Nel's New Day

June 20, 2019

DDT’s People Need Vetting

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders should have been left to tell the lies of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) instead of going back to Alabama: she does a better job. Patrick Shanahan’s nomination to serve as Donald Trump’s new Defense secretary collapsed yesterday after revelations surrounding incidents of domestic violence within Shanahan’s family. A journalist asked:

“Does that make you concerned then about the White House vetting process if you had just heard about it yesterday?”

DDT answered:

“No, we have a very good vetting process. And you take a look at our Cabinet and our Secretaries — it’s very good. But we have a great vetting process.”

DDT is a disaster at vetting anyone. Last month, DDT’s nominees for the Federal Reserve, Stephen Moore and Herman Cain, had to withdraw their names. They are on the top of a long list of non-vetted nominees. Appointments are going to get only worse because fewer and fewer people are willing to be involved in DDT’s administration.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, formerly a Boeing executive, resigned after an FBI investigation further delayed his confirmation hearings. He took over after James Mattis resigned in December before DDT fired him. Shanahan’s ex-wife has made accusations of abuse and was arrested as part of a domestic dispute. DDT tweeted the spending “more time with his family” for Shanahan departure. Some Republicans kept Shanahan’s problems from Democrats because they didn’t want the situation to become another Kavanaugh debacle. Democrats discovered the domestic abuse surrounding Shanahan after the information was published in the newspaper.

Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, DDT’s replacement for Shanahan and another lobbyist, will be more to DDT’s satisfaction. Unlike Shanahan, Esper doesn’t worry about the deployment of thousands of military member to the southern border eroding readiness for combat, and he’s close to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who currently seems to be announcing military strategy regarding Iran, and David Urban, DDT’s close friend and adviser to the Pennsylvania presidential campaign in 2016. Esper was also the top lobbyist for Raytheon, now a U.S. defense contractor embedded in Saudi Arabia.

DDT has lost support from the vastly wealthy and powerful Mercer family who helped him get elected in 2016 with $15.5 million and data mining by Cambridge Analytica. DDT’s inauguration fund also got $1 million from the Mercers. Some of the Mercers’ disillusionment came from DDT’s exile of Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer’s elimination as co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, “really spooked” by the FBI’s investigation of Cambridge Analytica. The Mercers originally preferred Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as the presidential candidate but supported DDT in preference to Hillary Clinton. Robert Mercer also feels that he lost his privacy because of his support for DDT.

Matthew Kacsmaryk slipped through as a lifetime judge with 52 votes because GOP senators will confirm almost any judicial nominee. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who believed Brett Kavanaugh’s statement of support for Roe v. Wade, either learned her lesson or worries about re-election next year; she was the only GOP senator to vote him. Kacsmaryk:

  • Opposes employment, housing, and health care protections for LGBTQ people
  • Opposes including LGBTQ people in the Violence against Women Act.
  • Wrote that being transgender is “a delusion.”
  • Defended county clerk Kim Davis for refusing to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples in opposition to the law.
  • Opposes employer contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
  • Played a lead role in opposing a Washington state law requiring pharmacist to give birth control to women with prescriptions.
  • Criticized the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade giving women the right to abortions.
  • Labeled the Equality Act a “public affirmation of the lie that the human person is an autonomous blob of Silly Putty, unconstrained by nature or biology, and that marriage, sexuality, gender identity, and even the unborn child must yield to the erotic desires of liberated adults.’”

Tony Perkins, a leader of the infamous hate group Family Research Council, has been named to chair the U.S. Commission on International Freedom. It’s purpose is to review violations of religious freedom and make policy recommendations to the president, Secretary of State, and Congress.

Kelly Craft, formerly U.S. ambassador to Canada and now nominee for the UN ambassador, had the reputation for rarely being in Canada. Her absence for over 300 days between October 23, 2017, and June 19, 2019 means that, like Congress, she was missing for about half the time. A spokesperson said she had permission to be away but declined to give details. Craft reportedly left her job to a deputy while attending to personal business and domestic U.S. politics. Her husband’s private jet, used by Craft, made round trips between Canada and the U.S. about once a week, such as travel to the Kentucky Derby and a media interview for an event for her coal billionaire husband. Both Craft and her husband are supporters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who lobbied for her appointment. Her answers at the confirmation hearing showed an ignorance of UN workings.

