Nel's New Day

April 25, 2020

DDT: Week 170 – Press Briefing Disappears, Wisconsin Voters Sicken, USPS Attacked

The biggest news of the week may be that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) called off his press briefing (campaign rally) today after his huge debacle of two days ago when he recommended that people inject their bodies with bleach as a COVID-19 treatment. Even the ultra-conservative Breitbart website admitted its lie that DDT hadn’t made this statement. The correction was rather limp: Breitbart stated that the commentary should have been “Opinion” rather than “Fact Checking” because “nobody in their right mind would think that Trump was literally suggesting that people should inject disinfectant into their bodies.” Breitbart is right about that statement in describing the “right mind” of those who still follow DDT.

Today was the first time that DDT held no rally since Easter, 13 days ago. Since March, DDT has droned inane comments on television each afternoon, in “briefings” up to three hours long, praising himself and his administration before ending with insulting and attacking reporters who ask for information. Yesterday’s event was 22 minutes long with no questions for the press. The announcement calling off the event came three hours and 11 minutes after it was scheduled. Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany (sometimes called “Not Ivanka” because of their resemblance) said that canceling a briefing is DDT’s decision, but she believes “the president is at his best when he’s speaking directly to the American people.” Evidently he’s really worse than his briefings. https://www.theguardian.com/us-Shortly after the cancelation, DDT’s angrily tweeted about his rallies, “Not worth the time & effort.” Previously, DDT’s advisers told him to stop appearing at briefings except for special announcements, but he said he was continuing because of good television ratings.

In past briefings, DDT either pressured doctors to lie at briefings to say that he was right about recommendations for drugs, stopping shelter-in-place programs, and predictions of re-occurrences of the virus or flat-out contradicted what medical experts said. For example, he badgered Dr. Deborah Birx to say that the virus “might not come back at all.” Earlier, he had pushed Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director, to repudiate the “possibility that the assault of the virus on the U.S. next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through.” Redfield, however, said that he had been “accurately quoted in The Washington Post.” Dr. Anthony Fauci contradicted DDT, telling reporters that he is “convinced” that “there will be coronavirus in the fall.”

While DDT is killing people through stupidity and inaction, conservative judges on the Wisconsin and U.S. supreme courts may also be responsible for infecting people with COVID-19. On April 7, they agreed with GOP lawmakers to force an in-person vote at the Wisconsin primary, yet hid from the virus as people were disenfranchised if they didn’t go to the polls. Milwaukee has identified at least 40 positive coronavirus cases linked to in-person voting. The city closed down 175 of its 180 polling locations for the day, and 19,000 people vote in person, giving an average of 3,800 people at each of the open five locations in lines that stretched around the block. The Milwaukee Common Council voted unanimously last Tuesday to create a program under which all of the city’s approximately 300,000 registered voters would receive an application for an absentee ballot in the mail. The “SafeVote” program also provides voters with a postage-paid return envelope so they can participate in the fall election.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision changing Wisconsin’s voting rules the day before the election was even anonymous, but the four dissenters came out publicly to object to the ruling. Unsigned rulings are usually for uncontroversial, unanimous rulings; previously the high court had contended that anonymity weakens accountability for decisions and shield contentious rulings written by unwritten justices. A legal scholar wrote that past per curiam cases have been “so easily resolvable, so lacking in complexity or disagreement among the justices, that it requires only a brief forthright opinion that any member of the Court could draft.” Still unknown is who wrote the majority opinion in the Wisconsin case although Brett Kavanaugh first received the case. The same lack of courage from the high court may be used in the future for the opinions regarding abortions, gun stores, and religious services connected to stay-at-home and business closure orders.

DDT and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are compounding the voting issue even more with their blackmailing the United States Post Office (USPS). Disaster bill #3 last month authorized a $10 billion loan to USPS, but Mnuchin rejected the bailout to gain control of the agency to the Treasury Department. Mnuchin wants to select the postmaster general (now the responsibility of a five-member board) and review other hiring decisions at senior levels, lower USPS employee wages and benefits, remove their ability to negotiate through their union, and raise package rates. DDT threatened to withhold all COVID-19 relief funding unless package shipping prices are raised four-fold—maybe five times.

USPS financial problems come from a 2006 congressional mandate requires the agencies to fund retirees’ health benefits through 2056—36 years from now. Retirement benefits must be prepaid for 75 years.

No other federal agency is required to turn a profit. Even so, the USPS had gradually paid down $15 billion of debt to $12 billion until the pandemic, when it went up $2.4 billion to $14.4 billion. Airlines get at least $25 billion, and large businesses, under the guise of small businesses, are receiving billions of dollars more.

Despite the quarantine, USPS has continued to deliver the mail, and 1,219 workers of 630,00 employees tested positive for COVID-19, with 44 of them dying.

