Nel's New Day

February 6, 2019

State of the Union 2019

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) managed to last 82 minutes in his State of the Disunion (SOD) address last night as he moved from Tweeter Trump to Teleprompter Trump, but he couldn’t outlast Bill Clinton’s 88-minute speech at 88 minutes. DDT failed to keep on his message of “unity while he maintained the record for the most lies—or “misrepresentations”:

Economy:

DDT announced that he had an “unprecedented economic boom,” but his economic record is behind those of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. And the economy is slowing down.

The “lowest rate” of “unemployment” for “half a century” that DDT quoted is actually at an 18-year-old low and is going up to where it’s matches the rate at the beginning of 2018. January’s unemployment rate rose to 6.8 percent from its low of 5.9 percent in May 2018. Latinx and Asian-American unemployment rates are also increasing.

“Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades,” according to DDT who ignored any adjustment for inflation. The actual increase in wages, 1.3 percent from December 2017 to December 2018, is the largest since August 2016.

DDT’s figures for new jobs and new manufacturing jobs were inflated: the last year saw almost 4.9 million jobs, not 5.3 million, and 436,000 in manufacturing, not 600,000.

Importers, not exporters, pay DDT’s tariffs, thus far increased by about $6.7 billion, and then pass along the cost to consumers, in essence raising taxes for people in the U.S. In addition, taxpayers are ponying up $12 billion to support farmers, some of them wealthy, for being hurt by DDT’s tariffs.

The reduction of estate-taxes benefits the wealthy and almost never on farms or small businesses, only 80 out of the 5,500 estates in 2017.

Foreign Affairs:

DDT did withdraw from the Iran agreement, but the deal still exists with other countries, making his action largely symbolic. He claimed that Iran won’t be building nuclear weapons because we have no agreement to stop them.

Instead of the U.S. spending “$7 trillion in the Middle East,” this sum covers only estimates future obligations through 2056 for veterans’ care, including George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

DDT’s claim that he has “liberated virtually all [the 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria controlled by ISIS]” does not consider the ISIS comeback from a hasty U.S. departure predicted by the Defense Department’s Inspector General.

NATO countries started spending more money on defense before DDT was elected, unlike his claims that he made them pay more.

DDT’s supposition that without him, the U.S. would be at war with North Korea has no evidence. He also ignores the new missiles that North Korea continues to build.

Healthcare:

Despite his declaration that he will “protect patients with preexisting conditions,” DDT has refused to defend these conditions in a lawsuit and then celebrated the ruling against these protections.

DDT completely misrepresented the abortion legislation in New York that finally matches Roe v. Wade. The Virginia bill still requires a doctor to agree that the pregnancy would kill the woman or impair her mental or physical health.

Immigration:

DDT’s claim that apprehensions along the Mexico border have been drastically reduced in areas of a wall ignores that ALL apprehensions, including those in areas with no barrier. As for the “tremendous onslaught” at the border, the 304,000 apprehensions are an 81.5 percent decline since the 1.6 million in 2000. The Congressional Research Service reported that the San Diego fence, mentioned by DDT, “did not have a discernible impact on the influx of unauthorized aliens coming across the border.” Suspected in-country overstays of visas are twice those of southern border apprehensions.

DDT’s claim of “humanitarian assistance” in the bill he sent to Congress gave no help for Central American children but was intended to keep them from escaping violence and poverty by coming to the U.S. He also said, “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” In reality, DDT wanted to cut legal immigration rates in at least half while eliminating immigration based on family ties—the way his in-laws came to the U.S.—and the visa lottery.

DDT’s inflated figures of “criminal aliens” and charges or convictions fail to consider multiple counts and doesn’t separate charges and convictions. His claims about the MS-13 gang are equally dubious: they are concentrated only in three areas—Los Angeles, Long Island, and Washington, D.C. areas.

He promised that wall “will stop much of the drugs from pouring into this country,” but most drugs come through legal entry points.

Praise that DDT gave El Paso for cutting its violent crime ignored the fall in violent crime before the building of the wall, crime that rose for four years after Bush authorized the wall and it was built.

DDT’s accusation about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants ignores research that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born population and that immigration is a net positive for the U.S. economy and to workers overall.

DDT’s statement about 1-in-3 women being “sexually assaulted on the long journey north” did not come from a random sample, but from a Doctors without Borders report which addressed the 12 percent of females in 500 people treated by these doctors. These 56 women, likely not representative of all migrant women, said they were “sexually abused,” not “sexually assaulted.” DDT’s statistic is derived from the experiences of 56 women and cannot necessarily be considered representative of all migrant women.

Domestic Affairs:

Of the 3.6 million, not 5 million, people who have stopped getting food stamps, many may have lost this benefit because DDT allowed recession-era waivers allowing some adults to retain the benefit for longer periods of time, and immigrants fear DDT’s new policies. The number of people collecting benefits has also been shrinking since 2014.

DDT is right that more women are in the workforce, but more people are in the workforce because of the U.S. increasing population. Female labor participation rate was 60.3 percent in April 2000, below DDT’s 57.5 percent. DDT’s praise of women’s electoral gains in the 2018 midterms was awkward because the increase is for Democrats. The Senate gained two female GOP members but lost a dozen Republicans in the House. New female House members, dressed in white to celebrate women’s suffrage, laughed and danced at DDT’s words.

The U.S. “revolution” in energy started with President Obama in 2009, in opposition to DDT’s claim.

Beyond lies and “misrepresentations,” DDT threatened the Democrats by saying that the United States cannot have peace if he’s investigated in the United States. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.” This morning, Pelosi responded:

“The president should not bring threats to the floor of the House. He said he wasn’t going to cooperate unless we didn’t exercise our constitutional responsibility to oversight.”

Philip Bump (WaPo) compared DDT’s line about “ridiculous partisan investigations” to Richard Nixon’s statements in his 1974 State of the Union speech when Nixon said, “One year of Watergate is enough.”

Hardcore conservatives—DDT supporters—were unhappy with the speech:

Ann Coulter: DDT’s speech was the “lamest, sappiest, most intentionally tear-jerking” State of the Union ever.

Rick Santorum: It was “probably the worst delivered speech” he’d heard DDT deliver.

A few subjects missing from DDT’s speech: Russia, the shutdown, tax cuts, “clean coal,” China trade war, farmers, the Me Too movement, election fraud, the press, Iraq or Afghanistan, the ongoing disaster in Puerto Rico, and the climate. He gave 14 seconds to infrastructure. DDT also failed to allow the Speaker of the House to introduce him in a violation of protocol.

While she sat behind–and above–DDT during the address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) wore a smaller version of the Mace of the Republic or the Mace of the US House of Representatives which she can order the Sergeant of Arms to present before an offender to restore order in the House.

The Mace was last used during the first world war when white supremacist Rep. J. Thomas Heflin, uncle of former Sen. Howard Heflin, accused colleagues of being unpatriotic in voting against entering the war. The Sergeant of Arms carries the four-foot-long mace ahead of the speaker to the rostrum at each session of the House.

DDT called for unity and cooperation last night, but today he called Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) a “political hack.” At least yesterday, before giving his speech, he trash talked political figures on both sides—maybe his definition of bipartisanship.

January 28, 2019

Margaret & Helen: Helen Turns Loose about Last Week’s News

In the past, I’ve written about my admiration for these “elder” women and their blog. This one about last week’s events is a classic! The subtitle: “Do you have any idea how hard it is not to use the F-word when talking about Donald Trump? It’s damn near f-ing impossible.” #FactsMatter #HowToTrainYourDragon

Margaret, I know you don’t Tweet unless you are talking to your parrots. And for what it’s worth, I told you those things would outlive us. I know you thought I was stupid to get on the Twitter. Well, I should have listened to you, honey. I came. I tweeted. And I got covered in shit. Probably because Twitter is chock-full of assholes who don’t know the difference between your and you’re.

