Nel's New Day

November 26, 2018

Conservative Politicians Continue Far-right Activities

Last week, many people vacationed—including Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) vacationed for Thanksgiving, but politicians kept busy.

Sent to the Pacific Rim APEC trade summit last weekend, VP Mike Pence worsened global affairs of 21 nations representing 60 percent of the world’s economy with his refusal to compromise with China. Instead, China continued bonding with North Korea. The conflict was so bad that the group couldn’t even agree on a routine joint statement for the first time in 30 years. DDT frequently asks people if Pence is loyal. The answers have varied from Pence as a committed warrior to ending his usefulness because DDT needs female voters. One of DDT’s concerns might be Pence’s promise of consequences for the Saudis’ killing U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi despite DDT’s attempt to cover for the Saudis.

Two days before Thanksgiving, John Kelly, DDT’s chief of staff, signed a “Cabinet order,” a memo allowing U.S. troops, 5,900 active duty members and 2,100 National Guard members, on the Mexico border to use lethal force. DDT had already left town for Mar-a-Lago. This past weekend, ICE agents fired tear gas, a deadly chemical, at mostly Honduran asylum seekers near the Tijuana port of entry.

Hillary Clinton was pilloried for using a secure private server for her emails, but the GOP refused to criticize Ivanka Trump for using her personal email account that she shared with her husband, Jared Kushner, to send hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials, and her assistants, frequently in violation of federal records rules. When she first joined the White House, she claimed all access and perks of the White House with none of the legal responsibilities or constraints. Maybe investigations by the FBI and Congress? Or cries of “Lock her up” and “Crooked Ivanka”?

Lame duck House Republicans subpoenaed former FBI director James Comey and former DOJ AG Loretta Lynch to appear in private hearings this week. Comey said he is willing to appear in an open hearing but not a closed one:

“While the authority for Congressional subpoenas is broad, it does not cover the right to misuse closed hearings as a political stunt to promote political as opposed to legislative agendas.”

DDT’s appointment of lap dog Matthew Whitaker as acting DOJ AG may fail to give him protection. According to an argument in court from the Robert Mueller investigation team:

“The validity of the Special Counsel’s appointment [in May 2017] cannot be retroactively affected by a change in the official who is serving as the Acting Attorney General.”

Two rulings, one by a DDT-appointed judge, have already upheld the constitutionality of Mueller’s appointment. Three Senate Democrats are also suing to have Whitaker removed on constitutional and legal grounds.

The U.S. Supreme Court is taking a case about whether Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’ decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, an odd move because the case is already being heard in a New York court with closing arguments next week. The Constitution requires an accurate count of the population every ten years, something that will be lost if the estimated 24+ million people avoid the census because of fear. The census is used not only for congressional districting but allocation of federal funds, disaster and epidemic preparedness, and other government support. Ross has skipped the lengthy approval process about new survey questions and lied when he said that the DOJ had requested the addition of a citizenship question to enforce the Voting Rights Act. The Department of Commerce has only six months to submit the information to printers.

More people may not participate in the census after DDT’s proposal that census information be shared with law enforcement, an illegal action under the Census Act of 1879. In 1954, Congress passed a law stating that the Commerce Department cannot share its census data with any other government agency or court with up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines for violation. Only Congress can change this law. When Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) asked acting assistant attorney general John Gore about data being disclosed “for law enforcement or national security purposes,” DOJ attorney Ben Aguinaga answered, “I don’t think we want to say too much there in case the issues . . . or related issues come up later for renewed debate.” In other words, maybe.

DDT may not get the trade agreement similar to and replacing NAFTA that he proudly announced weeks ago. Republican lawmakers are furious about the nondiscrimination protections of sexual orientation and gender identity included by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Several GOP members of Congress object to the new trade agreement because of this one provision, but it must be passed by the end of the year to avoid the Democratic majority in the House on the first of January. Congress has just 12 days to not only pass the agreement but also agree on the farm bill and keep the government from shutting down on December 7 with DDT threatening to allow this to happen if he doesn’t get his wall.

Farmers hurt by DDT’s tariffs are promised $12 billion say they don’t want to be on the dole, but they’re not even getting the promised welfare. Only $838 million of authorized $6 billion has been paid out because farmers cannot apply until harvests are completed for the season, harvests delayed by bad weather. Soybean sales shrank by 94 percent from last year, and the subsidy covers less than half the farmers’ losses. China pork tariffs that responded to DDT’s steel and aluminum tariffs cost farmers $2 billion. Partners with farmers also get government money; Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) might get $125,000, the subsidy cap. Farmers may permanently lose their foreign countries for crops, and DDT’s tariffs may force the U.S. to keep borrowing money from China to pay for farmers.

For the second year in a row, DDT is skipping the Kennedy Center Honors, again because he doesn’t feel comfortable.

While people in the U.S. complain about Russia interfering with elections, DDT campaign worker and sycophant Steve Bannon played a role in the UK passing Brexit, supporting the nation’s separation from the European Union. Emails dating back to October 2015 reveal that Bannon, former VP of Cambridge Analytic, participated in the campaign to persuade UK voters in supporting the separation from EU. Like the U.S. the UK has laws to stop foreign companies from manipulating UK affairs.

Mississippi votes for a U.S. senator in a runoff tomorrow; the GOP candidate, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, announced last Tuesday that it was on November 22, the day of her announcement, but that was Thanksgiving. After her lauding public hangings, a number of large companies—including Aetna, AT&T, Boston Scientific, Leidos, Pfizer, Union Pacific, and Walmart—asked her to return their donations. DDT, who failed to attending lacked the time to go to Arlington National Cemetery close to the White House or visit military members on Veterans Day, extended his Thanksgiving vacation to give two campaign rallies in Mississippi today for the GOP Senate candidate.

Since the midterm elections when the Senate election to replace Jeff Sessions, who resigned to become AG before he was fired, several revelations have caused concern for Republicans about Hyde-Smith’s success. After she talked favorably about public hangings (aka lynchings), she suggested that black students should not be able to vote. Photos of her posing with Confederate artifacts at the “Shrine of [treasonous] Jefferson Davis” and the caption “Mississippi history at its best!” were accompanied by information that she promoted a measure praising a Confederate soldier’s effort to “defend his homeland” and pushed a revisionist view of the Civil War. She not only attended a private high school to avoid integrated schools but also enrolled her daughter in a “segregation academy.” The daughter graduated in 2017.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), considering a run for president, gave an interview to the New York Times about the reading habits of himself and his family. An analysis of his 33 book recommendations show all were written by white authors. Sasse’s three children, ages 17, 15, and 8, are homeschooled, probably reading no books of people by color.

The Ohio state House argued that “Motherhood is necessary” to ban abortions at six weeks, before a pregnancy appears on an ultrasound which is not medically recommended. The law is unconstitutional unless the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Even if the bill passes the state Senate, it cannot become law without Gov. John Kasich’s signature because Gov.-elect Mike DeVine cannot sign a bill passed by the legislature before he takes office.

On the more positive side, Maine will have Medicaid expansion after the departure of rabidly right-wing Gov. Paul LePage. He had refused to follow orders from the state Supreme Court to obey a vote by the people.

A U.S. district court judge ordered ICE to release over 100 Iraqis from detention centers and jails in Michigan after they had been there for more than a year. They are to be released within 30 days under “orders of supervision” and allowed to return to their homes. The majority of the detainees had been living in the U.S. for decades. Although they committed criminal offenses, they had served their time and been living “peaceably in their respective communities” since then, according to the ruling. The opinion also cites ICE’s refusal to provide documents to detainees’ attorneys, and the judge wrote that he will be issuing sanctions against ICE. Detainees had not been permitted in-person visits from family and friends, and the majority would be persecuted and even murdered if they were forced to return to Iraq because they are Christians.

October 28, 2018

The Travesty Doesn’t End

Many of us have given up on any expectations that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) will exhibit any compassion or sympathy for people. He claims he is a nationalist, he supports white supremacists, and he jokes about not going to a campaign rally only hours after a racist white man slaughters people in a place of worship because of a “bad hair day.” Fox network lies about events and either covers up or excuses the bigotry and violence of conservatives. In an attempt to exonerate the connection between DDT’s rhetoric and the suspect who sent the bombs, Fox network blurred the stickers/images on the bomber’s van. Yet some of us hope that the mainstream media might present information in a direct way rather than following DDT’s and Fox’s example.