The USPS has promised to deliver absentee and mail-in ballots “even if no postage has been affixed or it the postage is insufficient.”

The USPS delivers a letter for $.55, much less than the $25 or $30 cost from UPS or FedEx.

The USPS is overwhelmingly viewed favorably with majorities believing it does a good or excellent job.

The only piece of USPS increasing in mail volume, the package business, is also the only USPS profitability in recent years; its $22.8 billion in 2019 was one-third of the agency’s revenue. Higher rates would put costs above those charged by UPS and FedEx, perhaps causing the USPS to lose all that business. 

Higher prices on packages would hurt people most in rural areas because they count on USPS for essential package deliveries such as medicines. They would also pay the most without the USPS, more than people in urban areas.

DDT’s biggest beef with the USPS is the fact that his arch enemy, owner of the Washington Post Jeff Bezos, also owns Amazon and has a shipping contract with the USPS. DDT frequently calls the WaPo “fake news” after it reported unfavorable information during his campaign and presidency. Using donations as a consideration, USPS employees prefer DDT as president—at least until they get fired. Amazon will survive with DDT’s ideas, but the U.S. Post Office may not.

More big news came this week from some states’ rolling back the shelter-in-place, frequently without valid statistics. Meat plants, especially in states such as South Dakota and Iowa lacking any shelter-in-place orders, are the newest and worst hot zones for the virus. Employees in other states hide problems with infections. Employees at the Wisconsin Smithfield meat plant, facing an outbreak, say managers hid the growing number of infections and pressured workers to avoid quarantine measures.

Some governors may face a lose-lose debacle with “opening” their states, especially by doing it without the input and against the wishes of their own medical and emergency management staff. Georgia’s GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, eager to please DDT, is reopening gyms, tattoo parlors, hair salons, and bowling alleys reopen but got thrown under DDT’s bus a couple of days later when DDT, pressed by his pandemic task force, criticized him for the opening. Two days before DDT said he “strongly” disagreed with the move, he had called Kemp a “capable man who knows what he’s doing.”

DDT skipped disapproval of opening gyms after a call from billionaire owner Stephen Ross of Equinox Sports Clubs, a big DDT donor and massive fundraiser. Gyms—places with people close together, sweating, coughing and sneezing, breathing heavily, snorting droplets on everyone else, and touching everything, all of them indoors. DDT made his recommendation on opening gyms the day after a telephone call with 16 business leaders including Ross and Bahram Akradi, chief executive of health club chain Life Time.

A few poll results from the past week: 

  • 80 percent: strict shelter-in-place measures are worth it in order to protect people and limit the spread of coronavirus.
  • 51 percent: “the worst is yet to come” when it comes to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
  • 23 percent: the number with a high level of trust in DDT’s information about COVID-19.
  • 60 percent: DDT isn’t listening to health experts enough.

On April 25, the U.S. has 960,896 confirmed COVID-19 cases, almost one-third in the world, and 54,265 deaths, over one-fourth of those in the world, as well as countless others who weren’t tested, another 15-percent increase in deaths during the past three days. World wide, confirmed cases are almost three million and over 200,000 deaths.

April 24, 2020

Killing: From Drugs to Bleach

The inaction of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his suggestion that people take deadly, unrecommended drugs without authentic medical advice has killed tens of thousands of people during the past two months because of DDT’s incompetency and selfishness. In protest, “funeral processions” drive by his hotels in both New York and Washington, D.C., and people drop off home-made body bags as a symbol of his refusal to protect the people of the United States.  Yesterday, he hit a new low in ignorance and stupidity at his press briefing (aka campaign rally).

DO NOT TAKE DDT’S ADVICE! By now, most people have probably heard about his yesterday’s recommendation that people get injections of disinfectant (the Clorox cure?) and beam ultraviolet light “inside the body” (maybe by cracking ribs?) or looking straight at the light (like DDT did with the sun before the eclipse). [Note: he’s not the only idiot. Before a fraud was stopped, people bought “miracle” UV “sanitizer” lights from Facebook from ads promising “a proven impact on COVID-19” and the “most effective way to kill viruses” from Facebook. In March, the World Health Organization warned that “UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.”]

Today, DDT claimed that his comment was “sarcastic” but not until he was defended by conservative media and officials. This video of reactions from Dr. Deborah Birx to DDT’s statements prove no sarcasm in the deadly recommendation. The White House even had to issue a correction to its false transcript after the first one read Birx agreeing “that is a treatment” to DDT’s question, “Deborah, have you ever heard of that? The heat and the light, relative to certain viruses, yes, but relative to this virus?” The new transcript reads, “Not as a treatment.”

