Nel's New Day

April 6, 2019

DDT: Week 115, Part II – Disasters Causing Meltdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rob Porter: abuse of two ex-wives.

Sebastian Gorka.

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

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

Robin Townley (top aide to Flynn).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 1, 2018

DDT: Week 97 – Revelations Increase Call for Revenge

Of this week’s bombshells for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), the biggest may be his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s admission that he lied about when DDT stopped trying to make financial deals in Russia. In 2016, while DDT was campaigning and saying he had nothing to do with Russia, he was negotiating a deal for a Trump Tower Moscow, including illegally working with a sanctioned bank because of money laundering and planning to give Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse to sweeten the deal. Cohen’s testimony also puts DDT’s family in legal danger because of their discussions about the deal. Last year, Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was only “peripherally aware” of the Moscow deal in 2016 and may have also lied to the House Intelligence Committee about the same issue. Cohen may also corroborate the key parts about DDT’s ties to Russia in the Steele dossier. New Yorker reporter Adam Davidson tweeted that “*any* significant real estate development in Moscow is, almost by definition, part of a money laundering scheme.”

DDT claimed that he could do business while campaigning for president, but he concealed his activities while repeatedly lying about them.  He tried to cover his activities by saying that he never cared about building in Russia, but he’s been working on the project for 30 years. DDT accused Cohen of lying but added “even if he was right.”

Another crisis for DDT was Russia’s firing on three Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait and seizing 24 sailors. Putin blamed Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko of creating the naval “provocation.” In response, Poroshenko, who accused Putin of trying to take the Sea of Azov, has called for martial law across Ukraine’s border regions for a month. Put has already taken Crimea and eastern Ukraine; now Ukraine claims that Russia is sealing off the Sea of Azov by blockading ports Mariupol and Berdyansk and preventing ships from going under the Crimean Bridge through the Kerch Strait. The EU called on Russia to release the ships and crews and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty; Poland wants new sanctions on Russia. Although DDT seemed to blame Ukraine and Russia equally for Russia’s attack, he finally canceled his meeting with Putin at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires (Argentina) this weekend. Both U.S. and world media, included in Russia, blamed the cancellation, on new revelations about DDT’s lying about his business affairs.

Putin, largely a pariah at the summit because of his attack on the Ukrainian ships, didn’t look happy to see DDT at the summit. Yet he greeted Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam (MBS) with a high five and big smiles. Even after intelligence shows that MBS was responsible for torturing and dismembering U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, DDT still denies that MBS had any involvement in the murder at the Saudi embassy in Turkey. DDT’s faithful sidekick John Bolton, national security adviser, refused to listen to the torture and dismemberment tape of Jamal Khashoggi because it wasn’t in English.

The real pariah at the summit, however, was DDT. U.S. former allies avoided him, and DDT was afraid to connect with his authoritarian friends. David Ignatius has provided a detailed background of MBS’ paranoid and violent move toward power that he compares to Saddam Hussein.

When DDT signed his new NAFTA with Mexico and Canada at the G20 summit, he claimed that the slightly revised and renamed trade agreement is monumental, but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pointed out that DDT’s tariffs hurt Canada and mentioned the loss of jobs at a Canadian General Motors factory. The agreement must still pass the Congress with a Democratic House and conservatives in both chambers who opposed the anti-discrimination provision against LGBTQ people.

Although DDT was supposed to talk at the summit with Xi Jinping, China’s president, about solving DDT’s trade Chinese trade war, DDT left early after the death of former President George H.W. Bush on Friday, claiming that he and Xi had declared a truce on the tariff problem. The stock market has been going up and down, based on how buyers perceive the tariff situation. China has found ways to avoid the new U.S. tariffs:

  • Avoid 25 percent tariffs on Maine lobster by getting them from Nova Scotia.
  • Buy more oil from Russia and Saudi Arabia.
  • Get soybeans from Brazil and Argentina.
  • Replace U.S.-made high-tech imports with those from Asia.

DDT blamed the struggles of the stock market and the GM layoffs on the Federal Reserve, especially his own appointee Chair Jerome Powell, yet Wednesday’s headlines stated that DDT might be making a deal with China about the tariffs, and the Dow skyrocketed more than 600 points. DDT is still trying to take credit for the stock market, claiming that it is up 13 points more than the 25 percent rise since he was inaugurated. Even so, the rise is less than that during President Obama’s first two years in office—33 percent.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was behind DDT’s selection of Powell, and DDT has another reason to dislike his hand-picked Treasury secretary. If Democrats request DDT’s tax returns, Mnuchin indicated that he will follow the law. Meanwhile DDT listens to Larry Kudlow for economic advice—the man who swore that there would be no recession just three months before Bear Stearns and the dominos began to fall. Faced with the disaster, he said, “Recessions are therapeutic.” The “therapy” of recessions may occur before the end of DDT’s first term.

