to law enforcement, a practice not only unethical but also unconstitutional. The full House would have to agree to move forward on an investigation, but the committee had no ability to search for evidence to get the approval.

The decision was not a done deal: the entire House had to vote on this change as part of the rules package today. Judicial Watch, the conservative group which pushed to get the release of Hillary Clinton’s emails, described the change as “shady and corrupt, a “drive by effort.” Phones lit up and tweets flew. Donald Trump (DT) sensed the disturbance and tweeted that the House should do other things first that favored him personally. After all, he thinks he cannot be investigated:

“With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!”

DT’s staff disagreed with him. His counselor, Kellyanne Conway praised the weakening of ethics, saying that it will cut down on “overzealousness.” She lost. Only a few of the 119 supporters were willing to go public or admit that they were in favor of it. GOP constituents constantly supported the change until an emergency GOP conference meeting reversed yesterday’s vote by unanimous consent. DT took credit for this action, but one representative said that the strong public opposition had killed it before DT wrote anything.

One conclusion from Day One of the 115th Congress suggests that shame works. Without public outcry, the Republicans would have moved ahead to hide all their illegal activities. This reversal could even set a precedent when the GOP tries to eliminate health care, Social Security, Wall Street regulations, taxes for the wealthy, etc. Protest!

Of course, it’s not over. The GOP can revert to their idea when they think no one is watching or hide it inside a major bill. House Ethics Chair Susan Brooks (R-IN) said that the ethics panel will review the proposal make recommendations in late summer or early fall—probably hoping that people will be on vacation then.

A major question is whether the GOP House leadership has any more control over their members. Despite top-level arguments against weakening the ethics rules, the caucus decided to move forward on it—briefly. The Republicans in Congress have been badly split since the Tea Party revolution of 2010, creating a dilemma on negotiation. Who does Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or DT work with if Ryan and McCarthy don’t agree with the underlings.

While the House was dithering about ethics, the Senate, with less attention, bragged about repealing “Obamacare.” Today they put together an introduction to the “reconciliation process” to out-maneuver a Democratic filibuster against any health care repeal bills. The process can be used only in bills affecting spending and revenue and must be approved by the Senate Parliamentarian before the vote can move forward.

Last year, the GOP passed the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act (RAHFRA, which probably can’t be pronounced) using the reconciliation process. Budget parts of the Affordable Care Act such as insurance subsidies, Medicaid expansion, tax increases, and the mandate to buy coverage were approved to be covered by reconciliation. Left standing was covering young people through age 26 on their parents’ policies and pre-existing conditions.

The process cannot be used for legislation increasing the deficit in ten years or more. That’s the reason that George W. Bush’s tax cuts, passed by reconciliation, had to expire in 2011.

Afraid of protests from people losing their health care or charged more for insurance, Congress wants to move quickly and hope that no one will notice the problems. Two thirds of the people in the U.S. think that the ACA either didn’t affect the number of people with health insurance or caused more people to be uninsured. With no replacement, ACA repeal will leave 22 million people without coverage and millions others suffering from the havoc in the individual insurance market.

Conway, DT’s counselor, promises that no one with health insurance will lose their coverage.  GOP legislators will most likely not live up to her promise. The half-hearted suggestions for replacement go from almost nothing to keeping the ACA marketplaces, in general disadvantaging older, sick people and offering less financial help to people who use more insurance. Costs can skyrocket for people who need more health care.

With no replacement, the loss of the ACA can drastically drop coverage even if the planned repeal is years from now. Conway said that DT doesn’t have a plan ready because Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) has not been confirmed as Secretary for the Health and Human Services Department. Price wants a fixed tax credit starting at $1,200 a year for buying insurance on the private market and state high-risk pools—the ones that miserably failed in Florida and 33 other states.

