Nel's New Day

March 22, 2020

Take Press Briefings off the Air

Bored while you “shelter-in-place”? Start a blog. That’s what Margaret and Helen did 13 years ago, and they’re still going strong.

The Elephant in the Room is Donald J Trump: Stop asking him the questions. He doesn’t know the answers! #COVID19

“Margaret, I get it. I really do. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Everyone is scared and things are a bit crazy. Of course, the President should address the American people. Of course, he should. But just not this one. It’s not helping. It really isn’t.

“There is nothing decent about this man. He has cheated on all three of his wives. His career is filled with lawsuits, bankruptcies, claims of racism, tax evasion, discrimination, even rape. Nothing. Nothing about this man is honorable much less tolerable. His only claim to fame is taking joy in firing people on national television.

“How he became President I’ll never understand, but he did. And since becoming President over three years ago, he’s proven time and time again that he is pretty horrible at his job. In fact, if I were his boss, I’d fire him. I mean when he fabricated stories about the size of his inauguration, I would have just rolled my eyes and wondered if I had hired the wrong person. When he threw paper towels at hurricane victims, I probably would have at least sat him down. Told him he was out of line. Maybe written him up and given him a warning. But when he suggested that Nazi’s running over a woman with a car should be given some slack because they might be very fine people… well then… then, I would have fired his ass.

“But I’m not his boss… well technically I guess I am, but you know… Representative government and all. So, he’s still there and now there’s this pandemic and for some reason he insists on crawling out of his drug induced coma each day at 11:30 to address the American people. And even though he is surrounded by a bunch of experts, the media keeps asking him the questions. The fact that he constantly makes shit up doesn’t seem to stop them. They keep asking questions and he’s keeps making shit up.

“I’ve got a suggestion. How about we stop asking the elephant in the room questions and instead direct them to the experts standing behind him? What do they say, fool me once? Well he’s fooled them about 15,000 times and they just keep asking. Stop asking the asshat questions! Ask the experts. After all, millions of lives depend on the answers being correct.

“And let’s be clear. When I say expert, I don’t mean Mike Pence. His version of social distancing is to quarantine in Trump’s ass. And somehow from inside Trump’s ass he still manages to pat Trump on the back while simultaneously giving him a standing ovation. No. Mike Pence is the expert in one thing and one thing only – brown nosing. I’m talking Dr. Anthony Fauci or Dr. Deborah Birx or even that Chad guy. Who is Chad again?

“We need answers. We need them desperately. Millions of lives are depending on those answers. I am begging the White House Press Corps to stop asking Trump the fucking questions.

“We need answers. Not lies. Really. I mean it.”

Rachel Maddow goes farther than Margaret by asking that the media broadcast only truthful comments from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). (It would be very brief.)  Even in past crises, Maddow provided a fact-based perspective on the news, but she expressed this opinion about the lethal covid-19 crisis:

“Even when [DDT is] talking about what he has done or what he will do, he’s consistently lying and giving you happy talk that is stuff that the federal government isn’t actually doing. And it’s making people around the country count on the fact the federal government is doing that stuff when they’re not. If it were up to me and it’s not, I would stop putting those briefings on live TV. Not out of spite but because it’s misinformation. If the president does end up saying anything true, you can run it as tape. But if he keeps lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, all of us should stop broadcasting it. Honestly, it’s going to cost lives. Honestly, it’s going to cost lives.”

DDT can no longer use rallies to attract followers so he uses the daily press briefings for this purpose. When he’s not spouting generalities with no statistics or other specifics, he’s lying and ranting against anyone who opposes him. The people he calls to speak also avoid any clear information such as number of people testing, amount of supplies, and any assistance for states.

In the WaPo, Margaret Sullivan echoed Maddow’s message.

“More and more each day, President Trump is using his daily briefings as a substitute for the campaign rallies that have been forced into extinction by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“These White House sessions—ostensibly meant to give the public critical and truthful information about this frightening crisis—are in fact working against that end.

“Rather, they have become a daily stage for Trump to play his greatest hits to captive audience members. They come in search of life-or-death information, but here’s what they get from him instead:

“● Self-aggrandizement. When asked how he would grade his response to the crisis, the president said, “I’d rate it a 10.” Absurd on its face, of course, but effective enough as blatant propaganda

“● Media-bashing. When NBC News’s Peter Alexander lobbed him a softball question in Friday’s briefing — “What do you say to Americans who are scared?” — Trump went on a bizarre attack. “I say, you’re a terrible reporter,” the president said, launching into one of his trademark “fake news” rants bashing Alexander’s employer….

“● Exaggeration and outright lies. Trump has claimed that there are plenty of tests available (there aren’t); that Google is “very quickly” rolling out a nationwide website to help manage coronavirus treatment (the tech giant was blindsided by the premature claim); that the drug chloroquine, approved to treat malaria, is a promising cure for the virus and “we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.” (It hasn’t been approved for this use, and there is no evidence to demonstrate its effectiveness in fighting the virus.)

“Trump is doing harm and spreading misinformation while working for his own partisan political benefit—a naked attempt to portray himself as a wartime president bravely leading the nation through a tumultuous time, the FDR of the 21st century.

“The press—if it defines its purpose as getting truthful, useful, non-harmful information to the public, as opposed to merely juicing its own ratings and profits — must recognize what is happening and adjust accordingly. (And that, granted, is a very big “if.”)

“Business as usual simply doesn’t cut it. Minor accommodations, like fact-checking the president’s statements afterward, don’t go nearly far enough to counter the serious damage this man is doing to the public’s well-being.

“Radical change is necessary: The cable networks and other news organizations that are taking the president’s briefings as live feeds should stop doing so….

“’Rather than covering Trump live, [Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University] recommended, among other things, that the media should ‘attend carefully to what he says’ and subject it to verification before blasting it out to the public.

“It’s important to remember how much Trump’s tune has changed on the coronavirus, from blithely dismissive to self-importantly serious….

“This is what he was saying about the virus in public as recently as Feb. 27: ‘It’s going to disappear. One day—it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.’

“We know, without any doubt, that Trump was ignoring intelligence reports that warned about the likelihood of a pandemic at the same time he was cooing these baseless reassurances. But now he’s claiming that he knew the problem was a pandemic long before others did, and that he took every step possible….

“But Trump has proved, time after time, that he doesn’t care about truth, that he puts his financial and political self-interest above that of the public, and that he has no understanding of the role of the press in a democracy. And now lives are on the line.

“The news media, at this dangerous and unprecedented moment in world history, must put the highest priority on getting truthful information to the public. “Taking Trump’s press conferences as a live feed works against that core purpose.”

[Contrast Helen’s latest “elephant” with her post from ten years ago, “The Elephant in the Room Is a Kangaroo.”]

Today: United States (all 50 states and DC) confirmed covid-19 cases – 32,783 with 8,576 today; deaths – 416 with 114 today.

Country: 336,075 confirmed covid-19 cases; 14,613 deaths; the most deaths in China, Italy, and the U.S. 

 

 

February 9, 2020

DDT: Week 159 – ‘Vengeance Is Mine, Saith the Lord.’

On Thursday, self-appointed “lord,“ Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) began his retaliation for government officials who were not willing to lie for him. His frequently-used words “vicious” and “horrible” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) came in his vicious and horrible speech at the National Prayer Breakfast and his attacks on the religious beliefs of Pelosi and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). DDT accused Romney of using “religion as a crutch” and called Pelosi a liar for saying that she prays. His GOP sycophants fed his ego for his ramblings that made the annual religious event into a partisan campaign meeting. DDT’s hateful comments followed Arthur Brooks’ keynote speech about loving one’s enemies and taking contempt out of one’s heart, just like Jesus. DDT disagrees with Jesus.

Later that day, he spread more vitriol from the White House and topped off his comments by threatening revenge. DDT repeated false conspiracy theories about Joe Biden’s non-existent corrupt dealings in Ukraine and then held up his own family, who are making a fortune off DDT’s position in the Oval Office, as perfection. “I’m really not a bad person,” DDT said defensively.

The GOP senators who said that he’s “learned his lesson” tried to protect Gordon Sondland, a big GOP donor. Running for reelection in 2020, GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Martha McSally (AZ), and Thom Tillis (NC) asked DDT to let Sondland resign because they want his money this year; Ron Johnson (WI) echoed them to get donations for 2022. About the firing of Vindman, Tillis said that DDT “gets to set foreign policy.” Collins excused DDT for his purging of witnesses because that wasn’t part of her definition of “lesson.”

AG Bill Barr and GOP senators already announced their plans to investigate the Bidens. DDT’s Treasury Department, which is protecting his income tax returns, has turned over information to Senate Republicans on Hunter Biden with no subpoenas and “producing ‘evidence’ of questionable origin,” according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The Treasury Department has violated the law by refusing to turn over DDT’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. A whistleblower has also claimed that officials protected DDT’s taxes from an audit. In the next big cover up, Barr announced all investigations of 2020 candidates require his clearance

According to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Face the Nation, DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani is also looking for “dirt” on the Bidens that he is submitting directly to Barr. Graham’s interviewer, Margaret Brennan said that the channel between Giuliani and Barr sounds like a “taxpayer-funded research operation against Joe Biden” which was the basis of the impeachment probe.

In the Atlantic, McKay Coppins explains how DDT is spending $1 billion to spread disinformation and destroy faith in the media. Part of the disinformation will probably be DDT’s latest lie about his investigation into the Bidens. “I had to do it,” he claimed, because of a treaty between Ukraine and the U.S. that states nothing about “corruption” in Ukraine. DDT ignored 330,000 companies in Ukraine to focus on a political opponent.

