Nel's New Day

May 27, 2018

U.S. Minorities Fight for Constitutional Rights

The calamitous and chaotic foreign affairs creating a debacle during the past week have pushed disastrous decisions of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) into the background. One of the worst is DDT’s new “gag rule” that prevents federal funds from any institution that mentions abortion. https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/trump-pushing-domestic-gag-rule-stop-some-doctors-discussing-abortion-nyt?src=newsletter1092354  Until now, the “gag rule” by the federal government has been for only foreign women, but DDT plans to withdraw any federal family planning funds if healthcare workers indicates abortion as an alternative to pregnancy. The man making this decision is so ignorant about health that he doesn’t know the difference between HIV and HPV, even after Microsoft founder Bill Gates explained it to him—twice. (HIV is the virus that causes the disease known as AIDS, and HPV is the human papillomavirus causing genital warts and cancer.)

As DDT plans to put high tariffs on car imports, he forgets that some of these are “Made in the USA.” Foreign automobile companies employ people in Southern “right-to-work” states because car manufacturing is cheaper there than in their own countries. As usual, the battle is between hardline trade adviser Peter Navarro and his opponents, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow and Council of Economic Advisers Chair Kevin Hassett. DDT is on his customary pattern of intimidating people and distracting the media from his personal problems.

Minimum wages in Mexico are part of the NAFTA negotiations. Imported cars to the U.S. are tariff-free if 62.5 percent of the content comes from North America, but DDT wants to make that 75 percent and then require 40 percent of a car to be made by works earning at least $16 per hour. The question is whether U.S. workers would get $16 hourly wage too, especially because 21 states use the federal $7.25 minimum wage.

DDT is making Europe the leader in international carbon monitoring by canceling the NASA greenhouse gas monitoring program. Supporting 65 projects, the program costs $10 a year—about three of DDT’s weekends in Mar-a-Lago.

The DOJ has removed language about press freedom and racial gerrymandering from its manual of policy priorities. The first changes in over two decades removed the section called “Need for Free Press and Public Trial” which included “the right of the people in a constitutional democracy to have access to information about the conduct of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and courts, consistent with the individual rights of the accused.” Employees are now required to report “any contact with a member of the media about a DOJ matter.” This section was also removed:

“The Voting Section defends from unjustified attack redistricting plans designed to provide minority voters fair opportunities to elect candidates of their choice and endeavors to achieve racially fair results where courts find…that redistricting plans constitute unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.”

Fox has put the press for sale. Donald Trump Jr.’s new girlfriend is Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle who sells Jr.’s daddy, the man in the Oval Office.

DDT is investigating the possibility of using a Korean War-era law to support coal and nuclear industries. The Defense Production Act of 1950 allows a president to nationalize private industry to guarantee resources during wars or after disasters and classifies energy as a “strategic and critical material.” Taxpayers will pay the bill. In his bid for re-election, blue-dog Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is asking that the statute be invoked for the “security of our nation.” If he is successful in creating a manufactured crisis, pro-coal politicians can make customers pay for profits and shareholder values of failing coal companies and owners of nuclear fleets. (I think it’s called a “bailout.”)

Israeli lawmakers have given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the authority to declare war with only the defense minister’s approval. DDT is surely paying attention with the possibility that he will get the same authority.

Transgender prisoners are more accessible to sexual abuse, assault, death and all forms of discrimination after DDT ordered the Bureau of Prisons to assign housing by “biological sex.” Guidance on medical care and hormone therapy now includes the word “necessary.” New DDT/VP Mike Pence orders conflict with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, signed into law by George W. Bush.

The NFL has ruled that football players cannot kneel on the field although they can stay in the locker room during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In addition to the First Amendment violations of this ruling, several states “have laws that bar private employers from retaliating against employees because of their political activity,” according to law professor Eugene Volokh. In 1934, a German football team was banned from playing because it wouldn’t give the Nazi salute. In 2017, 19 state legislatures considered bills to make protesting illegal; three of the states passed these into law.

