Nel's New Day

March 28, 2020

DDT: Week 166 – Beyond Coronavirus

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/paulmcleod/coronavirus-aid-package-house-pass Congress has passed the $2.2 trillion bill, despite last-minute attempts from Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) to block it, driving the U.S. into far more debt. Both chambers have left D.C.: the Senate won’t be back until after April 20, and the House return has not been announced.  

A few quirks in the bill:

Employers (but not employees) can defer paying their share of Social Security tax on wages for a couple of years, but employees have to pay it now.

It gives $16 billion to buy ventilators and other medical equipment so DDT told car companies to make ventilators although he doesn’t see any reasons for more.

Food stamps aren’t expanded in the bill.

Federal lenders must stop all payments for student loans through September 30 and cannot charge interest or nonpayment fees. Credit scores and loan forgiveness won’t be affected; also suspended are wage garnishment and tax refund reduction for people who defaulted on federal student loans. The bill has no affect on private student loans which comprise about 12 percent of all education loans in 2018-2019. 

Despite Democrats attempt to keep Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) from making a profit on the bill, he can find loopholes. He can use real estate losses to minimize taxes on profits from items such as investments in the stock market which had been limited by the 2017 tax-cut package. DDT has always kept his taxes secret.

DDT also said he would ignore the law’s provision requiring independent oversight of his desired $500 billion “slush fund.” That way he can give money to his favorite and biggest donors. He also wants his signature on the stimulus checks. After all, election is only 239 days away.

Cruise ships aren’t getting bailout although information changes day by day. DDT insisted that we “can’t let the cruise lines go out of business,” but not one major cruise line lies the U.S. flag because it avoids laws, regulations, and taxes. No environmental laws about ship “discharges,” no U.S. labor laws, minimized criminal and civil liability, and reduced taxes. And they aren’t an “essential” industry.

Surrounded by his wealthy white male loyalists, DDT signed the bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the person who managed to get it through the House, received no credit from DDT and was not invited for the signing. He has not spoken to her for five months. [Republicans below from left to right: Economic adviser Larry Kudlow, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), DDT, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), and VP Mike Pence.]

Over 90 percent of people in the U.S. believe a recession is coming, with seven percent disagreeing.

DDT and Barr are attacking corruption and fraud—in Venezuela. Sweeping indictments against the country’s President Nicolás Maduro with a $15 million bounty on his head are DDT’s latest attempt at a coup in Venezuela. Charges were filed in New York and Florida, probably because of those states’ investigating the DOJ. The indictments cannot arrest Maduro in Venezuela because of a well-equipped military and strong Russian support for him. To make National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president, indictments include the head of Venezuela’s legislature, defense minister, and Supreme Court chief justice. DDT’s oil embargo has made Russia a winner because of Moscow’s deals to produce, transport and sell Venezuelan oil to markets other than the U.S.

Information about DDT keep crawling out from underneath the rocks, including his late-2018 protection of Walmart’s criminality regarding opioid-dispensing after a four-year investigation. Investigators found that Walmart pharmacists in Texas, Maine, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Kansas, and Washington filled prescriptions not for legitimate medical purposes when company competitors had not. Walmart also failed to comply with an FDA deal to tell them about sending the federal agency any alerts about illegitimate practices. Prosecutors who tried to make a criminal case have left the DOJ, and new ones have no interest in forcing Walmart to meet the law. Details here.

During the health crisis, DDT continues his purge of “nonloyalists,” this time Heather Swift, deputy assistant secretary of public affairs in DHS, who has been moved to the National Endowment for the Arts. Heather Swift, the deputy assistant secretary of public affairs at DHS, was moved to a senior post at the National Endowment for the Arts. Earlier, Swift was press secretary for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke before he left in disgrace.

A victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota came from a federal ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act by approving federal permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The USACE moved forward with building the pipeline across the Missouri River without considering the environmental impact study from the tribe in 2017. The Obama administration had denied building permits in 2016.

A federal judge ruled that DDT must go to court over allegations of violating the First Amendment by revoking press badges and security clearances. The decision came one day after the D.C. Circuit Court considered DDT’s removal of the press badge for Playboy’s White House correspondent Brian Karem.

