Nel's New Day

November 25, 2020

DDT ‘Salts’ the United States

In 146 BC, the Romans salted the earth at Carthage to destroy any chance of that civilization rebuilding. The ritual of cursing any re-inhabitation of conquered cities started in the ancient Near East and continued in 1299 when Pope Boniface VIII destroyed Palestrina and ordered that it be plowed and salted. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is following the tradition with the United States. As the loser of the presidential election, he is trying to destroy the U.S., including its democracy, hoping his successor cannot put together a shattered nation. DDT’s attack on the United States of “salt the earth” so nothing grows may be intended toward Biden, but the people in the U.S. will be the ones directly suffering.

DDT has another 56 days to spread salt. In 2017, DDT struck down many of President Obama’s final rules in a fast-track Congressional Review Act because he had a majority of members in Congress. If the Democrats lose both senators in Georgia on January 5, Joe Biden will need at least two GOP defections to save the U.S. from DDT’s “salt”:

Destructive plans DDT hopes to carry out before January 20:

The Department of Agriculture is rushing the speeding up of chicken factory processing lines, causing more worker injuries and increasing the products’ spread of germs such as salmonella, in a change usually taking about two years. Because meat processors don’t pay sick leave and penalize workers for staying home, employees go to work sick. The USDA claims it is only responsible for food safety; worker safety—or danger of strain injuries and amputations—is the purview of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration which may not have been involved in decisions. Waivers for speeded-up processing led USDA inspectors, unable to find contaminated carcasses, to discard record-low amounts of chicken.

The DOJ is fast-tracking the reintroduction of firing squads and electrocution to accompany DDT’s acceleration of federal executions. One federal prisoner was executed on November 19, and five more are planned before January 20. Introduced in August, the proposal reduced the 60-day public comment time to 30 days and cleared White House review on November 6.

HHS, according to its chief of staff, has a proposal to automatically delete all regulations over ten years old unless the agency decides to keep them.

In a literal decision to “salt the earth,” the EPA is completing rules to block justification of pollution restrictions and lock in soot levels for at least five years despite the links between particulate pollution and additional coronavirus deaths. Other plans are being finalized in as few as five days instead of the normal 90-day timeline.

Pending rules regarding immigration include greater difficulty for refugees to claim asylum. They exclude people with criminal convictions, even when expunged; drastically shorten application times; and allow immigration judges more ability to pick and choose considered evidence.

The Department of Energy is loosening efficiency standards for showerheads and laundry machines, in accord with one of DDT’s favorite talking points. In October, DDT said about himself, “I want that hair to be so beautiful.” The washer manufacturer trade group opposes the proposal because of the machines’ short-cycle options. Water and electric companies warn rules cause higher consumption and waste.

Business groups also oppose DDT’s plan to restrict highly skilled immigration by raising wage and education requirements for H-1B visas, often for information-technology employees. At the same time, DDT pushes for lower wages for “low-skilled” immigrant farmworkers. Both regulations will hurt the U.S. economy.

A rule finalized on November 13 restricts pension managers from considering social and environmental (ESG) impacts when choosing investments. Another Labor Department rule allows companies such as Uber to withhold worker benefits by classifying them as independent contractors instead of employees. Again, the comment period was reduced to 30 days.

Despite low prices and little demand, DDT opened up more federal lands to oil and gas development in areas encroaching on wildlife habitats and national parks. Bids start at $2 per acre for over 445,000 acres of public land with plans for drastically expanding leases in 6.8 million more acres for the wildlife habit of the National Petroleum Reserve. Claiming the GOP 2017 tax bill, the Department of the Interior opened up drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The banking regulator at the Office for Comptroller of the Currency announced a proposed rule forcing banks to lend to oil companies or any other companies the banks deem as a reputation risk. The regulator compared a refusal by banks to lend to weapons manufacturers as discrimination. Legal experts question whether that office has the authority for this proposal.

In other issues:

Proving his racism on the way out the door, DDT said he will veto the defense budget if it renames ten military installations named after treasonous Confederate officers.

DDT also has faithful followers who carry his “salt.” Claiming after Biden won the election that DDT will have a second term, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived home from his 10-day, seven-country tip where he sowed diplomatic discord.  Bloomberg wrote that Pompeo “angered Turkey’s leaders, infuriated the Palestinians and befuddled the French.” A few details:

In Paris, Pompeo met with reporters from the right-wing French magazine Valeurs Actuelles, noted for its racism including an image of a Black French lawmaker as a slave.

In the West Bank, Pompeo became the most senior U.S. official to visit an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied territory when he went to a winery built on land claimed by Palestinians. There, he announced the U.S. will permit goods in these occupied areas to use a “Made in Israel” label.

In Syria, Pompeo visited the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Syria called the visit “provocative” and a “flagrant violation” of Syrian sovereignty.

In Saudi Arabia, Pompeo secretly met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, possibly working on an anti-Iran agreement and possibly leading to war.  The meeting was hidden from Israel’s alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin plans to shut down over half the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs, including on loans to municipalities, assigned as COVID-19 stimulus money and return all unused money, about $429 billion, to Congress for their wishes. Despite the request from the Federal Reserve to leave all the money in the fund, Mnuchin will leave only $80 billion for the Exchange Stabilization Fund unless lawmakers release the rest of the money for its original purpose.   

DDT’s sabotage may shut down the government December 11 in budget negotiations. Lawmakers have agreed to designating the $12.5 billion cost increase in veterans’ health care, making it not subject to spending restrictions. DDT, the man who brags about his love for veterans, now demands it be non-emergency spending.

DDT also wants to end constitutional birthright citizenship before he leaves on January 20. According to the 14th Amendment, “all persons born or naturalized in the United States … are citizens of the United States …” Last January, DDT restricted visa applications for women traveling to the U.S. primarily to give birth after renting to Russian women with that express purpose.

In a huge danger to the United States, DDT officially pulled out of the Open Skies Treaty, a post-Cold War agreement permitting nations to fly over other allies to collect military data and other intelligence on neighboring foreign enemies. Congress reaffirmed its support for the 18-year treaty and mandated DDT’s justification for a withdrawal before he took any action. As usual, the “lawless and orderless” DDT ignored the law and unilaterally made the withdrawal after he lost the presidential election. His action is a departure present to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.  

DDT not only withdrew from the treaty but also ordered the destruction of the program’s two specially equipped OC-135B planes and removed any option of replacing them. “We’ve started liquidating the equipment,” said one official. The action is reminiscent of USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy deliberately destroying equipment necessary for delivering ballots and other first-class mail on time—shortly before a general election. DDT made no attempt to renegotiate the agreement and decided not to buy replacement for the OC-135Bs.

Last year, DDT withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, an uncontroversial control treaty with Russia. He also took the U.S. out of the international nuclear agreement with Iran and the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization and the United Nations Human Rights Council and the United National Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and, and, and. The businessman in the White House spent his four years tearing down everything instead of building.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also refuses to help the people of the United States with another stimulus act despite one passed by the Democrats in the House six months ago and the willingness of Democratic Congressional leaders to compromise. DDT and McConnell are leaving 25 million unemployed and millions more with reductions in hours and pay.

These plans to “salt the U.S.” prove the GOP and DDT care nothing about the United States: they just want complete power. Today while coronavirus rages unchecked across the nation and the number of homeless and hungry people skyrocket, DDT is calling a group of Pennsylvania in Gettysburg (PA) discussing fruitless ideas to get DDT the Oval Office for another four years. May their success be equivalent to the failure of the treasonous Confederate Army at Gettysburg on July 3-5, 1863.

November 25 – skyrocketing COVID-19 disasters in U.S.: Daily cases – 268,219; deaths 2,302.

November 21, 2020

DDT: Week 200 – Can’t Avoid COVID-19

This past week, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) attacked Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for asking Sullivan to wear a mask while speaking. The Senate was debating the confirmation of another completely unprepared judicial candidate. On Twitter, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called Brown a “complete ass.” Last month, two GOP senators tested positive for COVID-19, Tom Tillis (NC) and Mike Lee (UT), and this week, two more came down with the coronavirus—Chuck Grassley (IA) last Tuesday and Rick Scott (FL) yesterday. Scott spend last week traveling around Georgia while campaigning for GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. (Grassley displays the GOP mask-wearing technique.)

Grassley’s announced illness came the day after Iowa’s GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds mandated mask wearing. She had ridiculed masks for months and consistently claimed she “trusts” its residents to do the right thing. Iowa now has the third highest number of cases per capita, just behind both Dakotas. Thirteen state governors refuse to issue mask mandates.

Grassley’s missed votes last Tuesday were his first since 1993 when floods in his state kept him from Washington. One vote regarded Judy Shelton. Previously, the GOP Senate considered her inappropriate for the Federal Reserve, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is pushing through all breathing nominees in case he doesn’t have a Senate majority next year.

McConnell voted “no” in order to bring Shelton’s vote back to the floor, but the Senate is running out of time. It doesn’t return from recess until November 30, giving them only 15 days in session until the end of 2020. Without a budget passed, the government shuts down on December 11. On November 30, Arizona certifies its votes, immediately flipping the GOP seat of Martha McSally to Democratic Mark Kelly. The question is how far McConnell will go to protect DDT who has only 60 days left in office.

In a delusionary state, “journalist” Geraldo Rivera wants the new vaccine named “Trump” because, he believes, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is definitely the prime architect of this operation Warp Speed.” Rivera said people can say “Yeah, I got my Trump, I’m fine.” DDT’s only “architecture” was to claim researchers would develop a vaccine before Election Day. Pfizer stated the company didn’t take money from the U.S. government and wasn’t part of Warp Speed. Now “The Trump” is smearing Pfizer because they didn’t announce the vaccine until he lost the election.