Chuck Todd dashed that hope on today’s Meet the Press when he decided to blame progressives equally to the conservatives, despite the right-wing violent racist diatribes about immigration, Jews, George Soros—the list goes on. This past week, a Nazi walked into a Pittsburg synagogue and killed as many people as he could before he was captured. The police reported that he still spewed his vicious racist rhetoric while they took him to jail. A white supremacist shot and killed two older black people in a Kentucky supermarket because the church was locked, and he couldn’t get inside. He had wanted to replicate the massacre in Charleston (SC). One of the dead men was accompanied by his 12-year-old grandson because they were buying poster board for the boy’s school project. Last week, people waited in fear to see where the next bombs would be sent and whether they would kill people.

When Todd’s guest Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) blamed the inability to detect fact from fiction in the media on “older people” who cannot “navigate” social media, Todd agreed. No matter what Stivers said to exonerate Republicans, Todd said, “Right.” Or a version of agreeing. Stivers’ pablum included the need to “keep our dialogue civil” while Republicans refuse to so that and his ability to show “moral leadership. When he said that he hoped that DDT would “continue on that path” of moral leadership, Todd said, “Fair enough.” Then Todd equated the attacks on George Soros as a Jew and the lying about his giving money for protests (although he didn’t mention those facts) to Democratic attacks on Koch brothers with no evidence. He also said nothing about voter suppression, the racist connection between conservatives’ murders to the constant false accusations surrounding the caravan from Honduras, and DDT’s incessant lying attacks on people as he supports white supremacy.

Todd’s biggest pandering, however, came when Todd said to conspiracy theorist Erick Erickson, “You’ve had to deal with conspiracy theories on your site.”  The topic was “civility,” and Erickson’s personal conspiracy theories include smearing Christine Blasey Ford who reported Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault, accusing Parkland survivor David Hogg of not being at the school during the mass murder, comparing Planned Parenthood leaders to Nazis, claiming that transgender people are “perverts and the mentally ill,” attacking Muslims by saying that DDT’s ban is “brilliant politics,” stating that gay men in bars wearing certain clothing are asking to be assaulted, and arguing that mass shootings are “so rare.” And more. Yet Erickson claims that it’s the older people who can’t tell fact from fiction in the media.  (Erickson is 43 years old.)

Erickson exonerated DDT in his conclusion is that the blame for increasing violence is “on the American people as a whole…. Society is crumbling around us…. The president’s not the cause, he’s a symptom.” Todd just kept saying, “Right.”

Todd overlooked the fact that the alleged shooter at the Pennsylvania synagogue echoed the lie from DDT and other Republicans that George Soros funded “caravans” of refugees full of ISIS terrorists and called for the same white genocide that DDT and Fox’s Tucker Carlson push. DDT’s white supremacy goes back to his birtherism that led him to the Oval Office. He launched his campaign by calling all Mexican immigrants of being “drug dealers, criminals, rapists” and followed that by promising “a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

The predominant myth regenerating within the next few weeks until the horror of the shootings dies down but reappearing with the next mass shooting is that of the “lone wolf.” Anyone of color who murders people is a “terrorist,” but a white man is assumed to be mentally unbalanced. The right-wing pundits deny responsibility, and Republicans support them while moving toward the next murders. DDT wins his base with hatred and fear, the fuel useful for more and more violence.

Erickson claims that the U.S. has very few mass shootings, buy white supremacist murders more than doubled in DDT’s first year of office. The first terrorist plot connected to DDT occurred the night of his election.    Arun Gupta has listed several of these, and others can be found here.

Other cover came from VP Mike Pence who said that “Everyone has his own style” and that nothing DDT says can be connected to any acts of violence.

The federal government is exacerbating the problem of domestic terrorism. In April 2009, the DHS tried to issue a report titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” GOP politicians attacked the leaked report and forced part of it to be retracted. Parts about tracking and combating domestic terrorists were gutted, including the part of the report that assessed “lone wolves” who hold violent rightwing extremist ideology as “the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States” bent on “committing violent acts.”  The report noted that “white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy.”

Rick Hasen wrote:

“Things with President Trump are different. He has refused to condemn anti-semitism and racism; he has encouraged chants of “lock her up” against his political opponent Hillary Clinton and against others; he has appeared with, and promoted the views of, those who blame George Soros and the Jews for immigration problems; he calls his political adversaries by demeaning names, especially African-American women opponents such as Rep. Waters. He has done these things even as this violence grows. He praised the body slamming of a journalist by Rep. Gianforte. He has shown no interest in bringing the nation together, suggesting that rather than ‘toning it down’ he could ‘really tone it up.’

“He has pursued a political strategy that is aimed at inflaming his base to try to win the election. He has even complained about how the pipe bombs could hurt Republican election momentum.

“And he has brought many Republicans along with him, such as Kevin McCarthy, soon to be leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives. McCarthy, in a now-deleted tweet, accused ‘Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg’ of ‘trying to BUY this election.’ Such anti-Semitic tropes have moved from the fringe right wing to the center of the Republican party.”

Thanks to DDT, the GOP that enables him, and far-right media—including Fox network that gives DDT his talking points promoting violence—the United States is a place where people are no longer safe in even ordinary settings such as shopping, worshipping, attending school, seeing a movie, riding mass transit—in short, going out of their house.

Mainstream media like Meet the Press have become complicit in the lack of freedom in the United States because of the increasing violence. The violence will only grow if nothing is done.

October 13, 2018

DDT: Weeks 89-90 – Downward Spiral

The past two weeks have dropped the United States into the basement of “rock bottom” with the chance that things will worsen. Serial-liar, beer lover Brett Kavanaugh now sits on the U.S. Supreme Court where his partisan agenda will reward the wealthy and businesses while destroying workers, women, and diversity. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants to take away all rights to protest and calls protesters the “angry left-wing mob.” Republicans who rewarded the violence of the Tea Party for the past decade now claim to be victims of people, primarily women, who march and shout objections. GOP senators rewarded Kavanaugh’s unhinged anger during his last testimony but demand quiet from the people who Kavanaugh will persecute.

Kavanaugh won a life-time confirmation after Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) “consented,” according to the Wall Street Journal, to his abusive behavior. Her “evidence” against accusations from hundreds of his classmates was a telephone call from Kavanaugh when he said he was innocent. The victors talk about “innocent until proved guilty,” but the hearings were a job interview, not a trial. The only appearance of a trial was questioning of Christine Blasey Ford by the taxpayer-provided, GOP-employed female sex-crimes prosecutor who was set up for a better photo-op to eleven old white male senators on the Judiciary Committee. One justification for Kavanaugh’s protestations was DDT’s vicious false mocking of Ford’s testimony about the night that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. Laughter from DDT’s brutish audience echoes in the same way that Ford remembers from her assaulters, Kavanaugh and Mark Judge.

“Women are doing great,” DDT, accused by 19 women of sexual misconduct or extramarital affairs, told reporters by claiming a “scary time for young men.” He obviously meant white men because he has attacked boys of color and failed to help innocent blacks attacked by law enforcement. DDT also restricted the FBI investigation to only nine witnesses, primarily Kavanaugh’s friends. The “doing great” for women means that Kavanaugh’s exoneration will open up more freedom for males to sexually assault women.

DDT hates both protesters and journalists but loves Saudi Arabia, reasons that he has almost nothing to say about the possibility that a large Saudi murder squad killed and dismembered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its Turkey embassy. For the first eleven days, DDT either ignored the problem about a resident of the United States being killed on foreign ground, saying, “I don’t like hearing about it. And hopefully that will sort itself out.” He justified his indifference with the excuse that he doesn’t want to hurt the deal for Saudi Arabia to buy U.S. arms and that Khashoggi is only a U.S. resident and not a citizen. DDT said he might call Saudi leader Mohammad bin Salman to ask him if he is responsible. Before Khashoggi went to the embassy to get paperwork allowing him to marry his finance, U.S. intel had information about his possible fate but did not warn the reporter that he was in danger.

In a striking coincidence, Turkey just released the Christian pastor Andrew Brunson after convicting him of spying and aiding terrorists. DDT said about the dictatorship that he has continually supported, “We feel much different about Turkey today than we did yesterday.” Evangelicals are very happy. DDT asked Brunson’s wife who she voted for and was delighted when she said she voted for him.  Brunson added that he completed an absentee ballot while he was in prison.

In his determination to be above the law and isolate the United States, DDT withdrew from two international agreements because Iran and the Palestinians complained to the International Court of Justice. Iran argued that U.S. sanctions violated the 1955 Treaty of Amity with its sanctions, and Bolton also withdrew from the 1961 Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations after a complaint from Palestine. The administration plans to review with any international agreements with the goal of withdrawing from them.

