Nel's New Day

May 17, 2020

Sunday of Week 173 – A Time for Good News

DOJ’s AG Bill Barr use of a request to drop charges against convicted Michael Flynn as a distraction from the failed leadership of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues to have twists.  To smear Joe Biden, DDT’s new incompetent acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell made public (unmasked) the names of people in the Obama administration who asked for unmasking the people in intelligence reports related to Flynn. Biden was one of the names although his request was not illegal or inappropriate.

The “unmasking” could make Flynn’s situation worse because of “unmasking” his illegal activities, including his unauthorized conversations about President Obama’s sanctions on December 29—while Barack Obama was still president—with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. Earlier in December, Flynn’s illegal negotiations involved NATO, Syria, Turkey, and UN Ambassador Samantha Power. 

  • December 1, 2016: Flynn’s and Jared Kushner’s meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower, concealed for over three months, to arrange a back channel with Moscow and set up cooperation with Russia’s diplomatic facilities to cooperate militarily in Syria.
  • Mid-December 2016: Flynn’s acting as a paid lobbyist for the Turkish government, something he lied about, when Barack Obama was still president, and Flynn’s meeting with senior Turkish officials asking to be paid for secretly carrying out directives from Ankara.
  • December 22, 2016:  Flynn’s call to Kislyak at Kushner’s request to undermine U.S. policy by asking if Russia would delay or defeat an upcoming UN Security Council resolution vote condemning Israel’s building of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Grenell is proving charges against Flynn shouldn’t be dropped.

The DOJ did a bit of accidental unmasking.  After hiding the name of a suspected tie to the 9/11 plot for years, the DOJ inadvertently named Saudi official Musaed al-Jarrah in a court filing. Survivors and families of victims wanted the name for their suit against the Saudi government for complicity in the attacks, but Barr refused. Jarrah’s name and other information was redacted in a 2012 document indicating that Jarrah arranged for two other Saudis to help the first two Qaeda hijackers after they arrived in California in early 2000.

A Miami federal judge ordered ICE to release hundreds of detainees at three South Florida detention centers, citing “cruel and unusual punishment” and “deliberate indifference” to the detainees. She demanded a report within three days about a plan to cut the non-criminal and medically vulnerable populations by the hundreds, twice-weekly reports, and masks for all detainees, replaced weekly, within two days. She also wrote:

“Social distancing at Krome is not only practically impossible, the conditions are becoming worse every day. Further, ICE has failed to provide detainees in some detention centers with masks, soap and other cleaning supplies…. Accordingly, there is sufficient evidence in this record to determine that the present conditions at the three detention centers constitute a violation of the Petitioners’ Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights.”

The Miami-Herald reported that ICE segregated up to 100 detainees exposed to COVID-19 with no masks, sanitizer, and possibility of social distancing. Only staff had PPE. A concern is that ICE will transfer detainees to other detention centers to avoid the judge’s orders as the agency started to do when the lawsuit was filed on April 13.

In late April, a federal judge ordered ICE to announce measures expediting the release of parents at family detention centers because facilities lack hygiene and social distancing standards. At that time, about 620 family members, including 285 children, were at three Texas and Pennsylvania facilities. ICE has until tomorrow to identify how many family members and staff tested positive for COVID-19 and why detainee haven’t been released or transferred. The judge also required descriptions of policies and practices to protect infected people from serious illness or death. Four days ago, 943 people out of 1,788 detainees tested for the virus—over half—have tested positive.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. ordered the White House to give her 20 emails this week directly relating to DDT’s decision to withhold congressionally appropriated military aid from Ukraine. Judge Amy Jackson will review the documents herself to decide whether the plaintiff will receive them.

The full 4th Circuit Court ruled 9-6 that an emoluments case against DDT, accusing him of accepting foreign government money through his Washington hotel, may continue. Only the Supreme Court can rescue DDT from the case proceeding. A judge in the majority accused dissenters of ignoring precedent and procedure with their opinion that they disagree with the case.

DDT’s campaign has paid over $16 million on legal and compliance services for DDT’s lawsuits and cease-and-desist orders, about ten percent of campaign spendings, between the 2018 and 2020 election cycles.

A federal judge upheld his April 15 ruling that rejected permits vital for Keystone XL and other pipeline projects to cross streams and wetlands. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer cannot use a blanket water-crossing permit to approve new oil and gas pipelines without considering their impacts on endangered species.

Nine states are suing DDT’s administration for the EPA decision to suspend environmental regulations during the coronavirus pandemic, called the “license to pollute” and violates federal pollution laws and the EPA’s duty to protect the environment. The new guidelines have no end date. The lawsuit states that the EPA lacks legal authority to waive laws and failed to demonstrate the need for its changes. The nine states are California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia.

After two decades, the Ashaninka indigenous group won its case over illegal tree logging in Brazil. The community will receive $3 million in compensation and an official apology. The judgment may serve as a legal precedent for other indigenous and environmental lawsuits in Brazil.

A DDT-appointed judge ruled against a defamation lawsuit by Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) family against Esquire’s report that the Nunes farm had moved from his congressional district to Iowa. For campaign purposes, Nunes claimed that he is a dairy farmer, but his farm is halfway across the continent. Nunes’ suit wanted $77.5 million in damages, and the Nunes family wants $25 million. The judge determined that the suit did not explain inaccuracies and allowed for an amended complaint. Nunes, DDT’s pet who leaked information to him when chairing the House Intelligence Committee, has a large number of lawsuits, but no one knows who is paying for them.

Even a few Republicans are upset about DDT firing another inspector general, State Department’s Steve Linick, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) claims that it attacks democracy. That’s not as much a surprise as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) saying DDT’s reasoning for firing Linick is “simply is not sufficient.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who IG Linick is  investigating for sending his security detail on personal errands for himself and his wife, asked the White House to fire Linick. Grassley said the Congress requires written rationale for firing and “a general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told CNN’s Jake Tapper that a conversation with DDT made him very comfortable about Linick’s firing but wouldn’t explain what was said. Maybe something about DDT protecting Johnson from charges of selling his stake in his family’s privately held company for millions after Johnson learned from classified briefings about the COVID-19 crisis. 

After calling DDT “evil” during his campaign, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has done a complete 180-degree return to approve of everything that DDT does. One of his major donors disagrees with Graham. Richard Wilkerson, former chair and president of Michelin’s Greenville (SC) North America operations, is supporting Graham’s opponent, Democratic Jamie Harrison, in the 2020 election. Wilkerson commented on Graham’s support of DDT despite DDT’s attacks on former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):

“What is the character of a man who will not defend his best friend? If he won’t defend John McCain, why would I expect him to defend any of us in South Carolina?”

Wilkerson also wrote about Graham’s endorsing divisiveness, supporting tax cuts for only the wealthiest, attacking public safety, and opposing expansion of unemployment benefits for people losing their jobs from GOP incompetence.

The USDA will spend $470 million to buy surplus foods—vegetables, dairy, seafood, and meat—for distribution to low-income people, keeping the products from being destroyed. The agency finally took action after weeks of complaints about the food being plowed under and thrown away in other ways. In April, the USDA gave $19 billion for the agricultural industry to help food producers–$16 billion of direct payments to farmers.  