About DDT’s recommendation for an injection into the lungs with Lysol or another disinfectant, Breitbart lied:

“Trump was speaking generally about new information about sunlight, heat, and disinfectant killing the virus. Trump used the word ‘inject,’ but what he meant was using a process—which he left ‘medical doctors to define—in which patients’ lungs might be cleared of the virus, given new knowledge about its response to light and other factors.”

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins gave an excellent putdown of the conservative spin:

“So after there was criticism from the doctors, and as you [anchor Brianna Keilar] noted, Lysol had to put out a statement saying not to pursue this route, the White House put out a statement saying that reporters were taking the president out of context, and he said that people should consult with doctors before pursuing treatment. What that statement did not say was that the president was being sarcastic, which is now what he was arguing as he did in the Oval Office not long ago.

“I was in the room. The president was not asking that question to reporters, he was turning to the officials to his right, Dr. Birx and this official from the DHS about, it works on surfaces and in the air, and the president suggested that doctors should look into this, noting that he himself was not a doctor so we should note that as well.”

DDT needed a new plan for curing COVID-19 after his “game-changer” drugs, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, were solidly debunked. Because of his stock ownership and donor demands, DDT touted a drug, currently prescribed for lupus, malaria, and rheumatoid arthritis, as the miracle treatment for the virus.  On March 18, the German drug manufacturer Bayer offered millions of doses of a chloroquine drug called Resochin to the U.S. The FDA ignored its own safeguards about taking the drugs from an uninspected plan in Karachi (Pakistan), and Bayer announced it was “working with appropriate agencies on an Emergency Use Authorization for the drug’s use in the U.S.,” and Fox started promoting the drug. Three days later, DDT made his first reference to hydroxychloroquine during his campaign rally, citing its “very, very encouraging early results. And we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.”

While people sickened and died from coronavirus, DDT used his daily campaign rallies to press people to use chloroquine, even those who weren’t sick. On March 24, the government’s top clinicians and scientists at HHS recommended its use in only controlled, hospital-based clinical trials because of “potential risks.” Yet 11 days later, Brett Giroir, HHS assistant secretary for health, emailed a group “to flood Ny and NJ with [chloroquine] treatment courses… Millions per week?”

Four weeks after Giroir’s email, DDT fired Rick Bright, head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a small HHS agency with private scientific ventures to create vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics. Bright said that the reason was his opposition “to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.” DDT’s political appointees exerted great pressure on career health officials, and they sought the help of billionaire Larry Ellison, founder of technology company, to build an app tracking responses to experimental treatments and make chloroquine drugs available through pharmacies with no plan for physician oversight or monitoring. By late March, FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to allow chloroquine drugs from the Strategic National Stockpile to be administered to hospitalized COVID-19 patients who could not access clinical trials.

Since the onset of DDT’s propaganda, studies and other reports have cast gloom on the success of chloroquine for COVID-19. The National Institutes of Health issued guidelines about “insufficient clinical data to recommend either for or against using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19.” The agency cautioned careful monitoring for adverse effects, including cardiac risks. Two Maine licensing boards governing Maine doctors warn that prescribing DDT’s touted drugs for themselves or for family members is considered “unprofessional conduct.” The tipping point was a study of 368 patients at veterans’ hospitals: 28 percent of patients treated with hydroxychloroquine died compared with 11 percent of those who didn’t take the medication. (The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to continue use of the drug despite the warning that it doesn’t work and could cause deadly side effects.)

Today, the FDA warned consumers against taking hydroxychloroquine outside a hospital or formal clinical trial because of deaths and poisonings although it is still recommended as prescribed for approved reasons. The peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association also released a new study reporting that researchers cut short a study testing chloroquine as a potential treatment for Covid-19 over safety concerns, citing a “primary outcome” of death. Nearly two dozen patients died, and some developed irregular heart rates after taking daily doses of the drug.

A new study shows that Sean Hannity may also be responsible for spreading COVID-19. Fox consistently downplayed the danger of coronavirus until the middle of March when DDT seemed to catch on to the potential infections and deaths. Economists Leonardo Bursztyn, Aakaash Rao, Christopher Roth, and David Yanagizawa-Drott used data from Fox network programming in February and early March when Hannity’s show ignored or downplayed the virus while Tucker Carlson warned viewers about the disease’s risk in another prime-time Fox show. Hannity viewers were more likely than Carlson viewers to ignore social distancing rules and had higher local rates of infection and death—“approximately 30 percent more cases on March 14 and 21 percent more deaths on March 18.”

The study’s rigorous findings support wide research that media consumption and Fox viewership has a powerful effect on individual behavior. A survey of 1,045 Republicans 55 and older indicated that Hannity watchers “changed their behavior five days later than viewers of other shows [while] viewers of Tucker Carlson Tonight changed their behavior three days earlier than viewers of other shows.” Greater Hannity viewership also meant more virus cases and more deaths, but the relationship weakened after Hannity’s reference of the disease’s danger in mid-March. The researchers know that the findings must be taken with caution, but general research finds that the virus response has been greatly affect by partisan attitudes: Republicans are far less likely to practice social distancing than Democrats. Fox also has a great influence on politic behavior, and television affects people’s decisions about health.

