Nel's New Day

August 31, 2019

DDT: Week 136 – His Outrageous Storms

DDT avoided an 80th-anniversary World War II commemoration in Poland this week: he’s watching Hurricane Dorian. Maybe collect white paper towels for survivors. He may have dodged a bullet; the storm turned from a direct aim at his resorts, including Mar-a-Lago, to moving long the East Coast. Aides hoped that the Poland trip would avoid criticism if DDT got out of the country to honor World War II veterans and recover from bad publicity about dropping ratings, inappropriate response to mass shootings, negative responses from world powers at the G7 summit, subservience to Russia, etc. No such luck. Even a visit to Poland could be problematic: it is the only EU country without legislature to deal with restitution of Nazi-confiscated private property.

Staying at the White House and then Camp David, DDT kept tweeting. He praised his trade war with China that increased taxes today, disparaged GM, and blasted former FBI Director James Comey. DDT says that he and his supporters should be “given our stolen time back.” The majority of people in the U.S. would probably also want their last 136 weeks back.

DDT’s campaign sent out millions of emails attacking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) after she pointed out that DDT had claimed in 2012 “the electoral college is a disaster for democracy,” a “sham” and a “travesty.” In 2012, DDT called for a “revolution” with his lie that President Obama “lost the popular vote by a lot” to Mitt Romney. President Obama won the popular vote in that year by 65,915,795 to 60,933,504; DDT lost the popular vote by three million ballots in 2016. DDT’s campaign email stated, “This is our country, not theirs,” possibly referring to “Coastal Elites and Liberal Mega Donors” but also meaning Latinx, blacks, women, LGBTQ, Muslims, and Jewish Democrats, to name a few.

Every time DDT gets enough backlash for his outrageous plans, his officials say that he was joking. Are these jokes? 

DDT will kill more children outside detention after three died in his detention process and he won’t be vaccinating detainees against the flu. In a reversal of long-standing policy, he ordered seriously ill people, mostly children, granted special immigration status for medical treatment back to their countries. Families given 33 days to leave the U.S. have Illnesses that include cystic fibrosis, cancer, and muscular dystrophy. Earlier this month, a man with diabetes, brought to the U.S. at six months of age with his Christian parents seeking asylum from Iraq, died after his deportation. During his campaign DDT claimed he would get rid of only criminals. 

DDT declared that children born outside the U.S. to U.S. citizen government employees and military service members, like former presidential candidate John McCain, are no longer U.S. citizens even if they are born in U.S. military hospitals or diplomatic facilities. His new rule, which lacks public notice and comments. could disproportionately affect LGBTQ service members who adopt children and use surrogates, sperm or egg donors or IVF as well as born-abroad children of noncitizen service members naturalizing after they become parents.

DDT promised to pardon federal officials for illegal activities—seizing private land, flouting environmental rules, pushing billion-dollar contracts, etc.—if they build hundreds of miles of border wall before the 2020 election. Last year, he admitted that enforcement and deportation are better than the wall but that his supporters want a wall. DDT’s pardon offer may violate federal bribery laws. Past pardons have been at the whim of DDT with no judicial review, but this corrupt promise flagrantly encourages unlawful behavior.

DDT plans to pull $271 million from DHS—including FEMA’s $155 million and $115 million from the Coast Guard for aviation security—for immigrant detention space and temporary hearing locations for asylum seekers despite lack of congressional approval. The TSA and cybersecurity also lost funds for detention.

DDT’s aides admitted that he lied about getting calls from China for trade war talks to boost the stock market. There were no calls.

DDT accused companies hurt by his trade war of being “badly run and weak” from “bad management.”  

DDT will open Alaska’s 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest—the planet’s largest intact temperate rainforest—to logging, mining, energy, and other corporate development projects.

DDT wants to stop hurricanes by dropping nuclear bombs on them. The idea is worse than other pieces from his vast knowledge of science—after all, his uncle was a scientist (a physicist born in 1907)—such as wind turbine noise causing cancer, climate change being a hoax, cold weather disproving climate warming, rivers not being diverted into the ocean, and raking forests stopping fires. After his frequent repetition of bombing hurricanes, NASA published an explanation about why it won’t work. DDT vigorously denied making the suggestion, but Axios reported that the information came from one of his staff members.

DDT urged his almost 64 million Twitter followers to “start looking for a new News Outlet” because of Fox “heavily promoting the Democrats.” Good idea! People who watch Fox have a less accurate knowledge of current events than those who don’t watch the news. 

DDT plans to move forward with his plan to index capital gains on stock to inflation as a gift to wealthy investors. Investors selling assets could use the inflation-adjusted value of the initial purchase for the sale to pay less tax by reducing taxable income from their sales.

DDT tweeted and praised a video from the anti-Semiitic and white nationalist hate group VDare that includes its lion logo that comes from a quote from Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini that DDT retweeted in February 2016:

“It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”

Before VDare adoped the lion logo, it was on a website and Twitter account from a group calling itself the Lion Guard, which vowed to protect DDT supporters and “forcefully protect” Trump from threats.