Friday, DDT full-throatedly began his vengeance with the “Friday Night Massacre.” He fired:

  • National Security Council aid Alexander Vindman and had him walked off the White House grounds after Vindman testified under subpoena at a House Intelligence Committee hearing;
  • Vindman’s twin brother, also on the National Security Council, for—nothing;
  • Gordon Sondland, who also testified after subpoenas, after he paid $1 million to be appointed ambassador to the European Union.

At least one expert called the firing of both Vindmans and Sondland a “criminal action,” but GOP senators told DDT he can do anything he wants.

Fewer than half of the 18 people who testified in the impeachment inquiry—Michael Atkinson, Laura Cooper, Catherine Croft, David Hale, David Holmes, George Kent, Philip Reeker, and Mark Sandy—are still in their positions: Jennifer Williams has been moved out of the White House, and gone are Christopher Anderson, Fiona Hill, Michael McKinley, Tim Morrison, Bill Taylor, Marie Yovanovitch, and Kurt Volker, some of them retired rather than fired. People familiar with the whistleblower say the person is still doing his intelligence job for the CIA although people such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) are working hard to destroy him.

Fewer than half of the 18 people who testified in the impeachment inquiry—Michael Atkinson, Laura Cooper, Catherine Croft, David Hale, David Holmes, George Kent, Philip Reeker, and Mark Sandy—are still in their positions: Jennifer Williams has been moved out of the White House, and gone are Christopher Anderson, Fiona Hill, Michael McKinley, Tim Morrison, Bill Taylor, Marie Yovanovitch, and Kurt Volker, some of them retired rather than fired. People familiar with the whistleblower say the person is still doing his intelligence job for the CIA although people such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) are working hard to destroy him.

Firing is in the Washington air: VA Secretary Robert Wilkie fired his deputy secretary James Byrne. An independent investigation found that Wilkie personally looked for damaging information about a congressional aide because she said she was sexually assaulted in a VA hospital in an effort to discredit her. Wilkie is DDT’s fourth VA secretary.

DDT cheered after a federal appeals court rejected an emoluments lawsuit from over 200 Congressional Democrats. He’s not yet off the hook because the ruling didn’t address whether DDT’s business dealings are illegal. The D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the Democrats lacked legal standing, but they might proceed if a congressional chamber formally authorized the lawsuit.

A WaPo reporter has found more evidence of DDT’s profit-making off federal money by charging the Secret Service up to $650 per night lodging at his clubs, charges paid by taxpayers. At Bedminster, the Secret Service was charged $17,000 per month for a three-bedroom on DDT’s property even when DDT wasn’t there. Average rental rate for comparable properties in the area is $3,400, and the highest noted is $8,500. Secret Service agents are exempt from per diem requirements. The $471,000 taxpayer payments to DDT’s companies come from only a fraction of DDT’s travel. While campaigning, DDT said he would have no time to travel if he were elected, but he has spent one-third of his time at his private cubs and hotels, always accompanied by the Secret Service. Past presidents—George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—did not charge for the Secret Service staying with them. Payments to DDT are not listed in public databases of federal spending, and the Secret Service is paying a great deal at DDT’s D.C. hotel although DDT has not stayed there since his inauguration.

Walter Shaub, former head of the U.S. Office of Government, has a chart of DDT’s conflicts of interest. Shaub warned that “this is just the start.”

DDT plans to destroy tribal cultural areas, rare rock art, 75 million-year-old dinosaur fossils, and natural landscapes by permitting mining, drilling, grazing, logging, road development, and off-road-vehicle use in Utah’s national monuments. Although cases are in the courts, the Interior Department plans to continue before the legal process is settled because I moves too slowly.

On January 31, DDT designated the entire Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency a “Security Agency” with the same secrecy as high intelligence agencies such as the FBI and Secret Service and the ability to hide records from the public. The new classification exempts “all CBP employee names from subsequent responses to Freedom of Information Act requests or other public disclosures for CGP employee data.” CBP now has spying powers of the recognized 18 intelligence agencies. Earlier the Office of Intelligence and Analysis had received the ability to reject any FOIA requests.

Last month, an active-duty U.S. soldier who was born in Iran and traveling as part of U.S. official duty was detained and harassed by border agents after having their telephone confiscated. The telephone still hasn’t been returned to the soldier. The action was taken as part of a CBP strategy to block U.S. citizens of Iranian heritage from returning to their homes after attending a concert in Vancouver, BC. Officials claimed they had no directive to detain Iranian Americans, but a leaked document from the Seattle Field Office ordered targeting Iranian Americans for secondary screening based on their country of origin.

A second court case has exonerated humanitarian aid volunteers who provide water and food in the southern Arizona desert. A U.S. District judge reverse the conviction of four people and permitted their religious freedom to prevail. Four months ago, Scott Warren was successful in his religious freedom defense after providing food, water, and clothing to men in the desert. The judge in the second case described the government defense of “deterrence by death” as “gruesome” and “unsupported by evidence” because it’s dependent on killing people as a deterrence.

The man elected as U.S. president has time to rage about photos of him, this one showing the line at the edge of his face because of the bronze goo he slathers on his skin. No, it’s not from Photoshopping as he claims, but he did think his hair looked “good.” 

January 27, 2020

Impeachment Defense Concentrates on Revisionist History, Lies

Republicans have blocked former national security adviser John Bolton from testifying, but in his forthcoming book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, Bolton wrote that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told him he wanted to continue freezing military aid to Ukraine until their officials investigated Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Bolton’s book also implicates Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, AG Bill Barr, DOJ Secretary Mark Esper, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and DDT’s private secretary Rudy Giuliani. Because DDT’s defense team testified under oath before the Senate that there is no evidence of DDT’s tying Ukraine aid to investigations, they may be in jeopardy of criminal perjury charges or legal disciplinary actions because they knew what was in Bolton’ book since December 30. 

The White House received only one copy of Bolton’s book, but reports show that multiple copies are being passed around, resulting in multiple leaks. For example, Bolton told Barr about his concerns about DDT’s granting personal favors to the autocratic leaders of Turkey and China.

Complaining about the impeachment, DDT tweets lies such as this one:

“The Democrat House would not give us lawyers, or not one witness, but now demand that the Republican Senate produce the witnesses that the House never sought, or even asked for? They had their chance, but pretended to rush. Most unfair & corrupt hearing in Congressional history!”

A headline from last month: “White House rejects House Democrats’ invitation to participate in impeachment process as Trump focuses on friendly Senate.” DDT has also provided no definition for “corrupt hearing.” Every time Republicans complain about “unfair,” the Democrats offer them involvement in the impeachment process, Republicans turn them down and continue to cry “unfair.”

DDT will be even unhappier with the Fox after it published an op-ed by its consultant Andrew Napolitano stating “ample” evidence exists to remove DDT from office, that DDT is wrong about his “hoax” defense:

“What is required for removal of the president? A demonstration of presidential commission of high crimes and misdemeanors, of which in Trump’s case the evidence is ample and uncontradicted.”

With no evidence to refute last week’s House presentation, DDT’s defense strategy began with anger at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), head of the prosecutorial House Managers, and lies from Russian propaganda and conspiracy theories. The defense team is so desperate that it used video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) handing out pens from her signing of the articles of impeachment as “evidence” of something. An analysis of today’s defense performance. Knowing that Bolton’s book is disastrous to the defense, the team spent much of Monday smearing Joe and Hunter Biden with misrepresentations of the Burisma affair and revisionist history before television personality channeled the Founding Fathers to explain why no one can impeach a president. One of the team did admit the July 25 telephone call between DDT and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky was less than “perfect” but moved on to say that DDT didn’t know any better and that it’s not impeachable. 

The defense team spent two hours on Saturday with its outline of lies:

  • He did not commit an “impeachable offense.” [Constitutional experts disagree.]
  • No witness has said the military aid was withheld to force an investigation of his political opponents. [DDT blocked any witnesses who might provide this information, but he did block aid. The defense supports an argument for witnesses.]
  • House managers are hiding evidence that exonerates DDT. [Again, no evidence.]

More Lies:  

Fiction: DDT released the “actual transcript” of the July 25 telephone call between DDT and Zelensky. Fact: The public has only a “memorandum of telephone conversation.” The “actual transcript” is concealed on the government’s highest security computer.

Fiction: DDT didn’t condition either security assistance or a meeting in the telephone call. Fact: The public doesn’t know because the complete transcript was not released.

Fiction: Zelensky didn’t state a quid pro quo. Fact: Zelensky had to be careful to not upset DDT, but a video shows DDT saying that he conditioned aid on the demand that Zelensky help him “investigate” Biden. DDT and his private lawyer Rudy Giuliani threatened to withhold a White House meeting from Zelensky to force him to announce investigations into Joe Biden when addressing Gordon Sondland’s claim that there was a “quid pro quo.” Sondland testified that he was acting on DDT’s behalf when he offered the trade of military aid for Zelensky’s announcement about an investigation into Biden.

Fiction: No witness testified that DDT said that there was any “connection between any investigation and security assistance, a presidential meeting, or anything else.” Fact: Several witnesses, including Sondland and Alexander Vindman, said that Trump had made a such a connection. DDT is blocking other witnesses who can testify about any “connection.”

Fiction: Ukraine made no announcement about investigations before the military aid was released on September 11. Fact: Aid was released after a whistleblower complaint “caught” DDT and the news went public.

Fiction: Zelensky didn’t know about the freeze on military aid until a month after the telephone call. Fact: The Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister said that Ukraine was aware of a U.S. freeze in military aid as early as July, and Zelensky discussed DDT’s reluctance to release the aid as early as May 7

Fiction: Democrats are trying to overturn the 2016 election. Fact: Impeachment doesn’t overturn an election.