Much to the delight of his Florida neighbors, DDT has withdrawn his request for adding a dock to his property because only residential owners can get docks in the interior south Florida waterways. He still has another problem: in 1993, he signed an agreement that Mar-a-Lago would not be his residence when he bought it for a club, and now he’s using the club as his voting address. It’s called voter fraud. To fix the problem, he has to close the club.

May 10, 2020

DDT: Week 172 – GOP Protection

The debate over whether Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) will pardon traitor Michael Flynn is most likely over: DDT’s AG Bill Barr is dropping the case against him. 

In late 2017, Flynn, DDT’s first national security adviser who lasted 24 days, twice pled guilty to lying to the FBI, but now U.S. Attorney for D.C. Timothy Shea claims that Flynn’s lies were not “material” to any investigation. Barr put his close friend Shea into that position after moving Jessie Liu out of the department. The AG had also hired an outside prosecutor to review Flynn’s case files, hired another outside prosecutor to investigate he Russia investigators in addition to scrutiny provided by his independent inspector general, and gave the defense FBI internal deliberations about questioning Flynn. The argument must yet be accepted by U.S. District Court Emmet Sullivan who told Flynn in an earlier hearing, “You sold your country out.” Flynn’s lead prosecutor, Brandon Van Grack, withdrew from the case.

Flynn became famous in 2014 when he was forced out as head of Defense Intelligence Agency because of complaints about his management and erratic behavior. In November 2016, Flynn secretly lobbied for Turkey while advising DDT and later lied to the FBI by claiming in a Foreign Agents Registration Act filing that he didn’t know he was lobbying for Turkey. Then Flynn was caught secretly conferring about U.S. sanctions on Russia with its ambassador Sergey Kislyak while Barack Obama was still president. In January 2017, he denied these conversations but later admitted he lied about his efforts to influence foreign diplomats about a December 2016 UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction. Flynn became the first DDT aide to flip on his boss. When Flynn hired a Fox pundit for attorney in June 2019, he agreed to speak at a QAnon conference until Mother Jones publicized his involvement with the conspiracy group.

Criminal law experts said that Barr’s decision to drop the case against Flynn, his most recent effort to destroy Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, was unique. Barr’s pattern of protecting DDT and his friends began immediately after his appointment. Earlier this year, Barr forced prosecutors to lower a sentence recommendation for DDT’s adviser Roger Stone. The prosecutors withdrew from the case. Barr also requested more comfortable prison accommodations for convicted Paul Manafort, DDT’s former campaign chair, and dropped charges without justification against two Russian shell companies close to trial for financing schemes to interfere in the 2016 election using social media.

David Ignatius wrote, “If Michael Flynn did nothing wrong, why didn’t he tell the truth?” Flynn tried to hide—and then lied about—his discussion about President Obama’s sanctions on Russia with its government before DDT moved into the Oval Office. If he thought there was no wrongdoing, he would have been open about his actions. Added onto that question is another one: why did DDT work so hard to protect Russia?

In an interview, Barr claimed that “history is written by the winners” when asked how historians would view his dropping charges against Flynn. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) was dismayed that “the rule of law,” supposedly upheld by Barr, wasn’t “predicated on the outcome of elections NOT mattering.” Other responses to Barr’s statements were “there is no good or bad except what the strongest want. The definition of autocracy.” And from poli-sci professor Robert Kelly in South Korea: “The U.S. equivalent of the justice minister is embracing might-makes-right historiography.” Barr responds with what the Daily Beast calls “a sly smile.” 

From here on out, all white-collar crimes committed by conservatives are exonerated; DDT’s loyalists, like DDT himself, are above the law.

DDT’s appointed FBI director Christopher Wray may be the patsy for the Flynn scandal: DDT blames him for “skirting” the debate about the Russia investigation. Now DDT also pushes responsibility for Wray’s appointment to former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

Known for frequently firing people, DDT said he learned a good lesson from studying Richard Nixon:

Don’t fire people… I should’ve in one way, but I’m glad I didn’t, because look at the way it turned out. They’re all a bunch of crooks and they got caught.” 

Chief Justice Roberts is also protecting DDT. Despite a request from the D.C. Circuit Court, the Supreme Court will not direct a federal court to conduct an ethics inquiry into the suspicious retirement of a judge. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been pressuring judges to step down so that he can confirm far-right, ultra-incompetent, extremely-young judges for lifetime appointments. For the resignation of Thomas Griffith, he found 37-year-old Justin Walker. Chief Justice of the D.C. Circuit Court asked Roberts to direct another court to conduct the inquiry, but Roberts claimed no “probable cause.” McConnell refuses to answer questions about conversations with Griffith.

The Supreme Court also permitted DDT to temporarily shield redacted grand jury materials in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe from the U.S. House despite a judge’s order to the contrary. Last week, SCOTUS also cleared the convictions of the two New Jersey officials who blocked the George Washington Bridge to create havoc for a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse Chris Christie for the state’s governor in 2013. The two officials were following Christie’s orders.

In another victory for DDT, the Senate Republicans failed to override a veto to block DDT’s declaring war on Iran. For the second time in two years, Senate Republicans accepted DDT’s right to start a war although the Constitution gives that power only to Congress. In the last year, the U.S. has sent 14,000 additional service members to the Persian Gulf religion, including 3,500 to Saudi Arabia. Also sent were “early-warning aircraft, maritime patrol planes, Patriot air and missile defense batteries, B-52 bombers, a carrier strike group, armed Reaper drones, and other engineering and support personnel,” according to NYT reporter Catie Edmondson.

For the second time, the U.S. blocked a UN ceasefire resolution amid the global pandemic. With no evidence, DDT used the excuse that the World Health Organization withheld information from world governments about COVID-19. He also withheld the funding for WHO, indicating that he would give the $400 million to Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham’s anti-LGBTQ religious group.

Ninety-two percent of a Barrons poll report that they want to bail out the post office. Meanwhile, DDT has appointed a donor buddy to head up the USPS. Louis DeJoy, a North Carolina businessman, in charge of fundraising for the RNC in Charlotte, will serve as the new postmaster general with three Republicans and one Democrat on the five-member commission. The Democratic vice chairman, David Williams, resigned last week because of the Treasury Department’s meddling in a supposedly apolitical agency.

DDT, terrified of losing his attempt at re-election this fall, can’t call off the election. Part of his bag of tricks to win is destroying the USPS and stop any vote by mail. During his April 18 press briefing (aka campaign rally), he said, “Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they are cheaters.” That was a month after he voted by mail in the Florida primary, possibly illegally. And before he declared that California’s votes won’t be eligible in the general election if California Gov. Gavin Newsom carries through with vote by mail.

The retirement for 5.9 million federal employees and military members may be in trouble. DDT is trying to seize control of the board for the $557 billion retirement program to prevent the independent agency from investing in an index fund including Chinese companies. Doing this could wall off investments available in other 401(k)-type plans, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned DDT against his plan that could hurt financial markets and threaten DDT’s China deal. Peter Navarro, DDT’s trusted trade adviser who Jared Kushner found on amazon.com, wants to take action against China.