DDT’s reputation with his base has been damaged by General Motors’ announcement that it is slashing 14,700 jobs—many in Michigan and Ohio—by eliminating 15 percent of its workforce in North America and closing four factories in the U.S. Offering buyouts to 50,000 salaried North American workers, GM stated that DDT’s steel tariffs cost them $1 billion. Traditional passenger cars went from 50 percent of GM U.S. vehicle sales in 2012 to 31 percent this year while SUV and pickup truck sales increased by 31 percent. The company also gained a massive tax break from the GOP cuts and failed to invest in U.S. jobs, choosing instead to build the Blazer in Mexico. DDT took the closures personally and threatened GM, saying that the company “better damn well open a new plant [in Ohio] very quickly.” He continued, “I love Ohio. I told them, ‘you’re playing around with the wrong person.’ ” He lied that he would eliminate tax credits for purchasing GM electric cars—only Congress can do that—and false accused GM of not paying back the bailout money the company received after the Bush recession.

Over a month ago, Ford announced 24,000 layoffs of its 202,000 worldwide workers and stated that DDT’s tariffs had lost the company $1 billion. It was producing 32.8 vehicles per employee compared to GM’s 52.7 vehicles per employee. The company also plans to switch to SUVs, CUVs, and pickups, leaving the only the Mustang in its passenger-car line-up. Even that car may disappear with China’s tariffs on U.S.-made vehicles.

More Russian connections for DDT:

Late night chats between DDT and friend Roger Stone may have covered WikiLeaks’ dropping bombshells from hacks into Clinton’s campaign, but Stone denies it “unless [Robert] Mueller has tape recordings of the phone calls.” Conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi gave WaPo an August 2, 2016 email in which Corsi told Stone that WikiLeaks was planning a major release of “very damaging” material, the day before a private Stone-DDT talk. Mueller may have evidence that Stone told Corsi to get him the WikiLeaks information and then funnel it to DDT’s campaign.

DDT’s chief defense lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has admitted that he received briefings from Paul Manafort’s attorneys while Manafort was supposedly cooperating with Mueller in conversations not covered by attorney-client privilege. A joint defense agreement exists only between people with common legal interests which Manafort lacked when he claimed he was cooperating with Mueller. Now DDT is suggesting that he may pardon Manafort, possibly as a reward for Manafort passing along confidential information. Manafort shouldn’t count on a pardon, however: he has already pled guilty to state crimes in California, New Jersey, and Virginia. DDT can pardon only federal crimes.

Despite at least 15 blanket denials from those involved, DDT’s campaign team had at least 92 contacts with Russia-linked operatives, and at least 26 high-level campaign officials and DDT advisors knew about these contacts, including three successive people who ran Trump’s campaign.

As more information is released about the Russian scandal, DDT’s tweets become more manic. Last Wednesday, he retweeted images of special counsel Robert Mueller, Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, President Obama, former AG Eric Holder, and former President Bill Clinton—all behind bars—and calling for the Democrats and law enforcement and intelligence officials to be imprisoned and claiming that they should have trials for treason. DDT fan Cesar Sayoc targeted many of these people with pipe bombs. He also falsely accused Mueller of “viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts” in exchange for “relief.” The desperate DDT is calling for more violence.

November 26, 2018

Conservative Politicians Continue Far-right Activities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 13, 2018

DDT: Weeks 89-90 – Downward Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 1, 2018

DDT: Week 84 – A Few of His Problems

As the Republicans work to support Russia, they are joining Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in his attack on FBI agent Bruce Ohr. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) traveled to London to dig up dirt on both Ohr and Christopher Steel, the British former agent who wrote a dossier on DDT, but officials at MI6, MI5, and GCHQ wouldn’t talk with him. Nunes finally managed a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May’s deputy national security advisor, Madeline Alessandri. Ohr has been instrumental in fighting Russian organized crime for almost three decades, perhaps the reason that DDT wants to get rid of him because Ohr raised concerns about oligarch Oleg Deripaska named in contacts between DDT’s associates and Russia.

DDT might have been better off leaving Ohr alone. When Congress required Ohr to testify, he said that he learned from Christopher Steele that “Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump ‘over a barrel.’” DDT continues to claim that the Steele dossier was responsible for the FBI investigation into his Russian problem, but memos from both the GOP and Dems prove that the FBI had started the investigation earlier about Russian contacts of former DDT campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos before they had the Steele dossier. Ohr was not the original source of information. Ohr testified that DDT campaign aide Carter Page had met with more senior Russians official that Page admitted. DOJ officials Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein had moved him from director of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force, according to Ohr, because it concerned White House meetings and interactions.

