Nel's New Day

April 20, 2019

DDT: Week 117 – Brief Euphoria Leads to Fury

AG Bill Barr’s release of the Mueller Report—at least pieces of it—consumed the news last week with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) going from euphoria when he thought he was exonerated to fear and anger after the public and Congress saw a partial report. Despite Barr’s desperate lies and omissions to convince people that DDT was off the hook, questions about his conflicts of interest also damage his spin on DDT’s “innocence.” In the past, Barr worked for a law firm representing Russia’s Alfa Bank and for a company with long-time business connections with Russia. He also received dividends from Vector Group with deep financial ties to Russia that brought DDT to Moscow to discuss investments there. Deutsche Bank, the only one recently willing to lend money to DDT and implicated in money-laundering schemes, holds up to $250,000 of Barr’s assets. These facts were largely overlooked in the Senate confirmation hearings, but the House is guaranteed to dig deeper into Barr’s Russian relationships—likely finding a web of people involved in both the scandal and attempts to bury it in addition to Barr’s past history of lying.

Noted journalist Jane Mayer also wrote an article of how Eric Prince, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ brother and Blackwater founder, funded an attempt to determine “the authenticity of [Clinton’s] emails” that DDT requested from Russia. Michael Flynn told Mueller that DDT repeatedly asked to get the emails, and Flynn asked many people who might be able to get them, including Peter Smith who helped finance investigations into Bill Clinton’s sexual relationships in Arkansas. Smith wrote emails explaining that his work on Clinton’s emails was “in coordination with” DDT’s campaign, and Prince helped fund the operation. Smith’s death in May 2017 was ruled a suicide. Barr stated that disseminating stolen information was not a crime unless the person initially stole the information. Another “Trump Defense” that adds to nothing criminal for people who are angry and  fail.

While lying about the Mueller report, Barr issued a ruling that asylum seekers won’t be eligible for bond even they face credible fear in their countries of origin. Instead they’ll be held indefinitely, sometimes years, while immigration courts determine their fate. The ruling means taxpayers pay hundreds of millions of dollars to private companies that house people who could find productive work and pay taxes. Last year’s charge was at least $730 million. Barr justified his authority by stating that he can do this because federal circuit courts have this right—although the DOJ has nothing to do with the judicial system. compared his authority to that of a federal court:

One of Barr’s goals may be to get rid of DDT’s former undocumented housekeeper at DDT’s golf resort in Bedminster (NJ), Victorina Morales, who blew the whistle on DDT’s employees’ penchant for hiring undocumented migrants and then blackmailing them with their status. Morales brought her son to Guatemala after they witnessed a group of men slashing her father-in-law with a machete in an attempt to extort him for money. The AG can refer any cases he wishes to her purview as a political tool to control the immigration system. In greater politicization, Barr is considering an expansion of his power to refer cases to himself that are being considered in addition to those determined by immigration judges.

An DHS advisory group wants Congress to pass “emergency legislation” to detain more children at the southern border. The goal is to block asylum seekers.

DDT, who tried to strongarm the Japanese president into nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize, vetoed the non-binding resolution to leave the war in Yemen causing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Bombing is leaving 14 million Yemenis at risk of famine. One year ago, DDT claimed peace with North Korea. This week, its president, Kim Jong-Un, announced a test-firing of “tactical guided weapon,” showing the world that his nation is moving forward with weapons development. His media also said that North Korean officials won’t accept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s participation in nuclear talks, requesting someone “more careful and mature in communicating.” Pompeo declared that he’s staying on, that its “my team,” illustrating that North Korea might be right. And once again, a Republican in the Oval Office has failed after triumphantly crying “Mission accomplished.”

Although DDT ignored the three black churches burned down in Louisiana in the past few weeks, he had enough time to give advice to firefighters battling the inferno at Paris’ Cathedral of Notre-Dame—use “flying water tankers.” His suggestion was ignored to preserve the structural integrity of the 850-year-old building. DDT’s pattern of ignoring the plight of non-white people in the U.S. continues his failure to follow through to get clean drinking water in Flint (MI), taken by Republicans in 2014, and provide disaster relief to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria over 18 months ago. Cages for migrant children at the southern border were built with fund designated for Head Start, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, and the National Cancer Institute.