DDT promised that Mar-a-Lago would never be both a club and a single-family residence, but then he moved there from New York. He’s insisting on building a dock, and attorneys for his new neighbors found documents making it illegal for him to use the club as his official domicile and register to vote from there as long as it’s a club. Mar-a-Lago is taxed as a private club, and DDT promised local officials that he would not live there. He would only maintain “private quarters” with a “use” agreement. DDT’s also trying to get out of the agreement that no one will permanently live on the premises unless the club fails and that half the club members be Palm Beach residents or business owners. Even now he’s violating the agreement that no one live there more than longer than seven days at a time over three times a year. Florida may be looking into whether DDT voted illegally from the club in the state primary.

While people are dying for the same of DDT’s economy, he tweeted this ad, including a photo of lush links: 

Game on! We are thrilled to announce the reopening of  @trumpgolfla beginning  Saturday May 9th! We look forward to welcoming you back 🏌🏽‍♂️Book your tee time now!

Happy Mother’s Day.

Although some states falsify the rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths to keep them lower, the number of cases is still 1,367,638 and deaths, 80,787 as of May 10.

 

 

March 13, 2020

Covid-19: ‘I don’t take responsibility at all.’–DDT

To help his reelection chances, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) desperately wanted to eliminate payroll taxes “until after the November election,” as he told Republican senators. He wrote nasty tweets about not giving businesses $350 billion, including his own, in the next eight months, adding to the $1 trillion deficit for the year. He lost the fight to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who just announced that the White House has agreed to free testing of covid-19 for everyone and at least two weeks of paid emergency leave for workers who get sick or need to stay home to care for family members up to three months of paid family and medical leave. Republicans can’t vote for the bill without DDT’s permission. Pelosi added:

“We have also secured enhanced Unemployment Insurance, a step that will extend protections to furloughed workers.

“For families’ food security: we strengthened nutrition security initiatives, including SNAP, student meals, seniors’ nutrition, and food banks. 22 million children rely on free or reduced-price school meals for their food security; we must ensure that they have food to eat.

“For families’ health security: we increased federal funds for Medicaid to support our local, state, tribal and territorial governments and health systems, so that they have the resources necessary to combat this crisis.”

Gone from the bill are safety regulations to protect healthcare and workers from covid-19 exposure and a permanent Social Security emergency leave program for future public health emergencies. Republicans also refused the $1 billion reimbursement for diagnostic laboratory test service; they thought it would be used for abortions. A big problem for DDT is that he wants bailouts for the travel, tourism, and oil industries. Mnuchin said that a third bill may take care of this.

DDT may have caved in because of an ABC News/Ipsos poll about his responses and people’s concern about contracting the virus. Two-thirds of voters (66 percent) worry that they or someone they know will be infected, compared to a 78 percent approval for the government’s handling the virus when the U.S. had one case a month ago. As for DDT’s handling the situation, only 43 percent approved of his performance regarding the healthcare crisis. Much of the negativity comes from the CDC conducting only 11,000 tests when DDT said “the testing has been going very smooth.”

Scientists know that testing could have contained the movement of covid-19 across the U.S., but DDT thought the publicity from large numbers of infections would hurt his reelection. Politico reporter Dan Diamond said “infighting at the HHS and the need to flatter Trump impeded the response to the coronavirus.” Diamond said that HHS Secretary Alex Azar warned DDT in January, despite protests from DDT’s aides, but Azar didn’t tell DDT how bad the situation could get.

As of today, the world has 145,628 known cases of covid-19; fewer than half the people have recovered, and 5,421 have died. In the U.S., 2,285 people are infected, and 48 have died—seven of them today.

Thirty minutes before the stock market closed today, the entire White House covid-19 task force huddled with DDT in front of a gaggle of journalists to praise him for the fine work that he has done. DDT declared a national emergency to permit more flexibility to reduce healthcare mandates and to allow him to take $42.6 billion from FEMA. Deborah Birx took credit for state testing efforts such as drive-thru facilities created without federal support and highly praised CEOs of Walmart, Walgreen, Target, and CVS for their munificent help because drive-thru facilities can be put in their parking lots. DDT shook all their hands. Their stocks skyrocketed, and the Dow gained back yesterday losses.  

Memorable moments of DDT’s statements during the press conference:

Asked about the testing, DDT said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.” During DDT’s campaign, he said about the problems in the U.S., “I alone can fix it.”

Bitter about the Democrats’ refusal to eliminate the payroll tax, DDT said, “We just don’t think they’re giving enough. They’re not doing what’s right for the country.”

When Yamiche Alcindor asked about DDT’s disbanding the White House pandemic office,” DDT called it a “nasty question” and said, “You say me, I didn’t do it … I don’t know about that,” before he cut off the reporter’s microphone.

DDT accused President Obama of not acting on H1N1, the “swine flu.” Within a week after its discovery, DDT’s predecessor declared a national emergency, and one million people had been tested. The mortality rate in the U.S. was 0.002 percent. During DDT’s campaign, he said about the problems in the U.S., “I alone can fix it.”

The day before the press conference, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health and a member of DDT’s coronavirus task force, said that current testing protocols are “not geared” to widespread access. He pointed out that the lack of testing doesn’t answer the question of the number of infected people in the U.S.

The Miami mayor, who has tested positive to covid-19, was exposed to the virus at the same Mar-a-Lago event where DDT was seated at dinner next to a top Brazilian aide (left) who also tested positive. To the right of DDT is Brazilian president’s communications secretary, also testing positive. When questioned about this exposure to the virus, DDT said he hadn’t seen the photo and didn’t remember it. Another person at the event has also tested positive. A senior Australian official tested positive just days after meeting with AG Bill Barr, Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Kellyanne Conway, and acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau, has tested positive. 

Asked about his proximity to people who have tested positive for covid-19, DDT claimed that all his doctors recommend that he not get tested because he had no symptoms. The Miami mayor said he had no symptoms for a few days. After being pressed about testing, DDT said he might get it but not because he had exposure to infected people. As part of his covid-19 emergency declaration, DDT told people not to run out and get a test.

Despite the shortage of tests, the FDA is requiring CDC to retest all positive coronavirus tests run by a public health lab for accuracy. Thousands of people in the U.S., some of them symptomatic, cannot get tests. The FDA also kept private labs from testing people for over three weeks.

In the editorial for the typically apolitical Science magazine, H. Holden Thorp writes about DDT demanding vaccines prepared quickly in “Do Us a Favor”:

“Asking for a vaccine and distorting the science at the same time are shockingly dissonant.

“A vaccine has to have a fundamental scientific basis. It has to be manufacturable. It has to be safe. This could take a year and a half—or much longer. Pharmaceutical executives have every incentive to get there quickly—they will be selling the vaccine after all—but thankfully, they also know that you can’t break the laws of nature to get there.

“Maybe we should be happy. Three years ago, the president declared his skepticism of vaccines and tried to launch an antivaccine task force. Now he suddenly loves vaccines.

“But do us a favor, Mr. President. If you want something, start treating science and its principles with respect.”

DDT’s speech Wednesday created chaos rather than calm: his ad libs were lies that Ken Cuccinelli and VP Mike Pence immediately had to correct. A few of them:

The health insurance industry is paying only for testing, not any treatment.

People were paying $20,000 to get flights out of Europe before they found out that citizens were exempted.

The bans to “Europe” are only for 26 countries in the EU, not the countries where DDT owns golf courses such as Ireland, Scotland, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania. And it doesn’t apply to trade and cargo.

DDT’s refusal to notify the EU about the ban caused chaos in their stock markets; the plummet of 10 to 14 percent was their worst in history. That domino effect brought the 10 percent drop for U.S. markets. 