One source of the Clorox Cure may be a letter from Mark Grenon, leader of Florida’a profit-making Genesis II Church of Health & Healing in which he wrote that lethal industrial bleach can be a “miracle cure” for the virus. Grenon’s “church” is the largest producer and distributor of chlorine dioxide bleach as a “miracle cure” in the U.S. that he brands MMS, “miracle mineral solution.” He also fraudulently claims that his product can cure 99 percent of all illnesses including HIV/AIDS and cancer as well as autism. His prescription—DON’T DO THIS!—is for anyone, including children to mix three to six drops of bleach in water and drink it. Grenon said that 30 of his supporters had also written DDT about the cure and posted on his Facebook page that he had sent his MMS to the White House: “Lord help others to see the Truth!” Former GOP presidential candidate has also promoted MMS on his online TV show. DDT’s FDA has obtained a federal court order banning Genesis II from selling “an unproven and potentially harmful treatment for Covid-19.” Last summer, the FDA issued a warning that drinking MMS can lead to death. “What do you have to lose?”

As more negative studies about hydroxychloroquine are published, DDT refuses to address problems about his drug of choice for COVID-19 treatment. “I don’t know of the report,” he said. When asked yesterday, the day that he suggested disinfectant injections, about why he no longer promotes his favorite drug, he said, “I haven’t at all.” But he has. Today, he abruptly left the press briefing before reporters could ask any question.

DDT may lose his daily campaign rallies if his advisers have their way with changing the format. He gets bad press from his combative approach toward reporters, and yesterday’s disaster may have been the last straw. Today’s presentation had no health experts. When two reporters were told to change seats at the press briefings, putting the CNN reporter farther back, the reporters refused. Tomorrow will tell.

March 22, 2020

Take Press Briefings off the Air

Bored while you “shelter-in-place”? Start a blog. That’s what Margaret and Helen did 13 years ago, and they’re still going strong.

The Elephant in the Room is Donald J Trump: Stop asking him the questions. He doesn’t know the answers! #COVID19

“Margaret, I get it. I really do. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Everyone is scared and things are a bit crazy. Of course, the President should address the American people. Of course, he should. But just not this one. It’s not helping. It really isn’t.

“There is nothing decent about this man. He has cheated on all three of his wives. His career is filled with lawsuits, bankruptcies, claims of racism, tax evasion, discrimination, even rape. Nothing. Nothing about this man is honorable much less tolerable. His only claim to fame is taking joy in firing people on national television.

“How he became President I’ll never understand, but he did. And since becoming President over three years ago, he’s proven time and time again that he is pretty horrible at his job. In fact, if I were his boss, I’d fire him. I mean when he fabricated stories about the size of his inauguration, I would have just rolled my eyes and wondered if I had hired the wrong person. When he threw paper towels at hurricane victims, I probably would have at least sat him down. Told him he was out of line. Maybe written him up and given him a warning. But when he suggested that Nazi’s running over a woman with a car should be given some slack because they might be very fine people… well then… then, I would have fired his ass.

“But I’m not his boss… well technically I guess I am, but you know… Representative government and all. So, he’s still there and now there’s this pandemic and for some reason he insists on crawling out of his drug induced coma each day at 11:30 to address the American people. And even though he is surrounded by a bunch of experts, the media keeps asking him the questions. The fact that he constantly makes shit up doesn’t seem to stop them. They keep asking questions and he’s keeps making shit up.

“I’ve got a suggestion. How about we stop asking the elephant in the room questions and instead direct them to the experts standing behind him? What do they say, fool me once? Well he’s fooled them about 15,000 times and they just keep asking. Stop asking the asshat questions! Ask the experts. After all, millions of lives depend on the answers being correct.

“And let’s be clear. When I say expert, I don’t mean Mike Pence. His version of social distancing is to quarantine in Trump’s ass. And somehow from inside Trump’s ass he still manages to pat Trump on the back while simultaneously giving him a standing ovation. No. Mike Pence is the expert in one thing and one thing only – brown nosing. I’m talking Dr. Anthony Fauci or Dr. Deborah Birx or even that Chad guy. Who is Chad again?

“We need answers. We need them desperately. Millions of lives are depending on those answers. I am begging the White House Press Corps to stop asking Trump the fucking questions.

“We need answers. Not lies. Really. I mean it.”