Now before all you NitTwits out there write me off, read on for a little bit. There are some things that are good about Twitter. Most are not easy to find, but they’re there if you are willing to work a bit. I’ll explain…

On Friday, a jackass named Roger Stone whined that the FBI had raided his home leaving himself, his dog, his wife (in that order) and even his neighbor forever traumatized.  From his description, it’s hard to believe he was able to pull it all together in time to make a speech, do a few radio interviews, and then finish it off with a couple of cable news shows, all while hoping someone would ask him about how he once took out personal ads referring to himself as a body builder with a hot wife looking for muscular studs for threesomes. Yep. True story. Stone is a real asshat.

But I’ve gotten off track. This really isn’t about Roger Stone. However, I would like to take a second to point out that while he was kicked off Bob Dole’s campaign for his little trio fetish, he was eventually hired again by George W. Bush and, of course, Donald J. Trump.  In fact, given enough time I can probably prove that while not every asshole is on Twitter, they are all on a Republican payroll somewhere.

Anyway, back to the point of this story…

Immediately the Cheeto in Chief tweeted from the White House that Roger Stone was treated more unfairly than drug dealers and border coyotes.  I find that pretty rich coming from Trump. Unless Roger’s wife was put in a cage, I’d say he got off pretty easy by Trump standards.  How someone can cram so many lies into so few characters is astounding. It’s probably the only thing at which Trump excels. One day the history books will tell the story of how Trump became president because a bunch of racists inbred to the point that they had the attention span of a gnat. If your family tree goes in a straight line, I’ve got a red hat to sell you. Yep. I’m a bitch. Screw you MAGA nation. You screwed up Christianity and now you’ve screwed up the United States of America.  All because you think an immigrant stole your job. Well here’s 280 characters for you:

An immigrant who achieves the American Dream didn’t steal anything from you or your family. They just wanted it more than you and worked harder than you. And they did it with all the odds stacked against them.  If your life sucks lemons, a wall isn’t going to turn it to lemonade.

Off track again.  Sadly, I’m pretty sure any MAGAt who started reading this has long ago gotten distracted by a shiny object.  Probably one of those shiny blondes on Fox & Friends.

So back to Friday…

As if the Stone indictment wasn’t enough, we also saw a woman finally get the best of Trump. Shockingly, porn and secret payments weren’t involved.  Sorry, Stormy. I’ve come to love you honey, but Nancy fucked Trump and that little mushroom of  Donald’s never made an appearance. Now that’s my kind of woman. (Note – I just used a word that I once thought I would never use. The F-word. I’ll explain in a bit.)  The great deal maker just spent a month dealing himself into Ann Coulter’s timeout corner.  Speaking of that pholcidae, Ann Coulter needs to eat a potato chip once in awhile.  Honey, when you turn sideways your nose looks like the tab on a zipper.  I know. I know. I shouldn’t body shame.  Fine. I made fun of a skinny bitch.  Hate me today.  I’ll apologize tomorrow by sending her a pie.  So many assholes. So much shit. So few characters. Even fewer with character.

But where was I?  Oh yes…Nancy.

Nancy Pelosi is one hell of a leader despite the fact that we require her to work twice as hard and endlessly prove herself worthy of her job. Nancy isn’t just matching Fred Astaire’s dance moves step-for-step backwards and in heels, she’s reminding the entire world that if women were allowed to take the reins, some important shit could finally get done. For the love of God, you MAGA asshats, she is the reason you have anything even close to affordable healthcare and a living wage. And if not for your precious GOP, you would have gotten the whole enchilada. I probably shouldn’t have used that enchilada metaphore. Did someone say wall?

Oh, but again, I digress… It’s so easy to do when you are not limited to 280 characters.

And so, here we are.  After 4,542 characters and one President without character, we arrive at my point:

With all that news to offer on Friday, that same evening the Washington Post tweeted out this headline for a story: Texas officials flag tens of thousands of voters for citizen checks. I don’t know what the terms mean, but the kids call that click bait and then go on about something to do with ratios. Not important. What is important is that IF you actually read the article – and almost no one on Twitter does – the very LAST paragraph explains that Texas has no proof of voter fraud and further research most likely will show that minimal if any occurred. But that didn’t stop the Great Orange Yeast Infection from tweeting a few hours later the lie that voter fraud was a huge problem because 95,000 illegal immigrants voted in the last election in Texas.

Why the last paragraph of that story is not the first paragraph is a good example of how  we got into this mess. Shame on the Washington Post for making it so easy for Trump. In my day, people called it judging a book by its cover. I have always just called it what it is: Bullshit. And friends, Twitter is full of bullshit. And the biggest asshole spewing shit and stinking up the place is Donald Jackass Trump. His 57 million followers judge a book by its cover, a person by their color, and their own IQ by the number of channels on their cable box. The only book they might pick up is the Bible and, I promise you, they don’t read that one either. For the record, he’s YOUR president, and YOU’RE an asshat for believing him. YOUR is a possessive adjective.  YOU’RE is a contraction of you are.

Now mind you, if you look really hard, you can find Tweets like the one from the Texas Tribune to its 180,000 followers warning people about the misleading headline.  How much do you want to bet that almost no MAGA-hats follow the Texas Tribune? Trust me.  It requires reading more than just a headline, and those people only get their headlines from one place – Fox News – the only place with more assholes full of shit than Twitter.  And speaking of assholes, can Tucker Carlson pull his head out of his long enough to see where role modeling Bill O’Reilly is going to take him? A loofah, a hot shower and Lindsey Graham.  No wait. What? That doesn’t make any sense. But it did allow me to sneak in a mention of Lindsey Graham. Of all the Real Housewives I hate; Lindsey Olin Graham is at the top of my list. No matter what side of his mouth Lindsey talks out of, it’s always shrill. Don’t try to follow my logic folks – it’s all shits and grins at this point.  Because in the end, that is all Twitter is good for.  Well, almost…

Journalist and politicians have no business trying to do their jobs on Twitter.  It’s a great place for cat videos, clever comments from Quinn Cummings, and teen activists trying to take down the god-awful NRA.  All those things SHOULD be accomplished in 280 characters or less.  You really shouldn’t have to work too hard to point out that cats are cute, Quinn is hilarious, and the NRA is evil.  But trying to be President of the United States 280 characters at a time should be a god-damn constitutional crisis. And Congress should at long last put a stop to it. Censure him. Indict him. Impeach him. Anything him.  Just quit tweeting at him and do your damn job.  And the same thing goes to all of you journalists on Twitter. A story is more than its headline.  If you are going to limit yourself to 280 characters, then make sure you get to the truth around character 10 or 11.  Trump and his followers lose their attention after that.

You know what else happened last week?  Five women were shot execution style by a gunman in Florida.  Another gunman killed five people in Louisiana. All that and we focused on an idiot like Stone. It doesn’t take 280 characters to make the case that a national state of emergency isn’t at the southern border. It’s at the NRA headquarters. If the President wasn’t so fixated on how many likes he gets, he might know that. Jesus H. Christ I hate that man. How on God’s green earth did he ever become President? Oh wait. Twitter. I forgot. Damn you @Jack.  And by the way, did you really suspend me because of my joke about Trump listening to the voices in his head?  Seriously?  The man practically started a nuclear war on your platform.

Now, I’ll admit that I am probably just another one of those assholes on Twitter, but I did meet a few good people along the way. I doubt they even knew I was following them. If you want to be on Twitter and do some good, follow @davidhogg111 or @Emma4Change. Want a good laugh?  Follow @quinncy or @louisvirtel. Want to actually make a difference as a political activist?  Try @Alyssa_Milano or @williamlegate.  Want to waste your time?  Follow a Kardashian. And for the love of God, give @kathygriffin a break. It was a fucking halloween mask. If you follow a journalist, promise that you’ll click on the link and read the whole story.  Might I suggest @texastribune, @DanRather, @annanavarro or @NicoleDWallace.  Just don’t follow a politician until they retire. And that goes double for @realdonaldfuckingtrump!