Fiction: Democrats are trying to keep “the people” from electing DDT in 2020. Fact: Democrats are trying to keep foreign governments from election a president in 2020 the way that they did in 2016.

The brevity of defense  on Saturday allowed a larger audience when the team returned Monday. A few Republicans said that defense “shredded” the House managers’ arguments—but not how. In fact, the defense “shredded” the U.S. Constitution. As Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) stated in a press conference following the two hours that the defense is “trying to deflect, distract from, and distort the truth.” 

Another bogus GOP argument is that Democrats refuse to call Hunter and Joe Biden. One suggestion is that GOP senators will call a Democratic-chosen witness in exchange for calling Hunter Biden. With 53 votes, GOP Senators can do anything they want in the impeachment trial, including a subpoena for Hunter Biden, but Senate Majority Leader McConnell thus far convinced DDT that calling these witnesses could backfire on him.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is feeling the stress of the political climate. According to NPR correspondent Mary Louise Kelly, Pompeo said that he has defended “every State Department official” and then cut off the interview, leaving the room. An aide returned and took Kelly to Pompeo’s private living room where she said that he screamed and used the F word frequently. “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” After Kelly said she could find Ukraine on the map, in response to Pompeo’s question, he demanded she do so on a map with no writing. [He evidently keeps one with him.] Kelly followed his directions. Later she released information about the interaction because Pompeo did not say that it was off the record. 

Pompeo didn’t deny his behavior but issued a statement lambasting the media and claiming that Kelly lied about not being off the record. He concluded with “Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.” This statement may be a false insinuation that Kelly couldn’t identify Ukraine on an unmarked map—a juvenile demand—that adds to Pompeo’s many other lies. Kelly, a former national security reporter with a master’s degree in European Studies from Cambridge University, would not have selected a country (lower right) 3,000 miles from Ukraine (upper left). NPR is standing behind Kelly’s account of her exchange with Pompeo.

DDT is now threatening to do away with NPR to protect Pompeo. Pompeo’s lying, cursing, and abuse of the media appears to exemplify evangelical Christian values; he will give the commencement speech for Liberty University on May 9.

As Pelosi said, “All roads lead to Putin.” DDT’s acceptance of foreign election aid from Russia that has been made public:

June 9, 2016: Secret meeting between a Russian emissary and Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort seeking “dirt” on DDT’s opponent Hillary Clinton.

June 14, 2016: Russian government hackers gained access to DNC email and chat traffic; DDT echoed Russian denial of being the perpetrators and accused the DNC of trying to “distract.”

July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks dumped tens of thousands of stolen emails and documents, and DDT again denied that Russia did the hacking.

July 27, 2016: DDT calls on Russia to find Clinton’s “missing” emails, and five hours later Russian government hackers tried to break into emails tied to Clinton and her personal office.

Summer 2016: DDT’s campaign attempted a secret connection with the Russian government after cybersecurity experts and U.S. intelligence agencies identified Russia as responsible into the DNC hacking.

Early August 2016: Manafort shared internal campaign polling data with a Russian asset and discussed a pro-Putin peace plan for Ukraine.

Mid-August 2016: DDT received federal intelligence about Russian hacking but publicly and repeatedly denied that it happened, parroting Vladimir Putin’s false claims. DDT also lied about having no business in Russia.

October 2016: Immediately after the release of the “pussy grabbing” video, Wikileaks daily released hacked emails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, and DDT repeatedly declared he “loved” WikiLeaks with its foreign intervention in the election. The recent trial of DDT’s adviser Roger Stone shows DDT tried to use him as a contact with WikiLeaks.

Since his election, DDT continuously denies any Russian involvement based on Putin’s disavowals, asks for China’s help in investigating political opponent Biden, and states that he would see no problem in getting damaging information on candidates from foreign governments.

In supreme irony, DDT, the man with the motto “America First,” is being impeached because he won’t put the United States first.

January 20, 2020

Will Trade Deals Overcome Impeachment?

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has gloated about how good he is at making business deals; he even hired a writer for The Art of the Deal with his name as author. Last week, Congress signed a “replacement” for NAFTA, and DDT signed “phase one” in a trade deal with China. 

Former White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn said DDT’s tariffs “hurt the U.S.” and didn’t help trade deal negotiation. The steel and aluminum tariffs didn’t help the economy, said DDT’s former appointee, partly the reason he left his job. Cohn also said that tariffs didn’t help DDT pass either trade deal.

DDT maintained that China promised to make huge purchases of U.S. goods, including soybeans and pork, but the agreement has a loophole for China about “market conditions.” Skepticism about the deal caused soybean prices to fall, and tariffs on U.S. farm exports worth billions of dollars remain. U.S. farm goods sales to China in 2018 were $9.1 billion, a 50 percent drop from a year earlier and much lower than the peak of $26 billion in 2012. They have a long way to go.

The China deal failed to fulfill DDT’s campaign promise, to force China into changing its economic policies, the ones that DDT said disadvantaged workers and companies. Missing are any changes to China’s huge subsidies to Chinese companies which has greatly benefited the family of Elaine Choe, Transportation Secretary and wife to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the agreement keeps some tariffs that cost U.S. consumers.

China also reinstated semiannual talks about reform and disputes that DDT had discontinued. Marc Busch, professor of international business diplomacy at Georgetown University, called the deal “more a cessation of hostilities, phase one, coupled with some barter” instead of a trade agreement. Other experts doubted whether DDT will achieve a “phase two.” Scott Kennedy, senior adviser and trustee chair of Chinese business and economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, called it a “very narrow deal. It’s far short of the administration’s original goals, and the US and the international community has paid a very large price for what is a relatively modest deal.” The next time around, DDT may not say that trade wars are good and easy to win as he swivels his focus to tariffs on France and Germany.

In the meantime, the “deal” that DDT made with China returns it to the status quo before he was inaugurated.

The number of DDT’s lies and misleading claims have spiked since he was inaugurated. Of the 16,241 falsehoods during his first three years, 1,999 (six a day) were in 2017, 5,689 (almost 16 a day) in 2018, and the remaining 8,155 (over 22 a day) were in 2019. Here’s a breakdown.

Many of these lies were in his speech to the Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention last Sunday in Austin (TX). DDT claimed that farmer income fell under President Obama when it topped out at the highest it’s ever been in 2013. Taking credit for the $30 billion increase in net farm income, he didn’t point out the $22.4 billion were government subsidies. Last year, farm subsidies hit their highest levels–$22.4 billion and one-fifth of farmer’s money—in over a decade during George W. Bush’s second term, bailouts going primarily to corporate farms. Farmer suicides increased under DDT, and equipment costs went up while farmers with smaller farm lost money.

DDT told farmers that he had also provided “unprecedented support” to the ethanol industry, but he had to change his policy after protests from Midwestern lawmakers and lobbying groups. The visa program also doesn’t allow for enough farmworkers. He falsely suggested that Canadian dairy tariffs were eliminated and that the deal with Japan to reduce tariffs on $7 billion of farm products was a “$40 billion deal.” 

DDT bragged at the conference that the GOP had never been stronger, a claim negated by shifts to Democrats since his inauguration. An awkward part of his speech came from his claim that he fought for farmers’ water rights and ability to control their own usage. DDT is presently suing to take land from ranchers and farmers to build his wall—some of the land owned since before Texas became a state.

DDT’s trade deal with Mexico and Canada keeps almost 90 percent of its predecessor, NAFTA, which DDT proclaimed “the worst trade deal ever made.” The other ten percent comes from the Trans-Pacific Partnership which DDT called a “disaster” and a “rape of our country.” The trade agreement raises auto prices and hurts the U.S. auto industry, according to a federal government analysis.

Both these deals increase trade barriers rather than removing them—and without providing great benefits. Instead of the GOP’s philosophy of anti-tax and pro-market, the Chinese deal does both. Tariffs (aka taxes) remain on $360 billion of Chinese goods, taxes that are paid by U.S. consumers, raise costs for U.S. companies to do business, and risk U.S. jobs. DDT’s tariffs tax products that U.S. manufacturers use to make their goods, and manufacturing has reacted by being in a recession for almost half a year. Despite farm subsidies that were double the amount of the 2009 auto bailout (which DDT constantly criticized), farmer bankruptcies went up 24 percent last year. And the auto industry paid back the loans they received.

Catherine Rampell described the effect of DDT’s trade wars after two years:

“They’ve fractured our international alliances, imposed tens of billions of dollars of new taxes on Americans, resulted in two expensive agricultural bailouts, multiplied farmer bankruptcies and landed the manufacturing sector in a recession.”

This week, DDT is spending another $3.4 million of taxpayer money to give a speech at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. To help spend the $1 million for lodging, some members of the White House entourage will be staying at the Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère, a historic luxury hotel near the city center. The Secret Service will pay more than $400,000 for agents to stay at the Bad Ragaz, a five-star resort featuring indoor and outdoor thermal spas. Costs on top of the $3.4 million are security expenses, salaries, and another $2.2 million for the Air Force round trip between the U.S. and Zurich and the Marine One helicopter between Zurich and Davos.

DDT landed at the resort today and then flies out after his speech (watch for more lies!) before the meeting does its business, working on the problem of climate change. His company includes Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer, Labor secretary Eugene Scalia, and Transportation secretary Elaine Chao along with daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner. Last year, DDT canceled his appearance at the last minute because of the government shutdown, but still cost taxpayers $3.2 million in unused hotel rooms and rental cars.