DDT managed to change the NAFTA trade agreement into the USMCA to give huge advantages to big business and make life less safe for the people of the United States:

  • Lack of food safety.
  • Giveaways to agrochemical industry such as Monsanto and Dow by hiding pesticide safety data.
  • Rise in drug prices for customers with profits for the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Promotion of more pipelines and exports of coal and natural gas to expand fracking in the U.S.
  • Limits on investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) so that corporations can override environmental protections.
  • Removal of “Buy America” and “Buy Local” laws by giving Canada and Mexico equal access to U.S. government contracts.
  • Additional opportunity for corporations to challenge proposed regulations and repeal existing regulations.
  • Limits inspections of foods allowing the importation of food failing to meet U.S. safety standards.
  • Lack of enforcement mechanisms for workers.
  • Ability of corporations to sue governments if any laws or regulations reduce their profits.

Congress still has to approve DDT’s agreement, but Republicans are sure to vote in favor. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)  already praised the bill as a win for Iowans before she said, “We haven’t seen the negotiated texts of the language.” The new treaty’s change to intellectual property agreements came from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which DDT dropped during his first week and Ernst hated. Branding is the most important piece of policy to DDT: he hasn’t made any changes to help the United States, but he renamed the agreement.

At the same time as his disastrous performance at the UN when the Assembly laughed at him, DDT got “very excited” about his “new trade agreement” with South Korea, calling it a “brand-new agreement.” It isn’t. President Obama reached the original KORUS agreement in 2012; DDT just revised a few provisions.

Despite the money that big business poured into the stock market from its massive tax cuts, the indexes appeared unstable during the past week. DDT is blaming the increase in interest rates and described the Fed as “crazy,” “loco.” Other problems for the stock market come from China, not only DDT’s tariff war but also the possibility that China is manipulating it currency. Lowering the value of renminbi against the dollar can make exports cheaper after DDT’s tariffs, keeping products less expensive to sell in the U.S. Dollars would then be worth more, causing higher prices of U.S. products in China. DDT hopes to control China so that it will sign a trade agreement favorable to the U.S. Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is trying to manipulate DDT by exchanging his raging against Kavanaugh’s opponents with exemption of tariffs on his state’s textile industry.

Last week, DDT sent VP Mike Pence to the Hudson Institute, a conservative U.S. think tank, to attack China for its “predatory” economic practices, military aggression against the U.S., and damaging DDT’s chances for winning the 2020 election. An official said that DDT is creating a “constructive and results oriented” policy toward China. Pence also accused the Chinese of surveilling its citizens, oppressing religious minorities, and spending too much money on the military. A goal of the speech was to convince people that China is behind the election interference, not Russia, although U.S. intel has identified Russia as helping to swing the 2016 presidential election and hacking U.S. voting systems. China strongly disagreed with Pence’s points. DDT may have created a new Cold War without having his name attached.

The disasters of the past two weeks largely covered the news about DDT’s financial corruption and lies regarding his wealth. A 46-page report from the New York Times details DDT’s acquisition of wealth from his father’s attempts to defraud the IRS through giving him money, $1 million by the time he was eight years old—the same amount that he claimed was the only money he got from his father and then repaid it with interest. The “small loan” of $1 million was at least $60.7 million with most of it not repaid. The report indicates that he received $413 million in today’s worth from his father, much of it from tax dodges in the 1990s. DDT’s business dealings constantly failed, and his father constantly bailed him out as well as giving him a stake in a group of apartment buildings that DDT used as collateral for an emergency line of credit.

Voters picked DDT because of his claim to be a highly successful businessman, but in fact he has always been a failure. As for creating jobs with his businesses, he frequently failed to pay the people who worked for him. DDT is both a con and a fraud.

DDT repeatedly says that “the United States is respected again.” Polls show differently, with the steepest drop in Europe and Latin America.

* 70% of people around the world lack confidence in Trump.

* Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are both held in higher regard internationally than Trump.

* DDT may have improved in a few countries such as Japan, but he still below President Obama.

*A majority of people in the U.S. think that the U.S. is less respected now than in the past.

* The percentage of Russians confident that DDT will “do the right thing regarding world affairs” plummeted over the last year from 53 percent to 19 percent.

As Brett Kavanaugh spends his first week in office, his disapproval rating is at 51 percent.

July 8, 2018

Stop Caging People

An Episcopalian church in VP Mike Pence’s home state has put the Holy Family—Mary, Joseph, and Jesus—“in detention” to protest the separation of migrant children and parents mandated by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Statues of two parents an infant child appear caged, similar to conditions provided by DDT, in front of the Indianapolis church to represent the almost 3,000 children torn from their parents. Dean and Rector Steve Carlson had participated with many of his congregation in the huge “Families Belong Together” rallies, but he wanted to make a stronger statement because DOJ AG Jeff Sessions used an out-of-context bible quotation to justify his inhumane actions. About the statues in the cage, Carlson said, “That family is every family who are seeking safety for their children.”

Pence wants to allow refugees into the U.S.—just not those from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. In a meeting with the three Central American countries, he told them to curb illegal immigration, stop public advertisements by human smuggling organizations, and root out corruption. Yet according to Pence, Venezuela refugees are acceptable because they live in “a dictatorship that is tyrannizing its own people,” adding that there is no comparison between life in the South American nation and that in Central America. He attributes his born-again evangelical religious beliefs to his bond with the Venezuelan people. Pence’s religious background allows himself to avoid the facts that the U.S. foreign policy in Central America throughout the past century has promoted the extreme violence causing flight from these countries. And Pence’s complete allegiance to DDT overlooks the massive corruption in the U.S. government.

The White House bible study group is largely responsible for tearing migrant children from their parents. Despite the constitutional separation of church and state, both Pence and DDT give great control of both domestic and foreign policy to evangelicals, led in the White House, Congress, and DDT’s Cabinet by Ralph Drollinger. Taxpayers provide the funding for “significant staff time and resources [invested] in coordinating Christian bible studies every week,” according to information discovered by a FOIA request. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who strongly defended separating families, has a great deal of involvement in these bible studies.

Drollinger is particularly fond of Pence:

“Pence has respect for the office. He dresses right — like it says Joseph cleaned himself up before he went to stand before the Pharaoh.”

Drollinger bragged about DOJ AG Jeff Sessions:

“Jeff Sessions [will] go out the same day I teach him something and he’ll do it on camera. And I just think, man, these guys are faithful, available, and teachable.”

The day before Sessions used the bible to justify the separation of children and families, Drollinger’s lesson used the passage quoted by Sessions to separate families on the border. Drollinger has bragged:

“It follows that when someone breaks the law of the land that they should anticipate that one of the consequences of their illegal behavior will be separation from their children.”

A major question might be if any illegal behavior on the same level as entering the U.S.—traffic violations, drunkenness, trespass, vandalism, discharging a firearm within city limits, etc.—should require separation of children and parents. He made no mention of felonies such as DDT’s Cabinet members perjuring themselves under oath during their confirmation. (Oh yes, their children are grown.)

Drollinger continued:

“God intends for Governments to bear the sword relative to enacting justice. They are to be an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. This means Government is sanctioned, bound, and responsible to punish those who break the law … including illegal immigration.”

Evangelicals, who support DDT despite his sexual misconduct and lying, are also supporting Dennis Hof for the Nevada state legislature. Calling himself “The Trump of Pahrump,” the town where he resides, Hof is a pimp who owns five brothels, married three times while facing multiple allegations of adultery, and sexually harassed his employees. One former sex worker claimed that he raped her. About Hof, Pastor Victor Fuentes said:

“We have politicians, they might speak good words, not sleep with prostitutes, be a good neighbor. But by their decisions, they have evil in their heart. Dennis Hof is not like that.”

About the Liar-in-Chief, Hof said:

“People will set aside for a moment their moral beliefs, their religious beliefs, to get somebody that is honest in office. Trump is the trailblazer, he is the Christopher Columbus of honest politics.”

DDT’s daughter Ivanka donated $50,000 to a Texas church with a history of anti-LGBTQ activism after receiving a tweet that the church wanted to help immigrant children. The Prestonwood Baptist Church Pastor Jack Graham also tweeted support for the separation of these children from their families. President of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2003 to 2004, Graham claims 38,000 members in his Plano megachurch.

Evangelicals follow DDT’s view of immigrants as animals: Leigh Mitchell, host of the Faith & Freedom program on the YourVoice American network, accused “children below ten years old engaging in sexual activity.” He added, “All kinds of sin and disgrace and darkness; the pit of the pits.”