So, here we are at the end of my little rant. In this story, I used the F-word. Three times. It’s a word that I had always banned on this little web blog of mine.  I humbly ask for your forgiveness.  But do you realize how hard it is to talk about Donald Trump and not use that word?  It’s god-damn near fucking impossible.  I mean it.  Really.

January 25, 2019

DDT: Week 105 – The ‘Dealmaker’ Caves

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) blinked not once but twice this week—the first time when he discovered that he cannot go to the House without its permission and the second time this morning when he reopened the government—for three weeks—without his wall money. He did deliver a threat about a “very powerful alternative” if he doesn’t get his wall money by February 15—likely meaning a “national emergency” to bypass Congress and added this probably illegal and not-so-oblique threat:

“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15 again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”

Republicans followed DDT’s today’s bidding, and both congressional chambers unanimously passed a bill—that DDT has already signed—to fund the government for three weeks while working on DHS funding. Conservatives pundits like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh scuttled the same bill to start the shutdown five weeks ago. DDT the dealmaker got nothing in return for reopening the government.

After 35 days of criticism and sinking ratings, DDT changed his May 2017 statement when he said, “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September.” After 18 months calling for shutdowns and driving the country downhill, DDT achieved his desired goal and didn’t like it.

DDT still isn’t off the hook. FBI Director Christopher Wray is furious—and he’s a DDT appointee. In a video, Wray told agents and other employees, “It takes a lot to get me angry, but I’m about as angry as I’ve been in a long, long time.” He called the government shutdown “mind-boggling” and “short-sighted.”

For two years, terrified Republicans demonized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to convince her caucus that she shouldn’t be Speaker. The most conservative Dems, some belonging to a DDT-supporting group, accused her of being too old. Nancy, DDT’s “nickname” for the speaker, won, just as she did in passing the Affordable Care Act, now popular with a majority of people. Earlier, Pelosi quashed George W. Bush’s plan for privatizing Social Security and sent his ratings into the tank. Pelosi stays firm and holds her caucus together.

Republicans blame Mick Mulvaney, DDT’s acting chief of staff, for their shutdown troubles after he lobbied them to give DDT his $5.7 funding for “wall.” One Republican said that Mulvaney “seems to have screwed this up and put us in a box.” Another said that DDT “wants a chief of staff who isn’t in charge of anything. Mulvaney is the right man for the job.”

For the past five weeks, DDT’s approval ratings have tanked, and confidence in the economy has dropped. His supporters continually wailed about “bad optics,” and the FAA’s brief closure of flights at LaGuardia, where DDT keeps his private jet, caused ripples of delay across the nation. Ten percent of air traffic controllers called in sick, and 3,000 TSA screeners didn’t come to work last Sunday.

Roger Stone, the DDT friend who created the monster of “wall” as a campaign gimmick, became Robert Mueller’s 37th arrest in a pre-dawn raid at his Florida home and been charged with seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction. As intermediary between DDT’s campaign and WikiLeaks’ hacking Democratic emails in he latter part of DDT’s 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton, his indictment tightens the connection between the Russia connection and DDT. Federal officials believe that DDT ordered his former fixer, Michael Cohen, to benefit his campaign with other secret duties.

The indictment accuses Stone of false testimony to the House, and his threats toward associates come straight out of a Godfather movie. DDT didn’t refute the charges against Stone; he just ranted and lied that the FBI had alerted CNN, which had a stakeout at Stone’s house. Stone claimed he would never testify against DDT, something that Cohen promised before he testified against DDT. The New York Times is keeping tabs on all charges and their dispositions from Mueller’s investigation.

In 2017, Foreign Policy reported that the newspaper owned by DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, published all of WikiLeaks releases and sent a freelancer in 2014 to meet with founder Julian Assange, avoiding arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The New York Observer published laudatory articles about Assange and stories refuting Russia’s involvement in DDT’s presidential election.  

The best headline about Roger Stone’s arrest comes from Charles Pierce: “FBI agents arrested Roger Stone for Free. I would have, too.” The reference is to lack of paychecks during the government shutdown, and the article is well worth reading.

DDT is rapidly sinking in the polls—as low as his 34 percent approval rating in the AP poll and down eight points from his 42 percent a month ago. [visual poll] With women, he’s up to 71 percent disapproval, from 58 percent disapproval only a month ago.

Other events of the past week:

The GOP party is so afraid that someone will run against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the 2020 primaries that a committee has passed a resolution to do away with them because of his “effective presidency.” The resolution is headed for the full GOP governing body. South Carolina’s GOP had already considered this possibility.

To build his wall, DDT wants to use the civil forfeiture asset “slush fund,” money that law enforcement takes from people and keeps even if they are never charged with any crimes.

The DOJ changed the definitions of “domestic violence” and “sexual assault” to only physical harm constituting a felony or misdemeanor and eliminating emotional abuse to eliminate asylum seekers and reduce investigation into college sexual assault victims.

Four women who left water and food in the desert to keep migrants from dying were convicted of trespass and littering with sentences of $500 fines and six months in federal prison. With no jury, the judge ignored their defense of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act and misrepresented the area where the women left help, false accusing them of being in a place “littered with unexploded military ordnance” and an uncited federal law that they needed permits to enter the property. The last prosecution for this offense was from George W. Bush’s second term; a 2009 conviction was overturned by the 9th Circuit Court. Border Patrol agents regularly destroy food and water, and DOJ prosecutes only volunteers of No More Deaths.

In story straight out of a mob movie, DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen has postponed his testimony to the House Oversight Committee because of threats to his family. He has now been subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee for mid-February.

In DDT’s “nobody is sure” defense that he used for the killing of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia royalty, DDT said that “nobody is sure” who killed the four U.S. citizens in a suicide bombing last week. ISIS took responsibility for the killings in Syria, and the bombing was shortly after DDT bragged about pulling out all the troops with his rationale that ISIS was “defeated.”

DDT and Rudy Giuliani claim that there were no plans for DDT’s Moscow Trump Tower, but Buzzfeed has proved they are lying by releasing hundreds of business documents, emails, text messages, architectural plans, and its goal to be “the tallest building in Europe.”

Other memorable Giuliani comments from the past week:

  • Failed to say that no DDT campaigner colluded with Russia before he added, “If the collusion happened, it happened a long time ago” and finished by asserting that it “wouldn’t be a crime.”
  • Quoted DDT as saying that talks to build a Trump Tower Moscow were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won.”
  • Suggested that DDT talked to Michael Cohen about his false testimony to Congress before saying that his statements were “hypothetical” and “not based on conversations I had with the President.”

The General Services Administration rented a federal property to DDT for his Washington hotel even knowing that it might violate the U.S. Constitution.

Last April, the day after T-Mobile announced its $26 billion merger with Sprint to double T-Mobile’s value, nine top staffers stayed at DDT’s hotel for up to three days and making repeated visits while they curried support from DDT for the merger. The Senate Commerce Committee is calling for another hearing on T-Mobile’s proposal.

Since DDT was inaugurated, 7 million more people are without health insurance, going to a four-year high from 10.9 percent in late 2016 to 13.7 percent.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar allowed Miracle Hill Ministries, a federally funded Protestant foster care agency in South Carolina, to deny foster children to Jewish families because of the South Carolina agency’s “strict religious requirements.” Texas AG Ken Paxton, several times indicted, is working on a federal waiver allowing discrimination against both religion and LGBTQ people.