The Republicans who wanted to surveil everyone in the United States are now criticizing Ohr because of his surveillance tactics.

Democratic members of the House are asking committee chairs to review how GOP representatives got correspondence between Ohr and Steele and why they failed to go through appropriate channels to introduce the emails, notes, and text messages into the official record before reading them out loud in the hearing. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said that this information appears to have been cherrypicked by Devin Nunes (R-CA), excluding the complete correspondence. Nadler and Cummings also want “an immediate bipartisan meeting” with the DOJ to review “whether any ongoing investigations or human sources may have been compromised.”

Nunes is only one of many prominent Republicans to use the conspiracy-laden Big League Politics website using Q-Anon false theories for fundraising, some of the candidates violating campaign finance law. The website is being used to harass innocent small business by accusing them of operating child-sex trafficking rings, like the “Pizzagate” conspiracy against Hillary Clinton and a Washington, D.C. restaurant. Recent vicious targets include the Portland (OR) beloved Voodoo Doughnut. Respondents have posted maps of the chain’s locations with Portland’s plumbing locations, local schools, public transit, and airports to suggest ways that children are smuggled in and out of the stores. One member wrote, “Small submarines arent (sic) out of the realm of possibility.” The police say that they cannot do anything about the persecution, some of it generated by a former Breitbart News reporter.

Natasha Bertrand has tied together the threads of DDT’s targeted FBI and DOJ officials in his relentless attacks on people he depicts as dishonest “Democrats.” He depicts Ohr, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, Andrew McCabe, and others who have had extensive experience in investigating money laundering and organized crime, especially connected to Russia. DDT’s big fear is that Robert Mueller’s team is expert in finding fraud, racketeering, money laundering, and other financial crimes. The article is well-worth a read, especially to see DDT’s connections to the crimes.

As Russia dogs DDT’s heels, he faces the week-long honoring of his nemesis, former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). After his death at the age of 81, McCain got his final wishes—DDT did not attend his funeral and two former presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, gave eulogies. DDT tried to minimize McCain’s death with the petty act of lowering the flag for only a day, but public backlash forced him to raise it again. He noticeably ignored his aides who wanted him to send out a statement about McCain being a hero while he continued his vendetta against the man who spent over five years in a Vietnam prison camp while he dodged the draft with four deferments and a bout of bone spurs. On the campaign trail, DDT called McCain a loser because he was imprisoned during the Vietnam War. “I like people that weren’t captured,” DDT said. He started his criticism of McCain in 1999 as this video shows.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders may be collateral damage from McCain’s death. DDT supposedly joked that she was “having a nervous breakdown” because of the way she looked at him when he refused to answer whether McCain would have been a better president than President Obama. “I don’t want to comment on it,” DDT said. “I have a very strong opinion.” He left town for a campaign rally in Indiana before McCain’s body arrived in Washington, D.C. for a memorial service and then went to his Virginia resort to play golf during McCain’s funeral in Washington, D.C. today.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) may be breaking up with DDT, McCain’s replacement after McCain’s illness became terminal, because Graham criticized DDT’s handling of his former friend’s death. Graham said:

“It bothers me greatly when the president says things about John McCain. It pisses me off to no end, and I let the president know it, And the way he handled the passing of John is just — it was disturbing.”

Graham did invite DDT’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared, to the funeral.

McCain’s death hasn’t slowed down Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia and DDT. Paul Manafort’s next trial, postponed for a week until September 24, follows rumors of a possible plea deal for the second set of charges before he was convicted last week, but the two sides couldn’t work out a deal. Mueller has also received more time to decide whether to retry Manafort on the ten charges from the last trial after one person created a hung jury on these charges.

W. Samuel Patten, a Washington consultant who advised a Ukrainian political party and worked with a co-defendant of Paul Manafort, pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign lobbyist while working on behalf of a Ukrainian political party. Patten’s partner, Konstantin Kilimnik, Patten’s partner and former Manafort employee, has been indicted for witness tampering in Manafort’s case and links to Russian intelligence. Patten also worked at the Oregon office of Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Group, to target voters in the 2014 general election. As part of his plea, Patten admitted that he steered an illegal foreign donation to DDT’s inauguration from a Ukrainian businessman.

DDT’s latest comment about Sessions, who he has tried to separate from his Senate allies with incessant complaints, is that he won’t fire him until after the general election, perhaps to avoid the appearance of obstruction of justice. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said, “My sense is the fix is in,” but  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) still isn’t convinced, maybe worrying about his ability to get another AG confirmed. Donors are also complaining about Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, saying, “They haven’t represented … us well.”

