Nel's New Day

September 7, 2019

More Investigations by and for DDT

Investigations into the abuses of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) using government funds for his own private piggy back does not end with the Pentagon supporting his Scottish Turnberry resort. VP Mike Pence added to DDT’s coffers during Pence’s European trip. While VP Mike Pence attended meetings in Dublin (Ireland), he stayed at DDT’s golf course, Doonbeg, requiring four extra flights in Air Force 2, four extra motorcade trips, and security. Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, said that the government “negotiated room rates” for DDT’s resort. DDT “suggested” (code for ordered) the stay at the golf course including Pence’s wife, sister, and mother. Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short said “suggested” and then denied he said it until the next day when he reversed the reversal, the same day that DDT said he did not “suggest” anything. Although Pence claims to be “personally paying all family expenses,” taxpayers covered expenses for staff, security, and transports for them.

Pence claimed that he wanted to stay close to his ancestral home, but the visit there was rather bleak. Only one couple finally showed up, a huge difference from the crowds in Ireland for President Obama. 

 

Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deer tried—and failed—to cover up for Pence’s homophobia:

 

“For all of you who still think our @VP is anti-gay, I point you to his and the @SecondLady’s schedule tomorrow where they will join Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar and his partner Dr. Matthew Barrett for lunch in Ireland.”

Pence also faced LGBTQ support for LGBTQ people at his next stop, Iceland, where he was greeted with row of rainbow flags from the technology company Advania across from his meeting with President Gudni Johannesson in the capital, Reykjavik. Johannesson and Iceland’s first lady, Eliza Reid, wore rainbow bracelets during the meeting.

Two House committees are investigating Pence’s stay at DDT’s golf resort and DDT’s suggestion that the 2020 G7 summit meet at his Doral resort in Miami. Representatives requested documents from DDT, Pence, and other officials about violations of the Emoluments Clause. The State Department enriched DDT by allowing seven foreign governments to rent luxury condos in New York’s Trump Tower in 2017 with no congressional consent from lawmakers as required by the constitution.

Pro-pollution DDT is is bad for businesses that cross him. The DOJ is accusing four automobile companies of antitrust violations because they plan to conform with California’s fuel efficiency standards. The EPA and Transportation Department also notified California that the deal “appears to be inconsistent with federal law.”

CEOs understand that DDT is causing them serious problems. In an August survey of CEOs, 62 percent said the trade war with its flipflops on tariffs is “highly detrimental” to outlook and strategy, and 72 percent believe that cutting interest rates won’t sustain the economic cycle. The 3.9 percent rate of investment DDT has fallen from President Obama’s 5.7 percent after the nation’s economy started to recover in 2010.

History shows that no one wins in a trade war. When President George W. Bush raised steel tariffs in 2002, the GDP declined by $30.4 million, and about 200,000 jobs disappeared, 13,000 in raw steel-making. The cost to taxpayers was $400,000 for every steel-industry job saved. The World Trade Organization also ruled that the Bush tariffs were illegal

With DDT, the U.S. trade deficit for the first half of 2019 is bigger than in the last two years.

Farmers may suffer more than businesses. Bob Kuylen, the vice president of the 50,000-member North Dakota Farmers Union, said that farmers “lost pretty much all of our markets since Trump took over” leaving farmers “land-rich and cash-poor.” He added that bonuses for his high-protein wheat crops have dropped 95 percent.

In more DDT corruption, the private company of DDT’s campaign manager Brad Parscale has received almost $1 million from a PAC supporting DDT and Pence. Law prohibits PACS from coordinating with candidates’ campaigns.

DDT may have defrauded the IRS by not paying taxes on a tax-avoidance $50-million dollar loan that he owes to one of his own companies. He says it’s a wash; IRS law states that a firm owed money and has no outstand debt is worth at least as much as it is owed.