Rachel Maddow goes farther than Margaret by asking that the media broadcast only truthful comments from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). (It would be very brief.)  Even in past crises, Maddow provided a fact-based perspective on the news, but she expressed this opinion about the lethal covid-19 crisis:

“Even when [DDT is] talking about what he has done or what he will do, he’s consistently lying and giving you happy talk that is stuff that the federal government isn’t actually doing. And it’s making people around the country count on the fact the federal government is doing that stuff when they’re not. If it were up to me and it’s not, I would stop putting those briefings on live TV. Not out of spite but because it’s misinformation. If the president does end up saying anything true, you can run it as tape. But if he keeps lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, all of us should stop broadcasting it. Honestly, it’s going to cost lives. Honestly, it’s going to cost lives.”

DDT can no longer use rallies to attract followers so he uses the daily press briefings for this purpose. When he’s not spouting generalities with no statistics or other specifics, he’s lying and ranting against anyone who opposes him. The people he calls to speak also avoid any clear information such as number of people testing, amount of supplies, and any assistance for states.

In the WaPo, Margaret Sullivan echoed Maddow’s message.

“More and more each day, President Trump is using his daily briefings as a substitute for the campaign rallies that have been forced into extinction by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“These White House sessions—ostensibly meant to give the public critical and truthful information about this frightening crisis—are in fact working against that end.

“Rather, they have become a daily stage for Trump to play his greatest hits to captive audience members. They come in search of life-or-death information, but here’s what they get from him instead:

“● Self-aggrandizement. When asked how he would grade his response to the crisis, the president said, “I’d rate it a 10.” Absurd on its face, of course, but effective enough as blatant propaganda

“● Media-bashing. When NBC News’s Peter Alexander lobbed him a softball question in Friday’s briefing — “What do you say to Americans who are scared?” — Trump went on a bizarre attack. “I say, you’re a terrible reporter,” the president said, launching into one of his trademark “fake news” rants bashing Alexander’s employer….

“● Exaggeration and outright lies. Trump has claimed that there are plenty of tests available (there aren’t); that Google is “very quickly” rolling out a nationwide website to help manage coronavirus treatment (the tech giant was blindsided by the premature claim); that the drug chloroquine, approved to treat malaria, is a promising cure for the virus and “we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.” (It hasn’t been approved for this use, and there is no evidence to demonstrate its effectiveness in fighting the virus.)

“Trump is doing harm and spreading misinformation while working for his own partisan political benefit—a naked attempt to portray himself as a wartime president bravely leading the nation through a tumultuous time, the FDR of the 21st century.

“The press—if it defines its purpose as getting truthful, useful, non-harmful information to the public, as opposed to merely juicing its own ratings and profits — must recognize what is happening and adjust accordingly. (And that, granted, is a very big “if.”)

“Business as usual simply doesn’t cut it. Minor accommodations, like fact-checking the president’s statements afterward, don’t go nearly far enough to counter the serious damage this man is doing to the public’s well-being.

“Radical change is necessary: The cable networks and other news organizations that are taking the president’s briefings as live feeds should stop doing so….

“’Rather than covering Trump live, [Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University] recommended, among other things, that the media should ‘attend carefully to what he says’ and subject it to verification before blasting it out to the public.

“It’s important to remember how much Trump’s tune has changed on the coronavirus, from blithely dismissive to self-importantly serious….

“This is what he was saying about the virus in public as recently as Feb. 27: ‘It’s going to disappear. One day—it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.’

“We know, without any doubt, that Trump was ignoring intelligence reports that warned about the likelihood of a pandemic at the same time he was cooing these baseless reassurances. But now he’s claiming that he knew the problem was a pandemic long before others did, and that he took every step possible….

“But Trump has proved, time after time, that he doesn’t care about truth, that he puts his financial and political self-interest above that of the public, and that he has no understanding of the role of the press in a democracy. And now lives are on the line.

“The news media, at this dangerous and unprecedented moment in world history, must put the highest priority on getting truthful information to the public. “Taking Trump’s press conferences as a live feed works against that core purpose.”

[Contrast Helen’s latest “elephant” with her post from ten years ago, “The Elephant in the Room Is a Kangaroo.”]

Today: United States (all 50 states and DC) confirmed covid-19 cases – 32,783 with 8,576 today; deaths – 416 with 114 today.

Country: 336,075 confirmed covid-19 cases; 14,613 deaths; the most deaths in China, Italy, and the U.S. 

 

 

March 20, 2020

DDT: Week 165 – Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic

With daily press briefings about the state of the country after going without them for almost a year, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is trying to appear somber, knowledgeable, and presidential. Yet he loses his temper and rants against the reporters, and he can’t get out more than one or two sentences without telling a lie. Although almost everything that happens now is tainted by the growing number of cases of covid-19 and the resulting deaths, he still has time to lead the U.S. back into the last century.