DDT’s included these words with the VDare video:  

 “Trump Pence Keep America Great. Thank you for the support as we MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

The lion logo appeared the following month on a website and Twitter account launched by a group calling itself the Lion Guard, which vowed to protect Trump supporters and “forcefully protect” Trump from threats. The logo soon appeared on VDare’s Twitter account. Larry Kudlow, DDT’s economic adviser, recently invited Peter Brimelow, right-wing English immigrant and VDare founder who called leftists “stupid,” to his birthday party.

DDT had several negative tweets about how Comey “leaked Classified Documents” after the DOJ Inspector General’s findings Comey about giving a memo regarding seven of his conversations with DDT to a friend as security and keeping his personal memos. Benjamin Wittes summarized that the IG “has determined that it is misconduct for a law enforcement officer to publicly disclose an effort to shut down his investigation.” After two years, IG Michael Horowitz discovered that Comey was “straightforward concerning why he wrote the seven memos in question, what he did with them, whom he shared them with and what his motives were in doing so.”

 Horowitz finished his report with ten pages “about how Comey ‘violated applicable policies and his Employment Agreement,’ about his release of ‘official FBI information and records to third parties without authorization,’ and about his failure to ‘immediately alert the FBI’ when he learned that material he had given his lawyers ‘contained six words … that the FBI had determined were classified at the CONFIDENTIAL’ level.”

Comey considered his memos were to be personal, not FBI records; therefore he kept them. Horowitz acknowledges no classified material was ever publicly disclosed. The only new information was the FBI’s process for examining the memos. A court decision ruled that only one of Comey’s redacted words, the name of a country, was confidential. As FBI director, Comey had the authority to judge what was classified. When he left and the FBI changed the classification, Comey was to return the material—which he did. Horowitz’ conclusion is “that a witness to gross misconduct by the president of the United States has a duty to keep his mouth shut about what he saw.”

Regarding classified information, DDT brought Russians into the Oval Office without security, revealed classified information about Israel, and overruled FBI decision to not give a high-level security clearance to son-in-law Jared Kushner. DDT’s most recent classified information leak comes from his tweeted aerial image of an Iranian launchpad, a photo that was most likely highly classified and showed that the U.S. has violated Iran’s airspace by spying on its missile program. In June, DDT declared that a U.S. surveillance drone was in international airspace when Iran shot it down. He almost started a war over the event. A camera flash and a person’s shadow on the image caused speculation that someone took a picture of the image with a cellphone in a classified intelligence briefing where handheld electronics are forbidden. As DDT tweeted, he can release any information he wants, but past presidents have made these decisions after deliberations with U.S. intelligence agencies about potential damage. [visual

DDT monitored Hurricane Dorian while playing golf at his private Virginia club, traveling by helicopter from Camp David. He also tweeted about his endorsement for the North Carolina special congressional election, praise for Fox’s Sean Hannity, and current lawsuits against “various people for violating their confidentiality agreements.” Missing were any thoughts and prayers for the five people killed and the 21 people injured in today’s mass shooting in Texas. He just tweeted that he was being kept informed.

May 1, 2019

U.S. AG Barr Defends Cover-up of DDT

Special investigator Robert Mueller joins people disturbed about AG Bill Barr’s misrepresentation of Mueller’s final report. A timeline of the report from its release to Barr’s testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his protection of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT).

March 22: Robert Mueller delivered his 448-page report to the DOJ.

March 24: Bill Barr released his personal four-page interpretation of Mueller’s report that attempted to exonerate DDT of all blame by announcing that Mueller found no collusion between the DDT campaign and Russia and that Mueller had absolved DDT of obstruction of justice.

March 25: Mueller sent first letter to Barr, expressing “concern” about Barr’s misrepresentation of his findings with an introduction and executive summary to Barr that day.

March 27: Mueller sent a second letter to Barr and the DOJ leadership about Barr’s summary:

“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions. There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

Muller requested the release of the report’s introduction and executive summaries. DOJ officials said that they believed Mueller agreed with them about the process of releasing the report until they saw the letter. The complete letter is here.

March 28: Mueller told Barr on the phone that Barr’s summary was misleading about the report and said that Barr did not reveal how DDT’s campaign interacted inappropriately with Russians. Examples: Campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates regularly provided polling to a Russian national believed by Gates to be a “spy”; Mueller outlined 10 “episodes” in which DDT may have obstructed justice. In addition, Barr didn’t mention that DDT’s mostly unsuccessful “to incluence the investigation” were “largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

March 29: Barr wrote Congress claiming that his March 24 communication was intended as Mueller’s principal conclusions, not a summary. He volunteered to testify before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees on May 1 and 2.

April 10: Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath. Asked if Mueller supported “your conclusion,” Barr answered:

I don’t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion.”