To give DDT $3.6 billion for his wall, the Pentagon “deferred” 127 projects in 23 states, 19 countries, and three U.S. territories, including $400 million for military installations in Puerto Rico. Another $770 million of the money disappeared from projects in allied European nations to help deter a possible attack from Russia, and another one is for cybersecurity. The Pentagon plans to get Congress to replace the $3.6 billion for a wall that Congress voted down. Either the projects weren’t important in the first place, of the military thought they could blackmail Congress. 

Congressional members are losing status with their constituents because of the lost revenue after Pentagon projects were deferred. North Carolina is unhappy after losing $80 million dollars, and its GOP senator Thom Tillis voted to remove FEMA funds for detention centers. The biggest loser, Tillis is up for re-election next year. He’s also in trouble after DDT lied about signing an emergency declaration “at the request of Senator Thom Tillis.” Federal law allows only governors to make these requests, but DDT couldn’t bear to give a Democrat credit for anything.  

GOP Sen. Martha McSally, also up for re-election after being appointed last year, downplayed Arizona’s loss by saying the state loses only $30,000. Later she had to explain that the loss is $30 million. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) simply blamed the Democrats.

Seventy percent of residents in the 200-household living community for older adults, River Bend Resort and Golf Club in Brownsville (TX), found that DDT’s wall puts them on Mexico’s side of DDT’s 30-foot-tall barrier.

DDT wants to raise mortgage costs and the deficit by ending government control of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that handle half the nation’s mortgages. Part of the strategy in stopping an even worse recession from the unraveling housing market in 2008 was to have government control of those companies. People are already struggling to find affordable homes, and the U.S. will lose revenue from the companies’ profits while Wall Street gets richer. After paying less than $200 billion to rescue Freddie and Fannie, the government received $300 billion in dividends from them. Neither company has capital to be sustainable for several years, and taxpayers would be forced to bail them out again in “exigent circumstances,” according to the 53-page proposal. Shares in the companies drastically fell last week.

DDT brought out his 85th mandate to destroy the planet by rolling back George W. Bush’s energy-efficient requirements for LED bulbs. Continued use of incandescent bulbs cost people more money. Eliminating inefficient bulbs nationwide would save electricity equivalent to the output from at least 25 large power plants, equivalent to powering all homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Since 2010, energy consumption in U.S. homes dropped by 6 percent.

Only three incumbent presidents—Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush—faced primary challengers, and all three lost the general elections for a second term. With GOP politicians planning to run against DDT, Republicans have a solution: cancel 2020 presidential primaries and caucuses, already almost done in four states. One of the states is South Carolina, where Mark Sanford is considering an intent to run against DDT. DDT is right about the rigging of the election—at least for the GOP.

More NRA scandals: Former NRA president Marion Hammer obtained loans of over $250,000 at an interest rate down to two percent from the NRA’s Florida affiliate where she is the only employee. This affiliate reported a $28,389 shortfall when it gave Hammer a $200,000 loan. Most of Unified Sportsmen of Florida gets almost all its budget from the NRA. The IRS can impose tax penalties if the organization benefits a private shareholder or person.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who incited people to defend themselves from immigrants before the El Paso shooting, cannot understand how the killer at Midland-Odessa last week could obtain a gun without a background check. The shooter bought the gun in a private sale which, under state law, has no background checks.

“The economy is great,” says DDT, but new jobs slowed in August to 130,000, 34,000 of them government jobs included 25,000 short-term positions for the 2020 U.S. census. Reductions of June and July jobs numbers by 20,000 brought the 2019 monthly average down to 143,000, 25 percent below the 192,000 in 2018. President Obama’s monthly job growth averages were 251,000 per month in 2014, 227,000 in 2015 and 193,000 in 2016. The stock market went up but only because of DDT’s promise of trade talks with China in October. U.S. business investment and growth in trade-sensitive sectors slumped after fewer foreign sales, rising costs of imported goods, and the uncertain global outlook. People’s views of the economy are partisan, but they’re all going down—and independents are much closer to those of Democrats than Republicans. And the election is less than 14 months away.