Before the $2.2 trillion congressional bill, the Federal Reserve tried to salvage DDT’s stock market by purchasing unlimited amounts of U.S. Treasury’s and mortgage-backed securities. In the last recession, the Fed put almost $4 trillion into the financial system over several years; the current action could exceed that amount in a few weeks. Economists described the Fed’s response as “throwing the kitchen sink” at markets. DDT is delighted, but the markets aren’t. All afterhours trading in the U.S. is down, and only Japan and Hong Kong markets are up in the world.

The U.S. has cut $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan, and ISIS is taking responsibility for killing 25 people in a Sikh religious complex in Kabul.

DDT made hundreds of calls to evangelical Christians across the nation and promised:

“It’s a big day, Nov. 3; that’s going to be one of the biggest dates in the history of religion….”

Losing national monuments can also destroy jobs—700 of them when DDT stripped Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah of their federal designations. Businesses do better after monuments become official, especially in areas of hotel and lodging (16 percent job increase) and construction (17 percent increase). Health services, finance, insurance, and real estate also benefit. Mining and forestry don’t lose jobs by keeping the monuments.

During the health crisis, ICE is stopping most deportations except for people who have committed crimes or pose a threat to public safety. HUD is suspending foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.

The majority of people aren’t swallowing DDT’s lies about the health crisis:

  • 73 percent, including 75 percent of Republicans, said that it was not true that “anyone who wants to get tested [for the virus] can get tested.” Just 17 percent said it was true.
  • 20 percent of the public, and just 25 percent of Republicans, said that they believed a vaccine will be available soon. Forty-two percent said that was false and 38 percent said they did not know.
  • 51 percent, including a plurality or Republicans (46 percent), said it was false that the virus would go away on its own in warm weather, while just 13 percent said that was true.
  • 61 percent said they believed covid-19 was more deadly than the flu; 22 percent said it was about the same; and 11 percent said they believed it was less deadly.

Confusion about whether the FDA approved anti-malaria drugs, which killed at least one person and put others into the hospital who took it without medical advice, still existed: 45 percent agreed the state was false, 22 percent said it was true, and 33 percent didn’t know. 

Within a month from the first confirmed death from covid-19 in the U.S., the total reached 1,000 before doubling in just two days. And that’s without testing most of the people who might have covid-19 and not reporting many of the confirmed cases and deaths. Today, the world’s death rate is 2,227 from 123,750 confirmed cases; the world’s death rate is 30,879 in 663,740 confirmed cases.

March 26, 2018

The Door Keeps Swinging

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:01 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Left over from last week’s news about the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is the swinging door of federal employees and DDT’s legal team.

In 1946, Eleanor Roosevelt was instrumental in creating the UN created the Commission on the Status of Women in 1946 to promote gender quality and the empowerment of women. DDT thinks so little of women that he sent Bethany Kozma, a self-described stay-at-home mom,” as the U.S. representative for the 82nd meeting of CSW. She has described the UN as a “pro-life nation” and called trans children “gender confused” in her battle to keep them from using bathrooms matching their gender identity by claiming that it leaves students open to “sexual assault or rape.”

According to DDT’s friend Christopher Ruddy, DDT thinks that the White House is operating “like a smooth machine” and has been “perplexed” by news reports of chaos. DDT claims to be keeping Chief of Staff John Kelly and HUD secretary Ben Carson, what he usually says soon before he gets someone to fire them. On vacation in Florida, DDT continues to attack fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by saying that he didn’t have the “brains or energy” for the job.

Emails showing that DDT fires everyone who he considers disloyal to him has caused Democrats on the House Oversight Committee to demand State Department records of internal communications. The agency tried to reassign a staffer after Breitbart and Newt Gingrich complained about her Iranian surname. Independent investigators report that retaliation against career staffers is rampant throughout the government. Because their firings can only be based on merit and work performance, DDT is breaking the law by basing firings on political affiliations or patronage. At the same time Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) director Mick Mulvaney, suggested as a replacement for Chief of Staff John Kelly, has worked to replace existing employees with political appointees that can violate civil service laws.

Employees can appeal their firings to the Merit Systems Protection Board, but the one-member board can’t hear cases until two DDT’s appointees are confirmed. At the beginning of 2018, the backlog, the longest in history, is 750 cases.

Conservative congressional members are pushing bills that would give Cabinet members the right to fire anyone they wish. Rep. Lloyd Smucker’s (R-PA) Labor Department Accountability Act would give them the authority to suspend, involuntarily reassign, demote, or remove employees and senior executives. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) has a similar bill.