The questioner, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), called Barr “the chief propagandist” for DDT and that Barr lied to the people after learning about Mueller’s prior communication with Barr.

April 18: Barr gave a press release before he made public a heavily redacted Mueller report and repeated “no collusion” as his boss DDT has. Asked if it was improper for him to spin the unreleased report, Barr walked off the stage.

April 30: The Washington Post released information about Mueller’s criticism to Barr about the Barr’s misrepresentation and publicity prior to Barr’s congressional testimony.  Both Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) demanded Mueller’s letter to Barr. Nadler also asked that Mueller testify before his committee, but the DOJ, where Mueller is employed, can’t find a time when Mueller would be available. Barr threatened to not appear at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on May 2 because he might be questioned by staff counsel instead of House members. Members of Congress called for Barr’s resignation.

May 1: Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

  • Barr testified he had not reviewed the underlying evidence in Mueller’s report although he wrote in his first summary that the evidence failed to establish that DDT committed obstruction of justice.
  • Barr said he doesn’t know anything about the internal polling data that Manafort and Gates regularly sent to Russian national Kilimnik to share with others in Ukraine and with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The Mueller report described over 200 connections between DDT’s campaign and a foreign adversary.
  • Barr sat in silence for six seconds when asked if campaigns should contact the FBI if foreign governments offer them damaging information on their political opponents. When prompted, he specified a narrow yes, “if a foreign intelligence service.” Barr did suggest it would be possible for an employee of a foreign adversary to work for a U.S. campaign if that person were not paid.
  • Asked about lies from DDT and other people in Mueller’s report, Barr said that he’s “not in the business of determining when lies are told to the American people.” [Internet response was not positive.]
  • Barr falsely claimed that he “didn’t exonerate” DDT and that he wasn’t hiding Mueller’s information. [Sen. Richard Blumenthal used a color-coded chart for 14 claims connected with DDT’s obstruction of justice, showing that Mueller found substantial evidence regarding this obstruction of “crime, intent, interference with an ongoing investigation, and the obstructive act.”]
  • Barr called Mueller’s letter to him “snitty” and refused to share notes from their telephone call. Also, Barr accused Mueller of not writing the letter to him although Mueller signed the letter.
  • Barr told Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that he will “work with you to enhance the security of our election.” Asked if he would help get the Secure Elections Act passed, he said he would “take a look” at it. [Klobuchar had far more questions.]
  • Barr said that DDT “fully cooperated” with the investigation although the Mueller report shows differently.
  • Barr asserted that Mueller didn’t intend his report for Congress although Mueller stated that intent in his report.
  • Barr admitted under oath that a case for obstruction of justice can be pursued without an underlying crime if people concerned about crimes “take an inherently malignant act, such as destroying documents.” The statement was to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), DDT’s cheerleader, who was sure that his original question would keep DDT from being accused of obstruction. [Asked earlier this week about DDT’s obstruction of justice, Graham said, “I don’t care.”]
  • Barr said that DDT was “falsely accused” of coordinating with Russia.
  • Barr declared that he is in charge of summaries, redactions, and times of releases because a special investigator works.
  • The worst: Barr said that the president had the right to fire any independent special counsel if he disagreed with the investigation.
  • Barr refused to testify at the House Judiciary Committee hearing tomorrow. Members may subpoena him, landing the situation in court If Barr continues his refusal. Barr could be sued for civil contempt, leaving the decision to a judge. This solution was used in 2007 when George W. Bush’s counsel Harriet Miers refused to testify about her removal of several U.S. attorneys; a court ruled that Miers had to comply with the subpoena, and the case was appealed. The case was dropped when the 110th Congress was over. An unlikely option not used for 100 years is to hold Barr in contempt, meaning the House’s security force could arrest and detain him. In 1973, Sen. Sam Ervin (D-NC) threatened to jail people who failed to appear for the Watergate hearings after then President Nixon tried to prevent key aides from testifying.  Permitting Barr his own way sets a precedent for the DOJ’s total control of Congress—a separate branch of government.

When “Poppy” Bush, George W.’s father, named Barr attorney general in the early 1990s, NYT writer William Safire, a staunch Republican, used the nickname “Coverup-General” because of Barr’s concealing evidence about George H.W. Bush’s involvement in “Iraqgate” and “Iran-Contra.” Christmas 1992 headlines told of Barr’s Christmas gift to Bush and Ronald Reagan—hiding their crimes in the Iran-Contra scandal. Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh, named six years earlier to investigate Reagan’s Iran-Contra activities, found the documents of Caspar Weinberger, Reagan’s former defense secretary, who had been in on the deal, and Bush’s diary that would corroborate Walsh’s findings. Elliott Abrams was already convicted of withholding evidence from Congress and might have more information. Abrams was silent, hoping for a pardon.

In April 2001—almost ten years later—Barr said in an interview for oral presidential histories:

“There were some people arguing just for [a pardon for] Weinberger, and I said, ‘No, in for a penny, in for a pound.’ I went over and told the President I thought he should not only pardon Caspar Weinberger, but while he was at it, he should pardon about five others.”

