Nel's New Day

April 14, 2018

DDT: Week 64 – Shifting Opinions, More Executive Orders

Another blow to the defense of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the Russian investigation is the revelation that his lawyer Michael Cohen was in Prague during the summer of 2016 despite Cohen’s denials. That information shows that the Steele dossier about DDT was not wrong in claiming Cohen’s visit to the city and that he may have taken over for campaign communications with Russia after Paul Manafort was fired by the campaign. Sources maintain that Cohen went to the Czech Republic through Germany so that his passport didn’t need to be stamped.

In his latest attempt to destroy the Affordable Care Act, DDT expanded “hardship exemptions” to the law’s individual mandate by waiving fines for those without insurance to those who say they object to abortion rights. Anyone living in an area where all affordable health plans in the federal exchange provide abortion may apply for an exemption of fees from months that they weren’t covered. This criterion is added to exemptions for being homeless, experiencing domestic violence, and experiencing a family member’s death. The new guideline will not always work in the 26 states that ban marketplace plans from covering abortions, but people living in a county with no or only one insurer can also apply for the exemption. All counties have ACA healthcare plans, but 26 percent of enrollees live in areas with a single insurer on the marketplace.

This weekend was the 8th Summit of the Americas in Lima (Peru), but DDT skipped the event in order to bomb Syria as he hoped to cover up all his scandals. U.S. presidents attended the first seven summits; with a 16 percent approval rate in South America, DDT probably didn’t want to face anyone there. Meanwhile, China is making great investment on the continent, especially Brazil, and President Xi Jinping has been there several times.

DDT got a lot of traction from his supporters by refusing participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now he changed his mind after the 11 other countries already made their own trade pact. DDT told his trade representative and the new National Economic council Director to examine how the U.S. could get back into the agreement. A tweet after the order made DDT appear to waffle about his demand although it may be one of the few ways to persuade China to back down from its proposed tariffs.

DDT may worsen negotiations with China and upset his supporters by bailing out farmers with a Depression-era program, Commodity Credit Corporation, that can borrow up to $30 billion from the Treasury Department for farmers whose orders from China shrink. History shows the misuse and unfairness of CCC, and it doesn’t stop a trade war. Farmers also fear long term effects when South America becomes more competitive because of unreliability in U.S. supplies, and the U.S. loses its markets. Providing welfare for farmers can result in more trade wars when other countries fight the U.S. at the World Trade Organization. Ad hoc subsidies in the late 1990s and early 2000s led to a year-long dispute with Brazil about U.S. cotton subsidies that resulted in millions of dollars in payment from Washington. The farm bill already pays from $5 billion to $7 billion in welfare to farmers for price and revenue drops as well as subsidizes 62 percent of farmers’ crop insurance premiums. Another $3 billion covers disaster assistance for producers after hurricanes and wildfires last year. The apparel and chemical industries can also be hit with DDT’s trade wars.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month with a declaration from DDT, who bragged about his own sexual assaults, tries to hide those of others, and nominated a Secretary of Education who protects rapists in schools:

“Sexual assault crimes remain tragically common in our society, and offenders too often evade accountability. These heinous crimes are committed indiscriminately: in intimate relationships, in public spaces, and in the workplace. We must respond to sexual assault by identifying and holding perpetrators accountable. Too often, however, the victims of assault remain silent. They may fear retribution from their offender, lack faith in the justice system, or have difficulty confronting the pain associated with the traumatic experience. My Administration is committed to raising awareness about sexual assault and to empowering victims to identify perpetrators so that they can be held accountable. We must make it as easy as possible for those who have suffered from sexual assault to alert the authorities and to speak about the experience with their family and friends.”

Part of the declaration spells “assault” as “assult.”

The U.S. Postal Service is caught in the middle of DDT’s vendetta against Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com. History about the USPS shows that Congress, not Amazon, is at the heart of the issue. A nonprofit business, USPS is required to deliver to every home and business in the U.S., and Congress sets is charges and locations of postal office. In 2006, Congress mandates that the USPS prefund retirees’ health benefits up to 2056 at an annual $5 billion cost which creates a “manufactured crisis.” Unlike other delivery services such as FedEx or UPS, the USPS cannot lobby for any changes.

Both UPS and FedEx save money by contracting with USPS to deliver parcels for the rural and most-expensive routes. With mail volumes shrinking, the USPS makes up for the lost revenue in reduced first-class mail by contracting with Amazon and other internet retailers. Federal regulators have determined that the contract between Amazon and the USPS is profitable for the USPS. Striking out at Amazon because of his anger at Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post, DDT issued an executive order for an administration task force, chaired by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, to evaluate he USPS finances and operations with proposed changes.