In an update from earlier this week, Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) aren’t the only members of Congress who have enriched themselves through the threat of covid-19. Others are Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Ron Johnson (R-WI). Johnson, who compared deaths from the virus to those in vehicle accidents, sold all his stock in his family’s company for between $5 million and $25 million. Inhofe has done this before when he purchased shares in the defense contractor Raytheon in 2018 after lobbying Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to increase defense spending. Once that transaction became public, he canceled it. 

George Conway points out, “There is no new Trump.” DDT is still lying to the U.S. population with only one goal—get reelected. And DDT won’t stop lying.

On Wednesday, after Joe Biden beat Bernie Sanders in all three states that voted, DDT smeared Biden at a press briefing. Asked about his lack of credibility, DDT cut off a reporter and railed:

“Who are you asking that question—I see that [ratings are] very high. 95% of the Republican party. We just had a poll that was done by a very reputable group where I’m beating sleepy Joe Biden by a lot in Florida, in the state of Florida and in other states. I don’t really know who you’re talking about.”

By Thursday, DDT was delivering a long rant against the media, and on Friday, DDT attacked Peter Alexander who asked DDT for a message “to Americans who are scared.”  

DDT continued his purge of career professionals by firing Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Travers took the position last August when Joseph Maguire was moved up to director of intelligence. Maguire was recently replaced by unqualified DDT-loyalist Richard Grenell. Travers was reluctant to fire people as Grenell wanted. Acting deputy of the Center, Peter Hall, is supposedly moving back to the National Security Agency. The theory behind fewer people at the Counterterrorism Center is that ISIS and al-Qaeda are much less of a threat.

Dale Cabaniss abruptly left her job as director of the U.S. Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in charge of human resources policy and security clearances, after five months on the job because of DDT’s new head of the Presidential Personnel Office. John McEntee, DDT’s 29-year-old former body man, was fired by former chief of staff John Kelly because McEntee’s gambling habit and allegations of financial crimes caused him to fail a security clearance. Kelly is gone, and DDT-loyalist McEntee has returned into a position of power. He’s hiring his friends, including at least college seniors, to surround him.

With McEntee in control of her staffing, Cabaniss couldn’t send clear, timely messages to agency managers about responses to the health crisis. Guidance about staff teleworking was delayed and vague although health officials wanted people to work from home. Respected for her experience, Cabaniss was seen as restoring moral to her agency with a mission of administering federal health insurance policies, retirement claims, benefits, and workforce policy.

Instead of passing a new surveillance law giving DDT unwarranted spying powers, the Senate unanimously approved a 75-day reauthorization of three provisions. On recess, the House has yet to pass the bill. DDT is considering a veto because he wants to look into “the illegal attempted ‘coup’ of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!” Two senators objected to the lack of privacy that the proposed bill sent them from the House. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened the staff and their family members of the International Criminal Court that is investigating alleged war crimes by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan.

The increase of restrictions around the world is leaving grocery shelves more and more empty, but the growing number of infected people isn’t the only problem that people in the U.S. will have with food shortages. Farmers warn that DDT’s limits on seasonal workers from Mexico will exacerbate the surging problem. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue’s new policy will lose 60 percent of the necessary laborers. Grain harvesting is largely automated, but farmers need fruit and vegetable pickers.

In another disaster, DDT is threatening dozens of endangered species in the Southeast by proposing genetically engineered crops on wild public lands. The increase of glyphosate and other pesticides harms bees, butterflies, and other pollinators necessary to humans’ food supply and other species in the wildlife refuges. DDT recommends pesticides on 131 refuges in ten states, the Virgin Island, and Puerto Rico—about four million acres.  

The EPA is moving farther away from science by restricting research to be used in public health protection decisions and scientific assessments. It removes thousands of scientific papers by public health scientists keeping data from being public for privacy reasons. Experts fighting covid-19 by treating patients, researching vaccines, and educating the public will have no involvement in stopping the pandemic in the U.S. Members of national health organizations will also need to stop their work with the virus to write comments of protest to the proposal because the EPA gives only 30 days for a response. The proposal covers decisions about vehicle emissions, clean air standards, and clean water protections as well as EPA’s own “state-of-science reports, technology assessments, weight-of-evidence analyses, meta-analyses, risk assessments, toxicological profiles of substances, integrated assessment models, hazard determinations, exposure assessments, or health, ecological, or safety assessments.” The idea for the proposal comes from tobacco lobbyists in the past that helped them control government decisions.

Amid all the virus noise, the media largely overlooked the rocket attack on an Iraqi base housing U.S. troops. Two of them were seriously injured. Last week, the U.S. retaliated against militia blamed for the deaths of one British and two U.S. service members, killing a number of Iraqis. Officials in Iraq have asked the U.S. to stop its unilateral military actions and work with Iraq. Under the shelter of coronavirus news, DDT is pulling troops out of three western Iraqi bases in a retreat from the Iraqi militia. Troops left one base this week with others planned soon.