His keynote speech tomorrow is on the opening day of his impeachment trial in the Senate. Republicans have a new defense for DDT beyond denial and the “so-what” response: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) came up with “things happen.” In one interview, he moved from DDT didn’t seek foreign election assistance to he did do that but it wasn’t important, and finished by calling DDT’s actions a “mistake” but who cares.

In “Is the Oath a Joke,” conservatives William Kristol and Jeffrey K. Tulis wrote about GOP senators who declared their votes in favor of DDT before they swore under oath to “do impartial justice”:

“Human beings will still be fallible, opinionated, even prejudiced. Indeed our Founders expected no less. But there is a big difference between lamentably falling short of the highest standard and actively scorning it. Might citizens press their Senators to summon up some buried residue of decency and a modicum of impartiality?”

The impeachment trial begins tomorrow at 1:00 EST, beginning with procedural questions. Senate Majority Leader McConnell issued draconian rules today that will likely be debated, for example 24 hours for each side over two days. The possibility of witnesses is still up in the air. Every dissension requires a vote with a simple majority for passing the proposals. The Senate has 47 Democrats and Independents. The vote on accepting witnesses comes after open argument from each side and 16 hours set aside for written questions from senators, according to McConnell. Schumer said that the rules “don’t even allow the simple, basic step of admitting the House record into evidence at the trial.”

The Senate controls the videoing of the trial which means limited views, and the setting will appear more like a courtroom than a legislative assembly. Reporters are permitted in seats above the central rostrum but cannot bring cameras, laptops, cell phones, or any other electronic devices. No cameras or media are allowed in closed session for Senate debate. TV correspondent are on the first floor of the Senate side. Outside the chamber, reporters are penned off behind a velvet rope. C-SPAN and the Fox network plan gavel-to-gavel coverage, and CNN will stream the proceedings online. PBS will cover the proceedings and return to it after the nightly NewsHour broadcast. Senators are not allowed to talk, tweet, or text. Questions must be written and handed to Roberts.

McConnell is desperately trying to get the trial over before DDT’s State of the Union speech on February 4. It is not unprecedented for a president to give that speech while tried for impeachment—Bill Clinton did it in 1999—but DDT lacks the self-control of Bill Clinton. DDT has already demonstrated an inordinate degree of fury and unreasonableness, far more than any other person occupying the Oval Office.

The next few days will not be peaceful ones in the Senate, and Chief Justice John Roberts may struggle with his judicial leadership.

December 21, 2019

DDT: Week 152 – Dems Busy beyond Impeachment with GOP Obstruction

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) used tweets on Friday to attack the conservative evangelical publication Christianity Today founded by Billy Graham because it advocated his impeachment. Adding to his 15,000+ lies in less than three years, he called the publication “a far left magazine, or very ‘progressive,’ … which has been doing poorly and … knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call….” He also tweeted, “I won’t be reading ET [sic] again!” Graham’s son Franklin Graham criticized CT’s position but said he had not read the editorial about impeaching DDT. Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of the piece, retired on January 3 after 30 years involved with the magazine. 

DDT continued to threatened $250 million funding for Ukraine by blocking a $1.4 trillion spending package funding the federal government through the end of September 2020 if it contained the provision that he must release funds for the U.S. ally within 45 days. Democrats gave in to his demands to keep the U.S. from a shutdown by withdrawing the deadline for the funding release. The bill also lost a mandate that letters authorizing the release of congressional funding must be made public. In the $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), DDT got his “space force,” and government employees got 12 weeks paid parental leave

The bills also raised the federal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 and a 3.1% pay increase for the troops and civilian federal employees. DDT got $1.375 billion for his wall, partly repair and less than the $8 billion he wanted. Defense spending increased by $22 billion. Elimination of three taxes to pay for the Affordable Care Act adds $373 billion to the deficit over the next decade. Forty-seven Republicans, once the party of fiscal prudence, voted for the budget that leads to more deficits. The GOP tax 2017 tax law already reduced U.S. tax revenue which fell 2.5 percent of tax-to-GDP in 2018, the most of any country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

Republicans managed to keep violent white supremacists in the military by blocking an amendment while non-violent transgender recruits are banned.

DDT’s signatures on the bills avoids a government shutdown days before the first anniversary of the last one, a rancorous event that lasted 35 days and cost the U.S. economy $11 billion.

With a vote of 385 to 41, the House passed another major bill this week, the trade deal with Mexico and Canada called NAFTA Lite. The bill looks very different from DDT’s original draft; even the AFL-CIO approves. Gone are the pharmaceutical protections for drug companies, and appearing are higher labor standards in Mexico, faster dispute resolution, higher environmental standards, and stronger enforcement of the deal. Mexico almost backed out with the requirement of five people from the U.S. to supervise its labor arrangements. While not perfect, the new trade agreement is considered better than the original NAFTA, passed 23 years ago.

These major accomplishments negate DDT’s and Republicans’ assertion that the impeachment inquiry kept the House from addressing any other issues. DDT called the opposing party “the Do-Nothing Democrats,” but “do-nothing” better fits Republicans. The House’s hard work is visualized in this photo of 275 House bills DOA (Dead on Arrival) in the Senate because (Do-Nothing) Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to acknowledge them. 

Facebook removed over 600 accounts connected to the pro-DDT conspiracy website The Epoch Times for using artificial-intelligence identities to push fake stories about topics including impeachment and elections. The network, “The BL,” was operated by Vietnamese users pretending to be Americans and using fake photos created by algorithms to fake real identities. In pushing the pro-DDT conspiracy theories, The Epoch Media group spent $9.5 million on ads to spread content on the pages and groups that FB suspended. DDT’s official FB page posts their stories. A U.S.-based media company, The Epoch Media group, has now joined foreign governments to use foreign people posing as U.S. people to push pro-DDT content to its 55 million followers. Publisher of the U.S. editions of The Epoch Times, Stephen Gregory, claimed that it has no connection to BL because it’s part of Epoch Times Vietnam and that their former employees creating and working for BL doesn’t show any connection with its 89 pages, 156 groups, and 72 Instagram accounts.  The largest buyer of pro-Trump ads on Facebook until August, The Epoch Times was banned from buying FB ads after the company consistently violated FB’s political advertising rules.

One of the many lies in DDT’s Wednesday Michigan rally went viral, and Republicans, including DDT’s sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), demanded that DDT apologize. In response to Rep. Debbie Dingell’s (D-MI) vote for impeachment, DDT said that her husband, a World War II veteran and former member of Congress, had gone to Hell. DDT also falsely claimed that Rep. Dingell had called him after her husband’s service to praise DDT when he called her. Pelosi said that DDT “misunderstands … that cruelty is not wit.”

The Dingell attack is part of DDT’s five ruling hallmarks:

Governing as perpetual warfare: us against them to inflame base and create deep divisions.

Governing by exhaustion: a war losing participants from boredom.

Governing by grievance and hyperbole: victimhood and martyrdom from declaring the BIGGEST or BEST or WORST as shown by the comparison of his impeachment to the Salem witch trials and the crucifixion of Jesus.

Governing by defiance: no matter the evidence, DDT also claiming that he’s never wrong.

Governing with “alternative facts”: over 15,000 lies in less than three years along with stories with no identification of people or changing names of characters. (Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) supports this position by telling Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), “We’ve beat the facts back all the time.”)

In exhaustion, the fifth top official at the Pentagon resigned within the past week from these positions: international cooperation in weapons systems, Asia policy, personnel and readiness, advanced research, and intelligence. Acting chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney is expected to depart following the impeachment trial after being ignored in personnel, policy, and impeachment decisions. Rumor suggests his replacement is founder of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who said he won’t run for re-election and may work for DDT, something that he’s done for the past three years.

More exhaustion at DDT’s Michigan rally appeared when his “four more years” chant died in fewer than ten seconds. At the rally, DDT also claimed, “The steel is back”: Two days later, US Steel laid off 1,545 workers in closing its Great Lakes Works mill near Detroit.  In October, 376 Louisiana steel workers lost their jobs when Bayou Steel shut down its mill in LaPlace.

Senate Republicans keeps allowing Russia to interfere in U.S. elections while DDT’s administration fights to protect Russia from sanctions, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who usually walks in lockstep with DDT, introduced legislation to punish Russian people and companies for its interference in the 2016 election and its targeting of Ukraine, Syria, and dissidents for attacks. Sanctions were partly because of Russia’s capture of Ukrainian sailors and ships. DDT’s State Department sent a 22-page letter to Graham in opposition to his bill. It passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday with opposition from five of the 12 Republicans. McConnell can block the bill from going to the Senate floor.

After DDT met with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, in the Oval Office during the impeachment inquiry, Vladimir Putin-approved state TV confirmed that DDT is a Russian agent in a segment called “Puppet Master and ‘Agent’—How to Understand Lavrov’s Meeting with Trump.” And DDT isn’t the “puppet master” as this photo, requested by DDT, shows in Lavrov standing as the power behind the throne. 

Russia does expect DDT to “face a very unhappy period” after he leaves the White House. A joke was whether Russians should “get another apartment in Rostov ready.” Former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych settled in Rostov-on-Don when he fled to Russia in 2014. Valery Korovin, director of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise, said, “There are no disagreements or contradictions between Trump and Russia.” Putin-supporter and law professor Mikhail Antonov said, “Putin has expressed undisguised delight with the crusade led by Trump and Giuliani to whitewash Moscow’s interference in the U.S. elections” and pin the blame on Ukraine.

Former White House officials say that DDT passes Russia propaganda such as the false theory about Ukrainian hacking supporting Clinton because Putin told him to do it.