Moderna, with what may be a successful vaccine, received government funds and seems to have a more viable product with easier storage and more transparent testing data. DDT donated no personal funds to either company, but country singer Dolly Parton gave $1 million to Moderna for its research. How about “Yeah, I got my Dolly, I’m fine.”  

Another woman, this one a real journalist, may save lives too. On her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow (right) has presented information about the dangers of COVID-19 and the importance of following CDC guidance like only small gatherings, mask-wearing, and social distancing. After she quarantined for contact with a coronavirus survivor, she started doing her show from her home office. On her first night back, she announced that the survivor was her partner of 21 years, Susan Mikula. In her explanation, Maddow said:

“My relationship with Susan is the only thing, at the end of the day, that I would kill or die for without hesitation. And Susan has been sick with COVID these past couple of weeks. At one point, we really thought that there was a possibility that it might kill her, and that’s why I’ve been away. [Susan’s] not only been positive over this time, she’s gotten sicker and sicker while I tried to care for her while still staying physically apart from her.”

She urged people to be careful, if not for themselves then for the people they love:

“What you need to know is that whoever is the most important person in your life, whoever you most love and most care for and most cherish in the world, that’s the person who you may lose.”

Twitter filled with messages from people writing they changed their holiday plans because of Maddow’s plea. This represents many of the tweets:

  “Your plea for us to think about the people whom we love brought me to my senses.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, constantly denigrated by DDT, will receive an International Emmy Founders Award for his “leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic” and “his masterful use of TV to inform and calm people around the world,” according to the International Emmys. In the early weeks of the coronavirus, while DDT ignored the virus and then blocked help for states needing it, Cuomo gave daily press conferences with information of statistics, successes, and failures.

Litigation against Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reveals how the agency detained more Iranian-Americans at the Canadian border than previously known before deliberately try to cover up its illegal and discriminatory behavior. Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan and other officers lied in a public statement about how Iranian-Americans were not refused permission to return home in the U.S. In fact, U.S. officials were ordered to single out and detail people of Iranian descent after the U.S. killed a top Iranian military official in early January of this year. Of the over 250 people sent to secondary inspection, over 80 were U.S. citizens and detained at least three to four hours—up to nine hours.

After DDT separated over 5,400 children from their parents and guardians, his racist advisor Stephen Miller pushed DOJ to refuse a 2019 settlement connecting reunified families with mental health care. The pro bono public interest firm Public Counsel reached an agreement for the government paying $8 million (fewer than three of DDT’s trips to Mar-a-Lago) for traumatized migrant families. DDT’s six-month delay left children exhibiting “fear, feelings of abandonment, and post-traumatic stress” and parents suffering “elevated levels of mental distress.” The courts’ refusal to ignore the need for mental counseling led to the government paying $14 million (an extra two Mar-a-Lago trips). Many families couldn’t receive care because DDT had deported them during negotiations.

Two independent inquiries, one criminal and one civil, into DDT’s businesses have embroiled his daughter Ivanka. DDT dropped his taxes by deducting $26 million to unidentified consultants, some of the money to Ivanka Trump at her personal consulting business while she was identified as an executive of the Trump Organization. In a meltdown, Ivanka railed against “NYC democrats … 100% motivated by politics, publicity and rage.” DDT cannot pardon himself or his family or anyone else for state convictions.

Militias throughout the states are recruiting to “take back the country,” by armed violence if they choose, with those in Michigan the most visible after threatening to kidnap and kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. According to the FBI, the group also planned to publicly execute other public officials, including Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Other plans were capturing lawmakers from the Michigan state capitol and televise their executions. Another plan was to lock them inside the capitol and burn it down. Enter neuroradiologist Scott Atlas, DDT’s coronavirus whisperer. To slow the virus spread, Whitmer put in new restrictions for three weeks. Atlas responded:

 “The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp.”

Complaints led him to tweet:

“Hey. I NEVER was talking at all about violence… NEVER would I endorse or incite violence. NEVER!!”

Whitmer said she won’t be bullied, but every message like this from DDT or Atlas results in “a surge of vicious attacks sent [Whitmer’s] way. Good of Atlas to say something like “I didn’t mean for you to burn the house down, but gasoline can help.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to a winery on land taken from Palestinian residents marks the first time a top American diplomat visited an illegal Israeli settlement. It also hypes Pompeo’s standing with evangelicals and other supporters of the illegal settlements. The Florida Falic family, a major investor in the winery, donated at least $5.6 million to settler groups in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem over the past decade as well as at least $1.7 million since 2000 to pro-Israel politicians in the U.S., including DDT. Over 680,000 Israelis have illegally settled on Palestinian land.

Jewish peace activists protested the visit and Pompeo’s declaration that the peaceful Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian human rights is “anti-Semitic.” Pompeo’s statements at his visit were two weeks after the Israelis bulldozed a Bedouin village in the Jordan Valley in a storm, an act called a war crime by the UN. Of the scores of homeless Palestinians, over 40 were children.

If DDT opens his 2024 presidential campaign on the day of Biden’s inauguration, he’ll need to build up his campaign team. Everyone is getting fired except those in legal. He may not need less staff at the White House: he’s not doing anything except ranting and tweeting. This morning he called into the G20 Summit but didn’t deliver any message and no one participated in the pandemic conference. He did need help playing golf later at his Virginia course. He’s scheduled to make a virtual appearance to the summit again tomorrow morning before he plays golf. Since the election, he’s had 12 days with no public events, with the few listed being brief.

COVID-19 has made many appearances yesterday in the U.S.—172,839 cases and 1,460 deaths. Several states are also not reporting their statistics.

November 12, 2020

Biden Works, DDT Sulks

President-elect Joe Biden:

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tries to block any resources from Biden’s transition, going so far as to tell his employees to have no contact with the team. Transition members can’t even enter agency buildings. Without a secure government telephone line or language interpretation services customarily provided by the State Department, Biden solved part of the problem by communicating with recently departed government officials and other experts, relying on a team led by a former senior State Department official. They’re trying to get information about ongoing projects, budgets, trouble spots, technology, and personnel, but they still need to obtain data about personnel vacancies, pending litigation, contracts, and procurement. DDT’s frequent terminations of personnel and people quitting in frustration provide a rich lode of material. The flawed process is better than nothing.

Biden is still receiving congratulatory calls from foreign leaders, one from Pope Francis. Of the 46 presidents, Biden is only the second Catholic president; John F. Kennedy was the first. Biden has talked with eight other world leaders: Australian PM Scott Morrison; Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga; South Korean President Moon Jae; Canadian PM Justin Trudeau; British PM Boris Johnson; French President Emmanuel Macron; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; and Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is keeping foreign government congratulation messages from Biden. Biden is following the law by providing readouts, something DDT failed to do. Only four U.S. GOP senators have congratulated Biden for being president-elect: Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), Susan Collins (ME) and Ben Sasse (NE). Two major foreign leaders, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, don’t recognize Biden’s win.

Pompeo leaves tomorrow for an 11-day, seven-country trip in Europe and the Middle East. All their leaders publicly congratulated Biden although Pompeo announced that DDT had won. The schedule includes France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia

GOP Sens. James Lankford (OK), Chuck Grassley (IA), Lindsey Graham (SC), and John Thune (SD) have said Biden should have access to classified briefings but don’t recognize him as president-elect.

Biden’s coronavirus transition team has 52 members laying the groundwork for a permanent task force in February to coordinate a comprehensive virus response throughout federal agencies. Transition members include representatives to review almost all agencies along with academics and state-level health experts for subject-matter authorities assisting specific policy efforts. Three leaders will concentrate on domestic, national security/foreign, and tech strategy delivery policies.

DDT:

The White House actually had a coronavirus task force meeting, but it concentrated on DDT’s accusation that Pfizer waited until after Election Day to announce the possibility of a vaccine. Following DDT’s orders, HHS Secretary Alex Azar grilled members about DDT’s false claim and blamed the FDA for the delay, despite FDA Director Stephen Hahn’s assertions to the contrary. DDT’s “screaming” at Hahn after Pfizer’s announcement may mean another termination. Pfizer didn’t have the data until the Sunday after the election.

DDT Fires:

Bryan Ware, assistant director for cybersecurity at CISA, was terminated after his DHS Committee, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), announced the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.” CISA director Christopher Krebs expects to be fired after the report’s release.

DHS assistant secretary for international affairs Valerie Boyd also left after being pressured.

DDT Hires:

DDT hired the same lawyers to challenge Georgia’s election results as those defending the state’s voting system, a potential conflict of interest.   

DDT’s Superspreader:

DDT’s adviser and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski tested positive for COVID-19 after attending campaign events before and after the election, including the Election Night speech at the White House. Three unnamed White House aides who attended the event also tested positive for the virus.

Republican National Committee chief of staff Richard Walters, who co-hosted Rudy Giuliani’s Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference, tested positive for coronavirus.

One of about two dozen House members contracting COVID-19, Alaska’s GOP Don Young, at 87 the oldest member of the House, tested positive for coronavirus. In early March, he ridiculed the virus as the “beer virus” and told Alaskans to “go forth with everyday activities.” He continued hosting in-person fundraisers and didn’t require masks.