DDT’s mandated separation between children and parents at the Mexico border evidences the white people’s deep hatred, an insistence that these people must suffer because they are inferior, that they deserve great punishment. The Christian bible tells stories about victims, but DDT’s policy turns Christian against victims fleeing misery and violence. DDT’s symbol of supremacy for his white followers is a tall wall. Logic shows that the structure will not accomplish safety in the United States, but DDT first created a massive fear of the non-white subhuman people and then a solution that would make his followers feel safe. DDT ran on a platform of fear and hatred, and he hopes that his continued promotion of the same emotions at his rallies will win more elections for himself and the Republicans.

The millions of people protesting for immigrants, women, LGBTQ, the poor, non-Christian religious groups, and other marginalized groups in the United States are fighting the fake “righteousness” exhibited by people claiming to support the U.S. Constitution. Psychologist Jeremy Sherman compared this “token righteousness” to trinkets that people collect:

“Pick some easy, trivial issue and crusade on it pretending that it’s the highest priority, the most epic concern. With token righteousness, you can pose as if your bravely, lovingly saving the world without having to prioritize the truly daunting threats to it.”

Sherman described “a whole charm bracelet of trinket issues to make yourself feel like you’re covering all the marks of righteousness” that owners use to “tinkle … as if tolling the bells of epic righteousness”:

  • For bravery: Defending the second amendment.
  • For civil rights: LGBTQ bathrooms.
  • For national defense: Barring immigration.
  • For care: Anti-abortion.
  • For defending tradition: Anti-gay.
  • For fiscal responsibility: Anti-welfare to others (they’d like to keep their own).
  • For compassion: Devotion to Christ and care for fellow members of their self-righteous exceptionalist cults.
  • For Truth: Faith in the bible.
  • For freedom: Corporate libertarianism.
  • For patriotism: Upholding the flag and opposing the bended knee.
  • For global concern: Anti-Islam, anti-communism.
  • For justice: Lock her up.

Psychologist Otto Rank used the word “partializing” for making these “little something everything,” for example, being anti-abortion to protect fertilized eggs will protect all life. Its triviality allows them to not think. Instead they change the debate by saying “but what about this?” This “form of threat displacement” allows people to make threats “manageable” and pass it on to others. Using these trinkets also makes them more important: i.e., a right to not be offended by marriage equality is a higher priority than the right of same-gender couples to marry.

Trinketing people fail to face the knowledge that their “token righteousness” cannot address the world’s problems. It is the growth of their frantic behavior that makes the United States dangerous for everyone—not just minorities.

DDT’s survival methods:

  • Always lie if you find yourself in trouble.
  • Claim yourself patriotic for anything you want.
  • Take whatever you want …
  • Bully people because you have the right to take anything you want.
  • Violence is the best resort to take what you want.

It’s time to stop using DDT’s methods, take people out of cages, and reunite everyone.

May 13, 2018

Pence Aims to Control All through His Evangelical Belief

Since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was inaugurated, the Washington Post has kept track of his lies—what the New York Times sometimes calls “reversed his position” as in when DDT said he did pay hush money to Stormy Daniels after he said he didn’t pay her off. Or sometimes from the NYT, “contradicts earlier claims.” After at least 3,001 “false or misleading claims” in his first 466 days in the Oval Office, however, the question might be how long people can stay in denial about DDT’s incessant lying. That 6.5 lies per day is an increase of 32.6 percent over the average of 4.9 daily lies during his first 100 days. One of his prime lies is that he keeps his promises. The Post also noted that DDT “kept only 23 percent of 60 key promises and broken 27 percent.”

A high percentage of DDT’s lies are to make himself appear superior, especially to earlier presidents. For example, his statement to the Celebration of Military Mothers and Spouses Event when he bragged about his raises for the military were “first time in ten years” in his continuing attempts to make President Obama look bad. Except DDT’s wrong. The military received raises every year since the inception of the all-voluntary military—45 years ago.

With so much attention focused on DDT’s lies, the media generally ignores VP Mike Pence’s history of lying, including this list from Politifact. Pence will do anything to do what the person in authority requires, including lying for him. Since Pence rejected a coup against DDT after the “pussy” video was released, Pence has been sycophant in chief—“servant to authority”—supporting all DDT’s lies including DDT’s false claim that he had no collusion with Russia.

Conservative columnist George Will became fed up with Pence’s lies and sycophancy after Pence’s full-throated support of former Maricopa County (AZ) sheriff and current U.S. senator candidate Joe Arpaio as “a tireless champion … of the rule of law.” Will’s opinion of Arpaio differs from that of Pence. Instead of Pence’s hero, Arpaio to Will is “a grandstanding, camera-chasing bully and darling of the thuggish right, [who] is also a criminal, convicted of contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge’s order to desist from certain illegal law enforcement practices.” Will concluded his column about Pence:

“Trump is what he is, a floundering, inarticulate jumble of gnawing insecurities and not-at-all compensating vanities, which is pathetic. Pence is what he has chosen to be, which is horrifying.”

The entire column is well-worth reading, if only for an amazingly extensive use of vocabulary.

In his attempt to assume the role of authority in another few years, Pence works to retain support from evangelical voters and donors, including his commencement address to Hillsdale College, the small, private, far-far-right wing Christian school in Michigan. Pence’s message was that more people in the U.S. believe in God because DDT was elected to the nation’s highest office. “President Trump and our entire administration have been advancing the very principles that you learned here in the halls of Hillsdale College,” Pence said. Considering the fraud, corruption, destruction of the planet, and robbery of poor people, the question might be what principles are taught at the Christian school.

A look at the recent Gallup poll shows that Pence is “misrepresenting” the involvement of religious involvement in today’s United States. The poll indicates an increase in the number of people who express dissatisfaction with religion and want less influence by organized religion. Fewer people in the United States believe that the Bible is the actual word of God, to be taken literally, and more people see the Bible as fables. Fewer people believe in God. (Further statistics here.)

A Pew Research poll from April 2018 revealed that 80 percent of people believe in “God,” but only 56 percent believe in the God of the Bible. One-third of the population believe in some other higher power.

Hillsdale is important to Pence because of its ties to wealthy family of Betsy DeVos. Both she and her brother Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater security services company paid millions by the U.S. government, are graduates, and Prince is a member of its board. Other alumni work for DDT, including as speechwriters. As an article in the Hillsdale Collegian states, “Hillsdale Alumni Take over the White House.” Conservatives Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), both aiming for House Speaker, have Hillsdale graduates on their staffs. After DDT’s national security spokesman left the White House, he found a job at Hillsdale. Quite astonishing for a college of only 1,486.

Hillsdale gained notoriety last year when a GOP amendment would have exempted the school from a tax on university endowments. The proposed amendment was written so that Hillsdale would have been the only college in the nation with that exemption. Four GOP senators—Susan Collins (ME), Deb Fischer (NE), John Kennedy (LA), and Lisa Murkowski (AK)—joined Democrats to vote down the amendment.

DDT has pushed a theocracy in his first 68 weeks, but Pence would be even worse in continuing to support far more people like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. After trying to allocate most educational funds to religious charter schools, she wants to give more taxpayer monies to religious colleges and universities, a possibility after the Supreme Court ruled last June against denying government grants to religious institutions for secular purposes. That case, Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, was about surfacing playgrounds; DeVos will move the bar far lower to education. The DOJ also plans to greatly expand support for religious groups in “employment, contracting, and programming,” according to AG Jeff Sessions. Sessions and DeVos intend to permit unrestrained discrimination to federally-funded institutions.

A coalition of Christian right groups, including those from Congress, has created Project Blitz, a legislative initiative to pass connected Christian nationalism bills on the state level for a “dominionist” nation. Basically, they want a Sharia law for Christians to subjugate everyone to their perception of family structure, gender identity, marriage, and all other societal issues. The 71 bills introduced in states have innocuous “feel-good names” such as the Child Protection Act.

Joining the evangelical movement to take over the United States is Focus on the Family, founded by Roy Moore supporter James Dobson. This movement that proudly claimed to focus on “family values” focuses only on white men. By declaring itself a church, the organization can avoid taxes and audits through IRS standards that a religious organization does not need to meet all the requirements. Supposedly tax-exempt religious status mandates “a recognized creed and form of worship,” “a formal code of doctrine and discipline,” “regular religious services,” “Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young,” and “schools for the preparation of its ministers.” Yet Focus on the Family has no congregation and “rites of various parts of a person’s life,” according to Gail Harmon, an attorney who advises nonprofits on tax law. VP Mike Pence has promised Focus on the Family the administration’s unwavering support.