A directive from the New York State Office of Court Administration prevents ICE from arresting people inside courthouses without judicial warrants or orders. With 178 of these arrests in New York state courthouses last year, over 100 times as many as the 11 in 2016, immigrants are increasingly fearful of going to courts. ICE uses administrative warrants, signed by ICE agents instead of judges, to pick up immigrants.

The SEC is requiring ExxonMobil to permit a shareholder vote on a resolution that would require the corporation disclose its political spending, including “dark money” to advocacy and trade organizations. Another vote mandated by the SEC is on a shareholder-proposed resolution to create a committee that reviews and oversees Exxon’s climate change strategy. The votes will be taken at the May 29 annual meeting.

Soon after his inauguration, DDT proudly ordered a new Office within the VA Department to protect whistleblowers from reprisal. The VA is now investigating the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection for assisting in retaliation against whistleblowers. For example, an engineer who reported contracting violations to supervisors and OAWP was stripped of responsibilities and assigned to an office without heat or air conditioning. Others described OAWP’s inactivity and betrayal.

A president cannot put tariffs on items unless the purpose is for national security, but DDT has threatened to put these fees on French wine and cheese after putting high tariffs on soybeans. Now DDT is trying to figure out whether uranium is connected to U.S. security. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) thinks that Congress needs to take back its constitutional power to be in control of tariffs. Maybe the farmers who lost big time on soybeans have some influence on their senator.

In his first campaign, DDT ran on the economy, saying that he would bring back the $2 trillion that wealthy people and corporations have stashed overseas and raise the GDP growth to four percent or over. He’s failed to bring back the money but added his $1.5 trillion tax cut to give money to the rich beneficiaries. At the same time, he’s driving away the immigrants who support his economy and work force.

DDT also runs his trade war in an attempt to help the economy. Exports did slightly climb 1.1% to a four-month high of $209.7 billion, inflated by a 60 percent surge in commercial aircraft to $5.8 billion, but a repeat performance is unlikely after the Boeing 757 MAX planes were grounded. Last year, the trade deficit was the highest in ten years and the second highest in history. Slower growth in imports doesn’t spell victory if people worried about the economy are cutting back on spending. Last year’s trade deficit was over $72 billion more than President Obama’s highest trade deficit in 2013 but $120 billion lower than George H. Bush’s highest deficit in 2006.

DDT sometimes “jokes” to send up trial balloons about the success of his statements. This time, he said he could be in the White House for another ten or 14 years because Chinese President Xi Jinping for doing away with term limits.

The White House was finally a happy place—before the pieces of the Mueller Report were released.  DDT’s aides were sure that he would be re-elected to keep from being indicted, and the statute of limitations would run out before DDT’s second term. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said that immigrations controversies are “really smart” controversies, and DDT planned to get a special investigator for Clinton’s emails and other manufactured scandals. Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, is running the White House, the RNC, and DDT’s campaign. Whatever DDT doesn’t tell Kushner to do, he offers to his daughter and Kushner’s wife Ivanka, known as “Baby” in meetings. Because DDT considers her qualified to do anything, he suggested she could be UN ambassador and then director of the World Bank. “She’s very good with numbers,” he said.

The smart ones around DDT, however, figured that the euphoria would vanish when the report came out—and it did. By yesterday, his rants were even more profane than usually, calling the Mueller report “bullshit” and retweeting a message from sports fantasy Scott Atkins about the DNC “circle jerk.” Maybe he learned something—like his approval rating going down three points in one day after the Mueller report release. The 37 percent approval is his lowest this year and down six points from when Barr released his lying letter about the report less than a month ago.

July 16, 2015

Congress to Decide between Iranian War, Peace

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) has declared that his first priority is to represent Jesus. He could start by supporting the Iran deal to bring peace and persuade his Christian GOP colleagues to do the same. But that’s not going to happen. The instant that a deal was announced, Republican presidential candidates led the charge against peace in a deal among six countries that would curb Iran’s nuclear program and significantly limit the country’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon for over ten years. (Details here.)

walker

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (above), who declared his presidential candidacy on the day that the deal was announced, said, “President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran will be remembered as one of America’s worst diplomatic failures.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) doesn’t expect Congress to approve the deal. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the agreement appeasement. Rick Santorum called the deal a “catastrophic capitulation.”