The most unpopular appointees in March are Gina Haspel for CIA director and John Bolton for national security adviser. A promoter of torture, Haspel destroyed videos with impunity about CIA torture in a black site that she oversaw because the CIA classifies these torture sessions as formal government meetings and exempt from being preserved. Haspel will also claim that any information about her is “classified,” even if it’s already in the public domain, during confirmation hearings.

With H.R. McMaster out and John Bolton in as national security advisor, everyone in the U.S. should prepare for war. All the negative information about Bolton makes no difference because he doesn’t need to be confirmed by the Senate for his position. I’ve written before about Bolton, but the horrifying news keeps emerging:

  • Bolton hired Cambridge Analytica in 2014 for “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging” and knew that the material came from harvested Facebook data.
  • In addition to being a contributor to Fox, Bolton chairs the Gatestone Institute that publishes “fake” news about threats from Islam to Western society. Its anti-Islam vitriol has the sole purpose of establishing bigotry against Muslim immigrants and refugees by spreading racial lies about them that Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, and DDT repeated during their presidential campaigns. Bolton also wrote the foreward to a book by anti-Islam conspiracy theorists Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. Gatestone, which has paid $310,000 to Bolton, works to sway elections not only in the U.S. but also in European elections through support of far-right, anti-Muslim candidates on social media.
  • As George W. Bush’s policymaker on Iran, Bolton actively conspired from 2002 through 2004 to set up conditions for military action and manipulated intelligence about weapons of mass destruction that he hoped would start a war on Iran with support from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the militantly Zionist casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
  • Bolton is behind DDT’s intention to back out of the Iran nuclear deal.
  • Fifteen years after George W. started the Iraq War with the urging of John Bolton and others, Bolton still thinks that the preemptive strike on Iraq was right.

All we can hope is that Bolton’s typical abusive behavior turns toward DDT who can then shop for a fourth national security adviser.

Other disastrous DDT nominees:

Roger Severino, nominee for HHS Office for Civil Rights, says that as the child of Colombian immigrants he understands discrimination on a first-hand basis, but his education doesn’t apply to LGBTQ people. He believes that health care workers should be able to use their personal religious beliefs in determining who gets treatment. Severino has said that marriage quality is “using government power to coerce everyone, including children, into pledging allegiance to a radical new gender ideology” and using the right pronoun for transgender students is was the “equivalent to making them say two plus two equals five.”

Robert Redford, nominee for head of the Centers for Disease Control, has been accused of overstating the therapeutic effects of an experimental AIDS vaccine that led to corrections and having an “inappropriate” relationship with the evangelical Christian group Americans for Sound AIDS/HIV Policy (ASAP), now Children’s AIDS Fund. Founded by the virulently anti-LGBT and anti-abortion activists Shepherd and Anita Smit, the group promotes abstinence as the only proper prevention behavior and opposes the use of condoms. Anita Smith complained about the “power struggle between homosexual white men who abuse all the government AIDS programs fundamentally to fund their subculture and their political activities.” A devout Catholic, Redford wants churches to take over the care of HIV patients. Nobody has a chance to interview Redford, however, because he doesn’t need to be confirmed.

Peter Wright, nominee for the EPA Office of Aland and Emergency Management (OLEM) could protect big companies, like his former employer Dow Chemical, from having to clean up the 1,300 Superfund toxic cleanup sites, one-tenth of them caused by Dow that gave DDT $1 million for his inauguration fund. The money has already paid off because EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt reversed a ban on Dow’s brain-damaging insecticide.

Kellyanne Conway is running DDT’s new “opioids cabinet,” and her first action was to drive out drug policy professionals and replace them with political staff who call for the border wall and a “just say no” campaign. A quote from her speech to college students:

“On our college campuses, your folks are reading the labels, won’t put any sugar in their body, they don’t eat carbs anymore, and they’re very, very fastidious about what goes into their body — and then you buy a street drug for $5 or $10 and it’s laced with fentanyl, and that’s it. So I guess my short advice is, as somebody double your age: eat the ice cream, buy the French fry, don’t buy the street drug.”

About the rumor that VA Secretary David Shulkin is on his way out, DDT denies it—another dangerous sign for employment. A possible replacement is Fox & Friends host Pete Hegsweth.

The scariest thought is that EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt might see his continuing wish fulfilled to replace AG Jeff Sessions.