Penalties for polluters in the last fiscal year dropped 85 percent from $500 million to $72 million, the lowest level since 1994.

The best thing from the past week was Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) response to Democrats rejecting DDT’s bill demanding his “wall” and adding punitive measures to immigration. His 30-minute speech went far more than lambasting Republicans for perpetuating the shutdown into a history of how they blocked Democrats from a $46 billion measure for border security and the intrinsic problems of the current Congress. Everyone should watch this video.

January 23, 2019

Shutdown Continues Deprivation, Covington Gains Prominence

Day 33 of government shutdown: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may be feeling the consequences of his government shutdown. After he wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that he would give his State of the Union speech in the House in six days, she told him that he could give the annual speech at the Capitol after the government was reopened. She had invited him on January 3 with “no thought that the government would still be shut down.” DDT cannot give his speech in the House without a concurrent revolution for a joint session of Congress and an invitation from the House. DDT referred to the Democrats as being “radicalized,” a term that then House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) endorsed using as a pejorative term about Democrats in the early 1990s. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who supports the government shutdown, said that elected people should “put America’s public first.”

Pelosi accused DDT of “holding the health, safety and paychecks of the American people hostage” and said that Democrats fear he may do so again in future if they agree to his demands. Someone explained to DDT that he couldn’t go to the House with congressional approval, he launched into his usual tantrums, blaming Pelosi for trying to keep “the truth” from the public and controlling Schumer. DDT also was shocked that Pelosi would take this action for the first time in U.S. history. He skipped over the part that trying to give during the speech during a president-caused government shutdown is unprecedented (unpresidented?).

Deciding that he has lost the argument, DDT insulted Pelosi and said that he would wait until after the government reopens to give that “great” speech.

Lara Trump, wife of DDT’s son Eric Trump, calls the loss of paychecks for 800,000 people “a little bit of pain … for the future of our country.” An example of the “little bit of pain” caused by the shutdown is the requirement by Newton (AL) requiring  43 subsidized tenants to pay full rent until “the government opens up.” One 48-year-old woman living on disability with her daughter and granddaughter will immediately see her rent increase from $110 per month to $505. For Lara Trump, that wouldn’t be even a “little bit of pain”; for this family, the almost 400-percent increase is devastating. Rural people who voted for DDT are discovering the “pain” that he can cause them.

Poll since DDT started the government shutdown doesn’t look good for him:

  • 71 percent think that the border wall, which they say is having a negative impact on the country, is not worth a government shutdown.
  • 66 percent want DDT to agree to budget without wall funding.
  • 60 percent think that the shutdown is causing serious problems for the United States.
  • 20 percent report being personally impacted by the shutdown’s cutback in services and programs.

Because of the shutdown, some jail inmates cannot have visitors—not only family but also attorneys—even if they have not been convicted of any crimes. Medical care is also being denied to people in jail because of no availability. The Kentucky union of prison officials have started a billboard campaign to open the government. And they are targeting McConnell as responsible for the shutdown. Today, the House passed the tenth bill to open the government, and McConnell rejected all ten. He is up for re-election next year.

FBI agents have been forced to put investigations on hold because of the shutdown. An undercover agent investigating child exploitation said that he’s “had to put pervs on standby.” Investigation into MS-13 gang members had been slowed because Spanish speakers are on furlough. Another agent working counter-intelligence cases said that they can “only conduct administrative functions.” Indictments are postponed, and grand jury subpoenas put on hold.

DDT’s shutdown caused the cancellation of the 16th annual International Export Control and Border Security Conference, scheduled for 270 security experts from 85 countries to discuss border-related issues such as weapons policy, licensing, and enforcement, including nuclear-arms proliferation. The State Department described the move as a postponement but did not offer a date when the conference would be rescheduled.

Tomorrow, the Senate plans to offer Democrats a deal to stop holding DACA recipients hostage for three years in exchange for $5.7 billion to begin DDT’s wall. Today, the Supreme Court refused to hear the court cases that had stopped DDT’s executive order against the DACA program. That decision makes DDT’s bargaining chip moot for at least ten months.

Arizona Republicans have a way to pay for DDT’s wall: State Rep. Gail Griffin introduced a bill forcing each resident to pay $20 to get porn sites on new computers and smartphones unlocked. Forget the fact that the idea is unconstitutional; the necessary funds for DDT’s current wall would still be short $5,559,680,000 . And imagine the logistics of requiring manufacturers to comply. The idea came from Chris Sevier, a self-described porn addict.

During the government shutdown, the annual March for Life brought about 200,000 people to Washington, D.C., including a large contingent from Covington Catholic High School, a prep school for privileged—mostly white—teenagers in Kentucky, represented by Mitch McConnell who refuses to allow senators to vote on House bills to reopen the government. Most people in the United States were unfamiliar with the school until Nick Sandmann and a group of 50 to 70 students  came from the March for Life to jeer at Nathan Phillips, an older Native American and Vietnam veteran, and a group trying to raise awareness of Indigenous people. When Nick was faced with bad press regarding his behavior, his mother hired a PR agency to organize a campaign that would back the press off from criticism of her son.

Families of Covington students hired the attorney Robert Barnes who appeared on Fox & Friends where he threatened legal action against anyone making false or defamatory statements about the teenagers. He also gave journalists and celebrities 48 hours to apologize and delete their tweets. Videos of the event showed the teens screaming, harassing women, making rape jokes, and taking off their clothes. Barnes may also have to deal with past photos of Covington students in blackface during a basketball game against a rival team with black players. Covington students described blackface as “school spirit.”

This morning, Nick appeared, without his MAGA hat, on NBC Today show where he claimed that he couldn’t remember anyone yelling “build the wall” and “go back to the reservation,” that the chants that he and his fellow students shouted were “positive” displays of “school spirit.” According to Nick, the students, mostly wearing their MAGA hats, were reacting in fear to the “African-Americans” who shouted insults at them. Five Black Hebrew Israelites were seen on video calmly standing, and a sixth videoed them and the crowd while the Covington students was jumping, moving around, and shouting. Phillips led his group between the small group of blacks and the large group of Covington students, who then blocked him from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Racism is “not tolerated” at his “Catholic school,” Nick said. Rev. Marshall Jolly disagrees with Nick’s assessment, as shown in his tweets about his experience with Covington. Nick said on Today that he saw no reason to apologize for what he called “listening to [Phillips] and standing there” and that he had every right to be there.

DDT’s response to Nick’s behavior:

“Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be.”

A week earlier, DDT joked about the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre of several hundred Lakota Indians by the U.S. Cavalry when he ridiculed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) with his customary insulting term of “Pocahontas.”

The dialog on both right and left sides in the past five days has demonstrated one thing: Nick learned from his school, his parents, and other adults that he has the right to stand wherever he wants, even if he is blocking an elder and the resources to hire anyone to threaten people who disagree with him. He feels no obligation to apologize to someone who he has upset, even if it was inadvertent. Males like Nick have a great future: Brett Kavanaugh is now a Supreme Court justice.

January 17, 2019

Shutdown ‘Crushed’ DDT; Barr Follows GOP Line

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:41 PM
Tags: , , ,

Day 17 of the government shutdown: “We are getting crushed,” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. He wasn’t talking about the shutdown; he was complaining about the polls. A majority of people in the United States continues to blame DDT for the shutdown. In December, DDT said he would take credit for the shutdown, and now people agree. Nate Silver, usually the cheeriest of analysts about DDT’s polls, presents polls demonstrating how the shutdown is dragging down DDT’s approval.