DDT’s Lawsuits:

One election fraud lawsuit featured Richard Hopkins, who signed an affidavit he had heard an Erie (PA) postmaster ordering workers to backdate mail-in ballots for the Election Day deadline. The statement was also used as a talking point for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and an excuse for AG Bill Barr to allow federal prosecutors to interfere in the election. Hopkins has not only withdrawn his sworn affidavit but also said Project Veritas, the conservative group legendary for manipulating media for falsehoods, wrote the affidavit. Hopkins can’t remember its contents.

Republicans are covering their inaction to declare Biden the president-elect by claiming there’s no downside in refusing to concede the election despite the evidence DDT has lost. A senior GOP official allegedly said:  [visual – Trump humoring]

“What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change…He’s tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he’ll tweet some more about how the election was stolen, and then he’ll leave.”

The frivolous, possibly illegal, litigation by DDT and the GOP can be identified by these characteristics:

  • The evidence Is so weak that judges dismiss claims as having no merit.
  • None of the cases will change the outcome of the election.
  • The arguments are “legal Hail Marys”—not even as good as long shots.
  • Cases attack votes only in places where DDT lost.

The purpose for the frivolous lawsuits:

  • Delaying the announcement of the results to make the transition harder for the next president.
  • Disrupting the Electoral College process to move the presidential election in control of state GOP legislatures instead of the state’s popular vote.
  • Hoping the declaration of “election fraud” will keep DDT from being called a “loser.”
  • Raising money for future GOP candidates—mostly DDT.

Republicans enabling DDT in his petulant “Custer’s Last Stand” are damaging the Republic. Former GOP Arizona AG Grant Woods summarized part of the problem with DDT’s continuing lawsuits and GOP lawmakers’ silence:

“They’ve caused a substantial portion of Americans to lose faith in our institutions, and one of those is our electoral system.”

Bipartisan audits in Arizona countries comprising 86 percent of the ballots found no discrepancies or other issues affecting the election outcome. The GOP did not request audits in the Republican countries. Biden is ahead in Arizona by 11,434 votes with fewer than 11,600 ballots to count. Tonight, NBC has finally called Arizona for Biden, a week after Fox network alienated DDT by doing the same.

A British newspaper described the ways DDT is undermining democracy:

  • Litigation with a “slew of baseless lawsuits in swing states.”
  • Undermining the media, even railing against Fox network.
  • Federal investigation using the supposedly independent Department of Justice through AG Bill Barr.
  • Calling on enablers such as Ken Starr and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to continue his crusade.

(Visual from a coup watcher.

Dana Milbank writes:

“So this will be President Trump’s parting gift to the nation: He is deliberately sabotaging the national security of the United States.”

Milbank addresses how the 9/11 Commission determined a truly-delayed transition in 2000 “hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing, and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees.” It recommended “we should minimize as much as possible the disruption of national security policymaking during the change of administrations” so that “transitions can work more effectively and allow new officials to assume their new responsibilities as quickly as possible.”

In his attempt to salve his ego, DDT undermines the Commission’s recommendation with a multitude of falsehoods. He has already failed to comply with the Commission’s recommendation “the outgoing administration should provide the president-elect, as soon as possible after election day, with a classified, compartmented list that catalogues specific, operational threats to national security; major military or covert operations; and pending decisions on the possible use of force.”

Emily Murphy is the face of the delay; DDT is the cause—the cause of deliberately killing hundreds of thousands of people from COVID-19 and the cause of deliberating infecting millions of people with COVID-19 that can result in  lifelong damaging health effects. All for attention and his drive to not look like a loser.

A new Reuters poll shows 79 percent of U.S. adults think Biden won the election although three percent think DDT won and another 13 percent believe the outcome is still uncertain. Of the Republicans, 59 percent believe Biden is the winner. Seventy percent of people, including 59 percent of Republicans, trust their local election officials to “do their job honestly.” Another 72 percent think the election’s loser should concede defeat.

COVID-19:

As the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths skyrocket throughout the nation, so do hospitalizations—now 67,096, doubled in five weeks. North Dakota still doesn’t have a mask requirement, but hospitals are at full capacity. Gov. Doug Burgum now allows infected health care workers to care for people with coronavirus. Missouri is on the cusp of deciding which severely ill people will be permitted to use hospital facilities. New cases in the U.S. today were 161,541 with an estimated total tomorrow over 11 million. The number of deaths in the U.S. from the virus will likely surpass 250,000 by Saturday with 1,190 today.

DDT has 69 more days in the Oval Office.

August 25, 2020

DDT’s Claims False But He’s the GOP Agenda

After Day One of the GOP convention, party lawmakers and strategists asked for more vision and less doom, but the RNC has no values in its platform. It’s sole agenda is Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—whatever he wants—“the Party’s strong support for President Donald Trump and his Administration.” His campaign page does list 50 points divided into ten categories beginning with new jobs and businesses while cutting taxes and giving more money to large companies. It finishes with hiring more police, being more punitive on immigration, and creating more military strength both here on Earth and in space. Nothing about anti-abortion, religious freedom, or the U.S. Constitution—nothing that DDT used to woo the evangelicals.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) concluded last night’s convention by falsely claiming “our side is working on policy”—unlike the Democrats. The GOP non-platform of 2020 using only catch phrases and no debating or writing proves Scott wrong. Annie Lowrey wrote in The Atlantic, the GOP is “the party of no content,” which has grown “remarkably quiet on how they would govern” and “moved into a queasy post-policy space.” Follow Scott’s claim with questions, What policies? And where are they?”

The four-night production speaks only to DDT’s base. Former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), who lost his district in 2018, said that parties only “about the cult of personality don’t so well in the long term.” After his narrow loss to a Democrat in 2018, the two-term Curbelo said DDT wasn’t the future for “a small government, free enterprise party.”

The GOP has the advantage of spinning off the Democrats’ convention. Speakers last night stressed what a lovely person DDT is: kind, compassionate, empathetic, just downright sweet. Certainly not racist, despite references to “Chinese virus,” and much better than his opponent, Joe Biden. Other rosy views included how well DDT did in handling COVID-19—with no numbers of deaths or infections—and his humanitarian treatment in criminal justice. These perspectives, as well as the sunny view of the economy, erased the past seven months. [A round-up of commentary from the Daily Kos.]

Tonight, Eric Trump who professed his love for his father, touted peace in the Middle East, (eradicating any notice of Palestinians), and cited his father’s love for law and order, (ignoring the many arrests of his associates and Eric’s subpoena to appear in a fraud investigation regarding the Trump Organization). If Eric wants to claim the Fifth Amendment, he must appear in court and give that response to every question.

Also discordant was the naturalization ceremony for five people in the White House while DDT is blocking all other naturalizations throughout the U.S. because they must appear in person. For purely partisan purposes, DDT used the White House to present people as props from places he called “sh*thole countries.” 

Another speaker allowed to speak, Abby John, praised the police of being “smart” if they racially-profile her biracial son, saying, “Statistically, my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons.” 

The speech drawing the biggest controversy was the one from Pompeo who bragged about giving a possibly illegal, and definitely unethical, partisan speech from Jerusalem, where he is on official business. U.S. policy is that the U.S. speaks with one voice overseas and not for one political party. According to updated memos, approved by Pompeo, give this instruction:

“Senate-confirmed Presidential appointees may not even attend a political party convention or convention-related event.”

Pompeo is not exempted, and restrictions are more strict for U.S. diplomats overseas. Last month, he sent the directive to all people on diplomatic and consular posts. State Department employees expressed disappointment in Pompeo, but many were not surprised because of his past partisan activities. Left-learning pro-Israel organizations expressed opposition to Pompeo’s choice of backdrop for his speech because of the partisan U.S.-Israel relationship. Yet he needs DDT’s support for a 2024 presidential run.

My favorite message from many of the speakers is that people in the United States need to think for themselves—as long as they think the way that these same speakers tell them to do.

One of the speakers for the second night of the Republican National Convention was scrubbed from the program for her QAnon tweet telling her 40,000+ followers to investigate an evidence-free Jewish plot to enslave the world. On the same night that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke from Israel, Mary Ann Mendoza, a DDT campaign advisory board member, was supposedly going to speak about her son’s 2014 death caused by a drunk driver illegally in the U.S. The anti-Semitic tweet related lying smears about Jewish banking forces determined to enslave non-Jews and promote world wars as well as Nazi hoaxes. Her tweet described Hillary Clinton as a “Satanic High Priestess” and the smell of sulfur in Barack Obama’s Washington home, relating him to the devil and Hell. Former Utah GOP legislator Sheryl Allen has called for the RNC to remove House candidate Burgess Owens, another Qanon believer, from speaking tomorrow night.

In a disastrous press conference, DDT rolled out  his convention the day before with a “breakthrough” for his new COVID-19 miracle cure. He pushed an emergency use authorization (EUA) of the convalescent plasma transfusion treatment with antibodies with the claim of 35 percent mortality reduction. HHS Secretary Alex Azar said “we dream” of this statistic, and FDA commissioner Steven Hahn glowed about “a 35 percent improvement in survival,” even defending it to a reporter who questioned whether he was over-selling the treatment.

The truth emerged about the “breakthrough” being only hype from incomplete data by a subgroup of hospitalized patients. A scientist from the Mayo Clinic study didn’t know the source of DDT’s figure he attributed to the study. It wasn’t in any material. Dr. Walid Gellad, leader of the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing at the University of Pittsburgh, added, “For the first time ever, I feel like official people in communications and people at the F.D.A. grossly misrepresented data about a therapy.”

In addition, the study, lacking a placebo group, was not a randomized clinical trial,  Duncan Young, a professor of intensive care medicine at the University of Oxford, UK described problems with the EUA:

“We will not know if it works, as the EUA essentially causes clinicians to give the treatment rather than entering patients in clinical trials. There may also be a rationing problem as it may be in short supply.”