As for DDT’s criticism about Amazon not charging state sales tax—although it does—DDT’s online store of the Trump Organization charges sales tax only in Florida and Louisiana, not even in New York where the business has a physical presence in violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in 1992 Quill Corp v. North Dakota ruling to the contrary. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case from South Dakota next week that will decide whether companies will be required to pay sale tax in all states that have sales tax. Ten percent of shopping is now done online.

The Department of Homeland Security is extending DDT’s Big Brother lifestyle in its project “Media Monitoring Services” that establishes a database of journalists. It will include reporters on general media and other “media influences” for searching contact information, professional history, and “sentiment,” permitting intimidation for journalists reporting negative information about political leaders.

Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget who also took over the Consumer Protection Bureau, is now removing regulatory power from the Treasury Department for his own purview. He is now responsible for reviewing tax regulations before they take effect, including the massive tax break for non-corporate “pass-through” businesses. The new arrangement prevents Treasury from publishing “any tax regulatory action” without his permission. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin lost the argument to keep the 34-year agreement giving his agency the ability to write tax rules and regulations. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) pointed out that “this administration added more bureaucratic red tape to a fundamentally flawed law.”

Much is being said about James Comey’s heroism in declaring his opposition to DDT in his new book Higher Loyalty. Yet Comey, then a Republican, stated that he might have deliberately come out with more accusations of Hillary Clinton emails just ten days before the presidential election in order to influence the outcome. The excuse for Comey and the FBI not revealing its investigation into Russian assistance to DDT’s campaign against Clinton at least six months before the election was the need for the FBI to be apolitical, evidently only true if the person being protected is from the same political party as the investigator. The same cannot be said regarding Robert Mueller, also a Republican.

DDT tweeted today, “Mission Accomplished!” Almost 15 years ago, George W. Bush used the same words on May 2, 2003 before the war slogged on for another 15 years with no resolution. Like Bush’s approach in Iraq, DDT has not identified any mission in Syria. John Bolton wa in the White House only four days before he found some place to bomb.

If the bombing of Syria yesterday has any humor, it comes from Alex Jones, top conspiracy theorist and (former) DDT supporter, who burst into tears and moaned:

“We’ve made so many sacrifices and now he’s crapping all over us. It makes me sick.”

Jones claims that DDT’s administration is “done.”

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April 13, 2018

Can DDT’s Airstrikes Cover Up His Problems?

After a very bad week for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—a fire in Trump Tower, search warrants taking a large number of documents from his lawyer Michael Cohen, the release of information about his attempt to cover up his affairs through lawsuits, former FBI director James Comey’s anti-DDT book hitting the airwaves—DDT ordered military attacks against Syria’s president in opposition to advice from his own generals. His reason in a short speech late Friday was the killing of civilians through chemical attacks.

DDT cited the horrifying ways that people died this month in an attack, but three-fourths of 6,047 civilians killed by the U.S. in the Middle East, mostly Iraq and Syria, during the past four years were under his “watch.” Until John Bolton came into the White House this week, DDT said he gave military generals “total authorization” to decide the military operations. The U.S. Constitution does not authorize the president to begin an armed conflict without congressional authorization; a 1973 law reinforced this constitutional position. Yet Congress passed a law, the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, allowing the U.S. president to take action against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. In the past 17 years, presidents have used this law to attack Afghanistan, Cuba, the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Turkey, and Congress refuses to curb an elected president the right to attack countries whenever they want.

The question about DDT’s air strikes, which could cause World War III if Russia carries through with its threats of retaliation, came from DDT’s weeks of temper tantrums. They started with the FBI raid on the office, home, and hotel room of Michael Cohen, DDT’s longtime attorney “fixer,” and the seizure of records about his clients and personal finances, including tax returns, as well as his computer and phone.  Cohen is being investigated for bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations. DDT, who led the birther conspiracy of President Obama for at least five years while he was in office and as recently as last November, continues to call the investigation of the Russian scandal as a “witch hunt.”

DDT raged for hours after the raid, attacking AG Jeff Sessions and special investigator Robert Mueller, yet Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein turned the raid over to FBI agents and prosecutors in New York. Several other high-level DOJ people had to sign off on the search warrants with no advance notice to Cohen, indicating strong evidence because these warrants were used instead of a subpoena.