DDT loves polls that favor him so much that he had former fixer Michael Cohen arrange to “rig online polls in his boss’s favor” before the 2016 elections. John Gauger, CIO of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and owner of Redfinch Solutions, failed to get DDT into the top 100 business leaders in a CNBC online poll in 2014 but moved DDT into the top five potential GOP candidates in 2015 on the Drudge Report. Gauger claims that he wasn’t paid the promised $50,000 although Cohen gave him a Walmart bag with $12,000 to $13,000 in cash plus a boxing glove Cohen claimed had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter. Cohen claims that his poll rigging was done “at the direction of and for the sole benefit of” DDT. When DDT claims that polls are rigged, he has proof.

In a 222-195 vote, House Republicans failed to pass a bill proposed a bill to pay furloughed workers—for doing nothing—but keep the government shutdown. Yesterday, the House passed its sixth bill for a continuing resolution to reopen the government. Congress did pass a bill into law to pay federal employees, both those working without pay and those furloughed, after the shutdown, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to address opening the government by claiming that to the Senate floor because he won’t present any bills that cannot pass. Today, however, McConnell presented an anti-abortion bill that has zero chance of passing Congress at this time. The measure makes the Hyde Amendment permanent, prohibits abortion in federal health facilities including veterans’ hospitals, and bans subsidized health plans from providing abortion coverage.

Pandering to parts of his base, DDT brought back furloughed workers—with no pay—to process IRS refunds, inspect foods, and expedite farm loans. He is also staffing refuges for hunters, paying more State Department employees, and helping a friend by providing paid workers to process forms for mortgages. Acting AG Matt Whitaker also gave a political speech to the Heritage Foundation in conflict with shutdown guidelines.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) asked DDT to postpone his State of the Union address scheduled for January 29, citing security concerns for protecting the Congress, members of the executive branch, and U.S. Supreme Court justices gathered in one place. DDT cannot deliver his speech to the large audience without Pelosi’s invitation. She suggested that he give the speech in the Oval Office or submit it to Congress in writing. DDT needs Pelosi’s invitation to come to the House. cannot deliver his speech to the House without Pelosi’s invitation. DDT is now asking McConnell if he can go to the Senate.

In retaliation, DDT announced that he postponed Pelosi’s seven-day classified trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan by denying military transport because of the shutdown lack of security. A small contingent of House members were on the way to the airport when DDT told Pelosi could use commercial flights for the highly secret journey that he called a “public relations event.” Melania Trump left on military transport for a vacation at Mar-a-Lago soon after Pelosi’s business trip was canceled. The trip was for six days, and Pelosi was not planning to go to Egypt. Her stop in Brussels was to reassure top NATO commanders about the U.S. staying with the alliance. In Afghanistan, Pelosi planned to visit with members of the military as DDT and GOP House members did after the shutdown as well as to get national security and intelligence briefings. Pelosi is third in line for the presidency.

Barr confirmation:

While DDT sits and fumes, his nomination for DOJ AG, Bill Barr faced two days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. These are some of his responses:

Barr said that he would like to pursue an investigation into the conservative conspiracy theory that a Russian energy nuclear agency donated to the Clinton Foundation to get Hillary Clinton’s approval for is purchase of a uranium mining company. The situation has been thoroughly investigated and debunked.

Asked if he has concerns about how DDT undermines society’s institutions, Barr defended DDT’s repeated use of the term “witch hunt” about Robert Mueller’s investigation and said, “We have to remember that the president is the one who has denied that there’s any collusion and has been steadfast in that. Presumably he knows facts [we don’t]. . . .”

DDT has the power to pardon a family member, according to Barr.

Barr sees “no reason” to change policy not to indict a sitting president.

About birthright citizenship, Bar said that he couldn’t give an answer about whether the 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship. The amendment states “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” DDT has promised to end birthright citizenship through an executive order.

When asked about what the DOJ should know about senior officials who have business relationships with foreign interests and governments, specifically DDT, Barr talked about how members of Congress didn’t need background checks and concluded that “business [relationships] with a foreign interest is not ordinarily a counter-intelligence concern.”

At the end of detailed and specific questioning about whether he would go against ethics officials’ recusal advice, Barr said he would ignore the advice if he disagreed because of a “different judgment of the facts.” He criticized former AG Jeff Sessions because he “locked himself into” following recusal advice from ethics officials at the Justice Department.

Barr said that Mueller’s report didn’t need to be public, but he would issue his own summary of its findings—through his own filter.

According to Barr, there should be a federal law that “prohibits marijuana everywhere.” He also defended his past push for “more incarceration.”

Asked if the DOJ will jail reporters for “doing their jobs,” Barr said he can “conceive of situations” in which a journalist could be held in contempt if a news organization “knows they are putting out stuff that will hurt the country.”

Barr wants a “barrier system” on the border and connected it to the drugs that actually come through the ports of entry. In declaring that, he used the dehumanizing language of “illegal aliens.” He claimed that so-called “sanctuary cities” encourage criminals to come to the U.S., wants to process asylum seekers without letting them into the country, and supports DDT’s “wall or nothing” shutdown. While AG for George H.W. Bush, Barr’s aggressive “law and order” agenda on both immigration and street crime surprised even Republicans. DDT’s immigration actions are patterned after those of Barr in the early 1990s. Barr has a history of supporting the violation of human rights: discriminatory profiling; secret military trials; unchecked security power; bans on asylum seekers; and separation of parents from children.

DDT’s Muslim ban was about national security, according to Barr; therefore, he supports using non-Christian religious beliefs for discrimination.

Barr was “shocked” by the text messages of former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, private conversation that criticized DDT but did not conspire against him or use their positions against DDT. With no indication that Bruce Ohr orchestrated the Christopher Steele dossier, Barr said he was bothered by Ohr’s “connection,” an echo of DDT’s comments.

Asked about DDT rescinding guidelines protecting transgender students from school discrimination, Barr said he didn’t understand the question. Barr also believes that the law doesn’t ban discrimination against LGBTQ people.

In perhaps his most gobsmacking response, Barr said, “I can’t tell you what the Emoluments Clause means.” Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution:

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of Amy kind whatever from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

It means that DDT can’t legally take money from foreign officials—as he’s been doing because they pay him to stay in his hotel. The governments of DC and Maryland have standing to sue DDT for violating the clause with proof because a manager of DDT’s New York hotel claims that it had a turnaround from the Saudi Arabia’s government business. The shutdown has put court cases on hold. Maybe Barr will learn about the Emoluments Clause by the end of the shutdown.

Bill Barr was the DOJ AG who pardoned all the conspirators of the Iran-Contra Scandal, getting President George H.W. Bush out of legal problems, opposes Mueller’s investigation, and believes that the president is above the law. Barr thinks that the president can use military force without congressional authorization. He opposes Roe v Wade and net neutrality. Senate Republicans will confirm him in a heartbeat.

January 3, 2019

Shutdown, House Moves Forward

Day 13 of government shutdown: Thanks to the intransigence of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT), ICE has immigration problems. Tens of thousands of immigration officers and agents have no pay while they show up for work at the Mexico border. Many judges and clerks in immigration courts, already backlogged by almost one million cases, have been sent home while over 2,000 migrants are taken into custody each day. Sixty-five of these border crossers are families and children who are being released in the streets of El Paso (TX), Yuma (AZ), and other border cities. The E-verify website to check on the immigration status of potential hires has been shut down.

In addition to delayed IRS refunds, the Emergency Food Assistance Program may have delayed delivery of food to soup kitchens, food banks, and pantries. Frozen guarantees to back loans from the Small Business Administration mean millions of small businesses lost access to federal assistance loans and technical assistance. Homebuyers will be delayed in getting mortgages. Access to marriage licenses in D.C. has been suspended.

Parks are filthy, restrooms are closed, and museums are closed. Because of health and safety concerns, campgrounds at the Joshua Tree National Park were closed. Areas around parks are losing an average $18 million a day from tourism, and the government is losing money from not collecting fees at the parks where people crawl over fences and gates. Staff shortages create a feeling of “lawlessness” in the parks.  [Trash at the Washington Monument.]