Bush followed Barr’s advice, destroying years of investigation. Walsh had already gotten one conviction and three guilty pleas with two other people lined up for prosecution. Bush was in Walsh’s sights. The pardons closed down the investigation and protected himself as well as the others involved in the crimes. After the pardons, Walsh stated that the diary and notes for Weinberger’s public trial were “evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public.” Officials includes Reagan, Bush, and Barr. Coverup-General Barr is the go-to guy, and Republican senators confirmed him. Only Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voted against his party, but Barr got three Democratic senators: Doug Jones (AL), Joe Manchin (WV), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ).

Even Fox contributor Andrew Napolitano, who DDT once considered for a personal lawyer, claims that Mueller’s report shows DDT’s pattern of obstruction that was “unlawful, defenseless and condemnable.” He made his opinion well-known through both an op-ed and a video.

A must-read about Barr is a NYT op-ed from former FBI director James Comey who tells Barr that “[DDT] has eaten your soul.”

And a must-watch about Barr comes from Rachel Maddow’s interview with Hillary Clinton immediately before Minute 17. Clinton’s best one-liner about DDT’s inviting foreign countries to support her 2016 election:

“China, if you’re listening, why don’t you get Trump’s tax returns? I’m sure the media would richly reward you.”

According to Barr, this approach would not be illegal because it’s done out in the open.

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

 

July 21, 2018

DDT: Week 78 – Walking Back

The meeting at Helsinki with Vladimir Putin was supposed to be a high spot of the first 18 months for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) after he was inaugurated. Instead it was his worst week thus far: he spent four days walking back his statements before escaping to his Bedminster (NJ) resort. After denying his rejection of intelligence information about Putin’s election meddling which may have made the presidential election illegitimate, DDT invited Putin to Washington in the fall, but the GOP head of the Senate said that Putin would not be welcome in Congress. DDT’s actions are increasingly called treasonous.[visual new York cover]

Doug Heye, former communications director for the RNC, said:

“Helsinki was such a disaster that we have lost sight of the disasters that came before that in Brussels and London. Then, from a PR perspective, obviously the back and forth they’ve had this week has also been a disaster—and not how crisis communications is handled, to put it mildly.”

Even Rupert Murdoch’s the Wall Street Journal slammed DDT about Helsinki, questioning his loyalty to the country in a “Trump First Doctrine.” The editorial suggested that the GOP join Democrats to check DDT’s diplomatic powers. “Political isolation concerning a foreign adversary is a weak and dangerous place to be,” according to the editorial.

Republicans worked hard to use Peter Strzok as a tool to get rid of the Mueller investigation, grilling him 21 hours in two days—the second day televised. They pushed the falsehood that he was trying to keep DDT from being elected, something he could have done if he had announced before the election that DDT’s campaign was being investigated for Russian collusion—which he didn’t.

Shortly before DDT left for his weekly vacation, he faced reports about a secretly recorded tape between him and former lawyer Michael Cohen two months before the election about a hush payoff for his affair with Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/us/politics/michael-cohen-trump-tape.html  Earlier DDT denied his almost year-long affair with McDougal that began soon after Melanie Trump gave birth to their son Barron. DDT’s lawyers permitted the tape’s release, and Rudy Giuliani said that it shows no wrongdoing.

Giuliani remains DDT’s legal mouthpiece on television, but he keeps working for foreign clients, including Brazil, Colombia, and a Iranian dissident group listed by the State Department as a terrorist group. Giuliani has not registered with the DOJ, claiming that he doesn’t directly lobby the U.S. government and doesn’t charge DDT for his “services.” An authority said that Giuliani’s speeches to the group require his registration. Since Giuliani became DDT’s lawyer in April, and has given opinions on Iran, North Korea, and other issues outside his position while divulging details about discussions with both DDT and Robert Mueller’s office.

Russia still dominates other disasters for DDT. Documents from the DOJ about a secret FISA warrant to surveil DDT’s foreign policy adviser Carter Page show that he is “an agent of a foreign power” recruited by Russia to “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law.” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) had accused the FBI and DOJ of using a dossier by a private British citizen for its surveillance, but information debunked that claim. The 412 pages, obtained by Gizmodo with a Freedom of Information Act request filed 15 months ago, are heavily redacted but damaging to Page, who plans to refute the application’s claims on CNN’s State of the Union tomorrow.

Paul Manafort is still in jail after violating his bail agreement for contacting witnesses. An appeal by his lawyers to delay the trial scheduled for July 25 in Virginia caused his move to a new prison from his old VIP one that provided him two computers, the second one used to read and write emails that his legal team takes from jail to transmit the emails permitting him to continue witness intimidation. Manafort also had a private, self-contained living unit with personal bathroom and shower facilities, a personal telephone, and a workroom available to him between early in the morning until late in the evening. His laptop had an extension cord so that he can use it in his cell after 10:00 pm. The lawyers tried to withdraw their concerns because of “safety” in the new jail, but the judge turned them down. Judge T.S. Ellis, a Reagan appointee, said that the Alexandria facility has experience with inmates such as “foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors.”