The next day, Biden gave a speech advising the administration about helping the U.S. during the current epidemic that went beyond testing. Hospitals need “surge capacity,” he said, proposing that FEMA work with local governments for “temporary hospitals,” if necessary, and that the DOD planning “for the potential deployment … medical facility capacity and logistical support.” Biden’s economic plan was meals for young people out of school, help for “people who have difficulty paying their rent or mortgage,” and interest-free loans for small-business owners. Already Biden looks far more presidential than DDT ever has.

January 3, 2020

DDT: Week 154 – WWIII?

“Our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He’s weak and he’s ineffective, so the only way he figures that he’s going to get reelected, and as sure as you’re sitting there, is to start a war with Iran.”

That’s what Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said about President Obama in 2011. Immediately before the 2012 election heralding President Obama’s second term, DDT tweeted, “Don’t let Obama play the Iran card in order to start a war in order to get elected — be careful Republicans!” Now DDT may avoid publicity about his extortion of Ukraine and a false investigation of his political opponent with his assassination of Qassem Soleimani that can “start a war with Iran.” The strike against Soleiman is far worse than earlier assassinations because it attacked a state leader, unlike the other U.S. killings of leaders in the Middle East. The U.S. made no attempt to arrest Soleimani in Iraq before he was killed.

The murder of Solemani, leader of the elite Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and second most powerful leader in the country, in a preemptive strike on the Baghdad International Airport had no congressional authorization. Repercussions are not certain, but the killing makes a U.S. presence in the Middle East far more dangerous, and U.S. people may be targeted around the world. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted:

“The question is this – as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?”

To block DDT from illegally starting a war with Iran, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) plan legislation to “prohibit any funding for offensive military force in or against Iran without prior congressional authorization.” An earlier measure to amend the National Defense Authorization Act for a similar purpose passed the House in July but was dropped in December. Instead of waging a new war, Khanna said, the United States needs to “get out priorities right” about its “crumbling infrastructure,” desperate housing needs, and “the existential crisis of climate change.” Sanders tweeted that “it’s the working-class kids who will … fight and die in a disastrous new Middle East conflict – not the children of billionaires.” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has introduced privileged legislation—meaning Republicans cannot block the bill from the Senate floor—banning any hostilities with Iran not explicitly authorized by a congressional declaration of war or a specific authorization for the use of military force.

Echoing George W. Bush’s statements about his preemptive attack on Iraq, DDT said earlier this week that a war with Iran “would go very quickly.” Dan Spinelli disagrees and gives details. The same “quickly” comment was made about World War I, which instigators claimed would last a couple of weeks. World War I killed over 20 million people, and W.’s war in Iraq has lasted almost 14 years. And just like W.’s mythical “weapons of mass destruction,” vague descriptions of Iran’s “developing plans” and future attacks are intended to foment fears. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already replaced Soleimani with Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani, Soleimani’s deputy commander. Khamenei also warned of a “harsh retaliation” for Soleimani’s killers. Ghaani said that “any military action against Iran will be regretted.”

The U.S. also reportedly killed Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in yesterday’s strike. In retaliation against the killing of one U.S. military contractor, the U.S. killed 25 Iraqis who were able to breach the most secure U.S. embassy in the world. Iraq’s deputy parliament speaker it is time to put an end to “US recklessness and arrogance”; an emergency parliament session for Saturday will discuss the U.S. airstrike in Baghdad killing the Iranian and Iraqi leaders. The session will work on taking “decisive decisions that put an end to US presence inside Iraq.” About 5,000 U.S. members, supposedly to protect and train Iraqis, are stationed in Iraq. The country’s prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi stated, “The assassination of an Iraqi military commander in an official post is an aggression against the country of Iraq, its state, its government and its people” and “could spark a devastating war.”

Like killing the head of the CIA, the assassination of Soleimani is ”an explicit act of war,” as an Al Jarzeera journalist wrote.

VP Mike Pence, one heartbeat from being U.S. president, is already spreading disinformation—or ignorance—when he falsely connected Iran to the 9/11 attackers and couldn’t even remember the number of those attackers when he said that 10 of the 12 attackers on 9/11 were linked to Iran. Of the 19 (not 12) 9/11 attackers, 15 were from Saudi Arabia, 2 from the UAE, and 1 each from Egypt and Lebanon.  

Before the assassination, thousands of supporters of Iraqi’s Kataib Hezbollah militia attacked the 104-acre U.S. embassy in Iraq. Media almost universally used the term “Iran-supported” without mentioning that the attackers are Iraqi. The event came after U.S. airstrikes in Iran killed 24 people, largely civilians, because an Iraqi militia rocket strike killed U.S. military contractor (aka mercenary). Protesters backed off the attack after the group claimed it received guarantees from Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi to work toward passing a law calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. The militia gained influence after it worked with the U.S. to drive ISIS out of Iraq. DDT has lost all leverage in controlling Iran after he dropped out of the anti-nuclear agreement and returned to imposing sanctions on Iran.

The U.S. won’t have allied support for a war with Iran: only Israel stands behind the U.S. in its unilateral war. Germany warned against further “dangerous escalation,” and the UK stated that more conflict is “in none of our interests.” DDT failed to inform European partners, and the UK said, “The purpose of having allies is that we can surprise our enemies and not each other.” The Conservative chair of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee expressed concern about the “pattern” of the U.S. not sharing with the UK. France criticized the U.S. for “playing their game in an unpredictable manner” and said that the assassination has made the world “more dangerous.” Last week, Vladimir Putin said he will no longer cooperate with sanctions against Iran and said about Soleimani’s death, “We express our sincere condolences to the Iranian people.” China stated it “has always opposed the use of force in international relations,” urged the U.S. “to remain calm and exercise restraint to avoid further escalating tensions,” and called for respect for Iraq’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

While keeping allies and Congress in the dark about his plans, DDT gave Israel advance warning about killing Soleimani. In addition to other preparedness for the attack’s backlash, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came back early from his visit to Greece. Netanyahu is running for reelection in March, despite his three criminal indictments, in the third election for the country’s prime minister. He is asking Israel’s parliament for immunity.

DDT also referred to his plans to people staying at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Five days before killing Soleimani, he wandered his private resort, dropping hints that he was working on a “big” response to the Iranian regime that they would be hearing or reading about very “soon.” These comments went much farther than his New Year’s Eve tweet about the “big price” Iran would pay for damaging the U.S. embassy in Iraq. Two sources said that he talked about his contact with national-security and military advisers about an imminent aggressive action. One of them said that DDT kept repeating, “You’ll see.”

This afternoon, DDT claimed that his escalating tensions with Iran were to “stop a war” and told the attacked Iranians to immediately end “aggressions in the region.” Then he initiated another airstrike that killed five Iraqis in a convoy for a medical unit of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces near Baghdad. 

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. action created no danger for Americans in the region, but his agency asked U.S. citizens to immediately leave Iraq and suspended all consular operations. On Sunday, Pompeo tried to play down any problems in either Iraq or North Korea, but the Pentagon had blocked any government travel to Iraq or Syria, including by U.S. lawmakers and their staffers, because of regional instability. Pompeo is removing 28 percent of diplomatic staffing in Iraq by the end of May 2020, removing 114 positions in the Baghdad embassy alone, in a retraction on diplomacy and oversight.