A federal judge allowed the lawsuit against DDT and his administration alleging violation of federal records law after DDT confiscated and destroyed his meeting notes with Putin. No detailed records of DDT’s and Putin’s communication in their multiple meetings exist.

The White House is catching crazy from DDT’s conspiracy theories: reporter Brian Karem said it’s claiming that Hillary deliberately lost the election by getting help from Russian hacking so that DDT could be impeached. Although the logic sounds wacko, that is the culture of DDT’s administration. DDT also claimed that Democrats started trying to impeach him before he declared candidacy.

After DDT pardoned military war criminals, his approval rating with service members dropped—42 percent approval. Half of them gave DDT an unfavorable rating.

September 11, 2019

U.S., U.K.—Two World Leaders Focus on Themselves

Eighteen years ago today, 2,996 people were killed and more than 6,000 others were injured when 19 men—15 of them from Saudi Arabia—hijacked and crashed four planes on U.S. soil. Since that time, over 1,400 rescuers have died, and toxins at the crash site in New York caused cancer in 1,140 people. Since that time, 24 percent of U.S. population was born, and Republicans started wars costing trillions of dollars and creating chaos that continues to kill people throughout the world.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), inaugurated 964 days ago, multiplied the chaos in the U.S. many hundredsfold as he makes every situation—including a speech on 9/11—about himself. To “honor” the solemn occasion, he tweeted a photograph of himself and Melania Trump. Having done his duty for 9/11, he switched to his common theme of “fake news” after new polling shows him abysmally behind the top five Democratic contenders selected for the survey, and only 36 percent think he deserves re-election. In other rants, he tweeted about his trade war with China and praised himself for rejecting the peace talk with the Taliban after he offered to bring them to Camp David this week. Yesterday, he fired John Bolton because the national security adviser opposed DDT’s almost finishing an agreement with the Taliban.

DDT dishonors the memory of 9/11 with the many lies that he’s told about it, all for his own benefit:

  • He lied about seeing “thousands and thousands of people” on rooftops in New Jersey “cheering as that building was coming down” to reinforce his Muslim ban.
  • He lied about seeing bodies falling from his Midtown apartment four miles away.
  • He falsely blamed Bill Clinton during DDT’s campaign for the crash into the World Trade Center because he “didn’t kill Osama bin Laden.”  
  • He blamed George W. Bush for the disaster because “he didn’t listen to the advice of his CIA” and answered the audience’s boos with false claims that he “lost hundreds of friends” in the attacks. After Lawrence O’Donnell ridiculed the statement, he changed his lie to “many, many people.”
  • He lied about giving money to 9/11 charities.
  • He lied about helping to clear rubble and pay for several hundred workers to help clean up in the 9/11 aftermath.
  • He lied about his own building becoming the tallest building in New York City on the morning that the Twin Towers fell.
  • He lied about needing federal recovery money for small businesses and then admitted that his building had no physical damage. He falsely claimed he got the grant because he allowed people to use his building although the application didn’t specify that provision and he didn’t allow people to stay in his building.

Across the pond, DDT’s lookalike, Boris Johnson, whose sole goal is a no-deal Brexit to separate the UK from the EU, has miserably failed during his fewer than seven weeks term as prime minister. His only temporary success was a suspension of Parliament until October 14 to keep lawmakers from working on a Brexit deal, one of the longest suspensions in decades. Lawmakers did not go peacefully, protesting with signs, chants and attempts to physically restrain the speaker from leaving his chair. They finished with putting a sign reading “Silenced” on the speaker’s empty chairs. 

The validity of the suspension is in question. A Scottish court ruled the suspension illegal because Johnson falsified the reasons for the five-week suspension, perhaps even lying to the queen who had to approve it. Johnson plans to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. Courts in England and Wales ruled that Johnson’s move was legal, and another Scottish judge, meanwhile, determined that courts lack the authority to interfere in the suspension.

Since talking office, Johnson lost six key votes in the House of Commons—two of them to force a snap national election that might have given him control over the Brexit decision. Parliament also voted to force the government to publish details of secret preparations for a no-deal departure and prevent a no-deal Brexit by forcing Johnson to ask the EU for a deadline extension. When 21 members of his party voted against him, Johnson banned them from Parliament and running again. Johnson’s brother was so disgusted by the prime minister’s actions that he quit Parliament

The first winning vote, 328-301, against Johnson by a coalition of the Labour Party, the Scottish Nationalist Party, and other Brexit opponents was to take control of the agenda. Johnson expelled the 21 conservatives, including eight former Cabinet ministers,  who voted with the coalition, including Winston Churchill’s grandson. They will not be able to run for office again. 

The next failures for Johnson were two readings to block his no-deal Brexit and 288 abstentions on a failed vote for a snap general election. The bill, which became law after acceptance of the House of Lords, doesn’t stop a no-deal Brexit, but it legally binds the prime minister to ask the EU for an extension without a Parliament agreement for a deal by October 19. A furious Johnson said he’s rather “be dead in a ditch” than follow that law. 

Johnson may also face condemnation for his sexist description of former Prime Minister David Cameron as a “girly swot.” This week, Johnson called Jeremy Corbyn, leader of his opposition, a “great big girl’s blouse” for refusing to back an immediate general election.   He also secretly ordered the Cabinet Office to turn the government’s public internet service into a platform for “targeted and personalized information” for his no-deal Brexit and a digital revolution in public services, raising legal and ethical questions. The PM would have profiles on everyone’s online interactions with government with no protection for the data.

Johnson became prime minister only five weeks ago with 92,153 votes from Conservative Party members (only 0.002 percent of the UK voters), in the third election in five years, after the resignation of Theresa May as prime minister. Voters were primarily white, male, and over 50 years of age. It was the first time that only party membership elected Britain’s prime minister. Almost 109,000 people registered to vote at the start of the week in two days with 58 percent of them under 34 years old. The deadline for registration would be September 27 for a snap election on October 15. A Johnson aide admitted that Johnson wanted an early date for a general election to keep young people from voting.  

Suspension has left Johnson with only bleak choices:

  • Renegotiate a deal with the EU.
  • Ask for a Brexit delay.
  • Resign and run again.
  • Go to jail for not following the law to negotiate with the EU.

DDT has constantly supported Brexit, even telling Johnson to default on the $47 billion that the UK owes the EU. Pence told Ireland how he supports Brexit that would be “deeply disruptive” to peace between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Fed chair Jerome Powell has warned that a no-deal Brexit and “rising tensions in Hong Kong” could unravel U.S. expansion. Brexit could cause the dollar to go even higher and thus make U.S. goods more expensive for foreign buyers and depress U.S. exports. DDT wants open trade with the UK but can’t have it until the end of Brexit. The UK objects to DDT’s demands to open the National Health Service to U.S. drugmakers, allow genetically modified seeds on UK farms, and accept “chlorinated chicken,” as Johnson calls imports from the U.S. EU trade with the UK is over $800 billion compared to the $262 billion commerce with the U.S.

Brits have long been highly concerned about the departure with no agreement to regulate trade, border security, and other critical issues. They could face food and medicine shortages, and farms will fail. After three years of threatened Brexiting, Europeans are getting fed up with the UK’s decisions—or non-decisions. EU leaders might accept a delay beyond the Halloween deadline because a no-deal Brexit would be economically destabilizing, but negotiators worry about consequences of continued uncertainty and the destructive poison of the UK being inside the union. A major advantage of Brexit is that the other 27 countries in the EU, having watched the insanity in UK, have no interest in repeating it.

Like DDT, Johnson wants to break the system for his own purposes. After Parliament consistently voted against him, he’ll tell people that politics are rigged against them. He will question the legitimacy of the judicial system, already insinuating that the Scottish ruling against him is illegitimate. And he plans to break the law for his own means. The country will move farther toward cynicism and gridlock—like in the United States. If Johnson wins with only the Conservative vote, 30 percent of the country, he’ll be backed by under one-third of the country, a catastrophic situation like DDT. The four nations in the United Kingdom may decide to separate, especially with Northern Ireland already isolated and no way to leave except by air or sea. A no-deal Brexit would keep them from freely crossing the border to the Republic of Ireland.

MP Ian Murray wrote:

“Boris Johnson lied about Brexit, lied to the Queen about suspending parliament, politicised the police, derided judges and disregarded the law. Everyone must be concerned that his Government is moving dangerously close to a dictatorship.”

Boris Johnson is blustering, ruthless, racist, homophobic, sexist, boastful, divisive, Islamophobic—consumed with white male privilege. Does that sound familiar?

 

July 25, 2019

Mueller Testimony Shows Republicans Live in an Alternate Reality

The week of Robert Mueller’s testimony about his investigation before two House committees began with a letter from DOJ Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer, who earlier declared that he had nothing to do with the investigation, ordering Mueller about what he can and cannot tell say. Attorney Neal Katyal, formerly a DOJ member,  described the letter’s tone as “bizarrely adversarial” and “not a way to treat a former FBI director.” Another former DOJ official, Matthew Miller, commented:

“DOJ’s position is it’s OK for [AG Bill] Barr to talk about decision making, findings that go beyond the report, etc., but Mueller can’t.”

Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) tried to seem casual about Mueller’s testimony. Asked if he was worried, DDT said:

“No, I’m not going to be watching. Probably. Maybe I’ll see a little bit of it. I’m not going to be watching Mueller.”

DDT then launched into his lies and “no obstruction” speech:

“Robert Mueller, I know he’s conflicted—he had a lot—there’s a lot of conflicts that he’s got, including the fact that his best friend is Comey. But he’s got conflicts with me, too. He’s got big conflicts with me. As you know, he wanted the job of the FBI Director. He didn’t get it. And we had a business relationship where I said, ‘No.’ And I would say that he wasn’t happy. Then, all of a sudden, he gets this position. But you know what? He still ruled—and I respect him for it—he still ruled ‘no collusion, no obstruction.’”