Manafort pleaded not guilty to Robert Mueller’s charges that he dramatically understated his income on federal tax returns from 2010 through 2014 and allegations of bank fraud totaling more than $20 million tied to loans he applied for in connection with various homes he owns. The prosecution plans to present over 500 pieces of evidence regarding his wealth. Manafort’s trial in Washington, D.C. for money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent for his work in Ukraine is scheduled for September. So who’s paying for Manafort’s lgal team?

DDT’s obsession with “fake news” may come from his obsession in watching the Fox network. The Fox News morning show Fox & Friends claimed in a tweet that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation “still hasn’t tied anyone from the campaign to the probe.” Several people from the campaign, including campaign chairman Paul Manafort, have been “tied” to the investigation. Direct guilty pleas came from George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, who briefly became DDT’s national security adviser. The Fox tweet has been removed.

DDT’s most recent pardons are for two Oregon ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, convicted for setting fire to federal land when they were trying to cover up illegally poaching seven deer. Firefighters had to be airlifted out of the area to save their lives. The Hammonds had a 28-year history of permit violations and unauthorized fires on 45,000 acres. According to witnesses, Steven Hammond “handed out ‘Strike Anywhere’ matches because they were going to ‘light up the whole country on fire.’” The pardon goes far beyond pandering to white supremacists, however; it leads to privatizing public land for mining and drilling so that private companies can plunder resources without paying royalties. During his first year, DDT concealed the identities of the benefitting firms with these giveaways by obscure online methods. Not even the fabled Grand Canyon is safe.

GOP House members supported DDT in removing sanctions from the Chinese company ZTE guilty of violating sanctions by selling U.S. goods to Iran in violation of sanctions, and senators agreed. DDT was concerned about a possible closure of the company with his tweet, “Too many jobs in China lost.”

Unions received another blow from DDT’s administration after the Supreme Court said that they had to provide services to employees for free. DDT eliminated a regulation requiring employers to report information about the union-busting consultants that companies hire. Although federal law mandates companies to report hires of “persuaders” who talk to workers about not unionizing, they no longer have this mandate if their lawyers and consultants don’t directly talk to employees.

DDT has also shut down guideline.gov, the National Guideline Clearinghouse, which has provided an online database of best health care practices from medical groups and researchers. Doctors used this source to relevant guidelines from what was considered the world’s most comprehensive and reliable repositories. Republicans claimed that the Clearinghouse was too expensive, but its cost was roughly equivalent to HHS Secretary Tom Price’s expenditures on travel during his 240 days.

DDT continues to decimate the Affordable Care Act. Earlier in July, he stopped annual payments to even out costs for insurers when clients need expensive medical services. This permanent risk adjustment was part of the law. With the threat of higher premiums and failure of small insurance companies, DDT may have to reverse his position. He will, however, continue his recent policy of 90 percent cuts in advertising to encourage participation and 40 percent cuts for “navigator” programs that help consumers sign up. Rupert Murdoch’s USA Today opposes DDT’s determination to kill the ACA that has “until now … been a success.”  The editorial concludes:

“Republicans should be held accountable for their handiwork — even if they do it in a bureaucratic dark alley instead of openly in the halls of Congress.”

DDT is even opposed to providing accurate information about breastfeeding. At the World Health Assembly in late May, the U.S. supported infant formula manufacturers and threatened trade wars and cessation of military aid targeting Ecuador if it didn’t drop the resolution to provide scientific information about breastfeeding. Ecuador caved in, followed by at least a dozen African nations, most of them poor, that feared retaliation. The U.S., however, did not threaten Russia when it introduced the breastfeeding measure, and the resolution passed. It cites scientific evidence that infants are healthiest with breastfeeding and tries to block infant formula manufacturers from lying to consumers. A 2016 study found that breast-feeding could prevent 800,000 child deaths a year and save $300 billion because of reduced health care costs and improved economic outcomes for breastfed infants.

The European Union and Japan on Tuesday signed a major trade deal eliminating most tariffs. The United States has lost more of its influence.

June 11, 2018

Supreme Court Permits Vote Purging, Other Court Actions

Monday in June means the dribbling of decisions from major Supreme Court cases for the year. Today’s ruling in a 5-4 vote legitimizes the purging of registered voters from rolls if they miss elections. Ohio’s law may be unethical (my opinion) but not against federal law (Samuel Alito’s opinion). The National Voting Rights Act prevents the removal of voters because they fail to vote but requires states to keep accurate rolls. The court’s justification for the ruling comes from the lack of response to a postcard followed by four years of not voting. Cases still waiting for announced decisions concern DDT’s travel ban, gerrymandering, internet sales taxes, union fees, mobile phone privacy, and credit card fees.