Hahn said the criticisms are “entirely justified”; DDT and Azar are keeping mum.

Lawmakers have written Hahn about concerns of politicization. The day before Hahn’s erroneous comments, DDT tweeted an evidence-free accusation of the FDA being part of the “deep state” and creating difficulties in testing “vaccines and therapeutics … hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd.”  The letter cited the announcement as the latest example of politicizing science since the pandemic, i.e., the hydroxychloroquine debacle, criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the White House coronavirus task force sidelining the CDC. Hahn also refused to answer a question about DDT’s evidence-free claim about 99 percent of virus cases being “totally harmless.”

The letter requests information about future vaccine reviews and FDA’s safeguards against political pressure by September 4.

Although the White House denies the information, DDT is considering a EUA to avoid regulatory procedures for vaccines so he can get a vaccine out by Election Day. U.S. health agencies require a trial of 30,000 people; an experimental virus vaccine is being tested in the UK on 10,000 people. HHS stated the FDA won’t issue an EUA before the election, hoping the vaccine will be developed by early 2021. We’ll see: DDT said Sunday, “You’ll be hearing about [vaccines] very soon.” Russia and China bypassed large clinical trials, but only 24 percent of Russian doctors said they would take the vaccine.

Yesterday was another disaster for DDT with the testimony of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy before the House Oversight Committee. Although he felt that DDT’s war against mail-in ballots was “not helpful,” he thinks his only job with the USPS is making the trucks run on time. According to DeJoy, he isn’t responsible for removing the sorting machines, cutting overtime, and slowing down delivery. He doesn’t know who is, and he doesn’t care. And he won’t change them. He doesn’t know how much anything costs in the postal service except for a first-class stamp. He lied about delayed deliveries before he took over, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said she will subpoena his calendar for information about his secret meetings after he said he’d check with counsel to see if he has to submit a public record to Congress. To a question from Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) about his Senate testimony, he said he couldn’t remember what he told them—a problem for a person who lies.

According to internal USPS not available to members of the Senate when DeJoy lied to them, steep declines began when DeJoy started and not in April or May with the pandemic.  He took over in early June; priority mail was delivered over 90 percent of the time in early July but dropped to under 80 percent within a month. Marketing mail experienced an 8.42 percent decline and periodical deliveries, 9.57 percent. DeJoy did not share these documents with Congress. DeJoy said anyone who blamed him for the changes in USPS is lying. Walter Einenkel describes questioning by 30-year postal employee, Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI).  answer—democracy and rights.

For the first time in two days of hate-filled monologues, Melania Trump expressed sympathy for the families and friends of the 182,404 people (or more) who have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. All the hugging, kissing, and closeness of people at the convention may add to the 5,955,728 people in the U.S. known to contract the disease. That figure will top six million before the convention ends.

May 24, 2020

Week 174 – Some Good News, Voting Squabbles

A federal judge overturned a new Florida law requiring felons to pay court fines and fees before they can register to vote, as permitted by an initiative passed in 2018 by 65 percent of the voters. The constitutional amendment expanded voting rights for those who completed “all terms of their sentence including probation and parole.” Judge Robert L. Hinkle compared the state law to a tax, unconstitutionally illegal.

In addition to using security agents as servants, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had them pack household goods and move his mother-in-law into a retirement home. Pompeo also ordered state Department officials to fabricate a justification for the emergency authorization to force an $8 billion arms deal without congressional approval and then hide it. To keep from firing Pompeo, DDT is trying to persuade him to run for Kansas senator. June 1 is the deadline for filing for candidacy.

Rachel Maddow is off the hook, at least temporarily, for a $10 million defamation lawsuit by One America News Network (OANN) after she said a writer for the right-leaning channel publishes the same material for Russia’s state propaganda network. On July 22, 2019, Maddow cited a Daily Beast article on her show, saying it reported OANN “has a full-time on-air reporter who covers U.S. politics, who is also simultaneously on the payroll of the Kremlin.” Maddow added, “The most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda.” OANN plans to appeal the lawsuit’s dismissal.

Two Democratic FCC commissioners claim a $48 million fine with no admission of guilt for Sinclair is insufficient punishment for the conservative network’s violations of regulations and asked for harsher punishments and greater scrutiny into whether Sinclair should be allowed to own any television stations.  Sinclair lied for an FCC review in its attempt to buy Tribune Media, causing the merger to collapse; didn’t report its providing accounting services to TV stations it didn’t own to the FCC; and aired sponsored programming 1,723 times without telling viewers the content was paid by a hospital group and not news.

The EPA admitted ignoring serious problems with rolling back the regulation to reduce automobile pollution through mileage standards. The agency had not seen about two-thirds of the 1,000-page document that Transportation Department staffers gave the White House as justification for the changes, and the top EPA official said that the Transportation had not addressed over 250 comments from EPA experts. Documents about objections from EPA staff may create legal problems for the rule mandating an improvement of average fuel efficiency because of the rules that the EPA broke. In the margins of the new regulation, agency staff wrote:

“The action revising the [greenhouse gas] standards will result in increased climate impacts and air pollution emissions compared to the existing standards.”

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) wrote that the EPA failed to enter document into the public record, changed the rule after it was signed, and didn’t follow it obligation to write part of the mileage rule:

“The result is a policy that fails to protect public health, fails to save money, fails to result in safer vehicles and will, ultimately and undoubtedly, fail in court.”

Even without protection from DDT’s EPA, scientists say that the worldwide drop in carbon emissions from coronavirus shutdowns could be the largest in recorded history. The 17-percent decrease from the same month last year is the same as emission levels in 2006, according to an analysis of the 69 countries responsible for 97 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Forty-three percent of the decrease came from reduced surface transportation.

DDT is launching the latest phase of his pre-election smear campaign against Democrats, and faithful loyalist Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chair of Senate Homeland Security Committee, wants to help him. He declassified an email former White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrote herself as a reminder immediately before DDT’s inauguration about a discussion with President Obama and his team concerning Michael Flynn. Rice’s email states:

“[President Obama] stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”

Rice – 1; Johnson – 0. And Flynn – 0. 

Rice called on DDT to release the transcripts of phone calls between Flynn and the Russian ambassador during the transition while Barack Obama was president. Flynn pled guilty—twice—to his private conversations with a foreign country with the goal of undermining his own country’s foreign policy. No release is impending.

Watching judicial decisions regarding Texas absentee voting is like watching a ping-pong game. The state’s AG, Ken Paxton, has fought to keep from expanding the extremely narrow parameters for absentee voters, even if people are in danger of being infected and dying from COVID-19. With no evidence, his excuse is “fraud.” The latest ruling from a Texas federal judge permits absentee ballots for voters afraid of catching the virus, applying the law to all registered voters who “lack immunity from Covid-19 and fear infection at polling places.” This ruling supersedes the decision from the state Supreme Court stopping five counties from issuing mail-in ballots. The next Texas election is July 14, and July 2 is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot. Paxton filed an appeal.

COVID-19 caused almost 30 states to change rules or practices for this year’s primaries or the general election, affecting roughly 86.6 million registered voters and more than 40 million people who now have the temporary right to cast an absentee ballot. Over a dozen states postponed primaries because of the virus, and 11 states requiring an excuse to vote by mail may use the virus for a reason. Another 12 states and the District of Columbia are proactively sending absentee ballot applications or request forms to voters specifically because of the coronavirus. Roughly 34.7 million people will receive the forms. Maryland, Montana, Nevada, and New Jersey sending absentee ballots for the primaries to approximately 11.3 million voters joined five other states that already mailed ballots to voters. In the 34 states that already do not require an excuse to vote absentee or by mail, the number of requests have shot up by ten times over 2016. Before the onset of the virus, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah already conduct elections by mail. Only Kentucky made voting more onerous by requiring government-issued photo IDs. ID-issuing offices are closed in the state.

With no evidence, DDT told reporters that mail-in ballots lead to “forgeries” and “thousands and thousands of fake ballots.” He added a diatribe about people printing “fraudulent ballots” and said “a lot of things can happen.” “To really vote, and without fraud, you have to go and you have to vote at the polling place,”  said DDT, the man who voted by mail from an address that Florida says he can’t have as a legal residential address. Previously, he said that Republicans need to block mail-in ballots to keep electing Republicans. DDT’s family also votes by mail.

DDT is so desperate to keep blue states from voting by mail that he threatened to block funding to Michigan and Nevada because he was under the impression that the states were mailing ballots. In fact, the states mailed applications for absentee ballots. GOP-led states such as Nebraska, West Virginia and Georgia made similar plans to offer applications for absentee ballots, but DDT has no comments about these red states. Interference with elections is unconstitutional.

Colorado, the third state after Washington and Oregon to legislate complete vote by mail, found the practice popular and relatively free of fraud—only 0.0027 percent out of 2.5 million ballots. In 2018, the state had the second highest turnout rate in the country after a 9.4 percent increase among registered voters. In April, 79 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans supported mail-in ballots for 2020. Yet the RNC and DDT’s re-election campaign are paying $20 million to fight voting changes in battleground states. Many Colorado Republicans advocate mail voting, and supporters say it’s safe because of paper ballots, signature verifications, a risk-limiting audit, and voter list checks make it safe. Research shows that neither party benefited from the mail-in system.

Vote by mail is also safer health wise. Wisconsin’s in-person primaries on April 7, mandated by the state Supreme Court and the GOP legislators, led to a “large” spread of coronavirus, according to a study.  