Liberty Counsel also escapes filing IRS forms by declaring itself a “church auxiliary.” Lawyers in this group represented Kim Davis in her losing fight to illegally deny same-gender couples marriage licenses and is awaiting the Supreme Court “wedding cake” decision about whether businesses can discriminate against anyone they don’t like. The DOJ is filling up with members of the Liberty Counsel, those who aren’t traveling the world to help countries legislative draconian anti-LGBTQ laws.

The dual evangelical goal is to force non-evangelicals to pay for their institutions by not paying all taxes and control the actions of the entire population of the United States, no matter what their beliefs.

March 20, 2018

John Oliver Hops All Over Mike Pence

With all the grim news since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was elected over 16 months ago, a bit of joy is always welcome. For me, it came in the form of John Oliver’s most recent HBO show, Last Week Tonight. The 30-minute comedy/news series typically ends with an in-depth 20-minute segment on subjects of interest such as the bitcoin, national flood insurance, and Confederate monuments. Last Sunday, the topic was VP Mike Pence. As usual, Oliver covered the extreme Christian fundamentalist well, addressing his strong connections with James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and his incessant lying to cover his bigotry and his support for DDT’s lying as well as Pence’s anti-LGBQ campaigns in supporting conversion therapy, preventing LGBTQ military members, and legalizing religious discrimination against LGBTQ people while Indiana’s governor. The clips show that Pence is just as dishonest as Trump, for example the confrontation about DDT lying about winning the popular vote. Pence called the lies, “refreshing.” Pence just isn’t as good about lying as DDT is. Three-fourths through Oliver’s segment, however, it came to a sharp turn.

Three-fourths through Oliver’s segment, however, it came to a sharp turn. The Pence family has a beloved bunny pet named Marlon Bondo along with two cats and a snake. DDT, the first president without a pet in 150 years, called it “low class” to take these pets into their residence at the Naval Observatory” and referred to the Pences as “yokels.” Sadly, the cat on the left, Pickle, died last December at the age of 16, but Marlon is thriving with his own Instagram where he is called BOTUS—Bunny of the United States.

Now BOTUS is the subject of a picture book for children, Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice-President, written by Pence’s wife, Karen, and illustrated by their daughter Charlotte (pictured above with Marlon). With details about one day in Marlon’s life, the book is intended as an educational perspective on the role of the vice president of the United States. The Pences are taking a book tour to promote their book with a stop at the Focus on the Family, designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The format has been used before, for example in Ted Kennedy’s My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington, D.C. featuring Splash, Kennedy’s Portuguese Water Dog. Many politicians and celebrities have books written about themselves, and they don’t usually make much of a “splash.” John Oliver changed that lack of attention by sponsoring another picture book for children about Marlon. At the end of his segment on Pence, Oliver promoted Last Night Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, written by Jill Twiss and illustrated by E.G. Keller. Although some people who both oppose and support Pence call Oliver’s book a “spoof” or “parody” it is neither. Pence’s book was the inspiration for Twiss’ charming children’s book, suitable for children and one with an entirely different story.  The entire Oliver segment is here; you can forward to 15:33 for the animated film from Oliver’s book.

In the Oliver book, Marlon, sporting a multi-colored bowtie, falls in love with Wesley, and they want to get married, but a stink bug (read by John Lithgow in the audiobook) tells them that they cannot be married because they are both boy rabbits. Marlon and Wesley, however, gain support from all the other creatures in the garden with a happy ending, demonstrating to all the “different” children, for whatever reason, that they should have hope. Oliver said during his promotion of the book on the Ellen DeGeneres Show that he wanted to read his two-year-old son a book that “paints the world in the light that you want it to be rather than the way it’s currently being painted.”

 

The publishers of the two Marlon books are as different as the books themselves. Chronicle Books is a small independent publisher, located in San Francisco, that has been releasing quality books for the past half century. Author proceeds will go to The Trevor Project, a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services LGBTQ young people ages 13-24. and AIDS United, a group working to stop the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. The first printing of 75,000 has been sold out, but another 150,000 will be available in a few weeks. People who don’t want to wait can get the ebook version at betterbundobook.com or by donating $11.99 to either of the two national projects.

The Pence book has been published by a conservative publisher, Regnery Publishing, which has authors such as Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, Newt Gringich, Robert Spencer, and DDT. In the 1950s, Regnery published a book sympathetic to Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the midst of his anti-communist witch hunt and two books by the founder of the John Birch Society. The Regnery family sold the publishing company 25 years ago, but the former president still sits on the company’s board. Regnery’s 1996 book Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House by Gary Aldrich “painted images of Hillary Clinton hanging crack pipes on the White House Christmas tree and claimed to expose lesbian affairs in the White House basement,” according to Max Blumenthal. Eleven years ago, five authors sued their publisher, Regnery claiming that Regnery fraudulently diverts sales from retail outlets to make more money for parent corporation, Eagle Publishing, causing them to make $.10 per copy instead of $4.25 outside Eagle. They lost because Regnery had forced them to sign contracts with mandatory arbitration clauses.

The Pence family’s book is raising money for Tracy’s Kids, an art program for children with cancer, and A21, an organization that fights human trafficking.

William H. Regnery II, a member of the publishing family, has a long history of anti-immigrant white nationalism and a mission to reconfigure the United States into a white-only homeland. His two white nationalist nonprofits steered money to supporters of the KKK, Holocaust deniers, immigration foes, and eugenics boosters. The mainstream Republicans rejected him for a while, but he’s now becoming effective behind the scenes with his discovery with alt-right, white supremacist Richard Spencer who became the front for the National Policy Institute. Regnery believes that white supremacy will win with Spencer in charge. Although Regnery’s grandfather was a New Deal Democrat, he helped found the far-right America First Committee to keep the U.S. from going to war against Nazi Germany and collected a following of Nazi sympathizers and anti-Semites. With DDT’s campaign the America First brand reappeared to open popularity in the far-right spectrum.

John Oliver’s Marlon Bondo book hit #1 on Amazon almost immediately after its release, followed by James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership to be released on April 17 and Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump by Michael Isikoff and David Corn. The Pences’ book is at #4. Amazon.com has over 4,000 reviews with an overall five-star rating; the other book has under 100 reviews at a 4.5 star. At amazon you can look at pages from both books.

May the best bunny win!

February 17, 2018

DDT: Weeks 55/56 – From ‘Treason’ to ‘Trumpgust’

 One year ago yesterday, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gave his only press conference since inauguration. George W. Bush gave five during his first year, and Barack Obama gave eleven. Almost two years ago, DDT tweeted:

“Crooked Hillary Clinton has not given a press conference in more than seven months. Her record is so bad she is unable to answer tough questions!”

Instead of being accountable for directly lying to the people, he leaves the job to staff like Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. His rally speeches give him the chance to spread falsehoods with no questions from the media. Six days after his mildly “presidential” State of the Union address, DDT released his vitriolic anger in a speech to Ohio workers. At the rally, supposedly about the tax bill and the economy, he launched into a furious attack of Democrats as “treasonous” and “un-American” because they did not clap for him at his address the week before. [Treason, as defined in the Constitution, “shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”] Masha Gessen compared DDT’s fixation on applause to that in the Soviet Union.

“Whether I chose to applaud or not applaud is a First Amendment right that our forefathers wrote down and that generations before me have sacrificed many a life for,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “And I would just say the president’s out of line with that statement.” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in battle, tweeted that she didn’t swear an oath “to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.” Four of DDT’s draft deferments during the Vietnam War were for college and the fifth for bone spurs in his heels.

As he bragged about the stock market during the speech, the television screen showed the Dow Jones plummeting 1,177 for the day on top of the 666-point loss the Friday before. [Later DDT, who took credit for the stock market growth, said that it is now rigged against him.]

During his speech, DDT became almost incoherent with a reference to the GOP-drafted memo claiming FBI bias:

“Oh, but did we catch them in the act or what? You know what I’m — oh did we catch them in the act. They are very embarrassed. They never thought they were going to get caught. We caught ‘em! We caught ‘em. It’s so much fun. We’re like the great sleuth.”

DDT told the workers that they would get “thousands and thousands of dollars, and you’re getting it every year,” but a few fortunate ones are getting $1,000 bonuses, $.30 a day for the next ten years. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called that “crumbs,” compared to the tens and hundreds of thousands—and even millions—of dollars given to the wealthy and large corporations, but Sheffer CEO Jeff Norris said that “we consider [the bonus] fine dining.”

Unable to let go of his obsession about his former rival Hillary Clinton, DDT ranted about her destroying discarded smartphones with hammers while she was secretary of state five years ago. Guidelines mandate destruction of discarded technology for security reasons.

