Nel's New Day

March 18, 2019

Some Republicans Briefly Oppose DDT

Congress is on a week-long recess this week—why, I don’t know—but last week it made two historic moves when GOP Republican senators voted against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—twice. Both of them are resolutions that opposed DDT’s power, and one has already been vetoed.

The first has been returned to the House for approval after the House already voted in favor of a similar bill. The War Powers resolution would eliminate U.S. military support for the assault on Yemen in a coalition led by Saudi Arabia. Since 2015, U.S. forces have provided targeting and refueling support to Saudi and United Arab Emirates warplanes that deliberately bomb civilian targets. A complete failure, the Saudi war against Houthi rebels has created the worst cholera epidemic in modern times and “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” Fourteen million Yemenis are on the edge of starvation. Saudi needs U.S. support to continue the war, and DDT’s administration plans to continue its support despite bipartisan opposition to DDT’s loyalty to the murderous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Senate does have a bill to stop U.S. sales of weapons to Saudi and place sanctions on Saudi after MBS’s torture and dismemberment of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Passing the resolution with a 54-46 vote, the Senate supported the resolution for the second time in three months. Last December, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) refused to allow a vote after the Senate passed it 56-41, but the House now passed it by 248-177. Congress has not withdrawn U.S. forces from an authorized war for 45 years.

The second historic congressional action was the 59-41 vote to overturn DDT’s national emergency wall-building order after the House had passed the bill by 245-182, a bill that DDT almost immediately vetoed. Twelve Republicans voted against DDT after he spent almost two weeks begging them to support him. GOP lawmakers voting against DDT’s executive order know that the Constitution grants Congress, not the president, spending control.

Caving in to DDT’s threats to campaign against them in 2020, all GOP senators running for re-election except Susan Collins (ME) voted for his emergency declaration although several of those who voted against the resolution said that they supported it. Last month, Thom Tillis (SC) said he would vote for the disapproval, writing in an opinion piece for the WaPo that there would be “no intellectual honesty” in supporting DDT’s executive overreach when he had opposed that action under President Barack Obama. He lost his “intellectual honesty” and supported DDT’s executive overreach with the excuse that DDT will stop presidential powers with changes to the National Emergencies Act.

One new senator asked for a bribe in exchange for her vote. Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) told VP Mike Pence that she’ll vote against the bill blocking DDT’s emergency declaration if he gives her more money for the military in Arizona. She may have to vote for more Pentagon funding because the Pentagon wants more funding if it has to pay for wall.

Democratic representatives plan an override vote on March 26 although Republicans will most likely not vote to oppose DDT’s emergency declaration. The Senate would need eight more votes to override the veto, and 21 are under DDT’s thumb if they run for re-election. Only one, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, has said he won’t run for re-election. Schumer has suggested that Democratic senators may attach Rep. Juan Castro’s (D-TX) disapproval resolution language as amendments to larger bills, including spending and defense funding reauthorization. Republicans who allow DDT to pluck money from the military for his wall may be in trouble with their constituents with the loss of jobs for the projects.

After voting to abdicate their responsibilities to determine expenditures, some Republicans are considering changes to the National Emergencies Act to more easily stop future emergency declarations as an end run around Congress—possibly as a control on a Democratic president. DDT opposes restrictions on his powers, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “Republican Senators are proposing new legislation to allow the President to violate the Constitution just this once in order to give themselves cover.”

Twenty states are suing the administration in opposition to DDT’s order to build his wall. Three issues to be considered:

For “standing” to be able to sue, plaintiffs must prove they are harmed. The states argue that the funding will be diverted from state-based projects, and landowners can sue for seizure of their property. Democratic legislators can also sue with the precedent of Republicans suing President Obama for payouts to insurers under the Affordable Care Act that were not approved by Congress.

The question of whether an emergency at the southern border must be proved, and DDT said, “I didn’t need to [declare an emergency].” Other arguments against the emergency include data about lower crossings, less crime from immigrations, and drugs moved through official ports of entry can also be argued. Congressional majority votes against the executive order also factor into this decision.

The third point argued in the lawsuit is whether the wall construction is a “military” project. Border enforcement is typically a civilian project, and leaders of the military complex have already said that it is “security,” not “military” as DDT’s acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Four days after Congress passed the resolution to overturn DDT’s executive order, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan provided a list to Congress with several hundred construction projects costing $12.9 billion in dozens of states and U.S. bases around the world that would be impacted shortly after DDT’s acting chief in staff Mick Mulvaney said that no list exists. The release of the list to the media has resulted in a hornet’s nest of papers across the United States furious about the losses to military construction projects.