Senior government officials continue the spin that killing Soleimani was intended to “advance the cause of peace.” The rest of the world has the opposite vision. On Twitter “WWIII” is the top trending term worldwide. People curious about DDT’s timing may consider that he bragged about the killing in his big speech to evangelicals today. And that Iran is hacking into DDT’s re-election campaign in opposition for his possible second term.  

April 6, 2019

DDT: Week 115, Part II – Disasters Causing Meltdown

Watching Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ramble on has caused increasing concern among those exposed to his television appearances. [The “meltdown” cover from last summer’s Time may be even more appropriate now.]

This past week, he talked about his father being born in a “wonderful” place in Germany although Fred Trump was born in New York City, the son of a man banished from Bavaria because of draft dodging. DDT’s grandfather was the immigrant, like those who DDT hate and fear. Although DDT’s grandfather became a citizen earlier, he brought his wife back from Europe just three months before DDT’s father was born in 1905. During the same session, DDT talked about the “oranges” of the Mueller report instead of its “origins.” The noise from “windmills” causes cancer, according to DDT. If true, as Stephen Colbert said, everyone in Holland would be dead.

Bad news keeps piling up on him. The new book A Hill to Die On (Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer), released this past week, reveals much about DDT’s contentious relationship with congressional members, and the WaPo published its latest record of DDT’s lies since his inauguration—9,451 as of March 31. That’s an average of almost 12 a day, with a high acceleration rate in the past year.

For the second time recently, Congressional Republicans passed a bill that DDT has promised to veto, a resolution to end U.S. military support for DDT’s Saudi/UAE-Led Coalition’s brutal war on Yemen. The House vote of 247-175 included 16 yes GOP votes. The Senate passed the bill last month with seven Republicans voting for it. That chamber had passed the same resolution last December, but former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) refused to bring it to the floor. A bicameral War Powers Resolution has not passed Congress since the original passage of the 1973 War Powers Act.

DDT also has problems with  his tax returns. His tax firm promised to give ten years of his returns to Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chair of the House Oversight Committee. House Ways and Means Committee Chair, Richard Neal (D-MA), also asked the IRS for six years of DDT’s personal and business tax information, using a law from almost a century ago. DDT’s lawyers claim that Neal has no justification, but another law governing tax return disclosure requires the Treasury secretary to hand over all returns requested by the chairs of congressional committees that oversee taxes. No Treasury secretary has ever refused Congress’ request. Neither Secretary Steve Mnuchin nor the IRS has responded. Mnuchin himself is in trouble: the U.S. Ethics Office—which is much more lax than in the past—won’t certify his 2018 financial disclosure statement because of his possibly shady dealings. Last month, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was also told his disclosure statement couldn’t be certified because of an accuracy.

Although DDT typically dawdles in making appointments for government officials, the Senate confirmed Michael Desmond as the new chief counsel of the IRS on February 27—two weeks after DDT asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to fast-track the process. Desmond has earlier advised the Trump Organization on tax issues before DDT took office and worked with tax counsels for the Trump Organization. Last fall, the Senate confirmed Charles Rettig, owner of a unit in a Trump building and author of an article arguing that DDT should not release his tax returns, as the IRS Commissioner. The old saying “follow the money” has been joined by “follow DDT’s appointments.”

DDT had another tax problem when WaPo discovered that he had failed to pay taxes of $36,200 on his LA golf course where he visited yesterday. An article pointing out that he had delinquent taxes for two different years caused him to pay off.

While DDT talks big about security on the border, he hands out undeserved security clearances to friends and family like candy. Despite DDT’s denials, an 18-year White House security adviser, Tricia Newbold, has testified to the House Oversight Committee about 25 high-level security clearances for Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and others in spite of earlier rejection for blackmail, conflicts of interest, criminal conduct, drug abuse, financial problems, foreign influence, and other red flags. Since DDT overturned these rejections, applicants are no longer required to have credit checks. Newbold reported that her direct manager, Carl Kline, overruled her denials and retaliated against her when she objected, including a 14-day suspension without pay.

Newbold, who has dwarfism, said when she raised concerns, Kline retaliated by placing essential files up high, out of her physical reach. On The Daily show, Trevor Noah called out the “middle school bullies who were put in charge of America’s government” and urged security specialist Tricia Newbold to fight back. Kline has been subpoenaed to testify before the Oversight Committee.

Kushner made over 40 revisions to his original financial disclosures and added millions of previously undisclosed assets, including financial ties to Russia in the months following his appointment as presidential adviser. Public reporting shows that he has an extremely close relationship with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and received financial help from Qatar. Last month, Kushner’s company sought a $1.5 billion loan from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and in 2018, a private equity billionaire leveraged loans for access to the White House. Although Kushner was denied access to top-secret documents last year, he regained his top security clearance in May 2018.

Cummings has not publicly announced the 25 people on Newbold’s list, but the committee prioritized Kushner and eight other current and former officials:

John Bolton: recent interaction with Russian nationals that may not have been reported.

Ivanka Trump: Missed deadline for filing financial reports to the Office of Government Ethics and use of personal email account for government purposes.

Michael Flynn: contacts with foreign officials; misleading information about a conversation with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. that he denied; and secret lobbying campaign on behalf of the Turkish government.

Rob Porter: abuse of two ex-wives.

Sebastian Gorka.

K.T. McFarland: deception to the Senate about knowledge about Flynn’s contacts with Russia.

John McEntee (DDT’s personal assistant for his first year): concerns about finances and gambling. (He is now senior adviser for DDT’s campaign.)

Robin Townley (top aide to Flynn).

In another dismal security risk, a Chinese woman with two passports, four cellphones, a laptop, a hard drive, and a thumb drive containing malware gained access to Mar-a-Lago while DDT’s wife and son were on the premises and he was nearby playing golf. Yujing Zhang lied her way past the Secret Service agents and wasn’t caught until she was approached by a receptionist inside. She told security officials that she wanted to go to the swimming pool and was believed to be the relative of a member named Zhang. Experts have worried about the lack of security at the Winter White House, as DDT calls his resort. In 2017, Mar-a-Lago guests and wait staff surrounded DDT and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as they talked about North Korea’s ballistic test. DDT called the latest problem “a little fluke.”

A third judge has ruled against Wilbur Ross’ citizenship question on the 2020 census as he also faces congressional hearings and a Supreme Court appearance. “Unreasonableness,” “woefully deficient,” and “improper” were just a few of the terms in U.S. District Judge George Hazel’s 119-page opinion. Ross, 81, showed himself so pathetically incapable of testifying that he “declined” to appear before the Appropriations Committee.  He was replaced with an empty chair.

Last fall, DDT preened himself for making a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada to replace NAFTA after his heavy criticism about that agreement during his campaign. His new agreement won’t exist, however, without congressional approval, and on April 19 the International Trade Commission will release its report on the effects of the new NAFTA’s version. Experts predict little positive impact for the U.S. and question whether little change is worth the effort. Even worse could be a negative or mediocre conclusion about DDT’s agreement.

DDT exhibited fear about the loss of his and other GOP congressional 2020 elections by telling House Republicans to be “more paranoid than they are” about vote counting. At the NRCC spring dinner, he suggested the elections that “went Democrat” were rigged:

“I don’t like the way the votes are being tallied… You don’t like it either, you just don’t want to say it because you’re afraid of the press.”