One of DDT’s arguments for the wall is his claim that the Obama D.C. home has a surrounding ten-foot wall. As usual, DDT is wrong. One of the Obama neighbors commented that DDT “has a very active imagination.” Fox “news” reported on DDT’s information but not the reality.

For the second time in a government shutdown, federal workers are suing in protest of the requirement that “essential” employees must work without pay. Some affected agencies, including the VA and Defense Department, have enough money to pay employees until next fall, but nine other departments and dozens of agencies have been closed except for “essential” individuals who not only won’t receive pay but can’t take vacations or sick leave. Even if employees are in the hospital, they can be fired for being absent without leave. Employees also sued during the 2013 shutdown, and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims required that employees must be paid twice their back pay because the government violated the requirement that employees be paid on time for their services.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a woman elected as Speaker of the House for the 116th Congress, beat out Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in a vote of 220-192 despite 15 Democratic dissidents. She celebrates her position in the 100th anniversary of women voting for federal candidates in the United States. Pelosi needed at least 216 votes for the position to obtain a simple majority of members on the chamber floor because one Republican was absent, one had not been seated, and three Democrats voted “present. Other votes went to Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), 4 votes); Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), 2 votes; Rep. John Lewis (D-GA); Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA); and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL). Two people who are not House members, former VP Joe Biden and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, each received one vote.

The Democratic and Blue Dog representative for my Oregon district, Kurt Schrader, voted for Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH). The super PAC for Schrader’s “No Labels” group spent over $2.5 million during the recent midterms to support vulnerable GOP House candidates trying to keep their position. Only half that amount supported Democrats. No Labels declared candidate DDT as one of their official “problem solvers,”  and No Labels tried to prevent Pelosi from becoming Speaker. Schrader maintained he wanted a younger House leadership before he voted for the 66-year-old Fudge for Speaker and supported older House representatives for other leadership positions.

The House promptly went to work today. In an effort to stop the shutdown, the House passed two bills with the support of a few Republicans. One package of six bills, passed by 239-192, funds agencies that are not considered controversial including the departments of Treasury, State, and Justice through the 2019 fiscal year at the end of September. The second bill, funding DHS through February 8, maintains the department’s funding at current levels which includes $3.1 billion for border security.

The first GOP senator has called for reopening the government with a CR that doesn’t give DDT his money for the wall. Cory Gardner (CO) suggested continuing negotiations after federal agencies open and “let Democrats explain why they no longer support border security.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) agreed with Gardner, but her opinion carries no weight because she never follows through with her promises. After the House passed a bill last month mandating $5.7 billion for DDT’s wall, the Senate approved a CR without that funding to keep the government open until February 8. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that no vote will occur without DDT’s previous sign-off. In essence, McConnell abdicated all the power of the Senate to the executive branch. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pointed out that the House bills are the same as the ones supported in the GOP Senate Appropriations Committee.

Pundits like to talk about how disliked Pelosi is. In the most recent Gallup poll, she is rated more favorably at 38 percent than either Senate leader (Democrat Chuck Schumer from New York at 32 percent and GOP Mitch McConnell from Kentucky at 30 percent) with the same unfavorable rating, 48 percent, as McConnell. Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) received a 34-percent favorable rating with his unfavorable 50 percent at two percent higher than Pelosi, but the media has had few comments about these ratings.

On fivethirtyeight.com, Perry Bacon wrote that all congressional leaders are unpopular. It’s the job and the fact that Congress is unpopular, but increasing partisan polarization has led to increasing partisan hatred of the leaders of the opposite party. As Bacon pointed out, any Democratic House Speaker will be disliked. Congressional leaders also receive negativity from the opposing party but little support of their own. The sexism adds to the mix: Pelosi is the only female congressional leader in the House or Senate, the country fails to elect a woman president, and almost half the states have never elected a woman for governor.

Republicans undoubtedly dislike Pelosi because she gets things done, including the vote for the Affordable Care Act. They complain that she is too liberal, but much of their distaste for the new House Speaker comes from her gender. The GOP wants women to vote for them, but they don’t want women in office. The 116th Congress is evidence of that philosophy.

The question is why some Democrats oppose Pelosi. Some might believe that she’s not progressive enough, although the 15 dissidents are so conservative that the Blue Dogs supported DDT before his election. Other Democrats blame her for their party losing Congress because they need someone to blame. Sometimes Democrats are offended when members of their party try to compromise while at the same time they excoriate the GOP for not working with the Democrats.

An overview of the House membership in the 116th Congress: Three Republicans come from districts that Clinton took in 2016, and 31 Democrats came from DDT-majority districts.

Today is a big milestone for DDT: it represents the longest period of time that DDT didn’t play golf since he was inaugurated. DDT hasn’t visited a golf course and one his personally owned properties for 39 days. Before that time, he spent 166 days at one of his golf clubs and another 22 days at one of his properties. President Obama didn’t hit even 100 rounds of golf until the end of his first term. On the campaign trail, DDT said that he wouldn’t be able to visit any of his properties while he was in office because “I’m going to be working for you.” The man who calls himself the best negotiator possible sat around the White House for two weeks and waited for Democrats to come talk to him.

November 20, 2018

Make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 9:51 PM
Tags: , , ,

A group of conservative Democrats elected to the 116th Congress—some of them new to the House—seem determined to sabotage the possibility of success for their party in a hard-won election. Their goal is to keep Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from taking the gavel for Speaker of the House; some of them even ran on that promise.

Sixteen House Democrats signed a letter that stated:

“We promised to change the status quo and we intend to deliver on that promise. Therefore, we are committed to voting for new leadership in both our Caucus meeting and on the House floor.”

These are the people who signed the letter. Please note that Ben McAdams is ahead of GOP Mia Love, but the race has not yet been declared.

  • Anthony Brindisi (D-NY)
  • Jim Cooper (D-TN)
  • Joe Cunningham (D-SC)
  • Bill Foster (D-IL)
  • Brian Higgins (D-NY)
  • Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
  • Seth Moulton (D-MA)
  • Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
  • Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
  • Max Rose (D-NY)
  • Tim Ryan (D-OH)
  • Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
  • Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
  • Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ)
  • Ben McAdams (D-UT)

The media touts these signatories as “moderate Democrats,” but they are conservative. Those already in the House voted at least 20 percent of the time with the wishes of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), and one of them supported DDT over 38 percent of the time. At least four of the eleven sitting representatives are listed as “Blue Dogs,” a caucus of conservative Democrats.

The letter from 16 people, primarily men, shows that they have no alternative for leadership and no goals other than “change.” DDT was elected because people wanted “change.” If Democrats are going to save the nation from the “Trump Party,” they need to operate as a unit. Keeping leadership from a person who has shown great skill at unity and success can guarantee that DDT and his base will destroy democracy.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), who was suggested as a candidate for Speaker, announced today that she is supporting Pelosi.

Joe Conason wrote the following piece about Pelosi that expresses my feelings. If you agree with Conason’s position below and one of the dissenters is your representative, please contact him or her to give your opinion. I certainly am.

The tiny faction of Democrats who aim to block Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s election as House speaker are only missing two things: a candidate of their own and a rationale that makes sense.

The easier problem is the absence of a candidate, even though the members who have been mentioned so far seem small when measured against Pelosi, who is often described with superlatives such as “formidable” and even “legendary.” And most of her declared opponents within the Democratic caucus are white men, so they may have trouble persuading colleagues that ousting history’s first female speaker to install one of them would be an uplifting change.

Presumably, that is why they have seized upon Rep. Marcia Fudge, a disgruntled Ohio Democrat who has suggested she might challenge Pelosi. But at age 66, Fudge hardly represents “generational change,” as one of her promoters claimed, and she may have trouble explaining why, as a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, its members have shot down her trial balloon. The heroic Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., for instance, says that Pelosi is “a great leader” whom he supports “more than 100 percent.”