DDT’s frantic reaction to Robert Mueller’s investigation into his involvement resulted in rapid shifts in his legal team’s membership. Two new DDT hires after team leader John Dowd bailed, Fox contributor Joe diGenova and his wife Virginia Toensing, disappeared in less than a week. A senior official said the couple’s disheveled appearance at their first meeting with DDT caused him to decide that they didn’t belong on his team.

DiGenova is a conspiracy theorist with a lot of baggage who thinks that the FBI and DOJ are framing the president by inventing the Russia scandal to keep DDT from being president. Leader of DDT’s legal team, Dowd quit because DDT didn’t follow his direction to fire Mueller. Not only does DDT not pay attention to his lawyers, but he also has a reputation for not paying them. DDT’s loss of lawyers gives him a team of oneJay Sekulow—who is little more than a PR person.

The U.S. House of Representatives has an extra Democrat after the GOP candidate in PA-18 admitted defeat to Conor Lamb. The Republicans put over $10 million into the race where DDT won by over 20 points in 2018. Democrats spent less than $3 million. The amateurish GOP ads tried to tie the Democrat to a sheep, reminiscent of the horrible 2010 demon sheep ads, but the Lamb (left) won anyway.

The “Exposed” DDT image is featured on this week’s New Yorker in artist Barry Blitt’s 15th image of the president for the magazine’s covers as he faces the media. Blitt said, “I wanted to address President Trump’s stormy relationship with the press” and called DDT the “gift that keeps on grifting.”

July 16, 2016

Congress Takes Seven-Week Vacation

Congress hobbled out of town two days ago for a seven-week recess, one of the longest in its modern history after they filed a resolution to impeach the IRS commissioner, John A. Koskinen, who had nothing to do with the issue of asking political Tea Party PACs to show that they weren’t political. Another witch hunt was the committee to destroy Planned Parenthood and anyone who had any relationship—no matter how intangential. Thus far, its efforts have been as unproductive as the multi-million-dollar effort to find an involvement between Hillary Clinton and the deaths at Benghazi, Libya.

Two bills – both bad jokes – were sent to the president for signing: genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and opioids.

The bill to “label” foods with GMO ingredients was designed to stop states from taking action on this issue after the federal government had refused to deal with it. The so-called “label” is a small square code that must be scanned with a smart phone for a person to get information. An option for small food companies is printing a website URL or phone number where customers can request information about the GMO content. Not all ingredients must be identified, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture gets to pick which ones. For example, refined products such as soy oil or sugar from beets might be exempt because they are made from GMO crops but the final product supposedly doesn’t contain GMO material. Corn, an ingredient in a great deal of food products, may also be exempted from the labeling requirement.

The Agriculture Department also determines the quantity of GMO material before requiring identification, leaving many products with GMOs unidentified with a high threshold. In addition, penalties for noncompliant companies are minimal or none, and the bill prevents any states, including those that have already passed labeling laws, from regulations requiring actual information on food labels.

The bill is largely thanks to Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who have received more than $2.1 million in campaign contributions this cycle from agribusiness donors. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fast-tracked the bill with no amendments or debate by pasting the content into the empty shell of a bill that had already been passed by the Senate, but not enacted into law. The act was passed by a vote of 63-30.

The FDA pointed out a number of loopholes, and labels won’t start appearing for at least two years. Nicknamed the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” (DARK Act), the bill is in opposition to the 90 percent of people in the nation who want clear labeling for GMOs.

The second bad joke in recently passed bills addresses the painkiller overdose epidemic. The bill that was passed and sent on to the president includes a pain management task force, research, better access to treatment options and drug rehabilitation instead of incarceration. The bill, however, doesn’t provide any funding. President Obama had proposed $1 billion, and Democrats tried to get $920 million in funding. The GOP rejected both.

The rising death tolls from overdoses of painkillers came from the pharmaceutical industry pushing higher and higher levels of prescribing opioids for even minor pain. Thirteen years ago, Purdue Pharma gave doctors 34,000 coupons for free OxyContin prescriptions along with OxyContin “fishing hats, stuffed plush toys, coffee mugs with heat activated messages, music compact discs, [and] luggage tags.” Within ten years, the prescriptions for opioids almost tripled from 1991. Pharma-paid doctors changed pain guidelines to favor opioids.

The bill allows greater access to buprenorphine, a medicine treating addiction, from 100 to 275 patients at a time. Nurses and other medical professionals can also administer the drug. Corporations will now make money from buprenorphine, as addictive as opioids, that gives a high as does OxyContin. While Congress rewards pharmaceutical companies with more money for another addictive drug, it ignores the fact that deaths from painkillers are down 25 percent in states with medical marijuana.