The day before Mueller’s testimony, DDT lied to an audience of conservative teenagers sponsored by Turning Point USA by claiming that the constitution’s Article II states that “I can do whatever I want.” This article explains impeachment if the president does anything that he wants. More DDT lies: immigrants “vote many times”; Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) is a “bad,” “sick,” “vicious” person; mainstream media companies are close to failing; liberal judges are not following the Constitution and “trying to take your arms away”; 2016 was the most important election ever because the country was “going wrong”; the U.S. is “respected” again; Nike is trying to take “heritage” away from young people; two years ago the military was on the brink of collapse; only 11 percent of the people support impeachment (although the number from one poll is 37 percent to begin proceedings); and the FBI is “crazy.”  DDT then moved on racist comments and lies about foreign policy before, luckily, C-SPAN’s web feed died.

During his speech, DDT stood in front of a “revised” presidential seal that showed a two-headed eagle, reminiscent of empire and dominance like the Russian coat of arms and flags of Serbia, Albania and Montenegro. The 13 arrows in the left talon have been replaced by golf clubs, and the talon on the right is holding cash. The white objects on the blue background above red and white stripes in the flag crest are hammer and sickles. The seal also replaced the nation’s motto with “45 es un titere,” Spanish for “45 is a puppet.” Graphic designer Charles Leazott sells the seal on his web site, https://one-term-donnie.myshopify.com/. No one noticed the error until later.

The morning before Mueller’s testimony, DDT tweeted several attacks against Mueller, Hillary Clinton, Andrew McCabe, and James Comey while accusing the hearings of being unfair and accusing political opponents of fabricating crimes against him. DDT also complained about Mueller’s aide, Aaron Zebley, testifying with him as a witness, and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) did the same in the committee meeting on Wednesday morning.

Robert Mueller’s testimony before two different House committees for six hours stuck to Barr’s demands. He was careful with his answers, to the point of looking to conservatives as if he were flustered and confused. 

 

Pieces from Mueller’s testimony:

DDT “was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed” and could be indicted after he leaves office.

The investigation did not “fully exonerate” DDT, and Mueller did not find that DDT did not obstruct justice. Mueller confirmed multiple examples of DDT’s obstruction in his report. 

Mueller didn’t bring charges against DDT, not because of lack of evidence but because of DOJ rules that refuse to charge a sitting president with a crime.

DDT did not cooperate fully with the investigation because he refused to an interview and would not answer written questions about obstruction. Mueller also found DDT’s “written answers to be inadequate.” He also indicated that DDT had not been truthful in some answers.

Mueller did not subpoena DDT because DDT’s fight against it would prolong the Russia investigation. 

DDT lied under oath and asked his staff to falsify records for Mueller’s investigation. 

DDT lied when he said that Mueller was upset about not being appointed FBI director; Mueller said he was not a candidate for the post.

DDT’s encouragement of WikiLeaks are “problematic [as] an understatement.”

DDT and his campaign team lied about events in 2016 during the Russian election attacks.

Several people interviewed for the investigation lied.

Russia wanted DDT to win in 2016 and Russia worked to boost his election in a “sweeping and systematic fashion,” according to Mueller.  

Russia tampered in U.S. elections in the past, and “they’re doing it as we sit here.” DDT’s campaign welcomed this interference in 2016.

The investigation is “not a witch hunt.”

Mueller registered objections to GOP congressional members’ false interpretations of his report:

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) falsely accused Mueller of ignoring the FBI probe origins and not investigating a diplomat who said that DDT’s campaign aide said Russians had dirt on Clinton.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) falsely accused the investigation of being politically motivated.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) falsely accused Mueller of irresponsibly impugning DDT because he didn’t make a determination about DDT’s committing a crime and obstructing justice.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) falsely claimed that Mueller agreed with AG Bill Barr’s representation of the report to the public.  (She also told Mueller that he didn’t use Fox “news” enough times in his report.)

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) falsely accused Mueller of leaving out evidence.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) falsely accused Mueller of weighting his team with anti-DDT members. (Two of them had each donated $2,700 to Clinton for her election. Democrats didn’t point out that Barr donated $51,000 to Republicans in the six months before he was appointed as AG.)

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) used his questioning time as an interview for replacing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Most of the questions/comments from Republicans came from false Fox material. (Fact-checking the falsehoods.) Individually and collectively, Republicans treated Robert Mueller, a Republican who has served his country well in six other administrations, with complete disrespect while defending a person who dodged the draft and sold out the United States. 

Not all Republicans supported the GOP “head in the sand” denial practices toward DDT’s criminal behavior. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, a former representative who helped DDT during his campaign, tweeted:

“Jesus, forgive me for ever being a Republican.”

After Mueller’s testimony, Republican politicians had only two talking points: DDT is guilty of nothing, and Mueller gave a bad “performance.” They lied about the first and presented the second as if behavior, like reality TV and DDT’s rallies, are the substance. Republicans attacked Mueller for not memorizing 448 pages and a two-year investigation while they give a pass to DDT who can’t memorize ahalf page of notes. To summarize for the GOP, Mueller made clear that DDT was not exonerated, that DDT would and did benefit from Russia’s massive election interference, that DDT’s behavior met all three criteria for criminal obstruction of justice, that only being sitting president saved DDT from criminal prosecution, and that only DOJ saves DDT from indictment while he’s in the Oval Office. Less than two hours after Mueller’s testimony, DDT lied about all Mueller’s statements.

Transcript of Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.

If the Mueller investigation exonerated DDT, why are he and Republicans so bent out of shape about the findings? These ongoing activities may frighten the naysayers. They should become afraid when anti-DDT countries start their own election interference—like Iran. 

Senate Republicans polished off Mueller’s testimony about the danger of Russian interference in the next election by blocking two election security bills and a cybersecurity measure. The next day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked the measures on Thursday, accusing Democrats of trying to give themselves a “political benefit.” One rejected House bill requires paper ballots and provides funding for the Election Assistance Commission. To McConnell, blocking Russian interference is “partisan legislation.” The other bill mandates notification of the FBI for “assistance offers” from foreign powers. Ironically, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report at the same time showing massive election interference from Russia since 2014. Republicans know, however, that they might not get elected if the United States has a free, unfettered voting system.

 In the past, fighting Russian control of the U.S. was bipartisan. Those days are gone, and DDT’s supporters live in an alternate reality.  

June 22, 2019

DDT: Week 126, Threat Balloons Backfire, More Lies

This blog refers to the man inaugurated in 2016 and limited by the U.S. Constitution to two four-year terms as “dictator.” A video from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) shows his interest in being “president for life”—up until the year 10,000.

In his interview with Chuck Todd about the proposed preemptive strike on Iran, to be shown on Sunday, DDT claimed no planes in the air and no final approval. Planes were most likely in the air, however, because the operation required them to go from distant bases hours away from Iran. Unless there was an operation. DDT did declare that his on Iran would be “obliteration like you’ve never seen before.” People in the U.S. could be the ones obliterated. Even Fox network figured out that he is lying: Shep Smith and Chris Wallace both questioned DDT’s statements

Increasingly disenchanted with Fox, DDT also accusing them of “fake news” because of Fox polls showing Biden leading over DDT in several battleground states and disputing the Fox report that DDT spend 30 hours with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos—which he did. Fox’s Sean Hannity, who reportedly has nightly telephone pillow talk with DDT, is not as popular with DDT as shown by DDT’s comment that Hannity is motivated more by ratings than by patriotism. DDT also mocks Hannity’s fawning behind closed doors as dull and unchallenging. DDT may no longer need Hannity Since Paul Manafort is in prison for 7.5 years, DDT may not need Hannity who apparently illegally passed information between Manafort and DDT while Manafort waited in jail for his trial. A judge unsealed hundreds of emails between Hannity and Manafort, some of the time when Manafort was under a gag order not to communicate with anyone except lawyers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told DDT not to go through with his misbegotten war plans when DDT briefed her, joined in the White House by other congressional leaders Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). About the 3:00 pm meeting, Pelosi said, “Democratic leaders emphasized that hostilities must not be initiated without the approval of Congress.” DDT supposedly called off the strike at 7:00 pm, about two hours before the scheduled finale. Perhaps DDT obeyed Russia’s president Vladimir Putin who said that a U.S. attack on Iran would be a “catastrophe.” Bully and television performer, DDT loves drama and sends up threat balloons to find a reaction; hopefully the backlash was too much for him.

In another failed threat balloon, DDT defended his plan to deport “millions” tomorrow before tweeting that he was delaying the deportation “for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans” can agree on an (unidentified) resolution for “Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.” There won’t be a resolution because Republicans don’t want one. Pelosi tweeted, “Families belong together.” DDT disagrees although he lies about his position and blames the non-existent “sanctuary cities.” Houston police chief Art Acevedo in Houston, nowhere near giving sanctuary, tweeted his approval of blocking deportations:

“Rhetoric that causes fear & panic & pushes folks further into the dark places all at risk.”

Even acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who supervises ICE, knows that separating children from their parents is becoming political suicide. That’s the reason that GOP senators are crying “humanitarian” on a bill designed to get more money to separate families and cage children. The bill escaped a committee, but questions have been raised since publicity about the neglect and abuse of children on the southern border. Democrats need to be careful; DDT considers a wall “humanitarian aid.” DDT is good for human smuggling across the southern border. Every time he mentions his wall, more migrants head toward the United States. While DDT pushes billions for a southern border wall because of the illegal drug trade, $1.2 billion worth of cocaine was shipped into a Philadelphia port out of Chile, Panama, and the Bahamas—one of the biggest drug seizures in U.S. history. Although this shipment was discovered, Joaquín Guzman (“El Chapo”) has talked extensively about smuggling drugs through ports of entry.