Policies promulgated by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) are crossing the line into illegal. Despite DOJ AG Jeff Sessions’ claim that all children are removed from parents when immigrants try to cross the southern border, HHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen refused to be specific about this aim in a Senate hearing and avoided the term “deterrence” because she knows that this policy is illegal. A federal judge blocked President Obama in 2015 from locking up Central American immigrant mothers and their children without bond to stop others from crossing the border, and the 1997 Flores settlement bars locking up children in detention centers. To avoid this problem, the DOJ takes children from parents and treats them as if they came by themselves. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit and asked for a nationwide injunction to stop DDT’s family separation policy.

The DOJ lawyer claimed that they weren’t systematically separating mothers, but three days later Sessions announced that the “zero tolerance” police included mothers with their children. The judge ruled that the case against the policy can move forward because it “arbitrarily tears at the sacred bond between parent and child. Such conduct, if true, as it is assumed to be on the present motion, is brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.”

Until the World of Trump, the DOJ defended federal law, no matter the political views of the DOJ and the sitting president. Now AG Jeff Sessions is supporting lawsuits from 20 GOP states to invalidate the provisions in the Affordable Care Act mandating that all people buy insurance and thus removing the requirement that healthcare provide for pre-existing conditions. The 17 Democratic-led states have filed a brief to argue for the retention of the ACA, and three career DOJ attorneys refuse to back DOJ support. Instability will cause higher charges for healthcare premiums in 2019. The DOJ controls the nation’s laws by deciding which ones to defend—legal decisions by caprice.

Doing away with the ACA could be a GOP ecological approach to reducing population and make Republicans an endangered species. Although a majority of die-hard Republicans oppose the ACA, 54 percent of people have a favorable view with strong support by independents. Support for the law grows each time that the GOP tries to repeal it.

Philadelphia will keep its status as a so-called sanctuary city after it won its lawsuit against the federal government. The DOJ had pulled a grant because the city would not allow ICE agents into city prisons, notify them when undocumented immigrants leave prisons, and give them information about their immigration status. The city argued that its police force is not an arm of federal agencies, and the judge wrote that the refusal was based in “reasonable, rational,” and “equitable” logic.

Arizona has agreed to allow voters to register without providing proof of citizenship at the time of registration.

The Arizona Court of Appeals upheld a Phoenix ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, citing the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop. The three-judge panel wrote: “[A]llowing a vendor who provides goods and services for marriages and weddings to refuse similar services for gay persons would result in ‘a community-wide stigma inconsistent with the history and dynamics of civil rights laws that ensure equal access to goods, services and public accommodations.’” They added that the law “regulates conduct, not speech.” The baker won his case not to sell one wedding cake to a gay couple but the opinion essentially ruled in favor of LGBTQ rights.

The 9th Circuit Court has just ruled that Maricopa County (AZ) is liable for the racist traffic stop policies of former Joe Arpaio, now a GOP candidate for U.S. Senate. After the federal district court ruling, Arpaio was found in civil contempt of court and criminal contempt for continuing his discriminatory practices after a court order not to enforce federal immigration law on a local level. DDT pardoned him on the civil contempt charges, but the cost to the county is almost $100 million. Maricopa County claimed it wasn’t liable for his actions because he was a policymaker for his own office or the entire state—not the county. The three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit Court disagreed.

DDT’s NFL problem with keeping players from kneeling during the national anthem won’t go away: Colin Kaepernick is suing the NFL for collusion against him because he was blacklisted for leading the NFL players’ protest of police brutality against blacks. Kaepernick’s lawyers plan to request subpoenas for DDT, VP Mike Pence, and White House officials in seeking the DDT administration’s involvement in making players stand during the national anthem. DDT suggested pardoning Ali when he said that he was looking at “thousands of names” of people he can pardon. A lawyer for Ali already turned down DDT, stating that there is no crime for DDT to pardon. Ron Tweel pointed out that the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the conviction in 1971 for Ali’s resisting the draft in June 1967. DDT’s comment was made after he made his appeal to black voters by pardoning Alice Marie Johnson, who has already served 21 years of a life term for nonviolent offenses, a week after he met with Kim Kardashian West. Johnson was convicted on money laundering, one of the charges against Paul Manafort. About DDT pardoning Muhammad Ali, his wife said that “the pardon should go to those who kneel.”

The number of lawsuits surrounding Stormy Daniels has increased after Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti discovered that other women were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements for extramarital affairs with DDT At least one of them was represented by Daniels’ previous lawyer, Keith Davidson. The new lawsuit claims that he “colluded” with DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen to get Daniels on Sean Hannity’s Fox program to falsely deny that she had an affair with DDT. The lawsuit also alleges that DDT was aware of the two lawyers’ coordination but Daniels wasn’t. Another allegation is that Davidson broke client confidentiality by telling Cohen that Daniels was getting a new lawyer and announcing that she had an affair with DDT. Texts show that the two lawyers agreed that Daniels would have no interviews except through Davidson. DDT and Sean Hannity may be called as witnesses.