Republicans promised Democrats that this bipartisan effort to lead the country is a short-term thing. In their efforts to placate DDT, they said that they’ll be back on his side after the two votes this week. The House has passed many bills in their two months of the 116th Congress, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has promised that they won’t “see the light of day.”

McConnell’s power hasn’t brought him popularity. He’s up for re-election next year, and 61 percent of people in Kentucky think it’s “time for someone new.” Only 32 percent think he “deserves to be reelected.” Before January, McConnell was the third more unpopular senator in the country: Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) retired, and Claire McCaskill (MO) were voted out of office. McConnell’s state disapproval rating of 47 percent last year went up to 56 percent in February. Nation-wide, 40 percent of people gave him an unfavorable rating.

Hundreds of youth activists from the Sunrise Movement protested at McConnell’s office where 42 of them were arrested. The group claims that McConnell does not answer their emails; he did not speak to them at the protest. Destine Rigsby, a 17-year-old from Louisville, said of McConnell: “You line your pockets while we die in floods and choke on the air we breathe, yet you don’t even have the decency to look us in the eyes.”

DDT’s base and GOP legislators wanting to get re-elected seem to be the only ones defending DDT’s wall. Four-star Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, tasked with troops at the southern border, told Congress that Russia is the main threat facing the U.S. No mention of Mexico, caravans, or drugs. He added that “the threats to our nation from our southern border are not military in nature.” At least, DDT may have decided not to take $1 billion from military pay and pensions for his wall.

Sixty percent of Texas voters disapprove of President Donald Trump using emergency powers to fund the wall; 52 percent of voters said they don’t believe undocumented immigrants crossing the border amounts to a national emergency. According to 57 percent of Texas voters, a wall on the Mexican border would not “significantly decrease violent crime in the U.S.” while 54 percent said the wall would not “significantly decrease the amount of illegal drugs in the U.S.” In the general population, an average of 64 percent polling oppose the national emergency. Only 27 percent of poll respondents oppose a veto override; 46 percent support the override.

Another of DDT’s broken promises: Mexico isn’t paying for the expensive, unneeded wall.

DDT’s re-election campaign is asking for donations to the “Wall Defense Fund” with the money going directly into the campaign general funds. From there, it goes to DDT’s businesses and lawyers who defend his family members and some of his former officials. [Above: the wall that Nogales doesn’t want]

 

February 21, 2019

Sue Hardesty: The Wall Continues 

In a poll taken since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced that he was building a wall at the southern U.S. border because of a “national emergency,” polls indicate a disagreement from the people of the United States:

  • 61 percent do not approve of the “emergency.”
  • 58 percent believe an “emergency” does not exist.
  • 58 percent think that DDT misused his power by redirecting funds toward the wall.

Sue Hardesty shows from her FB writings that she’s in the majority of people not approving of an “emergency” and believing that there is no emergency and DDT misused his powers. A few pieces from the past month (lightly edited). She wrote these pieces after her first commentary on walls.

Did you know that for the year of 2015 the IRS reported 4.4 million workers (mostly undocumented immigrants) without a Social Security number paid $23.6 billion in income taxes? And that these same undocumented workers pay $7 billion each year into Social Security. The tragic thing is they are paying all these taxes for benefits they cannot even use like Medicare and Social Security. The reason they did file is that paying taxes leave a paper trail proving how long the immigrant has been in the U.S., one of the requirements toward becoming a citizen. The half of the undocumented workers who did not file still paid taxes which adds billions more every year. These workers are also doing critical jobs, especially in the food industry, that natural born whites refuse to do.

  *  *  *

Sorry. My political side is back. I received so many responses to my page on Trump’s wall that I decided to continue the debate. On crime committed by immigrants, I found that “the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. tripled between the 1990s and 2013, while violent crime declined 48% and property crime fell 41% over that period.” Recent research sources on immigration and crime concluded:

“There are two broad types of studies that investigate immigrant criminality. The first type uses Census and American Community Survey (ACS) data from the institutionalized population and broadly concludes that immigrants are less crime prone than the native-born population. It is important to note that immigrants convicted of crimes serve their sentences before being deported with few exceptions.”

Not only have immigrants committed less crime, there is an abundance of research that immigrants even bring the crime rate down. The second type of research at a macro level analysis generally found, “increased immigration does not increase crime and sometimes even causes crime rates to fall.”

I guess what breaks my heart are the asylum seekers caught in a war we likely caused and are only asking to live. Tell me we have room for them.