Another way that the GOP is hiding its increase in deficit by repealing the ACA came from the rules package requiring the director of the budget office to prepare an estimate of whether any bill would cause a boost in spending in excess of $5 billion over the next four decades. Any bill, that is, except a bill, joint resolution or amendment that would repeal Obamacare. A major advantage of ACA was its reduction of the deficit so repealing the law would increase the deficit. To avoid the issue, the reconciliation bill keeps cuts to Medicare doctor payments, thereby scoring the bill as reducing the deficit.

Today’s budget proposal from the Republicans raises the national deficit from about $600 billion next year to a $10 trillion increase within the next decade. The bill has to pass both chambers of Congress; the question is how long Republicans can hide the increase in the deficit under the pretense that the bill concerns the repeal of Obamacare. This bill covers no specific spending. Other bills will have to do that–expenditures such as repealing the ACA, building the wall, cutting taxes for the wealthy, etc., all acts that vastly increase the deficit.  Lawrence O’Donnell explains the situation here, beginning about Minute 32.

Like a dog chasing a bus, the GOP has been chasing the repeal of health care for six years. What happens when they catch it?

The GOP House members did approve a rules package that fines members who take pictures or video from the House floor. Evidently transparency is not high on their list, especially after their embarrassment from the 26-hour sit-in protesting Ryan’s refusal to allow any votes on gun safety bills.

August 22, 2016

Trump’s Travails

Weston-Imer-Trump-Cweston imerMuch has been said about the problems of Trump’s ground game, but nothing describes it like the director of his campaign office in Jefferson County, part of Denver metro and one of the most populous counties in Colorado at over one-half million people. Trump says that he hires only the best people, and Weston Imer (right) may be one of those—but he’s only twelve years old. His mother, the county’s official campaign coordinator, thinks that the experience will build her son’s character. Fox polls, which tend to favor conservatives, reports that Trump trails Clinton by ten points in the state. Imer plans to run for president in 2040 with Donald Trump’s 10-year-old son, Barron.

Even Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, had to laugh at Trump’s declaration that he would have the support of 95 percent of black voters in four years. At this time, the highly conservative poll from Fox gives Trump one percent of black voter support.

Data scientist David Robinson has discovered the reason that some of Trump’s tweets are rabid and others are almost benign. Using visual effects artist Todd Vaziri’s idea that campaign staff also use Trump’s Twitter account, Robinson performed a quantitative analysis to test Vaziri’s theory—and found that he is right. Trump’s Android tweets are the angry, negative outpourings, and the campaign’s iPhone  messages from four different people lack the menacing tone of Trump’s own statements and are 38 times more likely to include an image or link. Trump himself tends to ignore the “retweet” and instead copies and pastes tweets that he then puts into quotation marks.

Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, resigned two days after the GOP candidate hired Steven Bannon as his campaign CEO last week. Manafort had “helped a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012 in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party’s efforts to influence U.S. policy.” Politico also reported Manafort’s links with Russia and its Ukrainian allies.In the 1990s Bannon, the king of conspiracies on Breitbart, failed to pay some of his taxes. With the news of Bannon’s hiring, former Klan leader David Duke agreed with Stormfront-friendly white supremacist Don Advo, who said that “We’ve taken over the Republican party.”

Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, is working hard to soften the candidate’s image, but no one knows how long she’ll last. Last April she told CNN’s Don Lemon that it was unacceptable for Trump to not make his tax returns public. Now she’s pivoted: she asserted that now she is “on the inside” she believes that he shouldn’t make his returns public. Last spring she  said that Trump’s rhetoric was “unfortunate for children.” At the same time, she said that Trump “actually built a lot of his business on the backs of the little guy” and that Trump is known for “not paying contractors after [they have helped him] build something.” Now that doesn’t seem to be a problem for her.