Cohen also helped out DDT’s associates, arranging a $1.6 million deal late last year for a former pregnant Playboy model on behalf of Elliott Broidy, a major financial supporter for DDT and a married man. Cohen and Broidy are both deputy national finance chairmen for the RNC, and last month Broidy hosted a fundraiser for DDT’s 2020 presidential campaign. He also worked with George Nadar who is cooperating with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen had a tendency to tape conversations with his associates, and the FBI may now have these recordings.

Another object of DDT’s fury this week was Comey’s new book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, is overwhelming the media, and DDT called Comey a “slime ball, also writing, “It was my great honor to fire James Comey!” The memoir is available to the public on Tuesday.

Mueller has asked a Virginia judge for 35 blank subpoenas for Paul Manafort’s trial that begins July 10—witnesses to be filled in later. Manafort’s lawyers are trying to block business and finance papers from a storage area that a former Manafort employee showed the FBI last May. Both Manafort and his associate Rick Gates are listed as contacts for the lease.

Since the search warrant was executed on Cohen, DDT has decided he won’t be interviewed by Mueller which could move up Mueller’s release of an obstruction of justice report regarding DDT’s intent on firing former FBI Director James Comey, DDT’s role in writing the public statement that lied about a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr and Russians, and DDT’s suggestion of his pardoning grand jury witnesses before they testified against him, and DDT’s pressuring AG Jeff Sessions to not recuse himself from the Russian investigation. Mueller would probably send a confidential report to Rosenstein, who could decide whether to make the report public and send the findings to Congress.

The biggest question about Mueller is whether DDT can fire him. DDT thinks he can, but according to law he can fire only the person in the DOJ who refuses to fire Mueller. That and DDT’s going to war around the world are the two greatest concerns today in the United States.

DDT’s pick for Secretary of State, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, struggled during today’s confirmation hearings.  His hawkish attitude for regime change in North Korea and opposition to diplomacy with Iran disappeared in his responses advocating diplomacy over military action and independence from president despite their close relationship. He faked answers and avoided questions, claiming a bad memory, and failed to recognize that the agreement with Iran involves the UK, France, and Germany. Pompeo also refused to say that he disagreed with DDT’s constant attacks on Mueller. Called out about his associations with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists, Pompeo said that he couldn’t remember everything he had said during his 54 years. He opposed marriage equality but said that he has “respect for every individual.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could give Pompeo a floor vote even if he can’t pass the Senate Foreign Relations Committee because member Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is opposed to Pompeo. Some vulnerable Democrats from red states may feel pressured to vote to confirm, but Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), up for re-election this year, said:

“I am voting NO on Pompeo for Secretary of State because our top diplomat should believe in diplomacy. He has an alarming tendency towards military provocation and brinkmanship.”

To tell associates such as Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn that he will save them, DDT pardoned Scooter Libby yesterday. on Thursday. A jury convicted Libby of four felonies, including obstruction of justice and perjury before a grand jury, in connection to his revealing the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame when he was VP Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Former FBI director James Comey, fired by DDT, helped convict Libby of lying under oath to the FBI about leaking classified information when Comey was Deputy Attorney General. George W. Bush had commuted Libby’s sentence of 30 months in prison and $250,000 fine but twice refused to pardon him. Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer for George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, tweeted:

“So what’s the message here? Lie to a grand jury to protect political superiors and you will get a full pardon?”

Scott Pruitt just stays in the news, making DDT look bad. This article, repeated on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, describes how Pruitt’s condo renters changed the locks to get rid of him.

Information came out about how the Trump Organization threatened Panama’s president, Juan Carlos Varela, with violating an investment treaty between Panama and the U.S. if he supports a court-order eviction notice for DDT’s management of Trump International Hotel Panama. The majority owner claims he won his case in firing the Trump Organization, and the name was removed. The Trump Organization refuses to admit defeat. The letter insinuates that the U.S. government will force Panama to protect DDT’s business.

DDT tweeted about his “well built hotel,” but one man died and six firefighters were injured in a fire on the 50th floor. There was no sprinkler system because DDT said they were too expensive, and residents were not told to evacuate.

DDT’s other business is going downhill in putting his name on other people’s products. Within three years, he has lost 17 of 19 companies that pay him to produce or distribute his branded consumer items. The only ones left are a Panamanian company selling bed linens and home goods and a Turkish company selling furniture. And the name isn’t even on the outside of the product. Even the DDT-branded urine test is gone, and the last items are being sold off at discount prices—for example, cologne down to $9.99 per ounce from $42.