Katharine Gorka, political appointee as press secretary at Customs and Border Protection, remains in the government although her husband, Sebastian, known for white supremacist connections, has gone. Both are openly anti-Muslim, and Gorka worked to stop a DHS grant for Life after Hate, a group trying to stop white supremacist groups. DHS has refused to release documents about her through the Freedom of Information Act.

Jerome Powell, chair of the independent agency Fed Reserve, would likely be on the chopping block if DDT could figure out a way to get rid of him. Although the stock markets are currently going up, their volatility partly comes from DDT’s trade wars. Yet DDT blames the refusal to drop interest rates as the only reason. Last February, he checked with lawyers to see if he could demote Powell and said two weeks ago that the board is “not my people.” Three of the five are DDT’s nominees, and DDT appointed Powell as chair. The seven-member board is still missing two people, and all four of DDT’s nominees have failed confirmation—difficult to do with the current GOP senate. Powell said he’s not going anywhere.

VP Mike Pence isn’t any better than DDT at vetting people. Pence’s former national security advisor, Andrea L. Thompson, now undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, had close relationships with confessed Russian agent Maria Butina and her boyfriend, veteran GOP activist Paul Erickson. Butina’s job was to infiltrate the NRA and GOP to help Russia. In June 2017, Butina attended Thompson’s wedding where Erickson officiated. A year later, Thompson’s connection to Butina wasn’t mentioned at her confirmation hearings despite Mueller’s investigation, including Erikson’s allegedly trying to establish “secret backchannels to the Kremlin.” Thompson’s job is negotiating with Russia on arms control treaties, but she never discussed her Butina ties. After 18 months in prison, Butina will be deported to her home in Russia.  

Hope Hicks, DDT’s former communications director, may have testified for almost eight hours before the House Judiciary Committee, but six White House, DOJ, and private lawyers blocked the questions 155 times in the closed hearing. Their excuse was the non-existent “absolute immunity,” applying to “anything about her knowledge of anything during the period of time in which she was employed in the White House.” She didn’t answer even simple answers such as the location of her office in the White House and the existence of any conversation with DDT during lunch time.

Hicks could answer questions before and after she was in the White House and had a few revelations. Under repeated questioning, she said DDT was wrong in possibly accepting political dirt from a foreign power on an opponent, and she agree that the Russian government hacked the DNC and Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election campaign. Hicks also found it “odd” that DDT asked Corey Lewandowski, a former campaign manager but not an employee, to tell former AG Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal in overseeing the Russian investigation. She knew about the hush money that DDT paid to two women that DDT denied.  Hicks’ testimony also shows that DDT and his team knew about possible tapes of DDT with “Russian hookers, participating in lewd activities” (pp. 196-197) soon after the release of Access Hollywood tapes in late October 2016, long before former FBI Director James Comey briefed him on it in January 2017. At that time, DDT appeared shocked about the tapes.

The oddest aftermath of Hicks’ testimony is Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) false claim that “old, pervy” Democrats asked her personal questions about her love life, a message that went viral on the fake conservative media. He wasn’t present, but he claimed to have “sources” that were “inside,” that people “would be ashamed if they knew what actually happened in that room.” With the transcript released, people can find out “what actually happened” if they read the document—which they most likely won’t. I read all 273 pages. It’s filled with factual questions about Hicks’ professional activities, 155 “objections,” and some whining from Republicans who still want to protect DDT. Once again, conservative media consumers will believe the “fake news.”

July 20, 2018

DDT’s Personnel: People Come, People Go

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 11:27 PM
Tags: , , ,

The shiny object of Russia distracts the media from appointments of federal officials by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), but he and the GOP senators continue to move the United States back into a 19th century known for its racism, sexism, and Puritanical Christian control.

Nominees:

Andrew Oldham, Texas’ Gov. Greg Abbott’s top legal adviser, slipped into the 5th U.S. Circuit Court with a 50–49 vote approval. DDT made him the fourth alumnus of Texas AG office to join the appeals court for Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi in the past 18 months. Oldham made news by refusing to say whether the famous desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided. About Oldham, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights wrote:

“As his record clearly shows, he has worked to restrict and undermine voting rights, immigrant rights, women’s access to reproductive care, environmental protection, and gun safety. Even more concerning is his potential influence on current litigation in the Fifth Circuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. If confirmed, Mr. Oldham could be a deciding vote to undermine healthcare access for millions of people.”

At 40 years of age, Oldham will be making conservative decisions for up to a half century. He is the 23rd appeals court judge confirmed since DDT was inaugurated.