Another of Sue’s entries after she read about how private prison conglomerates take cash from immigrants seeking asylum:

I think the government should never hire outside contractors for any job having to do with taking care of any living thing because greed usually wins, especially when rich corporations such as GeoGroup and CoreCivic are involved. On the average, ICE pays around $62 dollars a day for each detainee, giving $38 million to CoreCivic alone last year. When it comes to corporations and the bottom profit line, anything is never enough. In addition to starving prisoners so that they have to work for as little as $1.00 a day, they are overcharged for anything they buy such as a can of tuna, paying four times what it cost outside. Or a dollar’s worth of Dove soap $2.44. Companies also take ten percent of money from inmates waiting for asylum for “fees.” One more nail of shame.

In response from one of Sue’s readers, an 11-minute video about the effect of the wall on Arizona’s Tohono o’odham, whose land is approximately the size of Connecticut [transcript included]. Full one-hour PBS presentation.

A comprehensive view of Arizona’s Tohono o’odham dilemma from the Smithsonian American Indian Magazine. 

Addenda from Nel:

DDT started the wall as a memory device to remind him to talk about his hatred for immigrants; now he says that his Space Patrol started as joke. “I was not really serious,” he said about his first mention. Now he has ordered the DOD to establish a new military branch for the purpose of fighting threats in space—which the Pentagon already does in a Space Command. DDT still needs congressional approval.

DDT demanded the wall because of his “gut feeling” that drugs don’t come through ports of entry. ICE disagreed because drug smuggling has turned to large truckloads—such as the 254 pounds of Fentanyl that Customs found a few weeks ago “under the rear floor of a tractor-trailer.” The discovery didn’t deter DDT’s claims, but facts disprove his false claims again. Yesterday, Customs announced the find of 906 pounds of meth hidden in a trailer with frozen strawberries. A wall would not have blocked either of these enormous drug shipments.

Last week, DDT said the wall wasn’t being built; this week he says the wall is being built—but it’s only a renovation of an existing wall approved in 2017. The video that he parades is almost two years old.

DDT said he would be sued over the wall, and he’s right.

  • A coalition of 16 states filed a federal lawsuit to block DDT’s building the wall without congressional permission.
  • The Sierra Club, the ACLU, and a coalition of environmental groups have filed suits in two other jurisdictions.
  • Three Texas landowners are suing to keep their land on the border from DDT’s wall. One of them said she had never seen undocumented immigrants crossing the border in 40 years.
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a suit seeking documents about DDT’s legal reasoning for declaring the emergency.
  • El Paso County has joined the Border Network for Human Rights to sue DDT in a lawsuit designed to prevent the wall. They argue that the emergency declaration damages the city’s reputation and economy.

Arguments against the constitutionality of DDT’s emergency include no emergency exists (DDT waited two years until he got a Democratic House), the Congress refused the money, apprehensions of undocumented immigrants are down, immigrants aren’t responsible for massive crimes, and drug trafficking won’t be blocked by a wall.

More opposition:

  • The House is preparing to vote on a bill opposing the “emergency.”
  • More than one-third of the money said he would take from other federal programs will probably be unavailable. DOD said only $85 million remains unspent in the $2.5 billion anti-drug funds that DDT targeted.
  • At least eight GOP senators and possibly more, openly oppose the emergency declaration and DDT’s taking money from military construction funds because military bases won’t get the renovation that they need.
  • Representatives are equally unhappy, even our Trumpist Greg Walden (R-OR).

For now, the law that gave DDT only $1.375 billion for a barrier that can’t be concrete has protected areas in the Rio Grande Valley:

  • The National Butterfly Center, an ecotourism destination.
  • Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, an international area for bird watching.
  • Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, exempted in last year’s budget.
  • La Lomita, an historic Catholic chapel that lost a court fight a week ago.
  • Area designated for the commercial spaceport for SpaceX, a space transportation company designed by Tesla founder Elon Musk.
  • Starr County, second-poorest county in Texas, permitted mandatory “mutual agreements” with DHS about barriers.

Losers are the 154-year-old Eli Jackson cemetery, an indigenous burial ground, and 600 owners of private land that can be taken by eminent domain. Every protection is gone if DDT’s “national emergency” succeeds.

DDT is increasing human trafficking by transferring money from the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to ICE that focuses on low-level “coyotes” and finding law-abiding undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for decades. HSI investigations have dropped by other 50 percent because of less than half its former staff in DDT’s first full fiscal year. Although the number of people charged with “bringing in and harboring certain aliens rose statistically by 18 percent, DDT had lowered the standards for smuggling.

Taxpayers are paying $12,000 for DDT’s wall around his Florida golf course to block the press’s view. Last year, he put journalists in basements and covered windows with black plastic so that they couldn’t see his frequent golf games. Taxpayers have already given DDT $17,000 to build a wall at Mar-a-Lago.

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