DDT’s shiniest new distraction from his problems comes from his promise of a new trade deal with Mexico to replace NAFTA. The kickoff was a bit awkward when technology failed him in his conference call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto by and at his signoff when he told the president that “a hug from you would be very nice.” DDT is rushing the deal because progressive president-elect of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, takes over December 1. The clock is ticking, but the two-nation agreement may not be able to replace a three-nation trade pact, and Congress must agree.

Canada has been more reluctant, especially after DDT disparaged Canada and threatened the country with 25 percent tariffs on cars and auto parts exported from the U.S. The U.S. may be the loser because Canada is the #1 destination for U.S. products shipped abroad and the trade with Canada supports over 8 million U.S. jobs, many of them in the new “red” states. Canada also is unique because the U.S. doesn’t have a trade deficit with Canada. If the initial deal doesn’t include Canada, the U.S. will have trouble including the country later.

Most of the suggested pieces of DDT’s deal come from either NAFTA or the Trans Pacific Pipeline, but the name is new so that DDT can claim it as his own. He’ll just have to hope that people don’t see the drastic increases in prices from the deal and his tariffs if he wants to use it for getting people to vote for Republicans.

More DDT disasters later.

October 14, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-eight – More Unraveling, Part 2

The attempts of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to unravel the benefits of the past two presidential terms includes limiting assistance for Puerto Rico after two hurricanes. Although the Pentagon has issued private emails explaining a positive spin on U.S. non-assistance to its territory, DDT foils the attempt with such statements as his threat to remove FEMA because of PR’s financial struggles in the past.

Over three weeks after the second hurricane hit PR, 91 percent of the island is without electricity after yesterday’s power plant failure in San Juan, and 36 percent of the population lacks potable water. People are dying from such waterborne diseases as leptospirosis, and Puerto Ricans are drinking contaminated water from superfund sites because no other water is available.

FEMA sends information about sources of help through non-operational media sources; only 37 percent of cell towers function. Only 392 miles of Puerto Rico’s 5,073 miles of roads are open. FEMA cannot stay there forever—as DDT said—but it did stay in New Orleans for six years after Hurricane Katrina.

Criticized for the lack of support for people in Puerto Rico, FEMA said that it is not their job to distribute food and water. Their officials are there only to help people fill out paperwork. Mayors, who lack trucks, gas, and satellite phones, are responsible for getting these supplies to people. This photo to the right was taken this week in downtown Santurce, population of almost 100,000).

One senior FEMA official admitted that the agency is about 1.8 million meals short per day to feed people on Puerto Rico. Chef José Andrés had managed to deliver about 90,000 meals a day through a network of local chefs. His contract ended earlier this week with no urgency from FEMA to renew it.

Meanwhile, government workers are hiring Puerto Ricans for pedicures and massages on their “spa day” during work hours. An experienced senior doctor working for the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) in coordination with DHS quit after the FEMA disaster relief employees “used the triage tents that are supposed to be for medical care.”

Members of the White House administration are still geographically challenged. DDT said that he spoke to the “president of the Virgin Island” who is technically Donald Trump. DDT described Puerto Rico as being in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean: it’s in the Caribbean Sea. Energy Secretary Rick Perry called Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, as a “country” during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing.

Russian trolls are distributing false information on social media about “excellent” conditions on the island.

DDT has withdrawn from Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization known for its designation of World Heritage sites. Its missions include promoting sex education, literacy, clean water and equality for women with the largest literacy program in Afghanistan. The excuse is that the organization is “anti-Israel,” meaning that it accepts Palestine.

DDT is threatening NFL with increased taxes if they don’t stop athletes from kneeling during the national anthem. The NFL has no federal tax breaks, but it benefits from tax-exempt bonds used by governments to finance new stadiums, about $13 billion since 2000 for NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA. DDT could demand a ban on these tax-exempt bonds.

After Richard Nixon fought the seizure of his records, a court case, followed by the Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978, mandated that all records of presidents and vice-presidents are public and cannot be destroyed. DDT, his White House staff, and his family are being sued for the preservation of all presidential records. According to DDT’s DOJ, “courts cannot review the President’s compliance with the Presidential Records Act.” DOJ lawyers also argue that judicial review is wrong even if DDT deletes secret recordings or his staff purges phone records because they expected to be subpoenaed in connection with various investigations.

After DDT said he was overturning DACA, the law allowing work permits to young people brought involuntarily into the country, he said that Congress should reform the law to permit them to stay. This week he issued his conditions for DACA: money for his wall on the Mexican border, laws to send undocumented immigrants including unaccompanied children to their home countries, elimination of sanctuary cities and other areas, refusal to allow immigrants to sponsor extended family members, rejection of children fleeing violence in Central America, use of the E-Verify program by businesses to find undocumented immigrants, and a fifty-percent cut on entry of unskilled workers through a “merit”-based immigration system. DACA members would also not be allowed to apply for citizenship. The demands indicate the fine hand of Stephen Miller, a white supremacist White House member.