Last November, DDT said without evidence that Florida’s ballots were “massively infected” and talked about “electoral corruption” in Arizona. Before the 2016 election, he said he might not “give up peacefully” if he lost.

DDT’s approval ratings in public polling range around 40 percent, but he would hate even more a private E-score compiled to determine the level of personalities’ appeal for television audiences for marketing executives and advertisers. On over 40 personality and physical attributes, DDT scores high on “aggressive, “mean,” “insincere,” “confident,” and “creepy” but between 0 and 4 percent for “sexy,” “impartial,” “handsome,” and “physically fit.” His overall strong positive appeal is 14 percent compared to his 39 percent of overall strong negative appeal. Tracking stopped in 2015.

February 21, 2019

Sue Hardesty: The Wall Continues 

In a poll taken since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced that he was building a wall at the southern U.S. border because of a “national emergency,” polls indicate a disagreement from the people of the United States:

  • 61 percent do not approve of the “emergency.”
  • 58 percent believe an “emergency” does not exist.
  • 58 percent think that DDT misused his power by redirecting funds toward the wall.

Sue Hardesty shows from her FB writings that she’s in the majority of people not approving of an “emergency” and believing that there is no emergency and DDT misused his powers. A few pieces from the past month (lightly edited). She wrote these pieces after her first commentary on walls.

Did you know that for the year of 2015 the IRS reported 4.4 million workers (mostly undocumented immigrants) without a Social Security number paid $23.6 billion in income taxes? And that these same undocumented workers pay $7 billion each year into Social Security. The tragic thing is they are paying all these taxes for benefits they cannot even use like Medicare and Social Security. The reason they did file is that paying taxes leave a paper trail proving how long the immigrant has been in the U.S., one of the requirements toward becoming a citizen. The half of the undocumented workers who did not file still paid taxes which adds billions more every year. These workers are also doing critical jobs, especially in the food industry, that natural born whites refuse to do.

  *  *  *

Sorry. My political side is back. I received so many responses to my page on Trump’s wall that I decided to continue the debate. On crime committed by immigrants, I found that “the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. tripled between the 1990s and 2013, while violent crime declined 48% and property crime fell 41% over that period.” Recent research sources on immigration and crime concluded:

“There are two broad types of studies that investigate immigrant criminality. The first type uses Census and American Community Survey (ACS) data from the institutionalized population and broadly concludes that immigrants are less crime prone than the native-born population. It is important to note that immigrants convicted of crimes serve their sentences before being deported with few exceptions.”

Not only have immigrants committed less crime, there is an abundance of research that immigrants even bring the crime rate down. The second type of research at a macro level analysis generally found, “increased immigration does not increase crime and sometimes even causes crime rates to fall.”

I guess what breaks my heart are the asylum seekers caught in a war we likely caused and are only asking to live. Tell me we have room for them.

Another of Sue’s entries after she read about how private prison conglomerates take cash from immigrants seeking asylum:

I think the government should never hire outside contractors for any job having to do with taking care of any living thing because greed usually wins, especially when rich corporations such as GeoGroup and CoreCivic are involved. On the average, ICE pays around $62 dollars a day for each detainee, giving $38 million to CoreCivic alone last year. When it comes to corporations and the bottom profit line, anything is never enough. In addition to starving prisoners so that they have to work for as little as $1.00 a day, they are overcharged for anything they buy such as a can of tuna, paying four times what it cost outside. Or a dollar’s worth of Dove soap $2.44. Companies also take ten percent of money from inmates waiting for asylum for “fees.” One more nail of shame.

In response from one of Sue’s readers, an 11-minute video about the effect of the wall on Arizona’s Tohono o’odham, whose land is approximately the size of Connecticut [transcript included]. Full one-hour PBS presentation.

A comprehensive view of Arizona’s Tohono o’odham dilemma from the Smithsonian American Indian Magazine. 

Addenda from Nel:

DDT started the wall as a memory device to remind him to talk about his hatred for immigrants; now he says that his Space Patrol started as joke. “I was not really serious,” he said about his first mention. Now he has ordered the DOD to establish a new military branch for the purpose of fighting threats in space—which the Pentagon already does in a Space Command. DDT still needs congressional approval.

DDT demanded the wall because of his “gut feeling” that drugs don’t come through ports of entry. ICE disagreed because drug smuggling has turned to large truckloads—such as the 254 pounds of Fentanyl that Customs found a few weeks ago “under the rear floor of a tractor-trailer.” The discovery didn’t deter DDT’s claims, but facts disprove his false claims again. Yesterday, Customs announced the find of 906 pounds of meth hidden in a trailer with frozen strawberries. A wall would not have blocked either of these enormous drug shipments.

Last week, DDT said the wall wasn’t being built; this week he says the wall is being built—but it’s only a renovation of an existing wall approved in 2017. The video that he parades is almost two years old.

DDT said he would be sued over the wall, and he’s right.

  • A coalition of 16 states filed a federal lawsuit to block DDT’s building the wall without congressional permission.
  • The Sierra Club, the ACLU, and a coalition of environmental groups have filed suits in two other jurisdictions.
  • Three Texas landowners are suing to keep their land on the border from DDT’s wall. One of them said she had never seen undocumented immigrants crossing the border in 40 years.
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a suit seeking documents about DDT’s legal reasoning for declaring the emergency.
  • El Paso County has joined the Border Network for Human Rights to sue DDT in a lawsuit designed to prevent the wall. They argue that the emergency declaration damages the city’s reputation and economy.

Arguments against the constitutionality of DDT’s emergency include no emergency exists (DDT waited two years until he got a Democratic House), the Congress refused the money, apprehensions of undocumented immigrants are down, immigrants aren’t responsible for massive crimes, and drug trafficking won’t be blocked by a wall.

More opposition:

  • The House is preparing to vote on a bill opposing the “emergency.”
  • More than one-third of the money said he would take from other federal programs will probably be unavailable. DOD said only $85 million remains unspent in the $2.5 billion anti-drug funds that DDT targeted.
  • At least eight GOP senators and possibly more, openly oppose the emergency declaration and DDT’s taking money from military construction funds because military bases won’t get the renovation that they need.
  • Representatives are equally unhappy, even our Trumpist Greg Walden (R-OR).

For now, the law that gave DDT only $1.375 billion for a barrier that can’t be concrete has protected areas in the Rio Grande Valley:

  • The National Butterfly Center, an ecotourism destination.
  • Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, an international area for bird watching.
  • Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, exempted in last year’s budget.
  • La Lomita, an historic Catholic chapel that lost a court fight a week ago.
  • Area designated for the commercial spaceport for SpaceX, a space transportation company designed by Tesla founder Elon Musk.
  • Starr County, second-poorest county in Texas, permitted mandatory “mutual agreements” with DHS about barriers.

Losers are the 154-year-old Eli Jackson cemetery, an indigenous burial ground, and 600 owners of private land that can be taken by eminent domain. Every protection is gone if DDT’s “national emergency” succeeds.

DDT is increasing human trafficking by transferring money from the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to ICE that focuses on low-level “coyotes” and finding law-abiding undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for decades. HSI investigations have dropped by other 50 percent because of less than half its former staff in DDT’s first full fiscal year. Although the number of people charged with “bringing in and harboring certain aliens rose statistically by 18 percent, DDT had lowered the standards for smuggling.