Kerry and Zarif, photo Thomas Imo

The deal took 19 days and four missed deadlines before Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, appeared at Secretary of State John Kerry’s working quarters at midnight Monday. Kerry flew 400,000 miles to prevent the tenth country from getting the bomb in the first successful dealings with Iran since its 1979 revolution. In addition to containing the country’s ability to produce a bomb for at least a decade, it provides for permanent, broader U.N. inspections to monitor Iran’s declared and suspected nuclear facilities, even after the deal expires. The combination of restrictions and time frames from ten to twenty-five years gives the international community more insight into Iran’s program and capabilities.

War hawks in the U.S. will complain that Iran can still enrich uranium, yet it’s at a minimum level, with the number of centrifuges cut by two-thirds. Some Congressional members, accompanied by Israel and the Gulf sheikhdoms, insist on zero facilities instead of one. The Iran deal will not diffuse deep sectarian and political rivalries in the Middle East with Sunni concern about Iran become a player instead of a pariah, but that was not the goal. Under the deal, Iran can reclaim between $100 billion to $150 billion of its oil revenues from foreign banks. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, denounced the deal before the details were released.

Yet U.S. involvement in the Middle East is already overwhelming—air wars in Iraq, Syria, and Libya as well as selling arms to Saudi Arabia to wage its war in Yemen. The deal creates no renewal of U.S. diplomatic relations with Iran. Lifting sanctions on Iran will open international markets to Iran’s population that has more than doubled since 1979, but U.S. businesses will be limited in trading with Iran because of sanctions tied to human-rights practices and support for terrorism. If Iran breaks the deal, the U.S. still has a military option.

Congress has 60 days to review the deal with Iran. It can vote for a resolution of disapproval that President Obama has promised to veto. An override of his veto requires two-thirds vote in each chamber. GOP legislators have reasons to vote against the deal, oil prices being one of them. Prices in the United States began to fall in June as the deal came closer to fruition, shrinking to $54 a barrel this past week, and more oil availability from the Middle East forcing down the oil market may bring the price of gas down to below $2 a gallon by the end of the year. The International Energy Agency estimates that Iran could add 800,000 barrels a day to the global market within months of the lifting of sanctions, but immediate relief could come from the 30 million barrels of Iranian crude in storage and ready for sale. A general rule is the two-thirds of the cost of gas comes from the crude oil cost and the remaining one-third comes from taxes, refining, distribution, and marketing. Republicans like to claim, however, that the president is completely responsible for higher costs of gas. They won’t want to see the price go down in the Obama administration.

Any deal from the president is described as a “bad deal” to Republicans. Presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that the deal is “a possible death sentence for Israel,” but he hasn’t read it. He added that reading it didn’t’ matter because visits to the Mideast made him know that he didn’t like the details. The GOP belief that any international interaction is a “bad deal” goes back to the opposition to the Hot Line Agreement, in which Moscow and Washington could communicate directly during emergencies such as the Cuban missile crisis. The right opposed then-President Nixon going to China and called it “appeasement,” just as they are describing the deal with Iran.

The biggest influence on conservative members of Congress is Netanyahu. Some congressional leaders put Israel’s prime minister above the President of the United States in their loyalties. Last year, presidential candidate Graham told Netanyahu that Congress would “follow his lead” in reinforcing sanctions on Iran despite President Obama’s refusal to do so. Last March, Netanyahu spoke to both chambers of Congress after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) invited him without notifying the president, a breach of protocol. His speech was intended to persuade congressional members and the people of the United States against Iranian negotiations. At this time, President Obama is offering additional military aid to Israel beyond billions of dollars to help build Israel’s Iron Dome and provide ammunition that killed the people in Gaza last summer. Netanyahu may be willing to sell out his principles for more billions of dollars from the United States.

Soon after Netanyahu’s speech, 47 U.S. senators, led by Tom Cotton (R-AR) sent a letter to Iran, explaining that they might as well not make the deal because any future president could negate it. The letter also claimed—erroneously—that there could be no agreement unless Congress passed it by a two-thirds vote. To this next breach of protocol—and possibly a treasonous act—Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif wrote that Cotton’s letter was a “propaganda ploy” meant to undermine Obama. Yesterday the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Wednesday told Congress to reject the nuclear deal with Iran.