DDT may think that he can postpone the November election, mandated by the U.S. Constitution. About postponement, DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said, “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan.” Backlash forced Kushner to backtrack to the media: 

“I have not been involved in, nor am I aware of any discussions about trying to change the date of the Presidential election.”   [photo – Kushner]

A  federal judge allowed a federal lawsuit against DDT, his three oldest children, and his company of collaboration with a fraudulent marketing scheme to prey on investors. The case involves an exchange of “secret” payments for use of DDT’s former reality TV show The Celebrity Apprentice and other promotional events to boost ACN Opportunity, a telecommunications marketing company linked to a nonprofit that used Trump’s brand to appeal to teens. According to the lawsuit, the Trumps profited off the poor and vulnerable by “systematically defrauding economically marginalized people.”

May 24: COVID-19 deaths are 99,300—just 700 short of 100,000.

May 23, 2020

DDT: Week 173 – Wall to Wall Corruption

For black humor about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his fake cures, read Dana Milbank’s “If Trump Likes Hydroxychloroquine, He’ll Love Camel Urine.” And now to the real news which also read like black humor. 

What COVID-19 is covering up

Five agency watchdogs fired within less than two months to keep them investigating DDT’s corruption. (More about that later.)

A $1.3 billion federal contract for a small section of the southern wall with no bid to a firm that DDT found on Fox news when the owner begged for the contract. Note: the company’s earlier contract faced an inspector general audit over improper political influence—but firing the IG will take care of that.

One of the few medical experts, this one for vaccines, fired because he didn’t approve of DDT’s drug of choice, hydroxychloroquine.

Jared Kushner’s staffing of the PPE procurement team with young investment bankers who were told to prioritize DDT’s political allies and business cronies.

AG Bill Barr trying to drop charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn who pled guilty twice about his corrupt vole in the Russia investigation with DDT’s lawyers arguing that he is above the law and immune from investigation.

DDT’s possibly launching the first nuclear weapon test since 1992 to threaten China and Russia.

DDT withdrawing from the Treaty on Open Skies, an almost 30-year pact to reduce accidental wars by permitting reconnaissance flights for the 34 countries in the agreement on short notice. DDT also doesn’t want to continue the START pact with Russia that limits nuclear platforms such as bombers, submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, George W. Bush’s senior intelligence officials, tweeted about DDT’s withdrawal, “This is insane.”

Possibility of White House commission, the FEC, and the FCC investigating online bias and censorship by social media companies to force them into allowing more far-right material.

DDT celebrating almost 99,000 deaths from COVID-19 by golfing on his resort in Virginia two days after a spike in the state provided the largest number of cases in one day.

Michigan suffering from massive flooding because private companies failed to care for dams while DDT threatens to pull funding from blue states, including Michigan, if they insist on allowing people to vote by mail.

The husband of Sen. Kelly Loefler (D-GA), worried about her reelection this fall after her appointment earlier this year, giving $1 million to DDT’s super PAC.

Republicans spending $20 million to recruit 50,000 volunteers in 15 key states to “observe” (aka intimidate) voters on Election Day. Four confirmed cases of voter fraud in 2016 were three people caught trying to vote for DDT twice and an election worker caught trying to fill in a bubble on someone else’s ballot for mayor.

DDT’s campaign recruiting pro-DDT doctors for a coalition that supports his handling of a health crisis killing almost 100,000 people thus far to open up the country no matter what.  

DDT writing a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) so filled with lies that the fact-checker required 2280 words and it was called “factually incorrect” by the highly reputable British medical journal, Lancet.  The letter lies about the reasons that DDT is removing the U.S. from WHO.  

DDT concealing his addition of workers for foreign arms sales to “essential work” in mid-April, a classification of people needed “to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily.” Employees questioned why they weren’t such essential items as masks and ventilators. COVID-19 cases and deaths occurred at the plants, probably because of lack of care in protecting workers.

Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) attempt to abolish the 164-member World Trade Organization (WTO) after 90 years of success, a move to damage U.S. businesses and give a victory to China. Hawley can only withdraw U.S. membership if he gets permission from Congress. Even USTR Robert Lighthizer finds the WTO important to the U.S.: global trade liberalization has increased U.S. economy by $1.2 billion between 1950 and 2016. Eliminating WTO and trade agreements would decrease $2.8 trillion in global GDP and put the U.S. at a serious financial and political disadvantage.

The VA refusing to remove Nazi symbols on markers in its national cemetery at For Sam Houston in San Antonio (TX) for two German POWs buried there in 1943. Swastikas cannot be legally displayed for the German display, and all known monuments that feature the Nazi symbol have been removed or replaced.

Eight weeks ago, DDT “dumped” Steve Linick, the fourth inspector general in a late Friday evening tweet. The news burgeoned throughout the week. First, the firing was attributed to an investigation into the way that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife used security agents as servants. The next investigation in the news was that DDT’s use of an emergency declaration last year to fast-track weapons sales to Saudi Arabia with no congressional permission at the request of Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) for the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Congress passed three resolutions to block the sales and stop Saudi’s support for the war in Yemen, but DDT vetoed them. DDT catered to Saudi Arabia even after the Crown Prince’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and journalist in its embassy in Turkey. Lawmakers—even some GOP ones such as Sens. Chuck Grassley (IA), Mitt Romney (UT), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), and John Thune (SD)— want a justification for Linick’s firing.

Pompeo refused to be interviewed by Linick about his pressure for the “emergency” arms sale. Heather Cox Richardson wonders if the arms sales are connected to the nuclear deal that DDT made with Saudi Arabia. Lawmaker opposed that deal also, concerned that the Saudis will use the nuclear materials to develop weapons, but “Energy Secretary Rick Perry secretly approve six authorizations by March 2019.”

Next DDT told the media that he fired Linick because Pompeo asked him to do so. Pompeo said that “Linick wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to, that was additive for the State Department, very consistent with what the statute says he’s supposed to be doing.” Inspectors general are supposed to be independent, not follow the agencies’ directions.

By the middle of the week, the media released information about Linick investigating the highly expensive parties that Pompeo gave for possible donors for a political run, possibly senator from Kansas. The two dozen elite gatherings, known as “Madison Dinners” and regularly scheduled until the onset of the coronavirus, developed a master list of about 500 Republicans: 29 percent from the corporate world; 25 percent from media or entertainment; 30 percent from politics or government; and 14 percent diplomats or foreign officials. NBC has the list. No one has a record of any other secretary of State having these dinners that taxpayers funded. 

Pompeo’s diplomatic trips also included stops for campaigning, for example dropping off at a retirement area with GOP donors on his way to Latin America this year. In London, he also met with GP donors just after a trip to Kansas where he met with Charles Koch. The visits were not on his public schedule, and he didn’t tell reporters with him about the meeting.

To protect another Cabinet member, DDT fired the Transportation Department inspector general last week. Mitch Behm was investigating Secretary Elaine Chao for political favoritism for her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Chao can fire the new acting IG, Howard “Skip” Elliott, a former railroad executive who also oversees the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, if she wishes. And it’s not the only conflict of interest that Chao has. Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, stated Chao’s office “actually seems to be trying to defend the idea that someone can serve both as a political appointee reporting directly to the Secretary and as an independent Inspector General charged with overseeing the Secretary’s actions.” DDT’s new appointee, Eric Soskin, is a DOJ trial lawyer “involved in some hot-button immigration and civil rights cases.”

“With the firings [of internal government oversight officials], [Trump] is demolishing the ideal that inspectors general can operate independently without fear of retribution as they attempt to uncover waste, fraud and abuse that does not serve the interests of the American people,” CNN’s Maeve Reston writes in an analysis of the consequences of Trump’s “oversight purge.” 

In his pursuit of collecting loyalists, DDT got John Ratcliffe confirmed by the GOP Senate, 49-44, for director of 17 intelligence agencies. Ratcliffe has a history of lying to make himself look better and protected a company a company accused of reprisal against a whistleblower to get donations. He also nominated a new U.S. attorney, Justin Herdman, to head up the Washington office to oversee cases that prosecute DDT’s friends. Timothy Shea, Herdman’s acting predecessor and AG Bill Barr’s friend whose time had run out, had protected Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.

And then there’s DDT’s threats against any blue states that allow mail-in voting—but that’s for another day.

May 23 COVID-19: 1,666,828 cases; 98,683 deaths.

March 1, 2020

DDT Goes to India, Woos Taliban

Last week before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came home to the worst decline in the stock market since 2008 and the possibility of an epidemic in the U.S., he spent two happy days with another authoritarian. Jealous of the 50,000 audience for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston, DDT was promised a much bigger crowd during his stay on a trip to India. At a rally, 100,000 attendees cheered DDT before over one-third of them walked out of the cricket stadium during his speech. Another third left during Modi’s speech. In Ahmedabad, a city of six million, Modi failed to come up with the 10 million along the motorcade path, but he did provide costumed musicians, dancers, and a marching band on camels. [Visual Trump India]

During press conferences, DDT avoided Modi’s international condemnation for revoking the statehood of Muslims and establishing a religious test for new migrants to make India a Hindu nation and drive out the 200 million Muslims. DDT was supposed to talk “about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom” but instead skipped the subject. While police used tear gas and smoke grenades to disperse crowds in New Delhi, DDT spoke of India as a place where different faiths “worship side by side in harmony.” He ignored both the violence and the anti-Islam law. 