DDT is losing a major constituency—older, white, educated voters. They now support Democrats over Republicans by two points after going for Republicans by ten points in 2016. That 12-point change is frightening Republicans, especially after House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) decision to not run for re-election in 2018, especially because this demographic tends to be reliable voters.

Another demographic is moving away from DDT—Southerners. Fifty-one percent of voters in the South disapprove while 48 percent approves of his performance. The poll also shows a 55-percent support from Southerners for same-gender marriage, and 69 percent think that undocumented immigrants should be able to get legal status in the U.S. Mississippi is sticking with DDT at 57 percent approval rating.

After a really hard week, DDT may hope that a big media explosion of air strikes in Syria might help his ratings. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the action a “one time shot”—at least until DDT gets more bad news and looks for a way to cover it up.

 

July 8, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Four – Mostly Russia!

The last week of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was dominated by North Korea, his world trip, the fallout from his commission’s demand to garner all the states’ voting data, GOP’s lies in their attempt to destroy health care, and, of course, his tweets. But there’s more.

The U.S. is rapidly losing its world leadership: a majority of people in the U.S. have more confidence in Angela Merkel, the chancellor of the country poised to take over the U.S.’s former position, than in DDT.

The White House publication of all its employees’ salaries shows a 37 percent discrepancy in male and female median earnings. Women’s median wage is $72,650 while men get $115,000. DDT’s gap is more than double the national gap of 17 percent and the largest since 2003. Of 22 staffers paid the highest in the White House, only five are women. In April, DDT revoked President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order requiring companies with federal contracts to comply with labor and civil rights laws. DDT made it possible for all companies to pay workers unfairly.

Science has literally left the White House. The last three employees departed the science division of DDT’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Although 222,000 jobs were added in June, new manufacturing jobs were half those in February, and 59,000 of the new jobs were in health and services—the area on the GOP chopping block with Trumpcare. DDT promised at least a four-percent increase in the economy in his first year, but Wall Street is forecasting half that or lower, about the average since President Obama brought the nation out of its Bush recession. The recent slump of the dollar comes from the world view of U.S. economy. As the Fed normalizes monetary policy by raising interest rates, the government has lost its opportunity for cheap loans to repair the nation’s infrastructure. Less federal tax revenue indicates faltering personal income. Although people think that the country is in good shape because of rising stock markets, some experts have expressed concern about the future of stocks.

DDT is clinging to his travel ban, but it’s alienating people—even grandparents—because of the highly restrictive definition of “close” relatives connected to people applying to come into the country. The exclusion of grandparents as “close family members” has hit social media.

The extremist radical policies from DDT are facing courts and sometimes losing. Scott Pruitt’s EPA huge favor to the oil and gas industry last month has been overturned. The Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pruitt lacked authority to delay an Obama-era regulation cracking down on pollutants from drilling operations. /The EPA admitted that Pruitt’s two-year delay would have a bad affect on the health of children near oil and gas operations.

Tom Price’s HHS agency reported that the Affordable Care Act is “working as intended” because it protects insurers from big risks and moderates consumer premiums. The charge on plans with lower average risks that is transferred to higher-risk plans is neutral within every state. Another temporary plan, reinsurance, protects insurers from high-cost enrollees by paying companies for the first three years. Both plans are permanent in George W. Bush’s Medicare’s prescription program, Part D. Medicare Part D also assesses insurers collecting huge profits from the program and paying them to insurers with commensurate losses, but the GOP maintains that this is an insurer “bailout” for the ACA. Reinsurance reduced net claim costs by four to six percent in 2016. Stopping the program is driving up premiums for 2017 and 2018, thus the GOP is causing the infamous “death spiral” of health care.

Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia are suing Betsy DeVos because of her delay in regulations to protect federal student loan borrowers who have been defrauded by their schools. The rules, set to take effect last July 1, prohibit colleges from forcing students to settle complaints through arbitration instead of court and make it easier for the borrowers to seek debt forgiveness.

The Hatch Act prevents government officials in the executive branch from involvement in political activity; a 2012 amendment added disciplinary action to its violation. Dan Scorvino, DDT’s social media director, may have broken this law when he tweeted in April that DDT’s supporters should defeat Rep. Justin Amash (MI) in the primary. It goes far beyond his vicious tweets that almost equal those of DDT. During DDT’s campaign, Scorvino tweeted an anti-Semitic image of Hillary Clinton atop piles of hundred-dollar bills and a Jewish Star of David that read, “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” Another violator is UN Ambassador Nikki Haley for her retweeting a DDT message endorsing Ralph Norman, the Republican running for Congress in South Carolina’s 5th District. Norman won the special election.