The Senate panel moved seven more judges to the Senate floor, four of the nominees for federal appeals courts:

  • Britt Grant (11th Circuit Court): helped draft an amicus brief to strike down the Voting Rights Act and another that challenged protection from deportation for people in the country with children who are citizens or lawful permanent residents.
  • David Porter (3rd Circuit Court): opposed the individual mandate for the Affordable Care Act and lacks support of one of his state’s (Pennsylvania) senators.
  • Marvin Quattlebaum (4th Circuit Court): has limited experience practicing before appellate courts.
  • Julius Richardson (4th Circuit Court): little opposition.
  • Roy Altman and Jude Rodolfo Ruiz (U.S. District Courts in Florida); Raul Arias-Marxuach (U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico)

Brian Benczkowski, confirmed to run the criminal division of the Department of Justice, previously worked for Alfa Bank, the biggest Russia bank and one with ties to Vladimir Putin. His new position gives him the opportunity to look at the Mueller investigation and the chance to delay or deny the approvals, according to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Another problem would be if he passes along information to the Russians.

Kathy Kraninger, DDT’s nominee to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is his weapon to kill any remaining assistance for U.S. consumers. She lacks any experience or interest in consumer protection or financial services and resisted efforts to provide documentation about DDT’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies, the government response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and HUD’s ongoing affordable housing problems when she oversaw a $250 billion budget within seven Cabinet departments and 30 federal agencies. Kraninger’s closeness to acting director and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney will keep him in charge of the agency he wants to eliminate. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) issued a 14-page report about Kraninger’s “record of failure” in an examination of the agencies she supervises for the OMB.

Withdrawn: 

Ryan Bounds, DDT’s nomination for the 9th Circuit Court, has been withdrawn for lack of votes and with DDT’s support. An assistant U.S. attorney for Oregon, Bounds failed to receive approval of either the state’s senators. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) brought up Bounds’ earlier writing that ridiculed multiculturalism and criticized anti-racism groups. Bounds made the situation worse by omitting references to these writings in the materials he submitted for his confirmation.

Resignations:

Jennifer Arangio, a top National Security Council official, left after disagreeing with officials such as Stephen Miller over the immigration policy. Several members have bailed the agency after John Bolton took over. Below are some other DDT casualties up to the date of Scott Pruitt’s resignation. 

Jeffrey Tricoli, senior FBI official and expert in cyber intelligence, has left his position as one of the two leaders of the agency’s election-meddling task force. There is no indication of a replacement.

Four members of an advisory council for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) quit because of DDT’s “zero tolerance” policy, calling it “morally repugnant, counter-productive and ill-considered.” Two of the members sent additional letters condemning such policies as the Muslim bans, the border walls, and the elimination of the DACA program.

Scott Pruitt, the highest profile resignation in July thus far, left the EPA after a long list of ethics abuses and at least 18 federal investigations. DDT said that he will “go on to great things.” Pruitt may run for Senate or Oklahoma governor although his hopes for a presidential election may be gone. His charges for personal items, including some of his clothing, were phenomenal even in the time of DDT’s wastefulness. Pruitt’s mistreatment of his staff led to a large number of resignations from the EPA, some of them close associates he brought with him from Oklahoma. https://splinternews.com/were-still-finding-out-about-evil-shit-the-epa-did-unde-1827737702  The former EPA secretary’s legacy lives on in discovery of emails to Pruitt from his staff, attempting to protect him from the formaldehyde emissions of his new $9,500 desk. A few months later, Pruitt aides blocked public knowledge of an EPA report that the same chemical is “linked with leukemia, nose-and-throat cancer and other ailments.”

Replacements:

Andrew Wheeler, the new EPA acting director, continues the Environmental Plundering Agency’s destruction of lives: the most recent action by the former coal lobbyist is to pollute drinking water by rolling back coal ash storage regulations from 2015. The rule change also weakened testing standards for lead, cobalt, lithium, and molybdenum in adjacent waters. Highly toxic sludge from cooling coal ash that seeps into aquifers can contain arsenic, lead, mercury and chromium.

Bill Shine, new White House deputy chief of staff for communications and replacement for Hope Hicks, may be the most fitting appointment for DDT. Forced out of being co-president of the Fox network, Shine allegedly facilitated sexual harassment by Fox CEO Roger Ailes. He also covered up harassment complaints, persuaded employees to Reports about the scandals at Fox News indicate Shine was instrumental in keeping harassment complaints under wraps, rallying employees to protest accusers, and pushed women to confidential mediation so that the information would be kept secret. The Fox network is now the official state television outlet for the United States White House.