One of the first bills that DDT signed after his inauguration was to make it easier for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun. People on Social Security for mental illnesses and deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs are again permitted to purchase weapons. Law enforcement officials are beginning to view the man who killed 58 people and injured over 500 people in one shooting as mentally ill.

In this week’s fourth set of talks for NAFTA negotiations with Mexico and Canada, DDT turned against businesses and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce an enemy. The Chamber called DDT’s proposals “unnecessary and unacceptable” and “highly dangerous.” Businesses know that withdrawal from NAFTA means higher tariffs, losses in jobs, higher consumer prices, failure to create new trade deals, and forfeiture of any leadership in exports. Congressional members of Congress are also expressing frustration with their lack of involvement in negotiations because are responsible for any changes, additions, and/or deletions to trade agreements.

New language in the Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018-2022 strategic plan: its mission is “serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.” This guideline may lead to contraceptives becoming illegal because some religious groups think that they produce abortions.

The EPA has issued a 43-page document to replace the Clean Power Plan with the Dirty Power Plan without any information on how his plan impacts air pollution. The document justifying the Dirty plan discounts any global costs or danger to future generations. The public is invited to comment on alternatives for replacing it, without the EPA proposing any replacement of its own. Secretary Scott Pruitt seems to think that he would have trouble with actually repealing the Clean plan because he’s asking for public input—a delaying tactic that allows him to maintain the Dirty plan.

In the “perfect storm” that elected DDT, Cambridge Analytica, an “election management agency” partly owned by conservative hedge-fund manager Robert Mercer, crunched data for DDT’s campaign after Ted Cruz lost. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) is now investigating the company for possible collusion between DDT’s campaign and Russian operatives. Social media delivered Russian propaganda to white voters, but the information about voters may have come from Cambridge, an outgrowth of the British SCL Group which ran a campaign dividing Latvians and ethnic Russians in Latvia with false statements and fake social movements. DDT’s data team followed the same social, ethnic, and racial divides, pushing the idea of discrimination against the white middle class.

DDT’s new anti-science nominees are Kathleen Hartnett-White for White House Council on Environmental Quality and Barry Myers for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Hartnett-White, from a Koch-funded foundation, believes that carbon dioxide is “not a pollutant” and argues that developing fossil fuels is “moral.” Myers, CEO of AccuWeather, wants to privatize the National Weather Service to benefit his company and has no advanced degree in science.

DDT continues his goal to be “unique.” This week he was the first person inaugurated as president who spoke to the hate group Values Voters Summit with its collections of anti-LGBTQ white supremacists and religious zealots. Another speaker was white supremacist and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, now beloved because he was wounded in a mass shooting. He is still opposed to LGBTQ rights although a married lesbian police officer saved his life. In a panel discussion, Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) said that religious freedom laws would “unshackle the voices on the right,” admitting that these laws are about politics, not religion.

Ignorance or lying? DDT said that he has reduced the national debt by $5.2 trillion because the stock market has increased that much since he was inaugurated. News for DDT: national debt is what the nation has borrowed; stock market is how much more businesses are worth. No relationship! DDT has made 1,318 false or misleading claims over 263 days.

People who think that impeachment is a solution to the problems that DDT brought to the U.S. should consider this statement yesterday from VP Mike Pence:

“President Donald Trump has restored the credibility of American power. Today our nation once again stands, without apology, as leader of the free world. That’s what American leadership on the world stage looks like.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) hasn’t let up on DDT. Yesterday Corker talked about DDT’s forced choices between going to war with countries like North Korea and Iran or allowing those countries to obtain nuclear weapons. Corker said, “You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice.” He continued by saying that DDT’s actions are causing all Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s “phenomenal” work to “fall apart.” Thus far DDT hasn’t tweeted back at Corker’s accusations; he’s busy bragging about healthcare stocks going down after his continued sabotage of the Affordable Care Act.

Our future?

 

September 13, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-three – Natural Disasters Mixed with GOP Disappointment

Disaster—that is the word for 33rd week that Dictator Donald Trump spent as the White House resident. Houston suffered from Hurricane Harvey as Hurricane Irma, considered five times worse than Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago, ploughed through islands south of Florida and moved across the mainline to devastate large parts of southern states. Hackers into Equifax, one of the principal credit score providers in the nation, collected records, including Social Security numbers and birthdates allowing identity theft, from 143 million people. They also got credit card numbers from over 200,000 people and dispute documents with personal information for another 182,000 customers.