DDT may have hoped that his visit to the state of Gujarat would help him get donations and votes from influential Indian-Americans, It’s also the place where Modi tacitly supported the killing of over 1,000 people in 2002 in sectarian violence, almost 80 percent of them Muslims killed by Hindu mobs. George W. Bush banned Modi from visiting the U.S. because of his actions until he became prime minister in 2014. Like today’s sectarian violence, police didn’t intervene and sometimes joined in that attacks. Last week, over 30 people were killed in protests. George W. Bush banned Modi from visiting the U.S. because of his actions until he became prime minister in 2014. Both DDT and Modi achieved political power through inciting hatred of Muslims. The Delhi riots bear a strong resemblance to the ethnic pogrom in Gujarat almost two decades ago.

Modi, hurt by a steep economic downturn, can’t fulfill campaign promises on job creation. DDT imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from India that raised penalties on agricultural goods and restrictions on U.S. medical devices. DDT retaliated by removing India from a decades-old preferential trade program.

Michael Fuchs wrote:

“The leaders of the world’s two biggest democracies are pursuing dangerous, nationalist visions at odds with their countries’ founding values.”

Both DDT and Modi achieved political power through inciting hatred of Muslims. The Delhi riots bear a strong resemblance to the ethnic pogrom in Gujarat almost two decades ago.

Yasmeen Serhan echoed Fuchs’ statement about democracies moving to autocracies

“As the leaders of the world’s two largest democracies, their shared disregard for norms, disdain for dissent (from the media and elsewhere), and dedication to strengthening their own executive power at the expense of state institutions designed to curb it have made them emblematic of the democratic deterioration that has been taking place in recent years.

“A mainstay of autocratic rule is the consolidation of executive power…. Trump’s bid to extend his presidential authority in the U.S. has steadily increased over time, from his attempts to defy Congress and the Constitution over his hardline immigration policies to his impeachment-spurring efforts to withhold congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine. In both cases, Trump’s rationale was largely the same: to invoke presidential privilege or, in autocratic speak, to declare himself constitutionally above the law. White House withholding press briefings and attacking news outlets and journalists perceived as critical.

“But perhaps the most common trait among burgeoning autocrats in recent years is the growing appeal to populist and nationalist sentiment. This has been most pronounced in India through Modi’s efforts to transform the country from a secular democracy into a theocratic, nationalist one that dominates its minorities. In the U.S., Trump has made his nativist rhetoric about immigration a hallmark of his administration.”

In praising Modi, DDT may have thought he was criticizing China, but he described his own approach to ruling the U.S.:

“There is all the difference in the world between a country that seeks to claim power through coercion, intimidation and aggression, and a country that seeks to grow by setting its people free, and unleashing them to chase their dreams, and that is India.”

Protests have come from the Indian 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which grants amnesty to non-Muslim immigrants from three nearby Muslim-majority countries—Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh—who came to India before 2015 in an expansion of the 1951 National Register of Citizens. Assam, which borders Bangladesh, has been registering “Indian” citizens since the 1951 census but now works to expel Muslims as “foreigners.” To stay in the country, Muslims, unlike those of any other religion, must provide proof that their families migrated to India before 1971, the year that Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan and created a refugee crisis. Generations of Indian Muslims born and raised in India must produce their grandparents’ legal documents, which in many cases no longer exist, or leave.

Under DDT, the U.S. stripped Latinx of citizenship even if they were born in the U.S. and have birth certificates. Officials demand documents such as baptismal records and ask questions such as “Do you remember when you were born?” Some had passports revoked, put in deportation proceedings, and barred from returning to the U.S. if they visited Mexico. The project began on the southern border but moved north to central states. DDT’s Muslim bans also draw parallels to Modi’s driving Muslims out of India.

AG Bill Barr created a new office to denaturalize citizens who committed any crimes. The new section replaces the one investigating cases about revoking citizenship for those convicted of terrorism, war crimes, human rights violations, and sex offenses. Under President Obama, the office focused on people who falsified applications and committed major crimes. Since 2008, 228 denaturalization cases have been filed, 40 percent of them since 2017. In three years, case referrals have increased 600 percent. Under DDT, the process may be used against people who make misstatements on the application.

Human rights lawyer Arjun Sethi called DDT and Modi the “worst kind of fascists.”

“Both Modi and Trump have criminalized minority communities, championed fake news and persecuted dissent, promoted supremacist ideologies, and played on the racism and anxiety of dominant communities.”

DDT’s visit to India also brought up his business ventures, the most in any country except the U.S. His India ventures include four luxury residential projects and an office tower branded with the Trump name under licensing deals. Since DDT’s last visit to India in 2014, one of DDT’s business has been accused of massive fraud, and the other faces a funding crunch. Both of them have close ties to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. 

The week concluded by the U.S. and the Taliban signing an agreement that would begin the complete withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops from Afghanistan over 14 months after over 18 years, the longest war on foreign soil. The text is here. Estimates of that war cost for the U.S. is almost $8 trillion by 2050. Secretary of State Pompeo said that the Afghans need to determine the future of their country, but no Afghans were at the table for the negotiation. It was entirely one-sided by the Taliban with the U.S. running the show.

According to the agreement, the Taliban will break off ties to terror groups, but nothing was said about human rights—oppression of females and harsh punishments exacted against anyone for petty offenses. The Taliban agreed that Afghan soil will not be used by terrorists to attack the United States or its allies, but it does not have control over areas outside Afghan hands. Several factions, including ISIS, control areas and could grow stronger without U.S. troops. Former national security adviser John Bolton wrote:

“Legitimizing Taliban sends the wrong signal to ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists, and to America’s enemies generally.”

The deal stipulates that the badly-split Afghan government must organize a negotiating team to begin talks with the Taliban by March 10. On the same day, before any talks, thousands of Taliban prisoners held by Afghans must be released in exchange for 1,000 Taliban-held members of the Afghan security forces. Twenty-two GOP lawmakers have issued a warning letter to Pompeo and DOD Secretary Mark Esper that the Taliban has “a history of extracting concessions in exchange for false assurances.” 

Under DDT, the U.S. signed an agreement with an officially listed terrorist group, the Haqqani Network, which has a campaign of suicide bombings. The Network’s leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is the Taliban’s deputy leader and military commander. A day before the signing ceremony, the Taliban’s multimedia chief described it as a historic landmark for proclaiming “the defeat of the arrogance of the White House in the face of the white turban.” Pompeo indicated that he doesn’t trust the Taliban to live up to the agreement; DDT said he wants to meet with them.

We have ten days to see any success. 

February 21, 2020

DDT: Week 161 – Russian Interference Denial, Bad Global Diplomacy

Russia is again preferring Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) elected as president in 2020, according to a classified hearing for the House Intelligence Committee about election security. The information is not a surprise, but the ramifications of the intelligence briefing are. DDT became furious after Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) told DDT that only Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who DDT perceives as his arch-nemesis, was told about the release of the information. Nunes has a years-old pattern of running to DDT with information and/or lies. Republicans are accusing the briefers from other agencies of trying to sabotage DDT’s reelection. DDT immediately fired Joe Maguire, acting Director of Intelligence, for telling House members about Russia’s preference. He said that Maguire should not have allowed the briefing and that he should be been told about it if it did happen. In addition, DDT said that Russia wasn’t interfering and called it “Hoax number 7.”  

DDT’s aides have been ordered to identity and remove government officials who don’t defend DDT’s interests so that he can replace them with loyalists. Johnny McEntee, DDT’s new personnel chief, told agencies to expect staffing changes (aka purges), starting with the State Department and the Department of Defense.

Russia should be delighted with DDT after he replaced Maguire with Richard Grenell, U.S. ambassador to Germany. Grenell fits DDT’s criteria: he supports white nationalists, defends DDT on the Fox network and Twitter, and doesn’t believe that Russia isn’t supporting DDT through disinformation and other election interference. Like DDT, the racist, anti-immigrant Grenell has a history of attacking women on Twitter.

Early in Grenell’s ambassadorship, German officials called for his expulsion. Grenell ordered Germany to stop trading with Iran and then said he would work on policy, not diplomacy, to help far-right nationalists take power in Europe. He said he planned to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders” and praised Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, connected to the Freedom Party created in the 1950s by a former Nazi officer. Grenell was described as “an extreme-right colonial officer,” a “total diplomatic failure” who was acting like a “brat.”

The German newspaper Der Spiegel‘s description of Grenell from interviews:

“Almost all of these [30] sources paint an unflattering portrait of the ambassador, one remarkably similar to Donald Trump, the man who sent him to Berlin. A majority of them describe Grenell as a vain, narcissistic person who dishes out aggressively, but can barely handle criticism. His brash demeanor, some claim, hides a deep insecurity, and they say he thirsts for the approval of others.” 

Called upon to explain why Grenell plans to “empower” Europe’s anti-immigrant conservatives at the time, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert forgot that German was not an ally during World War II:

“We have a very strong relationship with the government of Germany….  Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion [when the U.S. helped liberate France from Germany]. We obviously have a very long history with the government of Germany.”

As acting DNI heading up 17 intelligence agencies, Grenell would oversee the intelligence community’s efforts to combat election interference and disinformation, but he has been skeptical of Russia’s role in 2016. He also fails to meet the requirement of federal law that “any individual nominated for appointment as Director of National Intelligence shall have extensive national security expertise.” Before Grenell became ambassador to Germany, he was spokesperson for the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, run a public affairs consultancy, been a Fox News contributor, and, for a few days, was presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s national security spokesperson. Since becoming an ambassador, Grenell became special envoy for negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia.