September 4, 2019

NRA Rapidly Disintegrates

Filed under: Guns,Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 11:02 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Last year has been hard on the organization that controls Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and GOP legislators since the National Rifle Association imploded at its annual conference only five months ago. That was when NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre blocked the re-election of NRA’s President Oliver North. When North became president a year earlier, LaPierre called him “hands down, the absolute best choice to lead our NRA Board”; a year later LaPierre accused North of trying to extort him.

Since that time, multiple scandals about NRA have dribbled out, causing many of its members to become disillusioned. In May, leaked documents showed employees unhappy about low wages, underfunded pensions, and a culture of fear while LaPierre made $1.4 million in 2017, making him the eighth-highest compensated nonprofit leader in the nation. The pension plan was frozen in 2018, meaning that employees cannot accrue new benefits while working for the organization. LaPierre got a one-time $3,767,345 supplemental retirement payment in 2015.

Less than two months after North’s ouster, LaPierre got rid of chief lobbyist Chris Cox, part of NRA leadership for 24 years, by accusing him of conspiring with North against him. Cox was also executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, the explicitly political arm of the gun lobby, since 2002 and made over $1.1 million in 2017. A lawsuit against Cox might force North to pay his own legal fees with the claim that he acted in bad faith.

Another blow was NRA’s closure of its online media arm, NRATV. NRA board members had increasingly become disenchanted with live production for the video channel with little response: January had only 49,000 unique visitors. The content also moved far from gun rights into right-wing talking points such as criticism of immigration and the FBI. Bad publicity came from Dana Loesch’s program putting KKK hoods on talking trains from Thomas & Friends because the popular children’s program added a train from Africa. 

A sexual harassment allegation against NRA senior official Josh Powell from an employee was settled in 2017 with the nonprofit’s funds, the same year that LaPierre promoted Powell to executive director of general operations. The next year, NRA’s ad agency, Ackerman McQueen, barred Powell from any further contact with its employees after a sexual harassment dispute with a woman who worked for the ad agency. Ackerman said that Powell received “the full support of Mr. LaPierre and the board of directors.” LaPierre said that the claim was part of a larger “extortion demand” and made Powell a “senior strategist” on the NRA’s legal team. NRA accountants found payments by Powell to his father, and his wife was hired by one of NRA’s top fundraising vendors. Board members had asked that Powell be dismissed.

Two prominent board members resigned from the NRA board in mid-August: country music singer Craig Morgan and NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, the latter after he had urged careful review of spending under LaPierre. Childress wanted an independent ethics counsel to review $24 million paid in 13 months to an outside law firm. Since May, seven of the 76-member board have left, some of them after they were stripped of committee assignments. Board objections came from cuts in funding for firearm safety and education to increase spending on legal fees, travel, and entertainment. Eighteen board members also benefited from NRA finances, incurring possible conflict of interest charges.

The departures started in the midst of news about LaPierre’s efforts to get NRA to pay for a $6 million mansion in a gated Dallas-area golf club after the Parkland shooting. The “good guy with a gun” said he need a more secure place to live. In addition, LaPierre and his wife asked for a membership at the exclusive club and two vehicles. The NRA started the purchase transaction by paying $70,000 to an entity set up by Ackerman at LaPierre’s request. The deal fell through, and the ad agency stopped funneling LaPierre’s personal expenses through its multimillion-dollar annual contract.

Before Ackerman stopped paying LaPierre’s bills, NRA paid $542,000 for private jet trips for LaPierre, including a trip to the Bahamas with his wife after the Sandy Hook shooting; $300,000 for Italian designer suits; and $13,800 rent for a summer intern’s apartment. LaPierre’s wife, Susan, also benefited from the NRA, spending tens of thousands of dollars flying hair and makeup artists around the country, including housing the stylists in luxury hotels. Again, LaPierre blamed Ackerman.