Earlier that day, DDT enthusiastically—and erroneously—tweeted that UK people were marching because “their [universal healthcare] system is going broke and not working.” The marches were in support of the National Health Service and calling for more funding.

Two days after his speech, DDT said in the midst of a bipartisan congressional near-agreement for a two-year spending bill, “I’d love to see a shutdown.” He got his wish because Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY decided to hold the Senate floor, but it was over in five hours. The bill that ended the shutdown is another “continuing resolution” until March 23, the deadline for Congress determining the specifics of the two-year spending plan.

The little boy in DDT has also demanded a military parade in Washington with costs for heavy tanks damaging streets and movement of equipment to that location while taking the military away from their responsibilities.  The parade will cost taxpayers between $10 million and $30 million. George H.W. Bush’s military parade is a precursor of DDT’s disaster. VP Mike Pence criticized North Korea’s military parade but praised one in the United States.

DDT’s latest infrastructure week was again a disaster, marred by talk about sexual misconduct, missing security clearances, and a horrific school shooting. He waited almost 400 days to announce that he expects states to assume over 80 percent of the costs, a reversal from the past when the federal government provided 80 percent of funding. The $200 billion budgeted for infrastructure for an effort that will cost trillions is offset by his removal of $281 billion from transportation—a loss of $81 billion.

Congress contributed to the disasters of the past week. With a vote of 225-192, the House removed business incentives for improving access for disabled people in the Disabilities “Reform” Act. Twelve Democrats supported the discrimination with 19 Republicans in opposition.

Despite a bipartisan compromise between party leaders, both congressional chambers failed to move forward with an immigration bill. The conservatives want nothing to do with helping DACA recipients, and DDT has refused to sign anything that doesn’t give him $25 for his wall.  Yesterday legislators went home for a week’s vacation, and the State Department closed one-third of its refugee settlement offices across 24 states.

After a year, the disposition of some inaugural funds shows one-fourth of the $107 million went to Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Melania Trump’s friend, who got almost $26 million entertainment, staffing, and a $1.62 for her consultation and executive production. Another $25 million went to event company Hargrove Inc. of Maryland.

(Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

VP Mike Pence embarrassed the United States at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The man who claims to be a Christian sat next to Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister, but refused to even acknowledge her. Pence, who spent taxpayer money to fly across the continent twice in one day to walk out of a sports event after athletes protested, refused to stand when the North Korea and South Korea athletes entered the stadium under their flag. Before the opening ceremonies, Pence kept claiming that the North was trying to “hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games” with its “propaganda,” and he stayed at a VIP reception for less than five minutes. DDT accused Democrats of being “treasonous” because they sat at his address like “death.” Pence looked like “death” at the Olympics and missed the chance to represent sportsmanship and unity that DDT says he wants at U.S. sports events.

DDT got a lot of political play for a border wall by claiming last year that a Border Patrol agent was killed by undocumented immigrants, but the FBI determined that Rogelio Martinez died of an accident after the agencies mobilized 37 field offices in an investigation.

FEMA chalked up another loss; the government agency gave Tribute Contracting LLC a $156 million contract to deliver 30 million meals to people in Puerto Rico. The Atlanta company provided 50,000 meals. It has at least five canceled government contracts, and the company, with only one employee, has no experience coordinating large-scale disaster relief. At least 20 percent of Puerto Rican residents still lack power five months after Hurricane Marie.

The Koch-backed organization National Federation of Independent Business is promoting flu across the nation. They are fighting a Maryland law, passed over the governor’s veto, and an ordinance up for vote in Austin (TX) allowing workers to earn paid sick leave. Flu infection rate decrease with sick days, and two-thirds of restaurants and cooks have served or cooked foot while ill. The organization complain about job-killing costs while they push a policy that is people-killing.

ICE has rescued “Amuricans” from another “bad hombre.” Syed Ahmed Jamal, 55, was taken away from his front yard in Lawrence (KS) without permission to say goodbye to his wife and three children.  Over 30 years ago, he came from Bangladesh on a student visa and earned graduate degrees in molecular biosciences and pharmaceutical engineering. He changed to an H-1B visa for highly skilled workers and then back to a student visa when he enrolled in a doctoral program. He was on a temporary work permit, teaching chemistry as an adjunct professor at Park University in Kansas City and conducting research at local hospitals, when he was arrested for deportation. “Amuricans” may think they are a bit safer today because this man is captured.

A 1946 law and its regulations allow ICE agents to search any vehicle within 100 air miles of a land or sea boundary. That covers almost two-thirds of the U.S. population—over 200 million people. Agents can have permanent and temporary checkpoints within that area.

Trumpgust” reveals that DDT’s “combover” is far more extensive than most people know.

The number of states where conservatives outnumber liberals declined in 2017 to the lowest in Gallup’s trend since 2008.

February 14, 2018

Shooting, Russian Involvement: Demand Action

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 10:20 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Today at least 17 people were killed in a school shooting, taking the public attention from other events. Vice President Mike Pence is especially lucky because most people may not notice that he again blatantly lied in an interview of Axios. He said:

“Irrespective of efforts that were made in 2016 by foreign powers, it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that none of those efforts had any impact on the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Pence lied.

Six U.S. intelligence leaders, including Pompeo, Coats, and Wray, testified that Russia had interfered in the last general election, that they plan to do so in the current election, and that DDT has not given any direction to stop the Russian meddling. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week that the meddling has already started but that there is nothing that the United States can do to prevent any Russian involvement.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said:

“We have seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle.”

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said:

“There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”

The intelligence community concluded that Russia “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” Collectively, they made this statement:

“We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion.”

The intelligence community made no ruling on the Russian affect on the outcome of the election last year when Donald Trump became the president of the United States. Yet Pence said that “it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that none of those efforts had any impact on the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Donald Trump’s appointed FBI director, Christopher Wray, thinks that Russia believes its maneuvers succeeded in electing Trump as the president.

The Russians hacked and revised emails that resulted in negative press about Hillary Clinton. It distributed massive communications on social media that lied about Clinton and other progressive candidates. The FBI spread doubt about Clinton just days before the election while it failed to release the information about the Russian involvement in Donald Trump’s campaign, knowledge that they had for months before the election. And Donald Trump got over 60 million votes after he lied to the public about protecting the working people.

The same hackers also got into the email accounts of defense contract workers, and nobody is talking about that. Donald Trump refuses to sanction Russia for its interference.

Today witnessed the 18th school shooting in only 31 days of school in 2018, most of the shootings largely unnoticed by the media. Because of the gun industry and the NRA, conservatives take no action. (Although I wonder if they decide to allow all students over the age of five to take guns to school.) Yet GOP legislators give away trillions of dollars to the wealthy and the huge corporations. They plan to spend tens of billions of dollars on a wall to keep out immigrants and hundreds of billions of dollars to start and continue wars throughout the entire world.

The killer’s choice of weapon, at least one AR-15 style rifle and a large number of magazines, was the usual one for the deadliest mass shootings, including the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas massacre and the November 5, 2017 Texas church shooting. The assault-style rifle was developed for military use, but people use the Second Amendment to force its availability for the general population. Florida has no waiting period for anyone, including those on the terrorist watch list, who wish to buy guns, and the U.S. House has passed a bill making concealed-carry permits in one state valid in any other state.

Within hours after the shooting, officials associated the shooting with mental illness and calling them “evil.” Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County said that nothing can be done about shooters if they are determined to kill people. Others are using the standard statement that shooters are “evil.” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s response was that she would guarantee no “price gouging” for funerals and make sure that the families didn’t have to pay for the funerals of the dead students. Florida Gov. Rick Scott gave his “thoughts and prayers” to the victims.

People who want to think of the United States as exceptional should know that the U.S. has 270 million guns with 90 mass shooters from 1966 to 2012. No other country has more than 46 million guns or 18 mass shooters. In 2009, the gun homicide rate in the U.S. was far higher than other developed countries at 33 per million people. The rate was 5 per million in Canada and 0.7 million in Britain, corresponding with differences in gun ownership. In 2013, Japan had 13 deaths related to guns; U.S. gun-related deaths included 21,175 suicides, 11,208 homicides, and 505 deaths caused by an accidental discharge. The chances per capita of a U.S. resident dying from a gun is 300 times more likely than a Japanese person dying in the same manner, and U.S. gun ownership is 150 times as high as that of Japan. Only three countries—Guatemala, Mexico, and the U.S.—have the assumption that people have an inherent right to own guns.