Nor has Fudge articulated an inspiring charter for revolution. She calls Pelosi “an elitist,” whatever that may mean, and “a very wealthy person who raises lots of money from other wealthy people.” At the same time, she concedes that Pelosi “has been a very good leader,” and says, “I just think it’s time for a new one.”

But if Pelosi is a very good leader, then why do they need a new one, exactly? The hollow sound of Fudge’s critique echoes in the remarks of her fellow complainants. They say that Democratic leadership needs “new blood” or “new leadership.” They note their pledges to constituents to oppose Pelosi, although the reason behind those pledges has never been made clear either. Is it because Republicans keep smearing her?

The putative leader of the anti-Pelosi faction, Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., used to say that Pelosi had to go because the Democrats were losing elections. (That was sometime after he wrote a gushing letter in June 2016 thanking her for his appointment to the House Armed Services Committee.) Now he grumbles that she is “arrogant” for thinking “she’s the only person who can do this.”

She may not be the only one who can do this — lead the House Democrats against a would-be authoritarian president and his senatorial rubber stamps — but there is no evidence that anyone else available can do it nearly as well.

Forget the obvious fact that against the predictions of critics like Moulton, she led the caucus to a smashing midterm victory. Her qualifications are personal. She is seasoned, cool and not intimidated by any of her avowed adversaries in either party. She knows how to craft legislation and count votes, as she has proved repeatedly since President Trump entered the White House — most notably during last year’s budget negotiations, when she ate the Republicans’ lunch. Any Democrat who thinks replacing Pelosi will advance progressive goals should take a closer look at Moulton and his buddies. Deposing her would most likely deliver the gavel to Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the resolutely centrist minority whip. (He is a year older than she is and not half the leader.)

It is remarkable that in this hour of constitutional confrontation, fomented by a president who violates his oath and endangers national security every day, a rump group of House Democrats insists its most important mission is to overthrow the woman who returned them to power. It is astonishing that this group plans to carry the grudge onto the House floor come Jan. 3, even knowing that it will lose a vote within the caucus by an overwhelming majority. (So far the group has 16 votes out of roughly 235, depending how a few lingering races are resolved.) And it is disturbing that they would ignore their duty to hinder Trump’s depredations, instead rupturing the only institution with the will and authority to oppose him.

There is a good reason that Republicans have sought to demonize this highly effective and determined woman. Unlike most Democrats, she has shown the ability to beat them. And that is the best reason to elect her.

Women were a strong movement behind electing the House majority of Democrats, and UnidosUS, a leading Latinx civil rights organization, has endorsed her as has the International Association of Fire Fighters and nine military veterans serving in the House. Pelosi managed to get the Affordable Care Act passed eight years ago, the issue that may have put the Democrats back into House leadership. Yet 14 men have decided to sign a letter that sends the message that a woman is not good enough for the position. These men should understand that their opposition to Pelosi with no justification may not keep the electorate that they need for the 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.

 

May 4, 2017

Make America Suffer Again

The House passed its “We Don’t Care” bill this morning to take health insurance away from tens of millions of people in the United States. The 217-213 had 20 GOP “no” votes from those smart enough to know how furious their constituents would be with a “yes” vote. Only one of them belonged to the scorched-earth Freedom Caucus. Voters didn’t even have an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office to help them make a decision.

In their race to the bottom, the GOP also ignored the impact the 100+ million people who get insurance from employers. Because the bill allows large employers to offer the same benefits as state requirements, companies can skimp on benefit standards in states that get waivers to opt out of current ACA regulations. The same employers can also bypass any limits on out-of-pocket expenses for expensive illnesses and impose lifetime limits of cost. Premiums may cost less, as Republicans promised, people would have little health care covered. Congressional members and staff are lucky: the new bill exempts them from losing quality insurance.

In the time of DDT and the GOP, governance means voting for a bill that has a life-or-death impact with no information on costs and other affects. The legislators who voted for it hadn’t even read it and don’t want to know the outcome of their legislation that affects one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Republicans leaders didn’t let anyone read the legislation in advance. All people know about the bill is that gives massive tax breaks to the wealthiest in the nation and guts protections for everyone else. Now that it’s passed, people know what’s in the bill, and it looks even worse than previously believed.

Trumpcare winners:

  • The rich and corporations getting $600 billion in tax breaks.
  • Millionaires getting a $50,000 tax break each year for a total of $275 billion to the richest two percent.
  • The 400 richest families each getting an average $7 million each year.
  • Insurance companies getting $145 billion in tax breaks over ten years.
  • Drug companies rewarded with $25 million in tax breaks over ten years.
  • The richest two percent getting a $117 billion tax cut.

Trumpcare losers are the 24+ million low-income sometimes DDT supporters who lose health care (24 million) or people who will pay up to $13,000 more for premiums. No one will have protection from huge increases in drug costs, and the loss of $117 billion in revenue shortens Medicare’s ability to pay full benefits by at least three years.

Eight years ago, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said this about the Affordable Care Act on MSNBC:

“I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read, that we don’t know what they cost.”

At the same time, Mike Pence ridiculed the Democrats:

“Don’t blame us, we didn’t read the bill we voted for.”

In 2009, House Republicans had a fit about the possibility of voting for the ACA without a CBO score, and Ryan demanded that the CBO analysis be expedited before a vote. In fact, Congress and President Obama and spent 14 months writing that bill in 2009 and 2010 with dozens of hearings, committee markups, and consultation with the health care system that won support from hospitals and doctors while waiting for multiple CBO scores. No one in the health care system wants Trumpcare, and Republicans’ only rationale for voting in favor of the bill is that they promised to do it. Oh yes, and it gives massive cuts to the wealthy.

Perhaps most prescient is DDT’s 2014 tweet:

“It’s Thursday. How many people have lost their healthcare today?”

Today is Thursday, and we don’t know the affect of the House vote, but it’s sure to be tens of millions of people if the House bill passes the Senate.

According to DDT’s statements last Sunday, he hasn’t read the revised plan to satisfy the scorched-earth Republicans. On Face the Nation, DDT told John Dickerson that the bill keeps pre-existing conditions and “I mandate it.” Pressed for clarification, DDT added, “We actually have a clause that guarantees [protections to those with pre-existing conditions].” [No, “we” don’t.] The GOP bill clears the way for states to remove this benefit. DDT said that “Obamacare” “doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions.” [Yes, it does.] Even VP Mike Pence said that Republican policymakers are “keeping our promises to protect people who have pre-existing conditions.” Of course, he believed that Michael Flynn didn’t have anything to do with the Russians.

According to a Harvard study about the health care bill, Trumpcare would “effectively end enrollment in the insurance markets for families that make less than $75,000 a year.” In 2015, that was over 70 percent of the people in the United States.

Another population that would suffer from Trumpcare are students needing special education help. Medicaid provides schools districts with such services as physical therapists and feeding tubes as well as preventative care like vision and hearing screenings. Republicans voting to do away with these services may not know about this issue because the House did not allow any public testimony before the vote.

If DDT and Congress are successful in repealing the ACA, discrimination can be the law of the land. One section is the ACA stops federal funds from going to anyone or any group discriminating on the basis of race, skin color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. That includes pregnancy, sex stereotyping, gender identity; religious-connected providers could deny contraception, sterilization, in vitro fertilization, or anything else against “religious” beliefs. People could be turned away from emergency rooms for any reason. At this time, 20 percent of the hospitals in the nation have an affiliation with religion—up 50 percent since 2010, and many times small communities have only these hospitals. At the same time, the federal and state governments are rapidly closing non-religious clinics such as those operated by Planned Parenthood.