The Pentagon blames Iran for killings by Iraqi militias, and the U.S. announced more sanctions against Iran.

Early sanctions have denied Iranians medication and supplies as thousands of people are dying from the virus. Iran lacks sufficient testing kits, ventilators, antiviral medicine, and other life-saving supplies.

A major requirement for keeping a job in DDT’s administration is open admiration. VP Mike Pence displays this every day at the press briefings. Another mandate is covering for all DDT’s lies and mistakes. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gamely tried to explain away DDT’s disastrous Oval Office speech on a Sunday news show when Jonathan Karl asked him about why the market reacted negatively to DDT’s misleading and false statements.

About the market, Mnuchin said, “The stock market is going to go up, it’s going to go down.” In the last month, the Dow has gone down over 10,000 points—one-third of its value and about 650 points above its value on DDT’s inauguration day. As for all the information that DDT got wrong, Mnuchin said, “I don’t think in an Oval Office address you can address every single issue as you’re discussing it….” Asked why he got “things wrong about his own proposals,” Mnuchin replied, “I don’t think he got things wrong at all.” Mnuchin continued to spin.  

DDT is now trying to convince people that he doesn’t care about careening stock markets, but he wants to preserve his former low unemployment rate as a reelection talking point. With businesses rapidly being closed to protect people from the virus, the number of unemployment claims have skyrocketed. DDT asked state labor officials to delay letting anyone know the numbers, to only “provide information using generalities to describe claims levels” until next week. It’s a follow-up to DDT’s saying he wanted to leave all the people on the ship because “I like the numbers where they are.” With DDT, it’s all about numbers that make him look good. Politico calls it “scoreboard obsession”—always keeping score.

In one of the biggest monthly drops, economic confidence dropped from 41 to 22, down almost 20 points. Even the Republicans’ confidence went down 11 points.

United States covid-19 cases: 19,772 with 389 new ones today; deaths: 279 with 23 more today.

February 24, 2017

DDT: Week Five – Part 1

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) can make his supporters believe anything—including a fondness for a country that conservatives have traditionally hated. Since 2015, approval of Vladimir Putin has increased 20 points to 32 percent among Republicans and 11 points to 23 percent among Independents. Putin’s popularity with Democrats has decreased five points to ten percent. The 32 percent is the highest since 2003 when George W. Bush looked into Putin’s eyes and liked what he saw—before he didn’t. Conservatives like Putin in spite of—or perhaps because of—the Russian hacking to influence the presidential election, Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, suppression of the press, brutality toward LGBTQ people, murders of people opposed to Putin, lack of free elections, violation of the nuclear treaty, and national control by oligarchs.

FBI Director James Comey got DDT elected, and now the White House wants Comey’s help to keep DDT in the White House by telling reporters that the connection between DDT’s campaign staff and Russia weren’t true. The communication violates a Department of Justice memo during George W. Bush’s time that the White House should advise the department on criminal and civil enforcement “only where it is important for the performance of the president’s duties and where appropriate from a law enforcement perspective.” DDT still has Attorney General Sessions in his pocket to keep the current DOJ from investigating him, but the GOP legislators are getting antsy about the situation after their crowd’s anger expressed during the “Resistance Recess.”

DDT also asked legislators to tell reporters that he has no ties to Russia, and they did it. Last week, senior lawmakers, who should be in charge of investigating the Trump-Russia connections called news organizations and challenged these stories. This is not a rumor; the lawmakers admitted that they called the reporters to dismiss the information of DDT associates’ contacts with Russia as infrequent and inconsequential. Press secretary Sean Spicer said the White House asked the legislators to do this, but he claimed that there was nothing wrong with asking them to contact reporters and tell them what DDT wanted. Two members of Congress who followed DDT’s orders are Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees. Nunes has refused to investigate the Russian connection.

In the Washington Post Greg Miller and Adam Entous wrote:

“U.S. intelligence reports cite multiple contacts between members of Trump’s team and Russians with links to the Kremlin, during the campaign and afterward, according to officials who have seen them. Such reports were based on intercepted Russian communications and other sources, the officials said.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who has seen this information as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, concluded that the investigation “may very well be the most important thing I do in my public life.”

Other DDT news from the past week:

DDT Cooks the Books: DDT has figured out how he can prove his GDP growth target of 3 to 3.5 percent a year: just start with that fantasy number and then put in statistics to show that it’s right. Forget the old-fashioned way of figuring out how policies either increase or decrease the rate. DDT’s projections are at least one percentage point above the consensus reality projection. DDT also told economists to change the way that the trade deficit is calculated by omitting as exports anything that is imported and then sold to another country. For example, a car sold to a company in the United States from Mexico and then re-sold to one in Canada is considered only an import and not an export which inflates the overall trade deficit. DDT plans to use his artificial system to rail against trade deals or demand border taxes. It’s hard to understand why he bothers to create this system  because he invents his own numbers for anything, for example citing a $800 billion deficit when it’s only $500 billion. He also consistently argued that the employment rate of 4.6 percent is, in Trumpland, 42 percent because he includes everyone without a job such as retirees, college students, and many other people who don’t want jobs.