Taxpayers are paying $12,000 for DDT’s wall around his Florida golf course to block the press’s view. Last year, he put journalists in basements and covered windows with black plastic so that they couldn’t see his frequent golf games. Taxpayers have already given DDT $17,000 to build a wall at Mar-a-Lago.

August 19, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty – Further Losses

People cheered at the departure of white supremacist Steve Bannon from the White House, but the problems of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) aren’t over. Last Tuesday’s press conference his support of neo-Nazis and denigration of those who want racial equality started a firestorm that lasted the rest of the week. As he blasted the people he called the “alt-left,” Chief of Staff John Kelly, “Trump’s Last Hope” according to a Time cover, stood helplessly by. His words started a domino effect resulting in his isolation.

By now DDT has alienated business leaders, world leaders, Republican leaders, religious minorities, racial minorities, military leaders, Fox network, the intelligence community, and his own staff. All he seems to have left are Sebastian Gorka, Stephan Miller, Saudi Arabia, racist Christian evangelicals, and white supremacists, including their media and David Duke. He doesn’t even have Steven Bannon any more

Only 24 out of 292 GOP members of Congress criticized DDT by name, but most of the others still aren’t happy about the disturbance of their agenda. DDT switched tweet attacks from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to “publicity seeking Lindsey Graham” and “Flake Jeff Flake.” Both had criticized DDT’s espousing an equivalent between white supremacists and their opposition.

DDT’s advisory councils have fallen apart. As CEO members of both the Manufacturing Advisory Council and the Strategy and Policy Forum dropped like flies, he disbanded them. He eliminated the Infrastructure Council, created by an executive order, before it was even finalized. The next one to go was the President’s Commission on Arts and the Humanities, created by Ronald Reagan in 1982, as all the members resigned, stating:

“Your words and actions push us all further away from the freedoms we are guaranteed. Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values.”

The first letters in each paragraph of the letter spelled RESIST. Following these disasters, DDT announced that he would not be attending the Kennedy Center Honors on December 3.

DDT also lost Carl Icahn as an advisor for regulatory matters after Icahn financially benefitted from his advice. One reason for his departure may be an expose on Icahn’s conflicts of interest and questionable legal actions in the New Yorker.  

At least 16 charity organizations, including the American Cancer Society, have pulled their events from DDT’s resort Mar-a-Lago, and more are leaving every day.

House Democrats introduced a congressional censure resolution because of DDT’s support of the white supremacists. The conservative USA Today published an editorial in favor of the resolution and called for “formal condemnation.” Conservative columnist for the Washington Post Jennifer Rubin stated that “any Republican not willing to sign on [to the censure resolution] should be voted out. Period. It’s the only litmus test that matters.” The only president formally censured in Congress was Andrew Jackson in 1834.

DDT is considering privatizing the war in Afghanistan, with Eric Prince, the brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, in charge. Prince, who had owned the violent Blackwater security services, wants his workers to be controlled by an appointed “viceroy” who would make all the decisions including spending and contracting.  He’s recommending billionaire Stephen Feinberg for the job. Feinberg was a member of the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in college.

After creating chaos in the insurance market with his sabotage of the Affordable Care Act, DDT has reluctantly agreed to make the August subsidy payments to insurance companies. GOP legislators had urged DDT to make these payments because they know they will get blamed for ACA problems. The Congressional Budget Office announced this week that stopping these payments would increase the federal deficit. Ending them would immediately increase insurance premiums and cause other government subsidies to rise. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the health committee, said that congressional members should quickly pass legislations to continue next year’s payments. These payments keep deductibles and co-payments far lower. Without them, premiums would increase by 20 to 25 percent in the next two years. Conservatives have preached doom and gloom about the ACA, but only two U.S. counties don’t have an exchange insurer for 2018. Cutting off the subsidies would cause insurance companies to abandon the exchanges, leaving customers without coverage.

  • A Kaiser poll discovered the following about public opinion surrounding the ACA:
  • About 80 percent want DDT to stop undermining the ACA and take action to make it function.
  • Only 30 percent want the GOP to continue the “repeal and replace.”
  • Sixty percent say that DDT and the GOP are to blame for any upcoming health problems.
  • A solid majority, 52 percent, like the ACA, with only a majority of Republicans against it. That’s a nine-point increase since DDT was elected.

While you were watching Charlottesville:

Opioids: DDT’s press conference on August 8 announced no need to declare an emergency. Then he received bad press about his failure to address the problem and declared an emergency. But he failed to give official notice to Congress which means that there will be movement on the crisis.

North Korea: Kim Jong-Un backed off after China dropped sanctions on the nation, and DDT seemed to take credit.

NAFTA renegotiations: DDT wants more than tweaking, Mexican farmers and workers demand the trade agreement scrapped, and Canada will challenge the rules in favor of its lumber and other trade issues. What can go wrong?

Stock Market: Even a bounce of 60 points after Bannon’s firing didn’t save the DOW from going down over 280 points on Thursday and Friday. DDT probably won’t announce that.

Terrorism in Spain: DDT, the self-identified “fact-seeker, cannot respond to the tragedy of a van driver killing and injuring people in Barcelona, Spain, so he reverted to his lie from the past about General Pershing conquering terrorist Muslims. Late night host Stephen Colbert described DDT’s speech.

Vladimir Putin: In a poll of 37 countries, people in almost half of them declared that they trusted the Russian president more to do the right thing for the world than DDT—and Putin only got 26 percent. Countries with more faith in Putin include Japan, South Korea, Venezuela, Mexico, Germany, France, Greece, and Turkey.

Increased danger for people: Last week, DDT rolled back a regulation requiring truck drivers and train engineers be screened for sleep apnea, blamed for deadly rail and highway crashes. Metro-North in the New York City suburbs had discovered that 11.6 percent of its engineers suffer from this fatigue-inducing disorder.

No flood protections: This week he rescinded flood protections for federally funded buildings and infrastructure, revoking President Obama’s executive order that required new public infrastructure projects such as subsidized housing, hospitals, and fire departments be built a few feet above the “100-year floodplain.” DDT sees no problem with seas rising and is determined to erase President Obama’s entire legacy. The man inaugurated last January said that regulations slow down the approval process and wants to spend $200 billion on projects that can be damaged beyond repair in a few years. Federal flood insurance claims cost an annual average of $1.9 billion.

If President Obama wanted it …:  DDT has taken down a bike sharing station at the White House for its employees. Bike share participants save an average of $631 a year.

Cover coverage: DDT keeps making the covers on major publications.

Lawsuits against DDT:

Five active duty transgender service members are suing DDT for his tweets banning them from the military, having relied on earlier guidance permitting them to be openly transgender in their jobs. The lawsuit asks the courts to immediately block new guidelines that would fire them. The suit states that DDT’s tweets have “already resulted in immediate, concrete injury to Plaintiffs by unsettling and destabilizing plaintiffs’ reasonable expectation of continued service.” Secretary of Defense James Mattis had asked for an extension to an earlier year-long student of implementing the change to ensure that it is smooth.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a class action lawsuit for “unsubstantiated claims of gang affiliation” in immigrant deportations of minors. Accusations include the detention and transport of children to detention facilities without notification of parents or lawyers.