The House passed a $32 billion spending bill for the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency that rolled back regulations on coal-fired power plants, but it’s only the fifth of twelve funding bills for Cabinet agencies. It passed, also on party lines, a bill to impose new sanctions on Iran and the Conscience Protection Act, which prohibits the government from discriminating against health care providers who do not want to perform or cooperate in abortions.

The House “celebrated” the one-month anniversary of the massacre at the LGBT nightclub in Orlando (FL) where 50 people died with a hearing on anti-LGBT legislation to allow anyone to avoid federal protections for LGBT couples and families with an excuse of religious liberty. Those who discriminate would have no legal repercussions, financial or otherwise, for refusing to provide spousal tax, medical, or educational benefits, to same-gender couples. The measure is similar to a Mississippi law overturned by a federal judge  because it would in reality hurt religious liberty by favoring certain beliefs over others. As of April 2016 over one hundred active bills across 22 states legalized discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

The House’s approval of its financial services appropriations bill repealed a law passed by Washington, D.C. that protects workers from employer retaliation over reproductive health choices such using birth control, getting a baby, or obtaining an abortion. Congress has control over the city’s laws and budget because it does not have state status.

That’s what Congress “accomplished.” Their failures? A major one is that ignoring the Zika virus epidemic. When a few cases of Ebola came to the United States in 2014, lawmakers went to pieces and approved $5.4 billion in emergency funding. Yet Florida has over 300 Zika cases reported, among the almost 1,200 cases confirmed in continental U.S. Pregnant women infected with the virus can carry fetuses with a number of birth defects, including microcephaly that causes abnormally small heads in fetuses. Caring for each microcephalic child can cost between $1 million and $10 million.

As of June, seven babies had been born in the U.S .with Zika-related birth defects. A baby was born with microcephaly in Texas on the day that Congress left Washington for the rest of the summer. Zika is also linked with Guillain-Barré syndrome with possible permanent nerve damage and paralysis.  The virus is transmitted either by mosquito bites or through sex and extremely difficult to track because 80 percent of infected people do not exhibit symptoms.

The Zika virus is a public health crisis in the nation, and Congress disappeared from Washington for seven weeks, perhaps hoping that the mosquitoes will be dead by the time they get back. A bill would provide emergency resources for vaccine development, mosquito control efforts, and other research into containment and prevention. House Republicans refused to move the bill forward without restricting abortion, overturning clean water regulations, defunding part of the Affordable Care Act, and undoing the ban on flying the Confederate flag at federal cemeteries. Republicans insisted on blocking Planned Parenthood funding in Puerto Rico to fight the virus, and Democrats voted against the measure.

House Speaker Paul Ryan managed to get out of town before Democrats could stage another sit-in to demand votes for gun safety measures. He had promised to put an NRA-approved gun bill on the floor but called it off after protests from GOP conservatives. Senate Republicans had previously blocked a bill to keep people on the federal terrorist list from buying guns. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said, “This is going to be a long, hot summer for people who aren’t going to be able to take nice long vacations, people who are in our streets fearing for our children, people wondering why Congress has failed.”

The Senate has not moved on a new Supreme Court justice and done little for other judicial approvals. A $575 billion Pentagon funding bill failed because of concern that it would boost defense while freezing domestic programs and unravel the hard-fought budget deal from last year reversing caps on both Pentagon and domestic budget lines. No resolution means that September may bring a stopgap  spending measure to stave off a shutdown.

Lawmakers, mostly in the House, have already been debating whether to write a short-term government spending measure that runs into December or a six-month stopgap measure that would expire in March under a new Congress and president. The last two election years for presidents saw funding bills pushed into March following the election.

The GOP House “celebrated” the one-month anniversary of the massacre at the LGBT nightclub in Orlando (FL) where 50 people died with a hearing on anti-LGBT legislation to allow anyone to avoid federal protections for LGBT couples and families with an excuse of religious liberty. The bill would permit those who discriminate to have no legal repercussions, financial or otherwise, for refusing to provide spousal tax, medical, or educational benefits, to same-gender couples. The measure is similar to a Mississippi law overturned by a federal judge  because it would in reality hurt religious liberty by favoring certain beliefs over others. As of April 2016 over one hundred active bills across 22 states legalized discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

Maybe it’s a good thing that congressional members left town.

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