DDT Reduces Military Child Care: DDT’s promised to provide “all men and women in uniform [with] the supplies, support, equipment, training, services, medical care, and resources they need to get the job done incredibly well and perfectly.” But DDT’s hiring freeze has caused at least two Army bases to suspend childcare programs including preschool. An exemption in the hiring freeze includes “child care to the children of military personnel,” but another Army memo has caused personnel shortages by putting another layer of bureaucracy on its already burdensome hiring system.

Christie Turns DDT Down: The New Jersey governor has crawled to get crumbs from DDT, but the meatloaf may have been the last straw. On Valentine’s Day, Christie lunched at the White House and was told that he would have the meatloaf. Then DDT asked Christie if he wanted to be the Labor Secretary after Andrew Pudzer left in disgrace—hard to do when one considers DDT’s nominees. Christie said no. He’s considering a gig as host of a sports talk radio show when his term has expired.

DDT Employees Fail Background Checks: Gerrit Lansing, White House Chief Digital Officer, is only one of at least six staffers dismissed because they failed their FBI checks. Some of them were “walked out of the building by security” because they could not muster security clearance. Caroline Wiles, director of scheduling and daughter of DDT’s Florida campaign director, was one of those who left, but she said she’ll get another job in Treasury.

Conway Gets in Hot Water: DDT’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, had been pulled from doing interviews after White House officials claimed that she repeatedly made statements “at odds with the administration’s official stance.”  Even DDT sycophant Joe Scarborough said she wouldn’t be on The Morning Show because she didn’t tell the truth—although he didn’t use the “T” word. Now 15 law professors have filed a professional misconduct complaint against her, calling on Conway to be sanctioned for violating government ethics rules and “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Among other concerns, the complaint cited Conway’s lie that President Obama had “banned” Iraq refugees from coming into the country for six months after the non-existent “Bowling Green Massacre” and for her hawking Ivanka Trump’s products. Another issue was her claim that the White House put forth “alternative facts.” The filing stated, “Alternative facts are not facts at all; they are lies.” The complaint stated that Conway “is currently acting in a way that brings shame upon the legal profession.” One of the filers, Abbe Smith, said she had never before filed a complaint and goes not generally believe that lawyers should face discipline under the stated rule, which includes conduct outside the practice of law, but called Conway’s conduct “so outside the norm for a member of the legal profession.”

DDT’s Conflicts of Interest, Profit Making from the Presidency Continues: No new businesses. That was DDT’s promise in January. Sons, Eric and Donald, Jr. cost the taxpayers more big bucks on their weekend in Dubai when they opened a new Trump golf course. The club still hasn’t gotten its liquor license from the United Arab Emirates which means that DDT will need to provide his standard “pay for play” deal. The government also has to provide all the club’s services including water and roads. It’s a guarantee that the sons will take part in the negotiations. DDT deals are pending in India, Indonesia, Uruguay, and Canada, and another one may be created in the Dominican Republic where Eric visited on February 2. Meanwhile, DDT’s DC hotel, another illegal venture at this time, was bankrolled by Deutsch Bank, currently under DOJ investigation. At least, taxpayers can follow the plans because we pay for Secret Service to follow Eric and Donald Jr. everywhere.

China may be breaking its own laws by giving trademarks to DDT, something that they refused to do until DDT achieved the candidacy for president. Once again DDT may have violated the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign states unless approved by Congress. The one trademark that DDT received for construction services, but he’s wants them for condoms, toilets, and many other items. DDT brings a new definition to presidential dignity.

In a movement toward further dictatorship, DDT is blocking reputable news outlets from Spicer’s briefings. The Huffington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times CNN, Politico, Buzzfeed, and reporters from several foreign news outlets were not allowed in this afternoon’s closed-door briefing. Associated Press and Time boycotted in the meeting because of that decision. A reporter from Wall Street Journal attended but said that he would not go again if other outlets were excluded.

Before DDT’s inauguration, Spicer had said that he might skip televised briefings in exchange for off-camera briefing or gaggle with reporters. Yet in December, Spicer said that news organizations can’t be banned from the White House because “that’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.” At least he understands what he’s doing. Conservative, tabloid-type outlets such as Breitbart, Washington Times, and One American News Network were still allowed to attend.

The other big story today was the report from the Department of Homeland Security refutes the need for DDT’s Muslim ban. But that’s a story for tomorrow.

 

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