The Republicans have a history of sabotaging U.S. welfare to elect their candidates. When President Jimmy Carter thought he had a deal with the new Iranian president to release 52 hostages in 1979, the Reagan campaign went behind Carter’s back arranging with the Iranian radical faction to keep the hostages in captivity until after the Reagan v. Carter presidential election in 1980. Iranian extremists released the hostages on January 20, 1981, the moment that Reagan was inaugurated, and pointed out that Reagan must keep his agreement to ship weapons to the radical forces. The result was deaths of thousands of people throughout the world, especially in Central America where Reagan took money from the Iranians to destabilize Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. Those areas have still not gained stability after Reagan’s actions. Carter’s loss in the election led to the appointment of Justice Antonin Scalia and the elevation of William Rehnquist to Chief Justice. One reason for the GOP to keep Iran closed to the U.S. is to cover Reagan’s actions.

Although Netanyahu has expressed strong opposition to the Iran deal, not everyone in Israel supports his position. Israel is also a dangerous country with undeclared chemical warfare capabilities and between 75 and 400 nuclear weapons. It is also one of four nuclear-armed countries not recognized as a Nuclear Weapons State by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the others being India, Pakistan, and North Korea. Because Israel never signed the NPT, the country does not have to submit to inspections. Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer and its takeover of the Palestinian West Bank shows that the country will use any means to defeat other countries, whether warranted or not.

The GOP refuses to admit that, like almost every problem in the U.S. during the 21st century, Iran’s expansion of its nuclear program can be traced back to the Bush/Cheney administration. With 164 centrifuges in 2003, Iran wanted to negotiate with the U.S. to remove the sanctions blocking the growth of the country’s middle class. Cheney said, “We don’t talk to evil,” and Iran built 5,000 centrifuges in the next two years. The country had 8,000 by the time that Bush/Cheney left. Now Cheney is lobbying to add another war to the ones they started during their administration instead of letting this generation try to achieve peace through diplomacy.

Polls, even one from the conservative Fox network, consistently show approval of the deal, but Republicans spreading lies that may reverse the surveys. Yet conservatives ignore their constituents and oppose the deal because they are convinced that the U.S. should rule the world and dictate the behavior of all countries. That’s what led us into the wars with Afghanistan and Iraq that almost wiped out the U.S. economy.

A comparison between Iran and the United States:

iran v. u.s. nuclear weapons

The only purpose of the Iran deal is to reduce the possibility of Iran getting a nuclear weapon. In opposing the Iran deal, Congress has three alternatives: kill the deal and do nothing else, leaving few restraints on the growth of Iran’s nuclear program; declare war and ignite a catastrophic regional conflict; and increase sanctions, which looks like the first option. Without a deal, Iran has a much better chance of building bombs. Increased sanctions are useless because U.S. business dealings with Iran are already limited and the rest of the world will leave the U.S. standing alone.

As conservatives continue to posture without reading the deal, Congress is in charge of deciding whether the United States will go to war with Iran. And the media focus on Iran will cause Scott Walker, the 15th presidential candidate, to stay in the shadows—at least for a while.

May 25, 2015

Memorial Day: Focus on Peace, Not War

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 9:42 PM
Tags: , , ,

The Memorial Day weekend is almost over as people take down the flags and television broadcasts old war movies. War mongers are happy after Congress budgeted at least $400 billion to ensure that there will be more dead veterans to commemorate. No longer a republic or a cultural democracy, the United States is a militarized economy with 55 percent of its discretionary spending allocated to the military spending and another 6 percent for veterans benefits. That sum doesn’t include the Department of Energy money spent on its nuclear arsenal, the Department of Homeland Security budget, or the costs of recent wars, calculated at $3 trillion for Iraq and $1 trillion for Afghanistan.

Conservatives rule the United States by invoking the vision of Muslim monsters hiding in every corner, and GOP presidential candidates concentrate on re-fighting the war that accelerated the downfall of the United States during the entire 21st century. [Photo by Jennie Haskamp]

memorial day

Although most people think that the sole purpose of Memorial Day is to remember the fallen in war, the National Moment of Remembrance Act, passed in 2000, declares that people are to pray for peace at 3:00 on that day, an addition to the commemoration largely unknown in the United States. In another commemoration,  Bill Quigley has written a description of the United States’ pursuit of permanent war instead of permanent peace.

Conservatives want to think of the United States as “exceptional,” and this country is truly #1 in wars, military presence, military spending, and weapons sales throughout the world–exceptional in avoiding peace.

Permanent War: Since 1980 the U.S. has engaged in aggressive military action in 14 countries in the Islamic world alone:  Iran (1980, 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria.  In this hemisphere, U.S. military forces invaded Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989) as well as landed 20,000 military forces in Haiti (1994).