Prior to North’s departure, the NRA suffered from publicity about its expenditure of $31 million for DDT’s campaign, part of the over $50 million for the 2016 elections. The media reported possibly illegal connections, perhaps money laundering between NRA and Russian officials for the election. Gun safety groups outspent the NRA for the 2018 elections for the first time ever, and gun safety candidates won, partly from the movement led by Parkland High School students after the horrific high school shooting in Florida. Since 2010, the NRA took over $200 million in cash from its non-profit NRA Foundation to survive, and NRA was short $31.8 million at the end of 2017.

Making matters worse, New York declared that the NRA’s “Carry Guard” insurance program providing policies for self-defense shootings violated state insurance rules. Critics called it “murder insurance” because of is coverage for a potentially criminal act. Litigation continues while the state’s AG investigates NRA’s tax status and Congress investigates campaign finance law violations involving Russia.

Government records show that DDT’s 2020 campaign funneled money to a shell company connected to ad buyers in an illegal coordination scheme with the NRA through 2018 and up to May 2019. The buys were routed through a secret limited-liability company appeared in FCC records.

In July, D.C.’s attorney general issued subpoenas to the NRA for its financial records, payments to vendors, and payments to officers and directors.

Ackerman continues to sue NRA after it demanded the ad agency remove any NRA references from the ad agency’s website. The National Rifle Association has sued, again, its former ad maker and “NRATV” creator, Ackerman. The feud started in April when NRA sued Ackerman for not handing over financial records and then for leaking documents. Ackerman then sued NRA for the first time, and the back and forth became more vicious as LaPierre accused Ackerman of extortion.

The NRA’s biggest loss may be its donors disgusted with the organization’s problems. David Dell’Aquila gave $100,000 to NRA and pledged most of his own estate but said that $134 million in pledges may disappear. One donor, an anonymous “senior firearms industry executive,” might decide that LaPierre is bad for the interests of the firearms industry. Under LaPierre, the NRA focuses on guns as self-defense for angry and paranoid people who might not approve of LaPierre’s scandals. Difficulty in attracting followers might translate in difficulty in finding Republican voters.

The gun culture may be changing, especially after the growing number of deaths in highly-publicized mass shootings this summer. The loss of 22 percent in membership fees between 2016 and 2017 means an even greater drop in membership because of two membership raises in one year. Contributions to the NRA were $98 million in 20017, down from almost $125 million the year before. Almost one-fifth of last year’s contributions, $19 million, came from one anonymous donor. At the end of 2018, the NRA reported losing $55 million in revenue.

Gun sales are also dropping: U.S. firearms sales fell 6.1 percent in 2018 marking the second straight year of declines. Because NRA gets a cut of these sales, their revenue also goes down. More stores are eliminating gun sales, the most recent Walmart, that is ending sales of handguns and short-barrel rifle ammunition that can be used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons while asking customers to not openly carry firearms in its stores. A statement referred to concern about “multiple incidents” of individuals wanting to “test our response” to the El Paso shooting by bringing weapons into stores. For example, 20-year-old Dmitriy Andreychenko who faces up to four years in prison and a $10,000 for legally bringing over 100 rounds of ammunition to a Walmart in Springfield (MO) as part of a “social experiment.” Walmart stopped selling assault-style rifles in 2015, raised the age to buy guns from 18 to 21 in 2018, and called for strengthened background checks. Krogers has also asked customers to not openly carry in their stores.

Despite an increasing number of mass shootings and more gun violence from white supremacists, GOP members of Congress who receive hundreds of thousands from the NRA reject any gun safety legislation plus millions more dark money given to PACs. These are the top-20 list of congressional members recently getting the most money recently from the gun lobby based on the 2017-2018 election cycle. Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) who lost her election and then was appointed until 2020 came in second at $227,928.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution declaring the NRA a “domestic terrorist organization” and urging the city to examine its financial relationships with companies that do business with the group. The statement noted mass shootings, including the murders of three people, all younger than 26, at Gilroy’s (CA) food festival. “The National Rifle Association musters its considerable wealth and organizational strength to promote gun ownership and incite gun owners to acts of violence,” the resolution read.