In addition to ethical reasons to keep and repair the ACA, its loss will result in the loss of 1.8 billion jobs.

Oregon’s only GOP representative was a leader in destroying the ACA. Greg Walden is now proud of his part in doing away with the small hospitals in his rural district and losing insurance for the largest number of people in his state. DDT acknowledged the part that Ryan and Walden played in taking insurance from Walden’s constituent when he said, “This is the group.” Walden’s district added more Medicaid recipients than any other GOP district and more than all except three Democrat-held districts. That makes it fourth out of 435 districts in helping people under the ACA.  One of Walden’s colleagues pointed out that 640,000 people with pre-existing conditions could lose their insurance, but Walden claimed, “We are protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Those conditions continue to be protected.” Either he has not read the bill, or he lies. People have said he’s a nice man. So sad.

The GOP is backing a losing horse with its argument for less government. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that a majority of people, 57 percent, thinks that government should do more—not less—to help solve the nation’s problems. That’s an increase of 14 percent in just two years and almost double the percentage since 1996. In that time the number of people who think that the government should do less has dropped by over one-third. A study from Baylor University has also found that more government enhances human happiness.

Last month the New York Times’ hired climate denier Bret Stephens. Now the NYT equates Ryan’s lie (“under no circumstance can people be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition”) and Pelosi’s statement (“up to 17 million children … who have pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage by insurers” thanks to the ACA) as both “misleading.” It may be possible that Rupert Murdoch bought the newspaper while I wasn’t paying attention.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) (3rd L)  after signing legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and to cut off federal funding of Planned Parenthood at the U.S. Capitol January 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.

The bill that passed today and moved on to the Senate was even more draconian that the earlier bill, and that one got only 17 percent approval. Yet Republicans are celebrating their success at taking insurance away from 24 million people and allocating much higher charges for people with pre-existing conditions with cases of Bud Light rolled into the Capitol. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the other GOP leaders are even giddier than they were over a repeal in January 2016. Following their beer-bust in the Capitol, Republicans took buses for more celebration in the White House Rose Garden, historically a place where bills are signed into law. Never before have House Republicans reveled in passing a bill that may not survive the Senate. And certainly not a bill designed to create misery for millions of people in the United States.

It’s a new time: Make America Suffer Again.

May 3, 2017

Trumpcare, A ‘Moral Monstrosity’

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 11:18 PM
Tags: , , ,

Sarah Palin’s warnings about “death panels” in government health care are coming to fruition with the GOP version, supposedly up for a vote in the House tomorrow right before congressional members disappear for another two-week vacation. The difference from what she said a few years ago, however, is that her own party, not the Democrats, is creating the death panels. In House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) desperation to pass the “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act, he has blatantly lied about what’s in the Trumpcare bill.

Unlike Ryan’s claims, these are the facts:

  • The GOP plan would raise out-of-pocket costs.
  • The GOP plan will hurt people between the ages of 40 and 65.
  • The GOP plan will remove the ACA benefits to Medicare.
  • The GOP plan will strip coverage from some of the 24 million who got it under the ACA.
  • The GOP plan allows states to strip pre-existing conditions from health insurance.

In every congressional district, at least tens of thousands will lose coverage while the rest of the people will face premium hikes of 15 to 20 percent and deductible increases of 60 percent.

GOP North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger told people who live in states that deny pre-existing conditions through waivers that they should move to another state.  Last year he said that protests in Charlotte were caused by people who “hate white people” after the police fatally shot a black man.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) said that “good people” don’t have serious or life-threatening pre-existing conditions. These people “lead good lives”—they’ve “done things the right way.” These people are also half the population, those who can be denied health care because of any medical condition existing before enrolling in health insurance—like asthma or pregnancy.  Some of his constituents wrote him about being some of these “bad people“—such as being born with cerebral palsy or being in an automobile accident.

Rep. Fred Upton (MI) opposed the bill until he sold out for $1.6 billion a year in a high-risk pool, at least 90 percent less than necessary to make it viable. High-risk pools, recommended for the sickest five percent of people insured in small-group and individual markets, have a history of failure. States limited people from enrolling in them or using the coverage. People in these pools also face much higher premiums—up to twice as much—as people in the individual market and very high deductibles. High-risk pools can allow annual or lifetime limits on coverage, something not permitted in the ACA and have coverage exclusions for up to 12 months, meaning that people have no insurance for that time. California’s plan had only a three-month waiting period for coverage for pre-existing conditions but had a $75,000 annual limit and a $750,000 lifetime limit. Florida’s high-risk pool was such a disaster that it froze new enrollment in 1991, a situation that lasted for almost two decades. Before the full implementation of the ACA in 2011, these pools in 35 states covered only 226,600 people with net losses of $1.2 billion. Of nonelderly adults, 52 million people in the nation have pre-existing conditions which would make them uninsurable. And these pools don’t help the other 90 percent of the people forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in premium “surcharges.”

People on Medicare may also be affected by Trumpcare.  The ACA provided free preventative screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies as well as an annual free wellness visit. Another provision closed the “doughnut” hole, the coverage gap in prescription drugs that beings when insurer’ and beneficiaries’ combined costs for drugs reached $3,700 and ends at $4,950 for catastrophic coverage. By this year, people have to pay 40 percent for brand-name drugs and 51 percent for generics in that hole which was scheduled to close by 2020 when beneficiaries would be responsible for 25 percent of the cost after the deductible. A repeal without replacement could eliminate this help for people on Medicare.

The ACA helped Medicare become more solvent because of its cost-cutting provisions, including a reduction of federal payments to Medicare Advantage plans. Keeping ACA would keep Medicare would be in the black for 11 years longer than before ACA’s enactment, but its repeal would add $80 billion a year to Medicare spending. The government may make up the losses with higher Medicare premiums, deductibles, and cost sharing for beneficiaries.

The GOP bill still exempts congressional members and their staffs from losing popular aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) claimed that there would be a later vote about the exemption.The fast-track consideration came without posting the bill text and without a Congressional Budget Office analysis about the bill’s effects.

House Minority Chair Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) said today before the vote:

“Forcing a vote without a CBO score shows that Republicans are terrified of the public learning the full consequences of their plan to push Americans with pre-existing conditions into the cold. But tomorrow, House Republicans are going to tattoo this moral monstrosity to their foreheads, and the American people will hold them accountable.”

With its provision to eliminate ACA taxes on the wealthy, Trumpcare is the first move to drastically cut taxes for the few percent.

Trumpcare would also

  • Tie subsidies to age instead of income and geographic location.
  • Charge higher premiums to people in the 50s and early 60s, as compared to younger consumers—at least five times but more if states get waivers for a higher ratio.
  • Cut $800 billion from Medicaid support.
  • Permit states to require able-bodied adults to work for Medicaid.
  • Give waivers to states to exempt people with pre-existing conditions and allow insurers to provide insurance without the 10 essential health benefits—most of the parts of health insurance.
  • Allow caps on some of the health benefits.
  • Repeal tax credits in 2020 that help some people pay deductibles and make co-payments.
  • Stop the requirement for larger companies to provide affordable insurance to their employees.
  • Permit high-risk pools (see above).

An unwritten part of the GOP platform is that poor people are to blame for their poverty, and the rest of the population, which shrinks daily, can thrive without them. Uninsured people actually cost the system more than when they are covered. Even worse, however, the GOP belief is totally unethical. The current president promised all these people that he would take care of them. These people voted for him because they believed his promises. Now he’s thrown them away while continuing his lies that he will “mandate” coverage for pre-existing conditions and provide subsidies.

The GOP members of the House who are getting out of Washington immediately after the vote might want to avoid their constituents in their home districts. Although the House can avoid a CBO analysis of the Trumpcare effects, Senate budgetary rules require a score before they vote. At that time, people will find out the estimated impact of the measure.

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