U.S. Global War Machine: The U.S. has 1.3 million people in the military and 1 million in the military reserves. The U.S. has more than 700 military bases housing over 255,000 U.S. military personnel in 63 countries across the world. The Department of Defense officially manages over 555,000 buildings on 4,400 properties inside the U.S. The U.S. owns than 1,500 strategic nuclear warheads, over 13,000 military aircraft,  dozens of submarines–many of which carry nuclear weapons–and 88 huge destroyer warships.

Global Harm: The U.S. has waged wars killing almost 7,000 U.S. military people since 9/11. Since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, over 216,000 combatants, mostly civilians, and an untold number of civilians in Afghanistan were killed. U.S. drone attacks have murdered hundreds of children and civilian adults in Pakistan and dozens more in Yemen.

World Leader in War Spending: U.S. military spending is the equivalent of the combined spending of the next eight largest countries: China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, UK, India, and Germany. The U.S. have officially paid $1.6 trillion for direct combat and reconstruction costs for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and additional trillions of dollars have gone into growing the Pentagon budget and for present and future increased health and disability benefits for veterans. Since 9/11, the U.S. has increased military spending by 50 percent while it has increased other discretionary domestic spending by only 13 percent—less than one percent a year.

Corporate War Profiteers: The top war profiteer is Lockheed Martin with annual arms sales of $36 billion. Of the $57.8 million that the military industry spent in 2013, Lockheed Martin spent $15 million to lobby people who decide how much money is spent on weapons and which weapons will be purchased. Lockheed Martin’s CEO is paid over $15 million. Part time workers are James Ellis, a former Admiral and Commander in Chief of US Strategic Air Command who gets paid over $277,000, and James Loy, former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security who gets over $260,000. Each taxpaying household in the U.S. pays Lockheed $260 for its government contracts amounting. A 2014 investigation found that Lockheed uses taxpayer funds to lobby for more taxpayer funds.

Number two war profiteer is Boeing with annual arms sales of $31 billion. Boeing spends over $16 million a year lobbying. The remainder of the top ten war profiteer corporations include BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Raytheon, EADS, Finmeccanica, L-3 Communications, and United Technologies. You can track their corporate contributions to members of Congress, especially the politicians on the Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate on Open Secrets.

U.S. war profiteers are also top in the world with their $26 billion weapon sales each year to foreign nations.

In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. said the U.S. government was the greatest purveyor of violence in the world and called for a revolution of values in questioning past and present war policies and the disparity of wealth in the U.S. When he left office, former U.S. President and General Dwight Eisenhower warned citizens of the growing military industrial complex. He called on people to force “the huge industrial and military machinery of defense” to respond to democracy and the peoples’ desires for peace. The steps for this revolution:

  1. Know that the U.S. is the biggest war maker in the world.
  2. Organize for a true revolution of values and confront corporations and politicians who push the U.S. into war and inflate the military budget through permanent fear mongering.
  3. Admit that the U.S. is wrong and must make amends for the violence the U.S. has waged on countries all over the world.
  4. Dramatically downsize the U.S. military by withdrawing U.S. military from all other countries, disarming nuclear weapons, and focusing on defending just the U.S.
  5. Work for peaceful, just solutions for conflict here in the U.S. and around the world.
  6. Pray for peace on Memorial Day and all other times.

The people of the U.S. are engaged in a war among themselves within this nation. Ten percent of the U.S. population take antidepressants, 45 million adults are functionally illiterate, and the top one percent has 50 percent of the country’s wealth as they buy politicians. The GOP is trying to take away health care and other benefits from the poor and deny LGBT people the right to have legal marriages. Members of law enforcement kill black people, seemingly with impunity, and legislators only loosen gun laws after disasters involving firearms.

While the media tell people to focus on the departed members of the military, the NFL makes over $10 million to “honor America’s heroes” before football games and at halftime shows, $5.4 million from the Department of Defense and another $5.3 million from the National Guard. The Pentagon refuses to deal with the sexual assault epidemic in the military where one-third of women in the service are raped. Most of them cannot report the crimes because of the retaliation of and revenge from commanders and fellow service members. Combat veterans inflict 21 percent of domestic violence, and not one senator will sponsor a bill to help military spouses to escape the perpetrators.

The United States needs to decide that permanent peace both within and without the nation is more important than funding war profiteers and bankrolling legislators who use fear to wage preemptive war in the U.S. and around the world.

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