After the August killings in El Paso, DDT made a few noises about background checks but quit after several long discussions with LaPierre. Later killings in Midland-Odessa made no difference with him. In a complete rejection of democracy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he would bring any bill to the floor that DDT didn’t want. Only elections may make a difference.

May 26, 2019

Christian ‘Sanctity of Life’ Ends at Birth

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 8:49 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Since 2011, state Republican legislatures passed hundreds of abortion restrictions; 42 states have filed more than 250 bills to restrict abortion this year. At least one-third of them successfully passed 20-week abortion bans, using the unscientific notion that a fetus feels pain by that time. At least six states have passed the unscientific “fetal heartbeat ban,” blocking abortions by five weeks—even before women might realize they are pregnant. In some states such as Ohio, these laws give no exceptions for rape or incest. Texas is considering a bill that defines all abortions as murder, punishable by death.

Most of the laws until this year made abortions extremely difficult by greatly reducing the number of clinics, adding burdensome obligations such as waiting periods and unnecessary medical procedures such as ultrasounds, and forced counseling. The federal government transferred funds to “crisis pregnancy centers” which opposed a woman’s right to have an abortion. This year, however, 25 white men–senators–in Alabama banned abortion in almost all cases with no exceptions for rape or incest with a 99-year prison sentence for doctors to perform the procedures. Incest has a minimum sentence of 366 days, and rape has a maximum sentence of 20 years. This recent torrent of abortion restrictions is the worst since Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion until the fetus reaches viability, usually around 24 weeks of pregnancy. An overview of past and planned bills.

 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), largely responsible for anti-abortion Brett Kavanaugh having a lifetime term on the Supreme Court, is confused about all the draconian anti-abortion laws since Kavanaugh was confirmed. “I’m not sure exactly why we’re seeing this happen,” she said in a television interview. Collins voted to put four anti-Roe v. Wade white men on the Supreme Court, bringing the total of conservative justices to a majority of five. She said that a Supreme Court nominee “who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me”—and then voted for those nominees. Collins and her GOP colleagues put men on the Supreme Court whose goal matches the religious right to remove women’s rights and criminalize abortion even if a woman is carrying a dead fetus, even if a 10-year-old has been raped, even if forced pregnancies make slaves out of women.

Anti-choice “Christians” have decided abortions are always wrong, but Christians have 70 percent of the abortions. One-third of them are evangelical, and over one-third weekly attend church. Over half who do, kept their abortions secret from the church community.

Some women oppose abortions. Kim LaSata, Michigan GOP senator, wants abortion to be “hard” and “painful” to punish a woman. Former GOP chair of Texas’ House Committee on Public Health Jodi Laubenberg said, “In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.” But men—who have no possibility of getting pregnant—are leading the charge:

  • Lawrence Lockman, a Maine Republicans, equated rape and abortion when he asked, “If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?”
  • Darryl Glenn, a Colorado conservative, called pregnancy from rape “a gift from God.” People with this position evidently believe that God endorses rape as a “gift.”
  • Richard Mourdock, Indiana Republican, says that God intended pregnancy to occur when a woman is raped.
  • Rick Santorum, former GOP presidential candidate, is anti-choice so that the woman won’t “ruin her life.”
  • Todd Akin, former GOP House member from Missouri, claimed that pregnancy from rape “is really rare” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
  • José Oliva, House Speaker in Florida’s legislature, referred to pregnant women as “host bodies” five times during a television interview. According to the legislator, the “host body” has no rights.
  • Mike Hill, GOP Florida state representative, claims he gets his orders directly from God to remove any or all exceptions for “rape, incest, domestic violence, human trafficking or if the woman’s life is in danger” from his anti-choice bill. He added that he had the right to controls women’s bodies because “a hundred percent of all pregnancies are caused by a man” and there’s a 50-percent chance that that child is “going to be a man.” [He failed to point out that all women’s pregnancies from rape are caused by men.]
  • John Becker, GOP Ohio state representative, wants to force a women with a ectopic pregnancy “to  reimplant the fertilized ovum into the pregnant woman’s uterus.”
  • Clyde Chambliss, one of Alabama’s chief GOP senate sponsors of the newest anti-abortion law, justified his bill by saying that women can still get legal abortions before they know they are pregnant. No, he wasn’t joking.