Gun ownership is the reason for these gun deaths:

  • The U.S. does not reflect a greater problem with mental health issues than any other wealthy country. Only four percent of U.S. gun deaths might be attributed to mental health problems. Other countries with high suicide rates have low rates of mass shootings.
  • People in the U.S. are no more likely to play video games than in any other developed country.
  • European countries show little association between immigration and other diversity with the rates of gun murders or mass shootings.
  • The U.S. is no more prone to crime than other developed countries—just more lethal.
  • Gun control legislation reduces gun murders, according to an analysis of 130 studies from 10 countries.

Britain’s 1987 mass shooting and Australia’s 1996 shooting turned the tide of unregulated gun ownership. The U.S. doesn’t care. British journalist Dan Hodges wrote:

“In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

These are the 1,607 mass shootings in the U.S. since Sandy Hook.

Broward County Public Schools Supt. Robert Runcie said, “This has been a day we’ve seen the worst of humanity.” He may be right, but the worst is coming from people on the internet accusing the shooter of being a DACA recipient and an ISIS supporter with no evidence. The worst of humanity comes from people who refuse to take any action to stop mass shootings. The shooter will be dehumanized as insane, and the dead will be classified as heroes. And the Republicans will block any sane action. Only a shooting by an immigrant or in the name of a non-Christian religion would bring any action.

In their sanctimonious method of controlling gun safety laws, conservatives always accuse people who want to stop shootings as attempting to “politicize” a tragedy. The only way to stop the growing mass shootings and lack of safety at schools is to stop electing Republicans because they are controlled by the NRA and the gun industry. They have no interest in protecting people; they only want to get elected and grow richer and more powerful. Their demands to not politicize tragedies are to guarantee that gun laws grow more lax.

Happy Valentine’s Day, thanks to your GOP legislators, owned by the gun industry, who think that words like “prayers and condolences” are sufficient action. And Vice-President Pence, your intelligence community didn’t say that Russia had no impact on last year’s election that turned the United States away from democracy and toward authoritarianism.

December 19, 2017

Tax Bill a Lump of Coal for the Holidays

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 10:05 PM
Tags: , , ,

During his campaign, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) promised to bring coal back, and he’s lived up to his promise: most people in the United States will get a lump of coal in their holiday stockings, thanks to DDT and the GOP. This morning, 227 Republicans passed a disastrous social reform bill, masked as tax cuts, in opposition to all Democrats and 12 other Republicans. Their desire was to “do something,” just as serial killers want credit for their negative actions. GOP leadership is preening over a bill that has only 33 percent support among the public with 66 percent of the nation knowing that it benefits the wealthy rather than the middle and lower classes.

After its success in the House, the tax bill ran into a small glitch because the rush in the Senate kept it from living up to requirements that would avoid any filibustering. Tonight the Senate is working on a revised bill that will go back to the House after it passes the Senate. There is little hope that the bill will fail.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) claims that the GOP made major accomplishments in 2017. Other than potentially passing a bill with less than one-third approval and packing the courts with judges who believe in discrimination, the GOP Congress has no other successes. The greatest accomplishments have been in energizing the Democrats. Thus far they have far more viable candidates than the Republicans and flipped the Virginia House of Delegates with a 50-50 tie between the two parties. The last recount resulted in a Democrat winning by one vote to change 16 seats from red to blue. [Update: After a court decided that one of the the discounted votes is for a Republican, the result is a tie. In that case, the winner may be chosen by drawing a name for a glass bowl. The loser may then seek a second recount. A Republican win would leave the Virginia House of Delegates with a 51-49 majority for the GOP.]

McConnell blamed the negative polling for his tax bill on the press and Democratic resistance. Yet the media, except for the far-right such as Fox and Breitbart, publishes the facts—such as the revisions of the bill to capture both chambers of Congress gives 83 percent of the tax cuts to the top 1 percent by 2027, an increase of 62.1 percent with the original Senate bill. Over one half the people in the United States will pay more in taxes. Even in the bill’s first year, the top 20 percent gets almost two-thirds of the bill’s benefit.

The tax cut fails four Republican rules:

  • It increases the debt by at least $1.5 trillion—or possibly more.
  • It doesn’t benefit the middle class.
  • The wealthiest, including DDT), are the primary beneficiaries.
  • It likely won’t supercharge the economy, according to independent experts in the field.

DDT had promised to get rid of the carried interest loophole that gives massive tax breaks to managers of private equity funds, venture capital funds, and hedge funds. Instead of paying taxes at the higher rate of ordinary income, they can use the low rates of capital gains. The new tax bill allows them to continue saving money with that practice if they hold the investment for at least three years.

House Speaker Paul Ryan claimed that the bill would deliver revenue neutrality, simplicity, and fairness. None of those happened—not even simplicity. The tax bill still has seven tax brackets, and the revision of “pass-though” income in businesses confuses even most tax experts. The business revision will create many jobs for people who magically become independent contractors or part of LLCs.

Fairness? The bill gives breaks to businesses owned by trusts. The marriage penalty returns because the maximum deduction of ten thousand dollars for state and local taxes is the same for individual filers and for couples. And far more.

Robert Reich lists other flaws in GOP arguments about their tax plan:

It won’t make U.S. corporations competitive with foreign corporations, which are taxed at a lower rate. (1) With all the loopholes for U.S. corporations, they pay the same as foreign-based corporations. (2) Most other countries require a “Value Added Tax” on top of the tax. (3) Other countries will cut their tax rates to be competitive. (4) Most corporations benefiting aren’t “American” because over 35 percent of their shareholders are foreign, 20 percent of the employees are foreign, and U.S. citizens work for foreign-based corporations. (5) The “competitiveness” of U.S. corporations depends on U.S. workers, diminished in education, health, and infrastructure through shrinking public investments. (6) Profits of U.S. corporations, already at record levels, are used to buy back stocks and raise executive pay—the same thing that corporations will do with the $1 trillion that the GOP is giving them.

Big corporations and the rich won’t use the investment to invest and create more jobs. (1) Job creation doesn’t trickle down as proved by Reagan and George W. Bush’s tax cuts. (2) Demand for goods and services causes corporate expansion and new jobs. The middle class and poor could provide this demand if they had additional money, but the rich, far more benefited by the bill, won’t create this demand. (3) Financing the wealthy by losing health coverage for 13 million low-income people and subsequent cuts in Social Security and Medicare won’t create more jobs.

Small businesses will have no incentive to invest and create more jobs. (1) At least 85 percent of small businesses earn so little they already pay the lowest corporate tax rate. (2) The larger rewards for big business will give them more ability to squeeze out small firms and force them out of business.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin repeated the myth that “wages will go up” because of “lowering business taxes.” Businessman and former mayor Michael Bloomberg said that “sitting on a record amount of cash reserves: nearly $2.3 trillion. It’s pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth.”

A prize last-minute tweak that originally appeared in neither the House nor the Senate costs less-advantaged people $418 billion. Known as the “Corker Kickback,” because Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) was against the bill until that provision was put in, allows real-estate developers through LLCs to deduct twenty percent of the income that these properties generate. Corker denies that he knew about that provision in the bill because he hadn’t read it before he changed his vote. Corker said: “Deficits matter. They’re a greater threat to us than North Korea or [the Islamic State].” Now he’s willing to take almost $2 million away from poorer people with his vote for the tax bill. Only the Republicans could turn tax cuts into such an unpopular bill.

Corker isn’t alone in supporting the bill that pays him back. Twenty-three other leading GOP lawmakers responsible for crafting the bill will also see this windfall, but they were supporting the tax bill before the change.

DDT will make even more money off this part of the tax bill. Once the tax bill goes into effect, people who voted for DDT may have concrete proof of how he and the GOP will cheat them just as DDT swindled contractors without promised pay or students at Trump University with dishonest marketing. Without DDT’s releasing his tax returns, people are highly unlikely to believe that his own taxes are going up, a claim that received four Pinocchios for falsehood.

Vice President Mike Pence also lied about the tax bill to avoid going to the Middle East at this time. It’s natural that he would want to avoid the hostility that he would face after DDT claimed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the Western Wall as belonging to Israel. Thus Pence said he was postponing the trip to break a tie on the bill. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has gone back to Arizona for the holidays and won’t be present for the vote. That leaves 99 people left in the Senate for the vote, making a tie impossible.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) tried to blame Democrats for any of the bill’s problems. The GOP refused to allow any participation from Dems, and it is doubtful that Dems could keep Republicans from paying back all the wealthy donors who have been buying the GOP for years.

DDT supporters are clinging to their choice, many of them even with the possibility of paying higher taxes and health care premiums. Will they stay loyal when DDT breaks another campaign promise and tries to take away some of their Social Security and Medicare?