Another advisor to Trump’s campaign may not last long after the publicizing of Joseph Schmitz’s anti-Semitic philosophy. Named as one of Trump’s five foreign policy advisers in March, Schmitz is accused of bragging that he pushed out Jewish employees while Defense Department Inspector General for George W. Bush. Schmitz also told Pentagon official John Crane that “the ovens were too small to kill six million Jews” during the Holocaust.  As a former board member for the private military outsourcing company Blackwater, Schmitz left the government after he obstructed an FBI investigation of John A. Shaw regarding contracting improprieties in Iraq.

Whirling dervish Trump succeeded in a pivot for three days after he calmly read from his teleprompter last Friday evening:

“Sometimes in the heat of debate, and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that. And believe it or not, I regret it. I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain.”

Trump didn’t specify what “may have caused personal pain”—a long, long list if he means what he said. He also said in his speech that “sometimes I can be too honest,” meaning that he hasn’t changed his position, just sorry that he’s going down in the polls. The bar is so low for Trump that he is highly praised for being able to poorly read off a teleprompter a speech someone else wrote.

In the speech,Trump also said, “I will never lie to you.” That was immediately before he lied when he said that Hillary Clinton “has proven to be one of the greatest liars of all time.” Clinton has been judged to lie less than any other presidential candidates for the last three terms while Trump has the highest record of lying—over 80 percent of the time.

One of Trump’s lies comes from his promises to give money to charities and then never following through with these promises. Whenever he fired a character on The Celebrity Apprentice, he said he would give money “out of my own wallet” to a charity of the person’s choice. Evidently he never did—not to Khloé Kardashian’s pick of the Brent Shapiro Foundation or the choices that Aubrey O’Day and comedian Lisa Lampanelli made.  Any money the selected charities received came from the TV production company that paid for the show’s prizes or a non-profit that Trump controls but receives its money from other donors.

Another Trump lie is how much he owes. The man who takes pride in being a superb business man owes almost $3 billion, unlike the statement the amount of debt he cited in his public filings. Trump has ranted against China as a U.S. economic enemy and Goldman Sachs as the controller of Hillary Clinton, but China and Goldman Sachs hold part of the $950 million on a a building that he partially owns. Trump holds over $650 million in debt, at least twice as much as he has admitted.

Trump went to flood-devastated Louisiana for a photo-op without clearing the visit with the governor. He said that he intended to help people “in need” but never explained how.

Washington Post’s Friday quote of the day: In an attempt to prove that Trump has always been a conservative, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) cited Trump’s 1989 newspaper ads advocating the death penalty for five men of color wrongly convicted of raping a jogger in Central Park:

 “He bought an ad 20 years ago in the New York Times calling for the death penalty. How many people in New York, that liberal bastion, were willing to do something like that?”

BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski wrote:

“Trump spent more than $85,000 to publish controversial full-page newspaper ads … The five men who were sentenced for the rape were later exonerated, but only after they had served their full sentences. The men convicted were all black and Latino and in their mid-teens. Their wrongful conviction settlement, which ran into millions of dollars, was sharply criticized by Trump.”

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) is blaming Trump for the GOP’s “death spiral.” As Graham said, “Nobody knows where the bottom is.”

Melania Trump is now on the hot seat for perjury. While testifying in court under oath that she graduated with a degree in architecture from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. In fact, she only attended classes before become a model and coming to the U.S., possibly using illegal visas.

GOP candidate Donald Trump has been well-known for “changing his opinion” (i.e., saying whatever he thinks that his audience wants), but since the new campaign leadership, he has gone overboard in his shifts. During the past few days, he seemed to transition to being the “nice guy” who wants to protect blacks and even move toward leaving undocumented immigrants in the country after promising to throw all of them out. There was even an announcement that he would be giving an “immigration speech” in Colorado. Now, however, he has cancelled not only that speech but also appearances in Nevada and Oregon. A few hours ago, he said at a rally in Akron (OH) that he’ll build that wall on the Mexico border and that Mexico will pay for it. We’ll see what his campaign staff says about his declaration tomorrow.

Early voting for the 2016 general election starts in five weeks, and voting finishes in 77 days.

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