Davidson retaliated with his own lawsuit against Daniels and Avenatti with a separate one against Cohen for illegally recording phone calls with Davidson. He claimed that he only communicated with Cohen after instructed by his client.

The DOJ seized phone and email records from New York Times reporter Ali Watkins in its investigation into James Wolfe, formerly Senate Intelligence Committee’s director of security, who was indicted for lying to investigators. Watkins said that they had a personal relationship, but he was not a source for her. It is the first case of DDT seizing a reporter’s records, and Wolfe was not charged with passing classified information despite DDT’s inuendos. Leaking unclassified government information is not illegal. DOJ rules require officials to exhaust all of possibilities and negotiate with the reporter before taking legal action to get the records. There was no negotiation, and other actions before taking the records were not made clear. Watkins broke the news about DDT’s associate Carter Page meeting with a Russian spy in 2013.

The UN is demanding an immediate stop to the U.S. removal of children from families at the border because it violates their right and international law. The U.S. refuses to stop the practice and declares all entries as illegal although families requesting asylum, not an illegal entry, are also being separated. The A.C.L.U. has filed a class-action lawsuit, demanding a stop to the separation and reunification of families.

In the UN, the U.S. vetoed an Arab-backed Kuwait measure with ten votes to protect Palestinians from Israelis. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s resolution to condemn Hamas for Israeli violence in Gaza got only the U.S. vote. Israelis have killed 124 Palestinians, including journalists and medics, and wounded over a thousand more along the fence to Gaza where two million poor Palestinians, displaced by Israelis in 1948, live. No Israelis have been killed.

The Treasury Department has threatened governments and private companies if they trade with Iran. Under Secretary of the Treasury Sigal Mandelker said:

“Companies doing business in Iran face substantial risks, and those risks are even greater as we reimpose nuclear-related sanctions. We will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account.”

This website tracks court cases in which citizens, tribal nations, state and local governments, business owners, and others are standing up for U.S. conservation laws, common-sense energy rules, and ethics and transparency standards at the Department of the Interior.

June 2, 2018

DDT: Week 71 – Growing Dictatorship

The President of the United States is above the law, according to John Dowd, a lawyer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who said over six months ago:

“[The]President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”

Today the New York Times published a confidential 20-page memo dated January 29, 2018, from Dowd to investigator Robert Mueller declaring DDT as a dictator in blocking the Russian probe.

DDT’s threats on tariffs is in accord with his “above the law” position. Although Congress is in charge of trade policy, DDT can declare tariffs in the name of national security. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called tariffs on steel and aluminum “insulting and unacceptable” in connection with a national security threat, especially because DDT lied about the trade deficit with Canada. Canada has the deficit, not the U.S., and DDT admitted that he had no idea who had the deficit.

After DDT threatened tariffs on $50 billion from China, they returned with declaring tariffs on $50 billion from the U.S. which dropped the Dow Jones 400 points. It went back up only after the FEC promised a lack of oversight on U.S. banks. Europe plans tariffs on Kentucky’s bourbon and Wisconsin’s Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and Mexico plans trade penalties on pork. China’s tariffs may focus on soybeans, and other U.S. crops may have to be destroyed because other countries cannot afford the price. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) complained about foreign tariffs, “Canada and Mexico, Europe—these are our allies.” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has a better understanding that DDT started the war, saying that DDT’s tariffs will “destroy manufacturing jobs, especially auto jobs, which are one-third of all Tennessee manufacturing jobs.”

Canada filed two complaints with the World Trade Organization after DDT will no longer exempt the country from his tariffs, and EU plans to follow suit. The G7 conference the end of this week—or G6 plus 1 as France describes those attending—will be awkward if the U.S. has to explain why it’s destroy relationships with former allies. The trade war means higher costs for goods and lost jobs.

Stephen Moore, economist at the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, called tariffs “corporate welfare” because they force consumers to pay more to keep favored companies in business. DDT is also erasing competition, a sacred cow of conservative capitalism, by forcing power-grid operators to buy from ailing coal and nuclear plants instead of from cheaper source to protect DDT’s friends and donors such as Murray chief executive Robert Murray and FirstEnergy chief executive Charles E. Jones Sr. Some congressional GOP members are considering a restriction on DDT’s tampering with the economy.

In the Russian investigation, prosecutors are reassembling the shredded papers of DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen and looking into possible audio tapes of his conversations with clients. A website begging for money to support Paul Manafort’s defense team may be a scam. And more information about DDT trying to get rid of his AG Jeff Sessions—or at the very least get him to “un-recuse”—has emerged. DDT’s desperation about Sessions’ not protecting him adds to the appearance of guilt. DDT angrily tweeted about the $16.7 million cost of Robert Mueller’s first year investigating Russian meddling—about one-fourth the cost of DDT’s golf games for the same time period.