Neo-Nazi rally plans: Boston Common, August 19; Laguna Beach, August 20; Phoenix, August 22; San Francisco, August 26; Berkeley, August 27; various cities including Boston, Phoenix, Houston, Upland, Kansas City, and San Francisco, September 9. Participants are so-called America First, Act for America, and Trump Campaign.  On August 19, advocates of racial justice organized groups at over 30 cities, and the “free speech” rally in Boston brought out far fewer white supremacists than the almost 40,000 counter-protesters.

DDT’s tweet about the counter-protesters who supported equality:

“Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.”

Almost 1,000 people rallied in Portland (OR) on August 18 against hate. The best sign: pick a torch.

March 3, 2017

DDT Week Six: The ‘Trump Slump’

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 11:00 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The joint speech to Congress last Tuesday was supposed to be Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) victory lap. It lasted for less than 24 hours before the country switched to focus on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ connection with Russia during his campaigning for DDT. The man inaugurated for president only 31 days ago was so desperate that he tried to connect Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) with Vladimir Putin by showing a photo of the pair from 2003 that has been promoted on conspiracy websites such as Gateway Pundit and Infoward.

Muslim Ban

The Muslim ban rolled out a month ago had to be carried out instantly, according to DDT, so that no more “bad dudes” could get into the United States. Once it was overturned, there was supposed to be first an appeal and then a new ban for the same reason. Nothing happened for weeks, and DDT announced that there wouldn’t be one for a few days after his speech to allow his speech to bask in the glory from DDT’s performance, to permit the speech “to breathe.” The desperate need to keep the nation safe had dissipated.

By now, DDT has a problem with any immigrant ban after a report from the Department of Homeland Security revealed that banning immigrants may be worthless:

“We assess that most foreign-born, US-based violent extremists likely radicalized several years after their entry to the United States, limiting the ability of screening and vetting officials to prevent their entry because of national security concerns.”

Combined with DHS findings that “country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity,” there is no evidence to prove the necessity of greater vetting for immigrants than has been used in the past. DDT’s aide Stephan Miller indicated that the ban may be to protect U.S. workers from foreign competitors.

The Russian Connection

Like Richard Nixon, DDT has promised a leadership of “law and order.” And also like Nixon, DDT is displaying an administration of corruption and criminality within his own circle. He began by maintaining his conflicts of interest, nominating corrupt people for his cabinet, and then losing his National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who lied about meeting with the Russians. This week’s poster “child” for breaking the law is newly confirmed Jeff Sessions, who lied to Congress about not having met with the Russians while he was a part of DDT’s campaign. As the new U.S. attorney general, Sessions has been excited about his power–exonerating police for any criminal action and cracking down on marijuana users, among others. His career has become greatly tarnished with the discovery that he committed perjury while testifying in his confirmation hearings on January 10.

DDT has always claimed that he knows about no one who talked to Russia during his campaign, but six of his aides have also admitted to talking with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak last year. Three of his national security advisers also talked to the ambassador at the RNC in July. Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law and also a senior adviser, also met with the Russian ambassador last December at the same time as Michael Flynn.

In an attempt to exonerate himself, Sessions told reporters than he met the Russian ambassador in his senatorial capacity, but one of the meetings was at the RNC conference when Sessions used campaign funds for his travel. He also said that he had forgotten about meeting with the ambassador. Until yesterday, he had flatly refused to recuse himself from any investigation into DDT’s campaign team involvement with the Russians, but now he’s backed down from that assertion—most likely to keep from being forced to resign from his brand new position. If he ends up losing that job, it’s unlikely that he can go back to the Senate because he’s already been replaced.

Another blow against DDT this week, temporarily hidden by the much worse news for him, was the confirmation that he was responsible for softening language toward Russia in the GOP platform. J.D. Gordon, DDT’s national security policy rep at the RNC, earlier said that DDT wasn’t involved in the change that called for the U.S. to provide “appropriate assistance,” rather than lethal weapons, to Ukraine to push back against Russian intervention. Gordon talked to the Russian ambassador too.

Cabinet Members Perjury

Sessions wasn’t the only confirmed Cabinet member who lied under oath during confirmation hearings.

  • EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, Education Secretary stated in testimony that he had never used a private email account to conduct business while he was Oklahoma’s attorney general.
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said that she has not been involved in her family’s foundation, which has given millions of dollars to group that oppose LGBT rights. She denied that she sat on the board, but her tax filings list her as vice-president of the board for 17 years. DeVos claimed it was a “clerical” error.
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin denied in his written testimony that his former bank had used “robo-signing,” but it was a frequent practice , and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price insisted that his discount for a biotech stock was “available to every single individual that was an investor at the time.” Fewer than 20 investors in the nation were offered the same discount.

EmailGate

For years, GOP members of Congress have been obsessed with two Hillary Clinton issues, Benghazi and emails. During DDT’s Tuesday speech, he lauded himself for a failed raid in Yemen that killed a Navy SEAL. Later this week, VP Mike Pence was found to have used a public server, AOL.com, for sensitive government messages. Pence said that his email server use was entirely different from that of Hillary Clinton He is correct in at least one way: AOL was hacked; Clinton’s server was not. Clinton openly provided emails when asked, but Pence has fought the release of his emails through judicial means. DDT’s new head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, also communicated with his staff on private email when he was Oklahoma attorney general and then lied about doing that while under oath by telling Congress that he always used a state email account for government business. Conservatives have yet to demand that Pence and Pruitt be locked up.

GOPcare

The GOP health care plan still seems to be missing. After the promise to release it last Wednesday, the day after DDT’s speech, it stays in the basement of an office building next to the Capitol where only House Republicans are allowed to see it. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tried to make copies, but he wasn’t permitted into the room where the plan is being kept.

Immigration Policy

Despite the part of DDT’s speech that his immigration policy going after only the “bad ones,” he has decided that women and children are the “bad ones.” The Department of Homeland Security is considering the separation of mothers from their children at the border to keep them from migrating to the U.S. Toward that end, the current 3,000 prison beds for undocumented women and children will be expanded to 20,000.

The policy would detain parents while complying with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals order that immigrant children must be released from detention as soon as possible. The excuse for this action is protection because “the journey north is a dangerous one.” No consideration has been given to the fact that living in the countries these people flee may be more dangerous.

Vacation for DDT

In the meantime, DDT is taking another $3 million trip to Mar-a-Lago to recover from the week’s stress. He has gone every weekend since the week after his inauguration, and taxpayers have picked up the tab for four of the trips. Taxpayers are also paying for a Marine One helipad being built at Mar-a-Lago. At least DDT is not finding his new job too much work for him.

Disappearing Visitors to U.S.

Travel guru Arthur Frommer calls it the “Trump Slump.” While DDT makes money illegally for his businesses and lives off the taxpayers, international travel to the U.S. is suffering because of his immigration policies with a projected fewer 300,000 visitors coming to New York this year as compared to 2016. It would be the first drop since the 2008 recession. Philadelphia lost 3,000 attendees to an international meeting that will go instead to Canada or Mexico. Another company reports that books are down 6.5 percent thus far this year compared to last. With international travel a key to tourism, the industry generates $2.1 trillion in economic output and supports 15.1 million jobs. An op-ed piece in the Toronto Star newspaper encouraged Canadians to “boycott vacations to the U.S.” until Trump is no longer president.

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