Darla Shine, Bill Shine’s wife, will also be welcome in the White House because of her racist tweets. For example, she questions why white people should be called racist for using the n-word if black people aren’t, defends the Confederate battle flag, and highlights black-on-white crime. She also defends DDT’s profane remarks African countries and his policy that Muslims be barred from the United States. Other of her tweets ridicule transgender people.

Shahira Knight, DDT’s tax adviser, has replaced Marc Short as the director of White House legislative affairs just as the senate faces confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court justice. Republican legislators said that she played an important role in getting the tax cuts for the wealthy and big business passed.

The clock is ticking down to future resignations. Chief of staff John Kelly is prime suspect for the next one, especially after rumors that, after DDT denied his own intelligence agencies in preference to Putin’s claim of not interfering in a U.S. election, Kelly told GOP legislators that they could protest DDT’s DDT’s false claims. Kelly has been making faces at DDT’s stupidity for months, and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders can say only so many times that he wants a full breakfast instead of pastries. For a long time, people have said that Kelly will stay as long as he can help the nation, but DDT doesn’t listen to him. Eleven days from now, Kelly celebrates his one-year anniversary as DDT’s punching bag. He may pick that time to depart. On the other hand, he may be too stubborn to leave although Bill Shine is golden in the White House. [Right: A happy Kelly watches DDT leave for his weekend golfing vacation at Bedminster.]

DDT has said in the past that he doesn’t need a chief of staff. He certainly doesn’t make use of one. But it might be a way to bring back Hope Hicks, who he viewed “like a daughter,” or elevate Shine.

But then National Intelligence Director Dan Coats is also in trouble for defending the intelligence agencies and playing to the audience at the Aspen Security Forum. With DDT, you never know what direction the wind blows.

September 30, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-six – ‘Mind-bogglingly Bad’

Every week for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has given him losses, but the first week of his ninth month may have topped the previous 35 weeks. On Tuesday, he lost the Alabama GOP senatorial primary for Luther Strange against a rabid religious right-winger, Roy Moore, but deleted his tweets supporting Strange after the election, probably illegal for a person in the Oval Office to do. The Affordable Care Act lost for a fourth time since he was inaugurated although he said that Trumpcare was on track. Again he threatened North Korea with “devastating” consequences.

DDT also faced the overwhelming media coverage of government waste by his Cabinet members who love to use charter jets to the tune of over $1 million in unnecessary expenditure. One of them, former HHS Secretary Tom Price quit after DDT expressed great displeasure. A question is whether DDT dumped him for spending less money than DDT does on flights or whether the departure was because of Price’s inability to pass Trumpcare. At a Boy Scout’s jamboree last summer, DDT had threatened to fire Price if the secretary didn’t bring in the necessary congressional votes.

All these disasters were overlaid by DDT’s failure to help Puerto Rico after he was hit by two hurricanes in only two weeks. Frustrated by the lack of U.S. federal support, the mayor of San Juan (PR), Carmen Yulin Cruz, resorted to begging for assistance, saying that she has “one goal and that’s to save lives.” DDT had spent the nine days since Hurricane Maria hit the island by telling everyone that he was doing a great job. In retaliation to Cruz, he tweeted that she has “poor leadership ability” and “they want everything to be done for them.” He complained about her “nasty criticism” and blamed Democrats who “has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump. DDT included criticism of the media, naming CNN and NBC, for their coverage of the relief effort in a series of at least insulting six tweets in less than an hour that he started a little after 4:00 am. The war against Cruz continued late this afternoon.

DDT also received ridicule for his new tax cut proposal that benefits the wealthy and penalizes the poor, despite his claims that the information isn’t true. His grand plan would drop taxes for the wealthy by ten percent and increase the bottom tier by 20 percent. When questioned about his statement that the upper class will have no tax cut, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he made that statement but that “it was never a promise … never a pledge.” Even Goldman Sachs opposed the “trickle-down” justification for tax cuts, reporting that DDT’s plan adds only 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent to America’s economy in 2018 and 2019, far less than the boon that DDT predicts.