[Update: After a court decided that one of the the discounted votes is for a Republican, the result is a tie. In that case, the winner may be chosen by drawing a name for a glass bowl. The loser may then seek a second recount. A Republican win would leave the Virginia House of Delegates with a 51-49 majority for the GOP.]

October 20, 2017

Pence, a Christian Ideologue Who Could Destroy Democracy

[Note: Yesterday’s blog post about not impeaching Donald Trump (DDT) brought a few comments. One is that “DDT” is a pesticide. Yes, it’s a poison that kills humans and harmless creatures, and the man inaugurated as U.S. president in January 2017 displays many characteristics of a dictator. Another one—”Explain to me again why just Pence would be worse than 45 + Pence.” Without DDT, Pence would be unleashed to make the nation a total unconstitutional theocracy. DDT is only interested in benefiting himself; Mike Pence will do anything to spread Dominionism throughout the world. People who still aren’t afraid of Pence after reading the following should go to some of the links for additional information.]

Becoming candidate for vice-president was a personal advantage for Mike Pence because his term as governor of Indiana was up for renewal. He was unpopular with both parties, his favorability down to 40 percent and only four points ahead of his Democratic opponent when 30 percent of the people in the state didn’t know who the Dem was.

Pence is an ideal sidekick for DDT, always willing to lie for him and always looking adoringly at DDT. Joel K. Goldstein, a historian at St. Louis University, calls him the “Sycophant-in-Chief.” Pence brought conservative donors who didn’t trust DDT back into the fold, especially the Koch brothers.

During his campaign for vice-president, Pence denied concern about the “Access Hollywood” tapes when DDT was caught bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy,” but a campaign aide said his wife, Karen, was horrified. Pence wouldn’t take calls from DDT but sent DDT a letter saying that he and his wife were deeply offended and needed to make an “assessment” about whether to remain with the campaign. Pence decided to stay, and DDT dumped New Jersey governor Chris Christie—and his thirty binders of résumés and plans—to make Pence head of his transition team. In his appointments, DDT leaned heavily on Koch-supported people: Scott Pruitt, Patrick Traylor, Don McGahn, Betsy DeVos, and Mike Pompeo. Koch involvement caused DDT base’s priorities to move down, subsumed by the corporate right. Gone are such Koch-opposed proposals as infrastructure reform, “border-adjustment tax,” and higher tax bracket for earnings over $5 million.

Two days after DDT was inaugurated, Stephen Roderick wrote about how Pence and DDT claimed to save jobs in Indiana by preserving 730 jobs at Carrier. Another 550 jobs that were being sent to Mexico. As usual, Pence had given the typical spin about Washington policies driving jobs offshore, but Mexican workers get $6 an hour, $1.75 less than federal minimum wage. As governor, Pence gave Carrier $7 million in state tax breaks. Sarah Palin called it “crony capitalism.”

Pence may be responsible for some of DDT’s current problems. Christie told DDT to avoid Michael Flynn, whose financial ties to foreign interests may have been the impetus for the investigation. Pence hired Flynn with almost no vetting although Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent warned him about Flynn’s questionable ethics: Flynn failed to disclose that he had done paid lobbying work during the campaign for Turkish interests. Pence claimed he didn’t see the letter, but Cummings has an email from the transition staff, promising to carefully review his letter. Flynn’s hiring most likely led to the special investigation surrounding DDT’s connection with Russia.

After DDT fired former FBI director James Comey, Pence again lied, claiming that the firing had nothing do to with the Russia investigation. He had attended a meeting about DDT’s intention to get rid of Comey where a letter connecting the firing to the Russia investigation was distributed. White House Counsel Don McGahn recommended against sending the letter, and the DOJ’s Rod Rosenstein made up an excuse for the firing. Hours after Pence claimed that DDT’s decision was based on Rosenstein recommendation, DDT told Lester Holt in an interview that Russia was the reason for his action. Pence’s lies may be classified as obstructing justice, or “misprision of a felony,” for giving the public a false cover story about a meeting to shut down a federal investigation.

Pence’s Bible-study group for Cabinet members is led by Ralph Drollinger who wrote:

“Women with children at home, who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.”

Drollinger describes Catholicism as “a false religion” and believes that a wife must “submit” to her husband. He said that Pence “has uncompromising Biblical tenacity” and “brings real value to the head of the nation.”

Joan Walsh wrote that Pence is a far worse person than DDT “because of his creepy Handmaid’s Tale patriarchal approach to women’s equality. But also because he usually knows he’s lying about Trump, and their administration’s agenda, and he lies anyway.”

Pence’s argument against athletes taking a knee to protest injustice during the national anthem is the use of “national” in the NFL. He said, as if the NFL belongs to the government, “I don’t think it’s too much to ask that players in the National Football League to stand for our national anthem.”

Jeremy Scahill wrote about other Pence beliefs:

Pence wants to ban the burning of the U.S. flag and make the Patriot Act permanent. He thinks that law enforcement should not need a FISA warrant for domestic surveillance and voted against requiring any warrant for domestic wiretapping. He wanted to give retroactive immunity to telecom companies involved in warrantless surveillance. Pence said that “enhanced interrogation” has saved lives and doesn’t want congressional oversight of CIA interrogations. He also opposes protections for whistleblowers to prevent retaliation for reporting crimes and misdeeds. Expansion of the military tribunal system and “filling up” Guantanamo Bay are other Pence goals. No matter what, Pence will stand with Israel. Fortunately, he and other legislators failed in making a U.S. policy to use military force to eliminate nuclear threats in Iran.

Roe v. Wade would disappear in a Pence presidency, and he wants 14th Amendment protections for fetuses by declaring them persons. He voted for two-year sentences for doctors performing late-term abortions for any reason except the danger of women’s lives. If this had passed, women would have had to carry dead fetuses to term. According to Pence, “condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases.”

Pence wants DDT’s “wall” and advocates greater militarization against drugs. He said that “police officers are the best of us” and finds it offensive to “use a broad brush to accuse law enforcement of implicit bias or institutional racism and that really has got to stop.” Stop-and-frisk programs are “on a sound constitutional footing,” according to Pence, who wants these on a nationwide basis.

No-bid contracting should not have restrictions, according to Pence, perhaps because he has a close relationship to Blackwater’s cofounder, Erik Prince, Betsy Devos’ brother. Pence and his Republican Study Committee welcomed Prince to Washington in 2007 after Blackwater operatives gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. The Prince family joined with the DeVos family to fund the Republican Revolution when Newt Gingrich became House Speaker in 1994 on the platform Contract with America.

In the Concord Monitor, Robert Azzi wrote:

“I want [Donald Trunp] to stay in office because I fear a President Pence more than I fear Trump.

“While Trump the narcissist is an uneducated wanna-be statesman who seemingly has never read a book, who lacks empathy even for those close to him, and whom I believe couldn’t find Jerusalem on a map – at least not until either he or Jared got a contract to build a new tower or embassy there (a really, really, really beautiful thing – amazing, really!) – there are currently enough Republicans and Democrats (supported by grown-ups like Secretary Mattis and National Security Advisor McMaster) who are equally so revulsed by his lies, his ignorance and his erratic-ness that they’re willing to stand in his way to keep his fingers off the nuclear codes.

“Trump’s ambitions can be deflected (he has the attention span of a gnat); Pence’s can’t, and his elevation to the presidency – either through Trump’s impeachment or resignation – would, I believe, present a clear and present danger to the pluralistic, aspirational, constitutional values upon which this nation relies for its strength and prosperity….

“Pence is the real thing. He’s much smarter than Trump, has better hair, has much more government experience, and he unrepentantly embraces and advocates for an unreconstructed Christian supremacist America…. Pence is the tip of the spear for a Christian Dominionist movement envisioned, as Betsy DeVos says, to “advance God’s kingdom….

“A Pence presidency would herald the rise of an American supremacist Taliban who’ll have their way rolling back the privacy and civil, human, religious and personal rights of Americans whom they believe, both in the present and in the hereafter, are less worthy than they.”

The worst part of impeaching DDT is that the Trumpets would solidify with the GOP party, giving them far more leverage. The U.S. is better off by leaving DDT where he is and controlling his ability to blow up the world. If DDT is impeached, only a Pence impeachment could save the nation—and that would never happen.

I have long believed, like longtime Democratic operative Harold Ickes, that Pence would work more effectively with Congress and be more successful at advancing the far right’s agenda. Newt Gingrich believes that Pence will be the 2024 GOP nominee. Pence is the first vice-president in history to have his own fundraising effort instead of raising money for the president, the party, and congressional and state-level candidates. He may be aiming at 2020. A Pence presidency would erase what is left of democracy in the United States.

 

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