Between Harvey and Irma came the 8.1 earthquake on the southern coast of Mexico, the worst in 100 years, that killed at least 95 people. The death rate was much lower than the estimated 2,000 to 40,000 deaths with the 8.0 earthquake in Mexico because of better building codes and less populated areas for the earthquake’s site. A similar earthquake possible for southwestern California could kill thousands of people and be worsened if the proposed 2018 budget cuts funds for a seismic warning system as proposed. DDT ignored both the earthquake and the loss of at least three people after Hurricane Katia hit Mexico. Three weeks ago, DDT also refused to send any fire-fighting aid to Oregon although its 500,000 burning acres comprise one-third of the fires in the nation.

Congressional GOP members were devastated when (DDT) turned on them and made “Chuck and Nancy”—Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) (left) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), his new friends. DDT’s old friends “Paul” Ryan (R-WI), House Speaker, and “Mitch” McConnell (R-KY), Senate Majority Leader, got left in the dust at a meeting where DDT gave Democrats three-month extensions on the budget and the debt ceiling as well as the $15 billion disaster aid with no cuts in other areas. An hour earlier, Ryan had called the three-month debt-ceiling extension “ridiculous,” “disgraceful,” and “unworkable, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also disliked the deal. The GOP will face another fight for the budget and debt ceiling before the December 8, 2017 deadline.

Pundits’ theories on why DDT agreed to the deal: he got bored, he thought conservatives wanted it, he thought it would clear the way for progress as in tax “cuts,” or he’s just hostile toward congressional GOP leadership. DDT’s support of North Dakota’s Democratic senators up for re-election this year at his rally last week supports the last idea. A question is how much longer the GOP will protect DDT.

DDT’s deal with Schumer and Pelosi moved so fast that he signed the bill into law within three days. Seventeen GOP senators and 90 GOP representative Republicans voted against it, including four House members from storm-ravaged Texas. Another 17 GOP representatives refused to vote. With GOP support, however, hurricane aid passed 88 days faster than it did for Superstorm Sandy.

Billionaire Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney were booed when they advocated for the bill; Mulvaney had led opposition to raising the debt ceiling when he was in the House. The booing continued after he wouldn’t promise Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) that DDT would not commit to reducing the debt ceiling in the December negotiations. Mnuchin left early after he said that people should support the bill for him personally and not for the policy. Ryan forgot he hated the bill and supported the legislation.

DDT rescinded DACA (the executive order allowing people illegally brought into the country involuntarily as children to get job permits) but made AG Jeff Sessions make the announcement. Sessions claimed that his job is to “enforce the law” and then defended DDT’s pardon of Arizona’s past sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of criminal contempt after he willfully violating a federal judge’s order to stop racial profiling. Unable to cope with his unpopularity after his anti-DACA ruling, DDT blamed Congress and said that he was just waiting for them to fix his own firing of 800,000 people so that they will take the hit from conservative voters.

Congress is willing to use millions of lives as extortion. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) wants to trade legal permanent dreamers’ residence for cutting immigration levels in half. Others want to trade the dreamers’ rights for DDT’s wall. Over 400 executives, many of them from the biggest companies such as AT&T and Microsoft, have signed a petition to protect the “dreamers.”  These CEOs know that purchases from Dreamers create more jobs and more profits for these companies that are the strongest base for GOP donations. Even members of DDT’s evangelical advisory board, who supported his racism, think that DDT’s DACA decision is wrong. Sixty-four percent of people in the U.S. back this program, including 41 percent of Republicans. And workers are needed to rebuild after massive losses from the nation’s disasters. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia are suing DDT for his DACA decision. An earlier lawsuit supporting DACA has a court hearing tomorrow. DDT has one fewer DACA recipient to throw out of the country: Alonso Guillen, 31, died rescuing people from Hurricane Harvey.

Special investigator Robert Mueller’s juggernaut about Russian involvement keeps moving forward as six current and former DDT aides, including Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus, may be interviewed. DDT tortured Spicer as much as, or more than, Saturday Night Live, as the press secretary was constantly forced to lie—beginning with the size of the inauguration crowd on DDT’s first day. The firing of former FBI director James Comey was a huge fiasco as Spicer passed along the party line of a DOJ recommendation for the act just before DDT told Lester Holt that he had long planned to fire Comey with “Russia” on his mind. DDT also tormented Priebus up to the time that he resigned. Both can use the Fifth Amendment not to testify, but there are always memos. Even the White House lawyer needs a lawyer.