Grenell, one of DDT’s “best people,” also worked for Moldovan oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, now a fugitive and barred from entering the U.S. because of corruption. Writing articles defending Plahotniuc in 2016, Grenell did not say he was being paid and did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Both Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, DDT’s former campaign manager and deputy campaign manager, were convicted of violating this law. Undisclosed work for a foreign politician could block someone from security clearance or a position in a U.S. intelligence agency. A lawyer specializing in security clearances said it’s unclear how Grenell received clearance to become an ambassador.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) gave a weak excuse for Grenell’s complete lack of experience for his new position: Grenell is gay. Gaetz evidently considered Grenell’s sexual orientation as the one requirement for heading up 17 intelligence agencies. Grenell, however, supports homophobia. About VP Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, Grenell said they are “great people, “godly people,” followers of Christ [who] don’t have hate in their heart for anyone.”

Kash Patel, former national security council director of counterterrorism, has become a top adviser in Grenell’s office. As Nunes’ staffer, Patel was a leader in discrediting the Russian interference into the U.S. election. In her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Fiona Hull expressed concern that Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former senior director for Eurasian and Russian affairs, said she believed that Patel was sending information to DDT after becoming improperly involved in Ukraine policy. DDT had identified Patel as the National Security Council’s “Ukraine director,” a position held by one of Hill’s deputies. Patel was lead author of a memo accusing the FBI and DOJ leaders of abusing their power in the Russia investigation.

While DDT was busy firing career government workers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and some of his U.S. entourage were stunned at the European disapproval of the U.S., DDT, and his policies at the Munich Security Conference. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened by accusing the DDT administration of “rejecting the idea of the international community.” He summarized DDT’s policy:

“Every country should fend for itself and put its own interests over all others … ‘Great again’—even at the expense of neighbors and partners.”

Pompeo was unable to convince most countries that “the U.S. is out there fighting for sovereignty and our friends.” After his speech, German and French officials agreed that Pompeo was speaking only to DDT and not the Europeans in the room. Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, expressed concern about Macron’s overtures toward Russia in his speech. Many countries at the conference also failed to agree with the position of Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper who spoke about China being a reprehensible force.

Criticism directed toward China for expelling three Wall Street Journal reporters didn’t go well for Pompeo, especially because he told the country that “mature, responsible countries understand that a free press reports facts and expresses opinions.” Earlier, Pompeo had kicked an NPR reporter off his overseas trip in an unwarranted snit at another NPR reporter. Trips to Senegal, Angola and Ethiopia were not diplomatically successful; Africans still remember when DDT called them “sh*thole” countries. DDT also cut aid to Africa and expanded a travel ban affecting about one-fourth of its 1.2 million people.  

In South Africa, Pompeo criticized South African government’s plans to expropriate private land without compensation and said that economies need “respect for property rights.” Pompeo said, “Be wary of authoritarian regimes and their empty promises. They breed corruption, dependency and instability.” Because of the racist apartheid that lasted until 1994, South Africa is one of the world’s most unequal countries. At the present time, DDT is appropriating private land for his wall while desecrating sacred tribal land.  

Saudi Arabia was a more successful stop for Pompeo. He could ignore how they imprison U.S. citizens and kill a U.S. resident and journalist. (Importance of a “free press,” anyone?) After all, DDT makes money from the Saudis, and Jared Kushner is buddies with the Crown Prince.

Those surprised by the reaction to the U.S. at the conference might have benefited from reading the Pew Research results showing attitudes toward DDT and his policies. In 32 countries, 64 percent lack confidence that DDT will do the right thing in world affairs, and Western Europe has the most common anti-DDT sentiments. Overall, DDT has an average of 29 percent. In Mexico, 89 percent lack confidence in DDT. He gets the highest level of confidence from the most autocratic countries and Israel. These results are a year old; 2020 will probably be worse for DDT.

Having lost friendship with democracies, DDT is now being deserted by other autocrats. In the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte declared that “America is very rude” to Filipino friends and moved on to a relationship with China. DDT’s desertion of Venezuela’s president also lost that country for his ally.

Pompeo came home to a lawsuit about his communications with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) about Pompeo’s interest in being the senator from Kansas. American Oversight, a watchdog group, is suing the State Department for records about this relationship. Pompeo says he’s not going to run for the open seat after Pat Roberts retires but keeps meeting with Republicans.

February 10, 2020

Week 159: Beyond Impeachment

The impeachment trial, the outrageous speeches of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), and Democratic candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire have consumed most of the media. Yet DDT keeps wreaking havoc in other ways. 

The “peace plan” that Jared Kushner orchestrated for Israel without any Palestinian input is not going smoothly. In a spike of violence, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager in the contested West Bank that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to illegally annex, the fifth killing in the West Bank and Jerusalem since DDT tried to give Palestinian territory to Israel. Two Palestinians were killed during a protest against the Israeli’s demolition of a Palestinian house. Israeli police prevented Palestinians from worshipping at the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the Jerusalem location which Jews call the Temple Mount.

A week ago, at the Arab League headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas announced to its members that Palestine would immediately cut ties with the U.S. Palestine Authority’s security forces have long joined Israel to police the occupied West Bank under Palestinian control. The PA also has intelligence cooperation agreements with the CIA which it is stopping at this time. [Right: Abbas shows the Arab League how Palestine has lost land in the last century.]

The Arab League foreign ministers said the U.S.-Israel plan would not lead to a comprehensive and just peace and the League will not support its implementation. It does not meet Palestinians’ minimum aspirations. The foreign ministers affirmed that peace requires a future Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital and based on borders before Israel captured land in the 1967 Middle East War.

David Friedman, U.S. ambassador to Israel, said that Israel cannot annex the West Bank without U.S. permission. He didn’t mention Palestinian’s rights to keep their land. Most of the world sees Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank as illegal. Netanyahu has temporarily backed down, possibly endangering his chances for reelection on March 2.

DDT’s assassination of Iranian leader Qasem Soleimani won’t go away: Iraqi officials are now saying that ISIS is responsible for the rocket attack that DDT used to justify the murder. Soleimani was fighting ISIS.

A former Air Force drone operator called the U.S. military “worse than Nazis” in the atrocities that they inflict in the Middle East. From a small room near Las Vegas, he remotely fired missiles over 7,000 miles way. He said his breaking point was killing a child in Afghanistan that his superiors said was a “dog.” He quit the military and spoke against the drone program after directly killing 13 people while his squadron fired on 1,626 targets that included women and children. In his training, he was told to “kill people and break things.” Superiors kept him in line with punitive measures and mockery. He wants people to understand how the drone program dehumanizes the operators.

DDT has a plan for “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” in an executive order requiring Greek and Roman architectural style for all federal buildings costing over $50 million in Washington and throughout the U.S.  His goal is supposedly to “inspire … respect for our system of self-government.” Smithsonian-funded museums will escape the order. The “inspiration” comes from the “National Civic Art Society” that argues contemporary design in buildings is “dehumanizing.” All designs will be subject to White House approval.

For Architect of the Capitol, DDT nominated J. Brett Blanton, an engineer in airport operations and construction management who is not a licensed or practicing architect and was confirmed in mid-January by a voice vote on the day that the impeachment trial began. Blanton also served as a transportation engineer for the military. His first project will be overseeing the renewal project for the 111-year-old Beaux-Arts office building Cannon House Office Building (left), designed by architects for the New York Public Library and other early 19th-century buildings. Only one senator, Rules Committee Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO), appeared at Blanton’s hearing.

After DDT praised Super Bowl victors, the Kansas City Chiefs, for represented the “Great State of Kansas,” Fox & Friends hosts defended the geographically challenged man in the Oval Office despite the Chiefs’ location in Kansas City, Missouri. It’s not his first gaffe

  • At a UN luncheon with African leaders, he praised the health care in the non-existent country of Nambia.
  • He told his foreign policy advisers that Nepal and Bhutan are parts of India, instead of separate countries. [He also called them Nipple and Button.]
  • He also doesn’t know that Ireland isn’t part of the United Kingdom.
  • When talking to Indian Prime Minister Narenra Modi, he said, “[I]t’s not as though you have China right on your border.” [The India-China border is 2521 miles.]
  • He announced that he is building a border wall in Colorado, 1,193 miles from the Mexico border.
  • He thinks that Belgium is a “beautiful city” instead of a country.
  • Paris is still in Germany instead of France, according to DDT.
  • In talking to people from the Baltic states, he thought he was talking to the Balkans. This explains the difference.
  • When DDT bombed Syria, he thought he was bombing Iraq.
  • Recently at Davos, he thought he was talking with a Syrian Kurd when he was having a conversation with the president of Iraqi Kurdistan.
  • He announced that his call from South Korea was from North Korea.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may keep a map without names for the countries to educate DDT. Pompeo used it after he lost his temper with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly, walked out of his interview, and swore at her in private before he demanded she identify Ukraine on his unmarked map. She had no trouble complying because of her education, but Pompeo tried to make it appear as if she didn’t. DDT was delighted with Pompeo’s lying, rudeness, and swearing by calling it “impressive.” He added, “I think you did a good job on [the reporter].”

In retaliation against Kelly, Pompeo removed NPR reporter Michele Kelemen from his trip to Europe and said in an interview in Kazakhstan that revoking her press credentials for the trip sends “a perfect message about press freedoms” to the world. He added that the State Department only grants press credentials when it believes reporters are “telling the truth and being honest.” [Pompeo’s altercation was with Kelly, not Kelemen.] Despite his behavior, Pompeo said that journalists are allowed to ask him anything they want. Kelly’s brilliant response to the Pompeo debacle in a NYT op-ed explains the substance of the interview that got lost after Pompeo’s temper tantrum and how his personal attack on her is “not the point.”