The Senate is running short on time. Within 40 “working” days, the U.S. is ripe for a shutdown because of no bills for raising the debt ceiling and passing appropriations bills. GOP congressional leaders have a bipartisan deadlock with DDT on budgeting because acting chief of staff and budget director Mick Mulvaney’s agenda disagrees with DDT’s desires. The actions of Mulvaney, formerly a South Carolina GOP representative, are particularly galling to Republicans. During a White House meeting last Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested a one-year stopgap measure that keeps funding at its current levels with a one-year debt limit suspension, unpopular with Democrats. Schumer pointed out that McConnell blocked moving 2020 spending bills under “regular order” to please DDT. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said:

“Mulvaney does not want a deal, and I think that’s the biggest point.”

The group didn’t discuss offsets to pay for the GOP tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, a serious problem because Republicans will want to take money for the bottom 80 percent.

In an interview with Time, DDT lied when he said he never separated children from their parents. He falsely claimed, several times, that President Obama separated families and he (DDT) “ended separation.” A court ruled against DDT’s family separation, but he continued the practice after the court’s decision. DDT repeated his lies to José Díaz-Balart, anchor of “Noticias Telemundo,” in his first interview on a Spanish-language network. The rare occasions when President Obama separated children was for threats to children or adults detained for criminal convictions or felonies such as carrying drugs. In April 2018, the DOJ under former AG Jeff Sessions ordered every illegal entry case to be prosecuted, separating children from parents even if parents only committed a misdemeanor by crossing the border. Children were put in cages and sometimes didn’t recognize their parents after lengthy separations. 

In the Time interview reporters, DDT threatened a journalist with prison after he tried to take a picture of a letter that DDT claimed was “written by Kim Jong Un. It was delivered to me yesterday. By hand.” DDT went off the record for a few minutes, and a reporter later brought up the issue about DDT trying to “limit Mueller’s Russia probe to only future election meddling” and dictating a letter to Corey Lewandowski, “telling him to tell” former attorney general Jeff Sessions “to limit the investigation.” DDT told the journalist that “you can go to prison instead, because, if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you—” Asked if he was threatening prison for the journalist, DDT went off on a rant, including how Time should make him “man of the year.” They did, just three years ago.

Some of DDT aides think they are above the law, just as DDT does. Kellyanne Conway indicated that the Hatch Act, that prevents all federal employees except DDT and the vice president from campaigning for candidate, doesn’t apply to her. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is also being investigated about his possible violation of the law preventing federal employees from political activities after the media reported that he is working with DDT’s campaign officials to work on fundraising strategies. Kushner is supposedly “the campaign’s key liaison in the West Wing” and has “multiple daily conversations” with campaign manager, Brad Parscale. In 2016, Kushner’s companies were also flagged for suspicious activity in Deutsche Bank money-laundering reviews. Ivanka Trump’s tweet with DDT’s campaign slogan “Make America Great” and her claim that “the best is yet to come” on her government Twitter account may also violate  the Hatch Act:

“Four years ago today, I introduced my father @realDonaldTrump when he launched a Campaign that would forever change America. Because of his courage, Americans are safer and more prosperous…and the best is yet to come!”

Last week when DDT kicked off his 2020 campaign in Orlando, a place surrounded by swamp, the city’s newspaper Orlando Sentinel, traditionally endorsing Republicans, made its 2020 endorsement: not DDT.

“After 2½ years we’ve seen enough. Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies. So many lies—from white lies to whoppers—told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity. The nation must endure another 1½ years of Trump. But it needn’t suffer another four beyond that. We can do better. We have to do better.”

The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial wasn’t much more supportive, asking why DDT should be re-elected if he didn’t do anything in his first term. About DDT’s Orlando speech:

“The most striking fact of his speech was how backward looking it was. Every incumbent needs to remind voters of his record, Mr. Trump more than most because the media are so hostile. [The people who aren’t core supporters] want to know why they should take a risk on Mr. Trump and his volatile character for another term.

“On immigration, however, the President missed a chance to strike a deal trading more border security (including his wall) for legalizing Dreamers. On trade, Mr. Trump has disrupted global rules but has put nothing new and stable in their place. Asking voters to believe he’ll do better on these issues in a second term isn’t likely to turn many swing voters his way.”

DDT’s staunch supporter, The Washington Examiner, retracted a story repeating DDT’s lies that a New York Times “fed information” to the FBI about Jared Kushner. The complete story is here.

DDT’s lies and chaos have lost him some right-wing media.

February 6, 2019

State of the Union 2019

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) managed to last 82 minutes in his State of the Disunion (SOD) address last night as he moved from Tweeter Trump to Teleprompter Trump, but he couldn’t outlast Bill Clinton’s 88-minute speech at 88 minutes. DDT failed to keep on his message of “unity while he maintained the record for the most lies—or “misrepresentations”:

Economy:

DDT announced that he had an “unprecedented economic boom,” but his economic record is behind those of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. And the economy is slowing down.

The “lowest rate” of “unemployment” for “half a century” that DDT quoted is actually at an 18-year-old low and is going up to where it’s matches the rate at the beginning of 2018. January’s unemployment rate rose to 6.8 percent from its low of 5.9 percent in May 2018. Latinx and Asian-American unemployment rates are also increasing.

“Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades,” according to DDT who ignored any adjustment for inflation. The actual increase in wages, 1.3 percent from December 2017 to December 2018, is the largest since August 2016.

DDT’s figures for new jobs and new manufacturing jobs were inflated: the last year saw almost 4.9 million jobs, not 5.3 million, and 436,000 in manufacturing, not 600,000.

Importers, not exporters, pay DDT’s tariffs, thus far increased by about $6.7 billion, and then pass along the cost to consumers, in essence raising taxes for people in the U.S. In addition, taxpayers are ponying up $12 billion to support farmers, some of them wealthy, for being hurt by DDT’s tariffs.

The reduction of estate-taxes benefits the wealthy and almost never on farms or small businesses, only 80 out of the 5,500 estates in 2017.

Foreign Affairs:

DDT did withdraw from the Iran agreement, but the deal still exists with other countries, making his action largely symbolic. He claimed that Iran won’t be building nuclear weapons because we have no agreement to stop them.

Instead of the U.S. spending “$7 trillion in the Middle East,” this sum covers only estimates future obligations through 2056 for veterans’ care, including George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

DDT’s claim that he has “liberated virtually all [the 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria controlled by ISIS]” does not consider the ISIS comeback from a hasty U.S. departure predicted by the Defense Department’s Inspector General.

NATO countries started spending more money on defense before DDT was elected, unlike his claims that he made them pay more.

DDT’s supposition that without him, the U.S. would be at war with North Korea has no evidence. He also ignores the new missiles that North Korea continues to build.

Healthcare:

Despite his declaration that he will “protect patients with preexisting conditions,” DDT has refused to defend these conditions in a lawsuit and then celebrated the ruling against these protections.

DDT completely misrepresented the abortion legislation in New York that finally matches Roe v. Wade. The Virginia bill still requires a doctor to agree that the pregnancy would kill the woman or impair her mental or physical health.

Immigration:

DDT’s claim that apprehensions along the Mexico border have been drastically reduced in areas of a wall ignores that ALL apprehensions, including those in areas with no barrier. As for the “tremendous onslaught” at the border, the 304,000 apprehensions are an 81.5 percent decline since the 1.6 million in 2000. The Congressional Research Service reported that the San Diego fence, mentioned by DDT, “did not have a discernible impact on the influx of unauthorized aliens coming across the border.” Suspected in-country overstays of visas are twice those of southern border apprehensions.

DDT’s claim of “humanitarian assistance” in the bill he sent to Congress gave no help for Central American children but was intended to keep them from escaping violence and poverty by coming to the U.S. He also said, “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” In reality, DDT wanted to cut legal immigration rates in at least half while eliminating immigration based on family ties—the way his in-laws came to the U.S.—and the visa lottery.

DDT’s inflated figures of “criminal aliens” and charges or convictions fail to consider multiple counts and doesn’t separate charges and convictions. His claims about the MS-13 gang are equally dubious: they are concentrated only in three areas—Los Angeles, Long Island, and Washington, D.C. areas.

He promised that wall “will stop much of the drugs from pouring into this country,” but most drugs come through legal entry points.

Praise that DDT gave El Paso for cutting its violent crime ignored the fall in violent crime before the building of the wall, crime that rose for four years after Bush authorized the wall and it was built.

DDT’s accusation about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants ignores research that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born population and that immigration is a net positive for the U.S. economy and to workers overall.

DDT’s statement about 1-in-3 women being “sexually assaulted on the long journey north” did not come from a random sample, but from a Doctors without Borders report which addressed the 12 percent of females in 500 people treated by these doctors. These 56 women, likely not representative of all migrant women, said they were “sexually abused,” not “sexually assaulted.” DDT’s statistic is derived from the experiences of 56 women and cannot necessarily be considered representative of all migrant women.

Domestic Affairs:

Of the 3.6 million, not 5 million, people who have stopped getting food stamps, many may have lost this benefit because DDT allowed recession-era waivers allowing some adults to retain the benefit for longer periods of time, and immigrants fear DDT’s new policies. The number of people collecting benefits has also been shrinking since 2014.