DDT’s statement that he will give $1 million to relief aid for Hurricane Harvey as brought back the question of the donations to his inauguration fund that he said would be given to charities. The committee raised $107 million with no caps on individual contributions and selling “exclusive access” for over $1 million, but low attendance kept costs down. Charities were supposed to know who gets the money in April, but now Tom Barrack, head of the committee said that he will release details in November. Maybe the $1 million of DDT’s “personal money” will come from that source—or maybe it will go for Donald Trump, Jr.’s legal fees like DDT’s campaign funds. [$1 million sounds generous, but if DDT is worth $9 billion, it’s like a person with $1 million in net assets giving $90. Millionaires comprise less than ten percent of people in the U.S.]

Donald Jr. needs the legal assistance he’s getting from DDT’s campaign funds. This past week, he was interviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee about his meeting over a year ago with Russians to “get dirt” on Hillary Clinton before the presidential election. He said that he was just checking into her “fitness” for the office. This was after a number of various excuses earlier.

Another DDT problem is the NAFTA negotiations. DDT has said that Canada and Mexico are being “difficult”; Canada is demanding that the U.S. eliminate anti-union “right-to-work” laws and pressuring both Mexico and the U.S. “to offer a year of paid family leave, as Canada does.” In the U.S., 29 states have passed laws eliminating rights of unions, and congressional Republicans have sponsored bills to make “right to work” in all states that will suppress wages, employment, and economic growth. DDT has already cut pay increases for federal employees, overturned overtime pay and worker safety rules, and put union-busters on the National Labor Relations Board which is supposed to protect workers. Trade agreements typically favor corporations over workers; Canada is trying to change that dynamic.

Pushed to the bottom of immediate concerns from the media is North Korea’s claim that it has a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. Experts think that the bomb is actually a “boosted” atomic bomb with less power than a hydrogen bomb, but the U.S. is still goading North Korea with its summer “games.” The U.S. has joined Japan and South Korea in large-scale military drills with over 3,500 troops to simulate an invasion of North Korea and destroy the current regime. Last week’s North Korean missile tests were in response to South Korea’s three week-long military drills with over 75,000 combat troops accompanied by hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, landing craft, heavy artillery, a full naval flotilla and flyovers by squadrons of state of the art fighters and strategic bombers.

DDT expects help from South Korea to protect the U.S. from North Korea after he lied about sending military resources to help them, ignored history by saying that they were part of China, told them that they had to pay for the U.S. missile-defense system, threatened to eliminate the trade agreement with South Korea, and failed to nominate an ambassador to South Korea.  After alienating Europe, DDT is also going to them for help. DDT’s following through on his threat to stop trade with countries doing business with North Korea would be “an economic tsunami beyond description,” according to NPR’s Ron Elving, and former George W. Bush staffer Taylor Griffin called the economic impact “apocalyptic.” The value of trade between China and the U.S. alone is $663 billion—and DDT’s purchases are part of that amount.

Chief of Staff John Kelly seems to be quieting DDT for the past weeks, but he got his cellphone back tonight when he railed against “Crooked Clinton” about her new book. We’ll wait to see if it’s the recurring trend.

 

January 22, 2015

Stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement

President Obama’s State of the Union speech earlier this week rated higher than his previous ones with 81 percent of the 31.7 viewers having a very or somewhat positive opinion and only 18 percent reacting negatively. Watchers’ confidence that the president’s policies “will move the country in the right direction” increased 15 percentage points from a pre-speech survey to 72 percent. The high point of the speech for many people happened after Republicans interrupted it with applause when the president said, “I have no more campaigns to run.” He responded, “I know, because I won both of them.” Democrats applauded, and Republicans whined about how nasty the president was.

On their website, House Republicans omitted a couple of the president’s statements.  some of the president’s statements. One was his saying that GOP tried to avoid discussion of climate change by saying that they are “not scientists,” and the other, the president’s statement about torture:

“As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world.”

In his response to the president, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) showed himself not yet ready for prime time when he interrupted his own speech about a minute into it by muttering, “Ah, lemme start again.” The video was pulled from YouTube but is available here.

The president’s one clinker in his speech was his support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the biggest trade deal in history with countries from Chile to Japan representing 792 million people and 40 percent of the world economy. It was worked out by lobbyists from the nation’s biggest corporations and banks with no participation from the U.S. public.People should know how bad this secret deal by the support from Republicans and rejection of Democrats.

The U.S. chose free trade, opening borders to products made overseas, after World War II to raise living standards and create different jobs. In the last few decades, the win-win situation of free trade skewed the payoff from trade agreements to those at the top. With low tariffs, negotiations are more concerned with protections for intellectual property while decreasing labor laws, financial regulations, and rules for health, safety, and the environment. Big Business still wants free trade while extending their trademarks, copyrights, and patents abroad and protecting their global franchise agreements, securities, and loans. With those rights, they want to stop interference with their profits by doing away with protection for consumers, workers, small investors, and the environment.