On the Russian front, bad news keeps nipping at DDT: 

  • Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, “Our intelligence community assessment did, I think, serve to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory in the election.”
  • DHS finally notified 21 states that Russian hackers targeted their election systems during the 2016 election after having that information for several months.
  • Russia continues its work to influence people in the U.S. as shown through identification of  80 news stories promoted by 600 Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations just between September 16 and September 22, 2017.
  • DDT has refused to provide documents connected to the firing of former FBI director to the House Intelligence Committee. He may receive a subpoena for them.
  • Fake news from Russian sources saturated battleground states during the campaign that DDT barely won.
  • Russian-funded Facebook ads during the general election worked to elect DDT by praising him, criticizing Hillary Clinton, and promoting Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders after Clinton was chosen at the Democratic convention.
  • Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg said, “After the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea. Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it.”
  • The IRS has given special investigator Robert Mueller information on top
  • DDT officials, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
  • Twitter found and shut down 201 accounts connected to Russian operatives posting thousands of political ads on Facebook.

Meanwhile, DDT tweeted:

“Facebook was always anti-Trump.The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?”

Pundits are now talking about the possibility that DDT will attack North Korea to protect himself from the Russian investigation.

Acting head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Chuck Rosenberg, a prosecutor for George W. bush and appointed by Barack Obama, quit because DDT has “little respect for the law.”

DDT spent the entire week trying to cover all his problems with his firestorm of inflammatory remarks about sports athletes. He did recognize that his statements were overboard because he later told reporters that he was not calling on supporters to boycott the NFL. In a separate tweet, he wrote that players who locked arms during the anthem were doing something “good,” despite players said they were demonstrating their unity against the president’s statements.  Trump’s political strategy follows the pattern of past offensive positions: take a divisive stand between himself and those who he describes as unpatriotic elites. He uses the controversy to dominate the news cycle, try to place himself as a strong leader, and maintain that he fights for regular working Americans nostalgic for an earlier time in the country’s history.

DDT’s war against the NFL goes back decades when he failed to buy his way into the league in 1984. The story is here. Forty years later he failed in his attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014 and wants his revenge.

Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to defend DDT by saying that it’s always “presidential” behavior and appropriate for DDT to lie and call a black athlete a “son of a b*****.” Respect the flag and disregard the Constitution is a common conservative position. Sanders said that anything the president does is “presidential.” Questioned further, Sanders said that the issue about protesting during the national anthem was “pretty black and white.” Tomorrow the NFL games—and the “black and white” issue–accelerate.

More DDT problems needing smoke-screens:

DDT invented a mythical hospitalized senator for the most recent failure of Trumpcare but claimed that they still had the votes to pass the bill.

A new travel ban has kept the old one from being argued before the Supreme Court this fall. DDT added Chad, North Korea, and government officials and their families from Venezuela to divert attention from the ban being against Muslims. North Korea won’t let their people coming into the U.S., making that country a no starter, and DDT can’t explain the problem with Chad. Even his order calls the country an “important and valuable counterterrorism partner.” DDT removed Sudan from the banned list, an odd choice because of its international terrorism and ethnic killings. Sudan, however, does have the support of the United Arab Emirates. Asked about the removal, DDT said:

“As far as the travel ban is concerned, whatever it is, I want the toughest travel ban you can have. So I’ll see you in Indiana.

DDT has nominated John Adler, former Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association president, for the Department of Justice’s director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance. His resume includes several years on the advisory board of the Heroes Health Fund, a group offering support for ‘firefighters, police, EMTs, veterans, and others harmed by toxic exposures in the line of duty’ using a detoxification program developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

DDT loyalists are reaping a rich reward with appointments to the Department of Agriculture. DDT campaign staff and volunteers hired for these positions include a long-haul truck driver, a country club cabana attendant, and the owner of a scented-candle company. Some of them lack requirements, such as a college degree, for the higher government salaries. The truck-driver may not be a college graduate, but he will be developing overseas markets for U.S. agricultural trade goods, a position requiring a master’s degree. A landscaper is assigned to helping farmers, ranchers, and forest managers use conservation practices.

Polls don’t look good for DDT:

  • Climate change: 55 percent of respondents said that climate change had made Hurricanes Irma and Harvey worse. That’s up from the 39 percent who said climate change contributed to Hurricane Katrina when asked 12 years ago. (DDT is a vociferous climate denier.)
  • Lowering corporate taxes: 65 percent of people believe that corporations pay too little in taxes, and only 11 percent think that they pay too much.
  • DDT’s Russia fees: 64 percent of the people think that DDT should pay for his own legal fees in the Russia collusion issue rather than asking the people to do this by contributing to his campaign.

Humorist Samantha Bee has gathered the conservative positions on acceptable forms of protest.

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