DDT is right that more women are in the workforce, but more people are in the workforce because of the U.S. increasing population. Female labor participation rate was 60.3 percent in April 2000, below DDT’s 57.5 percent. DDT’s praise of women’s electoral gains in the 2018 midterms was awkward because the increase is for Democrats. The Senate gained two female GOP members but lost a dozen Republicans in the House. New female House members, dressed in white to celebrate women’s suffrage, laughed and danced at DDT’s words.

The U.S. “revolution” in energy started with President Obama in 2009, in opposition to DDT’s claim.

Beyond lies and “misrepresentations,” DDT threatened the Democrats by saying that the United States cannot have peace if he’s investigated in the United States. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.” This morning, Pelosi responded:

“The president should not bring threats to the floor of the House. He said he wasn’t going to cooperate unless we didn’t exercise our constitutional responsibility to oversight.”

Philip Bump (WaPo) compared DDT’s line about “ridiculous partisan investigations” to Richard Nixon’s statements in his 1974 State of the Union speech when Nixon said, “One year of Watergate is enough.”

Hardcore conservatives—DDT supporters—were unhappy with the speech:

Ann Coulter: DDT’s speech was the “lamest, sappiest, most intentionally tear-jerking” State of the Union ever.

Rick Santorum: It was “probably the worst delivered speech” he’d heard DDT deliver.

A few subjects missing from DDT’s speech: Russia, the shutdown, tax cuts, “clean coal,” China trade war, farmers, the Me Too movement, election fraud, the press, Iraq or Afghanistan, the ongoing disaster in Puerto Rico, and the climate. He gave 14 seconds to infrastructure. DDT also failed to allow the Speaker of the House to introduce him in a violation of protocol.

While she sat behind–and above–DDT during the address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) wore a smaller version of the Mace of the Republic or the Mace of the US House of Representatives which she can order the Sergeant of Arms to present before an offender to restore order in the House.

The Mace was last used during the first world war when white supremacist Rep. J. Thomas Heflin, uncle of former Sen. Howard Heflin, accused colleagues of being unpatriotic in voting against entering the war. The Sergeant of Arms carries the four-foot-long mace ahead of the speaker to the rostrum at each session of the House.

DDT called for unity and cooperation last night, but today he called Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) a “political hack.” At least yesterday, before giving his speech, he trash talked political figures on both sides—maybe his definition of bipartisanship.

January 4, 2019

Shutdown Disasters Start with DDT

Day 14 of the government shutdown: VP Mike Pence and hundreds of his appointees will receive wage increases averaging about $10,000 a year, thanks to the lack of appropriation legislation. At the same time, 800,000 federal workers have no paychecks although about half of them are still on the job. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ordered a pay freeze for most federal workers just before 2019, one which does not keep his cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, top administrators from getting raises, people who may receive them in bulk later if their agencies’ human resources departments aren’t staffed because of the shutdown. Public information about these raises led to “bad optics”; after a day of “exploring options,” the government ordered departments to hold off on the pay raises.

DDT has already said he would “look foolish” if he backed off from the wall funding, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is goading him into staying the course by saying:

“If he gives in now, that’s the end of 2019 in terms of him being an effective president. That’s probably the end of his presidency. Donald Trump has made a promise to the American people: He’s going to secure our border.”

Disagreeing that DDT is an “effective president,” people also wonder why he doesn’t keep his promise to make Mexico “pay for the wall.”

To get his wall through holding the government hostage, DDT spreads false fear-mongering to keep his base in control.

  • DHS highly inflated numbers of gang members trying to cross the border—6,000 instead of the actual 800.
  • The 3,755 “terrorists” described, including those under suspicion of ties to organizations, come at all U.S. ports of entry such as airports. Last year, the State Department report zero number of terrorists crossing the Mexico border.

  • Percentages of apprehensions on the Mexico is high for 2018 because the number was so low in 2017, the first year after DDT’s inauguration. DDT wanted that decline to prove that his methods were effective, but he realized that he needed high numbers to persuade people to fund his wall.
  • DDT spreads false increases about drugs coming across from Mexico: the 2.14 million pounds of narcotics were seized in 2017 dropped to 1.7 million pounds in 2018, a decrease of over 20 percent. Former DHS Secretary John F. Kelly testified that most of these drugs come through existing ports of entry, and statistics show that the vast majority of these drugs is marijuana, which has been legalized for some purposes in two-thirds of the states. DDT also lied when he said most of the drugs don’t come through legal ports of entry.
  • A conservative outlet reported 900 cases of human trafficking but inflated the figure by counting all children who did not come into the U.S. with a biological parent. Only 170 children claiming to be with family were separated because of no biological; these children, who may have been with family friends, have been sent to privatized confinement where many of them are abused—physically, sexually, and emotionally—by taxpayer funds.

People in the U.S. need to be far more afraid of native-born citizens than undocumented immigrants. In 2015, these citizens committed crimes at over twice the rate that of undocumented immigrants. In another study, cities with a higher undocumented immigration population do not have higher rates of violent crime.

After a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House this morning, DDT said that they came “a long way” and that they were “all on the same path.” DDT’s other reports were equally optimistic. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said, however, that DDT threatened to keep the government closed for “years” if he doesn’t get his wall funding. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) described the meeting as “sometimes contentious.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said DDT did not talk about protections for DACA recipients. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did not attend the meeting but said that Democrats need to agree to meet. DDT, the great negotiator, has appointed a group—including VP Mike Pence, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner—to negotiate a solution.

On Splinter, the irreverent but informative purveyor of news, Rafi Schwartz called DDT’s 16-minute press conference following the White House meeting the dumbest—if not the craziest or worst—performance. The strangest part was DDT’s repetition that terrorists are driving across the southern border where they make a right turn” at the existing border fence and then “they make a left” where the barrier ends to enter the United States.

Other repetitive DDT statements were a long diatribe about the “powerful steel structure” for a wall, perhaps better than concrete because people can see through it and because steel is stronger and more “beautiful” than concrete. People might throw drugs across a concrete wall and kill you—according to DDT. About people who own land where he wants to build the law, DDT declared a nonexistent “military version of eminent domain.” He also declared that he would give himself emergency powers to build his wall by calling it a “national emergency.”

On Vox, Aaron Rupar went farther when he called the news conference “unhinged, incoherent, oblivious, and dangerous.” DDT lied again about his government finishing “new walls, beautiful walls, steels walls” in California. Congress has not appropriated one cent for DDT’s “new walls.” He also falsely claimed that San Diego begged him for the wall.

DDT preened about how “some” previous presidents privately told him that they wish they would have built a border wall. Unless he’s channeling Andrew Jackson, who died in 1845, he’s lying again. No rational person can imagine former presidents—Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—even having recent private conversations with him, let alone being sorry that they didn’t create a “beautiful” wall.

Asked about the $10,000 raises that his executive employees receive when federal workers aren’t being paid, DDT suggested that these workers approve of the increases, that they are the “biggest fan[s] of what we’re doing.” April Ryan asked him whether he had a safety net for people without paychecks for months or years. DDT said, “The safety net is going to be having a strong border.”

Asked whether he was still “proud” to own the shutdown, Trump deflected:

“I’m very proud of doing what I’m doing. I don’t call it a shutdown. I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and safety of our country.”

DDT’s babblings can be found here.

Yesterday Pelosi explained why DDT is difficult to negotiate with:

“When you’re negotiating with someone, you have to know, you stipulate to some fact. It’s hard to do that with the president because he resists science, evidence, data, truth. It’s hard to pin the president down on the facts.”

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), member of the Appropriations Committee, was more blunt than Pelosi in describing DDT:

“The one thing you’ve got when you come into this place is your credibility, and once you lose it, it’s gone and it’s gone forever. He’s lost it. It’s very difficult to negotiate anything, because you don’t know if he’s going to stick with it. You don’t know what his attitude is going to be tomorrow or what his position is going to be tomorrow. There’s a lot of members of our caucus who think this shutdown is stupid.”

Simpson expressed more frustration because DDT backed down after he told McConnell that he would support a CR without a wall until February 8. McConnell twisted arms until he persuaded every GOP senator to vote for the CR, and then DDT refused to agree with the bill. The House patterned its new bill after the unanimously-passed Senate bill, and McConnell refuses to bring the House bill back to the chamber floor—probably because it was passed by Democrats.

DDT denies that he ever offered $2.5 billion instead of the original $5.7 billion for his wall, but Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), said that he attend the meetings where “Pence offered the $2.5 [billion].” Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) called for “cooler heads to prevail and to know where “everybody’s negotiating from.” Asked if he knows where DDT, is negotiating from, Hurd said, “No, I don’t.”

The idea for the wall came from Roger Stone, being investigated by Robert Mueller, when the political analyst urged him to talk about illegal immigration to manipulate conservatives. Sam Nunberg said that he and Stone “came up with the idea of ‘the Wall,’ and we talked to Steve [Bannon] about it. It was to make sure that [DDT] talked about immigration.” DDT tried out the idea at the Iowa Freedom Summit. The crowd went crazy over the idea, and DDT added, “Nobody builds like Trump.”

Even the conservative Wall Street Journal opposes the building of the wall to stop illegal immigration. A large increase of legal admission of farm workers during the 1950s drastically reduced illegal entry to the United States from Mexico, and illegal entry across the Mexico border has dropped by over 90 percent since 2000, according to Border Patrol apprehensions data. A wall also does not stop immigrants from applying for asylum.

In 1995 and 2013, the shutdowns closed national parks, but White House budget director/acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke decided to keep them open this time without staffing. By the 14th day of DDT’s shutdown, three people have died of accidents in three different national parks. More may have died because the government is not notifying the public of deaths because of the shutdown.

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