DDT’s latest ploy to conceal testimony against him is pardoning people, most recently right-wing conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza for campaign finance fraud with no request from or any attempt to follow the traditional channels of presidential pardoning. Pardoned the same week as Roseanne Barr’s “vile, anti-Semitic” rhetoric, D’Souza has been much more vile. DDT pardoned D’Souza the day after he met with Kim Kardashian West, who asked him to pardon Alice Marie Johnson, 63, serving a life sentence for her participation in cocaine transportation. Johnson has already served 21 years but gets no pardon.

After former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich wrote an anti-federal prosecutor op-ed, DDT may pardon him for trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat. DDT said that politicians don’t deserve prison for being “stupid,” meaning that people should be exonerated for corruption. Blagojevich was fired on DDT’s television show, but he may win DDT’s new game show, “Get Out of Jail Free.” Michelle Goldberg calls it, “Celebrity Impunity.” By demonstrating his power to pardon anyone he wishes, DDT is sending a message to Michel Cohen that he would protect him. This use of pardoning was cited as a possible article of impeachment against President Richard Nixon.

DDT ally Roger Stone, also under investigation, stated that DDT’s pardon “has to be a signal to Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort and even Robert S. Mueller III: Indict people for crimes that don’t pertain to Russian collusion and this is what could happen.” Stone may be thinking he would also be protected.

North Korea talks may be back on as DDT bumbles around, first claiming that he got a “very nice” letter from Kim Jong-Un and then saying eight minutes later that he hadn’t read it. According to scholar Rachel Maddow, North Korea’s envoy is General Kim Yong Chol, “the top-ranked spy in the North Korean government … for a very long time. He headed military intelligence for the past seven years, and he built the world’s most elite hacking and cyber-espionage service from scratch—in a country where no one even has the internet.” Kim was linked to the 2010 death of 46 sailors in an attack on a South Korean naval ship and the 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures as well as other crimes. Maddow questioned whether Kim left surveillance devices when he spent two hours with DDT in the Oval office.

Tropical storm Alberto arrived a week before the official opening of hurricane season, but Puerto Rico remains in dire straits from last September’s Hurricane Maria. In one whitewash of the horror, officials declared the number of deaths at 64, but a new Harvard study in the New England Journal of Medicine gives 4,645 as the real death toll. That’s more people than the 1,833 who died in the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. And more than the number of deaths—2,977—on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Post-hurricane mortality rate of 14.3 deaths per 1,000 people is a 62 percent than the same time period in 2016. The greatest causes of deaths were disrupted medical services, including access to medication and medical facilities. The 4,645 deaths are a conservative number; the death toll may be over 5,740.

A decade ago, the government had to bail out banks in a recession because of lax restrictions, and the Republicans are moving toward the same disaster. The week after DDT signed a bill into law that removed much oversight from banks, the FEC started the process for banks to take the same risks as hedge funds that indulge in speculative activities, aka “proprietary trading.” The GOP Congress already penalizes consumers with new laws allowing minority borrowers to be charged more than whites and removing federal rules easing consumer lawsuits against banks.

Back on the campaign trail, DDT is continuing his three-year-old lie that Mexico will pay for a wall separating the country from the United States. After DDT’s speech in Nashville (TN), Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted:

“President @realDonald­Trump: NO. Mexico will NEVER pay for a wall. Not now, not ever. Sincerely, Mexico.”

As DDT left to talk with family members of the Santa Fe (X) school shooting victims, he said, “We’re going to have a little fun today.” One mother, an Army veteran, compared her discussion with DDT to “talking to a toddler.”

John Boehner, former Speaker of the House: “There is no Republican Party. There’s a Trump party. The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.”

As of yesterday, the WaPo has recorded 3,251 false or misleading claims in 497 days. That’s over 6.5 a day, up from 4.9 claims in his first 100 days. May’s average was eight, helped by 35 just at the Nashville rally on May 29. At least 122 claims were repeated at least three times. One-third of his claims deal with economic issues, trade deals, or jobs, partly when he takes credit for jobs or decisions made before he was inaugurated. For example, DDT’s job growth is actually slower than President Obama’s last five years. The 379 claims about immigration include 19 times that he has said that his wall is being built although Congress denied its funding. Seventy-five times he falsely claimed that he passed the biggest tax cut, and a large chunk of his claims are 265 statements about the Russia probe. The database of these claims.

My favorite recent lie, this one in Nashville about infrastructure:

“We will breathe new hope into our communities and we will do it all with these big, beautiful hands,” Trump continued, raising both presidential paws and stretching out the fingers. “Look at these hands.”

The mystery of the week–and maybe longer is the whereabouts of Melania Trump. She hasn’t been seen for 23 days, despite DDT’s appearances on Memorial Day and this weekend’s trip to Camp David. The only evidence from a White House that leaks like a sieve is a DDT-sounding anti-media tweet supposedly from her that claims she is fine.

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