On his tour, Pompeo ironically praised Kazakhstan for taking in refugees fleeing persecution and said:

“The protection of basic human rights defines the soul of a nation.” 

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross likes the novel coronavirus sweeping China that has killed over 1,000 people And affected another 40,000+. He said:  

“I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”

DDT told states and local officials that they could block refugees, Texas took him up on it, people got riled at the governor, and a judge told states they couldn’t block refugees. A Maryland U.S. District judge called DDT’s policy “unlawful” and “does not appear to serve the overall public interest. [It] flies in the face of clear Congressional intent.” Although 42 states and over 100 local governments agreed to acceptance refugees, seven states were thus far noncommittal. DDT already lowered the annual national refugee cap to 18,000, down from 110,000 in 2016.

DHS has put non-violent protesters who committed acts of civil disobedience on its “extremist” list of white supremacists and mass killers.

DDT’s Labor Department, run by the son of former Justice Antonin Scalia, has changed rules so that workers will have a harder time suing for wage theft and other violations.

DDT’s tariffs will hurt everyone in the nation. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reduces the average family’s real income by $1,277 in 2020 by reducing the GDP level and raising consumer prices. The projection is over double that of last year’s $580 report.

On the campaign trail, DDT said, “If we don’t win, your farms are going to hell.” DDT had told farmer that they might have some “pain” from his trade wars, but he didn’t warn them about the eight-year high of farm bankruptcy rates that spiked 20 percent in 2019. Earlier in a campaign speech in Warren (MI), DDT declared that F-35 jets are literally invisible.

Another lie from the SOTU: Wooing black voters, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gave a “scholarship” to fourth-grader Janiyah Davis to let her escape from a “failed government school.” She already attends one of Philadelphia’s most sought-after schools, Math, Science and Technology Community Charter School III, a public school.  Last year, she moved from a Christian school with tuition. Janiyah and her mother were invited to the SOTU after the principal in he former school was asked for names for youth who might want scholarships. No one checked to see where Janiyah attended school, explained why they were invited, or warned them that they would be in the spotlight. After the SOTU, Janiyah’s mother said:

“I don’t view MaST as a school you want to get out of at all. I view it as a great opportunity.”

DDT was angry with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf for vetoing tax credits for students in private religious schools.

January 6, 2020

The U.S. Stands Alone

A bully always expects an adversary to back down—the philosophy of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in his mistaken belief that running a government is the same as running a business. He ordered the assassination Iran’s military leader, Qassem Soliemani, on Iraqi soil to show that he is the boss, but events prove him wrong.

Two days after Soliemani’s murder, the Iraqi Parliament voted by 170-0 to rid itself of U.S. troops by 170-0, primarily Shiites, with many of the 328 Parliament members, mostly ethnic Kurdish and Sunni Muslim minorities, absent. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spent Sunday on the “news” shows explaining that Iraq certainly didn’t want the U.S. to pull its troops.

Since its expulsion vote, the Iraqi Parliament determined that U.S. troops cannot leave their bases or fly in Iraqi airspace while plans are being made for their departure, according to Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, the military spokesman for Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. The U.S. sent a letter to Iraq giving information about moving troops out of Iraq, but Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley explained that sending it was an accident because it was a draft, poorly worded and “that’s not what’s happening.” DDT said that he wanted the letter “cleaned up.” Someone in the Iraqi military provided Information about the contents of the letter. DDT also threatens sanctions on Iraq if it expels U.S. troops and demands reimbursement for costs for keeping a military presence in the country, especially the “extraordinarily expensive air base [that] cost billions of dollars to build.”

During his appearances on TV, Pompeo kept assuring people that there was no danger but asked about retaliation for Soleimani’s assassination, Pompeo flippantly responded, “It may be that there’s a little noise here in the interim.”  The Pentagon has sent six B-52 bombers to the Indian Ocean for use against Iran. DHS has also warned businesses to take precautions about possible cyberattacks. Computer experts also cautioned about Iran targeting such infrastructure as energy grids and financial institutions.  

Pompeo, supposedly in charge of diplomacy instead of violence, persuaded DDT to kill Soliemani against the advice of the Pentagon after a ten-year fixation to attack Iran. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Pompeo’s classmate at the U.S. Military Academy, and VP Mike Pence reinforced Pompeo’s recommendation. Esper ignored the traditional decision-making process when he failed to discuss plans with senior Pentagon leaders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the killing. Pompeo had expected European allies to cheer his decision but discovered that they are giving him the cold shoulder.

DDT usually gets rid of people who don’t make him look good, but Pompeo thinks that he can stay, deciding that he won’t run for U.S. Senator from Kansas. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had wanted Pompeo to be a candidate because he was considered a shoo-in. Kansas, known in the past as solid red, elected a Democratic woman governor in the last election because her predecessor ruined the state with his draconian tax cuts.

Brand new at his job, Esper has lost more experienced support when his chief of staff Eric Chewning, a former Army intelligence officer, quit. Esper had already not told senior Pentagon leaders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the killing, ignoring the usual decision-making process. Chewning departure followed those of six other senior Pentagon officials in December.  Chewning’s replacement is Jen Stewart, minority staff director for the House Armed Services Committee. 

On March 16, 2003, Bush’s VP Dick Cheney said, “From the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” For almost 14 years since George W. Bush set into motion the killing of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his male relatives, Iraqi life has worsened, and ISIS built a powerful organization that threatens the world. The U.S. put Shiites into power, and they developed a coalition with Iran. Bush’s VP Dick Cheney’s prediction that Iraqis would rejoice over the regime change and Bush’s early claim of “Mission Accomplished” have both proved to be wrong.

On January 3, 2020, Pompeo said, “I know that the Iraqi people will ultimately demand that the Iranians get out.” That and his claim that Iraqis would be “dancing in the street” after Soleimani’s death was as false as W.’s and Cheney’s statements. Instead Iraqis turned out in tens of thousands to mourn the Iranian’s killing.

In the past few months, the Iraqi government and militias, supported either by Iran or the U.S., have killed hundreds of unarmed protesters and injured thousands of them, mostly led by young men who came to age after Bush’s 2003 preemptive war who want to end foreign interventions. The U.S. escalated the military conflict by blaming Iran, and Iran blamed the U.S. as Iraqi militias attacked U.S. bases in Iraq 11 times within the last week of 2019. One U.S. military contractor was killed, and U.S. bombs killed 24 Iraqis and injuring another 50. After the Iraqi militia protested at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad (Iraq), the U.S. killed eight people at the Baghdad airport including Soleimani and the leader of the Iraqi militia.

Even Iraqis who oppose Soleimani are opposed to U.S. occupation in their country because they see DDT, like Soleimani, a villain because they don’t want foreigners to control their country—either the U.S. or Iran. That belief led to their vote “to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.”

U.S. interference in Iran goes back over a half century. In 1953, the U.S. ousted democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh because the oil industry was taken from Western petroleum companies. When the U.S. attacked Afghanistan after 9/11, it obtained intelligence from Soleimani about fighting the Taliban, but the U.S. lost this source when W. Bush, through his VP’s direction, listed Iran as one of his “Axis of Evil.” Soleimani, however, continued to be a major influence in Iraq in opposition to the U.S. DDT continued to eliminate any diplomacy with Iran when he imposed sanctions on the country and dropped out of the six-country Iran agreement.

After Soleimani’s murder, Iran ended its commitments to limit nuclear fuel production but promised to return if U.S. economic sanctions are removed. Soliemani’s killing stopped the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Esper and Pompeo have claimed that DDT won’t attack Iranian cultural sites, but DDT repeated his threats to commit this barbaric war crime which would be a declaration of war. Targeting cultural sites violates the Hague Convention on Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, ratified by the Senate in 2008. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted, “Targeting civilians and cultural sites is what terrorists do.”

The threats of destroying their cultural sites have united Iranians with the rally cry, “Attend the funeral for our cultural heritage.” Iranian information minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi tweeted:

“Like Isis, Like Hitler, Like Genghis! They all hate cultures. Trump is a terrorist in a suit.”

European allies are trying to provide for the safety of their troops in the Middle East, and the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, invited Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Brussels for talks. Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said he would seek direct talks with Iran to discuss the safety of its troops in Iraq and continue the fight against ISIS. DDT has blocked Zarif from addressing the UN Security Council on January 9 by refusing him a visa to enter the U.S. in violation of a 1947 agreement with the UN that the U.S. allow foreign officials into the country for UN affairs.

Russia condemned DDT’s killing Soliemani, calling it “fraught with grave consequences for regional peace and stability.” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed his condolences over Soleimani’s death in a conversation with Zarif, and they agreed that DDT’s actions “grossly violate the norms of international law.” Putin has been working with Soleiman on Syria including Soleimani’s invitation to Moscow for an Iranian-Russian coalition. The Russian Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, connected the attack’s timing to DDT’s re-election campaign, something that millions of people in the U.S. also believe.

Immediately after Soliemani’s assassination, Israel was the only country to support DDT’s actions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has drawn any support since then, saying, “We’re not involved.” After losing two elections in less than a year, Netanyahu wants to win the March 2 election to keep his position and protect himself from criminal prosecution after his indictment.

Over the weekend, al-Shabaab, US African Command killed a U.S. service member and two private contractors for the DOJ at a Kenyan Defense Force used by U.S. Special Operations forces. Al-Shabab is affiliated with al-Qaeda, but DDT has said nothing about bombing Kenya which has no natural resources that he would want.

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