Russia stays in the news:

Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, finalized a $285 million refinancing loan from Deutsche Bank the month before last November’s election when the bank was in court answering a federal mortgage fraud case and charges that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. DDT has also garnered almost $8 million from Russian government official Igor Zorin for Florida properties.

DDT’s longtime buddy Michael Cohen has lost his place in DDT’s inner circle to separate DDT from Russian connections. Cohen bought apartments from DDT, bullied DDT’s condo board into submission, and acted as intermediary with mafia-linked DDT business partner, Felix Sater, and Ukraine parliamentarian, Andrii Artemenko, soon after DDT’s inauguration. Artemenko gave Cohen documents to deliver to Michael Flynn before he was fired for Russian connections. Cohen denies reports that he met overseas with Russian officials and operatives, but he has acquired his own lawyer and refuses to provide documents to or appear before congressional intelligence committees.

Sater, a Russia-born real estate dealmaker who allegedly has organized crime links, is agreeing to testify in an international investigation into a Kazakh family’s dealings in the U.S. including the Trump SoHo in downtown New York City. Sater is a known mob informant who fled to Russia to avoid criminal charges. He was also in prison for slashing a man’s face with a broken cocktail glass. His history is here. DDT has said, “I am not involved in Russia.” That doesn’t mean that Russia isn’t involved with DDT. Others are also willing to report on DDT’s connection with financing the Trump SoHo in a front for money laundering.

Although Peter Smith, the man who may have been involved in Russian hacking, has died, the news about his attempts to get Hillary Clinton emails continues. A document of involved people lists senior members of DDT’s campaign, some of them now serving in the White House. Included are white supremacist Steve Bannon. DDT’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, senior Agriculture Department adviser Sam Clovis, and the fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn.  Security consultant Matt Tait, a Smith colleague, gave reasons “that the group was formed with the blessing of the Trump campaign.” The UK cyber-analyst wrote about how Smith recruited him to verify the accuracy of emails.

What has DDT’s Department of Homeland Security to investigate Russian cyber attacks on U.S. voting machines? Nothing.

Hackers from a foreign government—probably Russia—hacked at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including a nuclear facility in Kansas. DDT still hasn’t addressed the problem with Russian president, Vladimir Putin. After DDT’s talk with Putin in Hamburg (Germany) this past week, Putin came away with the impression that DDT agreed that there had been no hacking into the U.S. election.

The company that provides cybersecurity for the U.S. government, including the Pentagon, may lose its contract. Kaspersky Lab, based in Moscow, has certifications issued by the Russian Security Service (FSB) which allows the Russian government to examine anything from Kaspersky. Its security software is also sold at U.S. retail outlets such as Target and Walmart. U.S. intelligence is increasingly concerned that Kaspersky software could cyberattack U.S. infrastructure such as the electric grid, airlines, water utilities, etc. Former CIA station chief in Moscow, Steve Hall, pointed out the Russian control over all of Kasperky’s data:

“Any time [Russian President Vladimir Putin] wants Kaspersky to do something – anything – he’ll remind them that’s where their families are and where their bank accounts are. There’s no doubt in my mind it could be, if it’s not already, under the control of Putin.”

Last Sunday, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said, “I get so frustrated when we get focused on tweets.” DDT is responsible for Cassidy’s frustration, and over two-thirds of people in the United States wish that DDT would stop the tweeting. The miserable attacks on Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough were followed by a view of DDT’s fat ass in the air while he pummels a character labeled CNN. He didn’t create the video, but he retweeted it which makes it an official communication from the White House.

While in Germany, DDT attacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, claiming that all the foreign powers were talking about her email serve and tweeting that he “refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA.” A few DDT mistakes: Podesta’s emails were not on the DNC server; he was not involved with the DNC; the CIA spies on foreign governments and wasn’t investigating cyber-attacks on Clinton.  And DDT continually says that Russia wasn’t involved in the hacking.

“‘The president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. The president is the spokesman for democracy and liberty. Isn’t it time we brought back the pomp and circumstance and the sense of awe for that office that we all held?’”

The above quotation is from DDT’s 2015 book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again. He should read it sometime.

 

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