Televangelist Pat Robertson said Alabama went too far with the new law but only because it would lose in the Supreme Court. His words gave Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) the courage to take the same position.

Brian Kemp, who became Georgia’s governor after he controlled the election, may be getting heartburn from the state’s new “heartbeat” bill. Television production companies have started to pull out of the state. Kemp’s bill prosecutes women who get abortions—or perhaps even miscarry. Maybe he’ll be lucky like Mississippi and Kentucky: judges have already overturned their heartbeat bills.

Polls oppose what these states are legislating. Almost a year ago, 64 percent stated they wanted to keep Roe v. Wade, according to the conservative Gallup survey, and two-thirds of people either wanted the Supreme Court to make getting an abortion easier (21 percent) or leave it the same (45 percent) in an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Legislators salivating for a Supreme Court abortion case may be disappointed: it’s such a hot-button issue that even conservatives fear a serious public backlash if they overturned a constitutional right to get an abortion. Yet Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold Texas’ draconian abortion restrictions in 2016.

Nevada is headed in the opposite direction from the red states: lawmakers removed some restrictions on abortions such as requiring doctors to tell pregnant patients about the “emotional implications” of an abortion and removing criminal penalties for inducing abortion without a doctor. The state has the first women-majority legislature. New York legalized abortions after 24 weeks if the fetus is not viable or there is a risk to the pregnant patient’s health.

Forced birthers who want pregnant women to be slaves care nothing about the high maternal mortality in the United States, especially with the lack of good prenatal care. Georgia’s maternal mortality rate is the second highest in the nation, Missouri is sixth, and Mississippi is 19th. Other states with draconian anti-abortion laws also rate high in maternal mortality. Infant mortality is equally high in these same states: Mississippi rates the highest in the nation. Fifty-five countries have a lower infant mortality rate than the United States.

As infants die at a higher rate than in other industrialized countries, the birthrate in the U.S. is shrinking because the nation doesn’t support pregnant women. They lack adequate health insurance, suffer exorbitant medical bills, and have no access to paid parental leave, child care, and job protection. Because of artificially low wages, tens of millions of young people endure financial problems with little hope for the future. To increase the birthrate, U.S. laws force pregnancy, often in poverty, often guaranteeing illness and death. In Sweden, that has one of the highest birth rates in Europe, parents receive 480 days of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child with the government-funded subsidy of 80 percent of the parent’s pay for the first 390 days and a reduced sum for the last 90 days. Employers pay a tax on salaries to pay for the leave.

Anti-choice “Christians” cry about the sanctity of life, but they care nothing about the death of five migrant children in custody—the first deaths in a decade—under DDT’s administration. The EPA’s new false guidelines for pollution will kill people as will the GOP disregard for water, food, and employment safety. The anti-choice people care nothing about hungry children who live in poverty, the death penalty, police shooting down unarmed people, the U.S. killing civilians in the Middle East—the lack of “sanctity for life” after birth goes on and on. Alabama has the highest level of poverty in the developed world, including a 2017 outbreak of hookworm—a disease usually found in nations with substandard sanitary conditions in South Asia and Subsaharan Africa. Yet, the only human creatures deserving of protection to anti-choice people are in the womb; once out, people are on their own.

Republicans are afraid of how the new anti-choice laws will affect their re-election possibilities. Asked about the Alabama ban, recently appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) claimed, “That’s a state issue. I’m focused on my work here.” Part of her work is federal law and voting on federal judges who rule on abortion law. Conservatives wonder if Democrats will turn out to vote in the 2020 election as a reaction to anti-abortion laws.

Anti-choice Christians might want to take note that their bible tells them that a person is not a living being until after taking the first breath.

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