Leaks from the TPP proposal show it gives stronger patent protections for pharmaceutical industry to delay cheaper generic versions of drugs. Global corporations will gain an international tribunal of private attorneys, outside any nation’s legal system, who can order compensation for any “unjust expropriation” of foreign assets. The same tribunal can order compensation for any lost profits from a nation’s regulations. Right now, Philip Morris is using this provision against Uruguay in a bilateral trade treaty between that country and Switzerland; the corporation claims that their profits are unfairly diminished by Uruguay’s strong anti-smoking regulations. The year 2012 saw nearly sixty cases in which Big Business sued governments, most of them by U.S. companies trying to undo regulations in different countries.

With TPP’s “minimum standards” affecting financial regulations in a trade deal, a country could be ordered to pay an international bank if the government doesn’t bail out the failing institution. An example is the $200 million cost against the Czech Republic in 2006. TPP rules could also “curtail certain limitations on the size or the operations of financial firms,” according to a letter that three Senators sent U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman about their objections to his delegation’s provisions. The TPP could also stop any future financial transaction taxes.

Because the TPP lets Big Business eliminate all laws and regulations that threaten their profits, foreign subsidiaries of U.S.-based corporations can destroy regulations in the United States and take compensation from any laws that protect people from unsafe products or unhealthy foods, fraudulent securities or predatory lending, unsafe working conditions, and toxic emissions.

In his speech, the president claimed that the TPP will increase U.S. exports in its competition with China. The same agreement, however, lets U.S. corporations outsource even more jobs abroad. President Obama wants the TPP to be on “fast track” (aka Trade Promotion Authority) because he then gets the constitutional trade and legislative writing authority from the Congress. It prevents amendments and debates on any trade deal that the president negotiates.

At the end of the last century, NAFTA was supposed to be a boon to the United States. Instead it lost almost 700,000 jobs (60.8 percent in manufacturing), expanded inequality, degraded the environment, and destroyed Mexican agriculture. Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China lost over 2.7 million jobs in the U.S., and the Korea Free Trade Agreement destroyed another 70,000 jobs. The most recent South Korean trade pact has lost jobs and expanded U.S. trade deficits.

Proposed trade agreements such as TPP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) promise the same result. The TTIP agreement with Europe would drive the United States into the same horror of austerity as the EU. Like TTP, Big Business designed its further deregulation of economic, financial, health, labor, safety, privacy, and environmental protections to weaken labor and government. Yet the most optimistic projection of the trade agreement’s impact is a one-time increase of 0.1 percent of GDP.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has provided more ways that the TPP could hurt working families:

Outsourcing even more jobs overseas: More than 130,000 jobs would go to Vietnam and Japan alone. Also disappearing from the U.S. would be many of these service sector jobs in outsource call centers; computer programming; engineering; accounting; and medical diagnostic jobs. More manufacturing jobs would vanish because the TPP provides special benefits to firms that offshore jobs and reduces risks associated with operating in low-wage countries.

Benefiting and expanding Wall Street at everyone else’s expense and financial instability: TPP would stop governments from imposing “capital controls” to avoid financial crises. There can be no financial speculation tax to limit huge transfers of speculative capital in and out of countries responsible for the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s.

Threatening wages, benefits, and collective bargaining: Workers in the U.S. will be competing with those in Vietnam where the minimum wage is 56 cents per hour. 

Undermining environmental protection: Pending claims worth over $14 billion have been filed in other countries on the basis that regulations, mostly environmental, negatively impact future profits. International tribunals will bypass domestic courts to decide these cases.

Ending “Buy America” laws: TPP requires equal access to foreign corporations for competition in contracting with the government. Even companies with horrible human rights records must receive government contracts paid by U.S. taxpayers.

Rewarding authoritarian regimes: The TPP would give all countries, even those that violate basic international standards for human rights, duty-free access to the U.S. market. The Sony hackings could not be reported under TPP rules.

The TPP has no expiration date. It can be repealed only with the consensus of all the countries that agree to it. Other countries, such as China, can also join the TPP in the future.

Two weeks ago, Sanders asked Michael Froman, the chief trade representative for the U.S., to submit the full text of the proposed TPP.  At this time, Congress can assess the proposal only through a few leaked documents. If Froman turns down Sanders’ request, he has asked for the legal basis for a denial. Sanders also plans to introduce a bill requiring that the contents of any trade agreement being negotiated by the U.S. would be made public with the request of any member of Congress.

If the TPP were good for people of the U.S. , it wouldn’t be secret. ISIL is less of a threat to the people of the United States than the proposed trade agreements are. All we can hope for is that the Republicans hate President Obama so much that they won’t give him anything he wants even if the GOP might support it.

[More horrifying information about TPP is available here. And here.]

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