DDT’s signature on a resolution repealing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s auto-lending guidance revokes protection for minority customers from predatory practices. For the first time, Congress used the Congressional Review Act to pass a resolution revoking a federal agency’s informal guidance. The resolution also prevents any protection in the future. Minority customers frequently suffer from higher dealer markups than white customers with similar credit profiles.

White House staff must use cell phones with security features, but DDT refuses any cellphone that cannot easily be hacked. DDT criticizes Hillary Clinton’s private email service, but at least six of his officials follow her practice. GOP House members continue to investigate Hillary Clinton’s secure email server.

DDT insisted that dumping chemicals into clean water will keep “clean, clean water … the cleanest,” but a report proved him wrong, leaving  big companies and the Defense Department liable to huge clean-up costs and reevaluation of water system safety. EPA Scott Pruitt announced the results of the report after three months of concealing the problem of water contaminants, but reporters were banned from attendance. One reporter was shoved out the door, but the information still got into the media.

Most of southeast Wisconsin has been exempted from any federal limits on lung-damaging smog pollution as a favor to Gov. Scott Walker’s re-election campaign centering on his new Foxconn Technology Group factory. Pruitt overruled his agency to stop requirements making improvements in Foxconn’s electronics plant just north of the Illinois border. Pruitt also added to Chicago’s unhealthy pollution problems by reducing the list of counties with dirty air in Illinois and Indiana. Walker blames Chicago for the bad air in Wisconsin.

Water is a concern for DDT appointee Brenda Burman, head of the Bureau of Reclamation that manages the water in the western U.S. The lack of runoff from the Rocky Mountains into the Colorado River, just 42 percent of normal, continues a 19-year dry spell that ranks as the driest on record for the Southwest, part of a drought that also covers the United States. The Colorado River provides drinking water for 40 million people and waters millions of acres of farmland. Arizona may get a 20-percent cut in water allotment by 2020. Burman didn’t say “climate change,” but she’s worried.

CBS News’ Lesley Stahl said DDT told her why he attacked the press:

“You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.”

In DDT’s continuing “LieGate” to discredit organizations—pollsters, law enforcement officials, courts, Congressional Budget Office, etc.—he ranted about the New York Times reporting that “’a senior White House official,’ who doesn’t exist” said that a meeting with Kim Jong-Un on June 12 was impossible because of “lack of time and the amount of planning needed.” On Thursday, that official, ordered to be called a “senior White House official,” briefed dozens of reporters in person and on a conference call about DDT’s cancellation of the meeting. DDT’s false accusation led reporters to circulate videos of Matt Pottinger delivering the message that DDT denies. The man who DDT said “doesn’t exist” overseas Asian affairs in the U.S. National Security Council.

Rudy Giuliani, DDT’s lawyer, has admitted that DDT’s “spygate” is a con to keep him from being impeached. On last Sunday’s CNN State of the Union, he said that it’s for “public opinion” and to “defend the president” by making people “question the legitimacy of [the Mueller investigation].”

After DDT’s wife spent five days in the hospital for a procedure that usually requires just an overnight stay, he welcomed his wife home by misspelling her name as “Melanie.” At least he didn’t make that mistake on Mother’s Day. DDT praised his late immigrant mother as “incredible” but made no mention of his current immigrant wife and mother of his youngest son. Even DDT’s son Donald Trump Jr. complimented his wife, who he is divorcing. We’ll see what Melania says about Barron’s father.

Three mobile billboards with art by Michael D’Antuono circled the Capitol earlier in May. Tourists interviewed for a media documenting the artist’s caravan agreed with his message, that people need to worry more about protecting democracy and less about covering up DDT’s offenses. Respondents may have been thinking about DDT’s removal of the freedom of the press, freedom of speech, voting rights, price equality, reproductive rights, clean water–or any water while DDT lies incessantly about his dishonest behavior.

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April 22, 2018

Earth Day 2018

Filed under: Environment — trp2011 @ 9:51 PM
Tags: ,

Visual Earth Day 2018 may have the greatest resistance to the destruction of the planet since its inception almost a half century ago in 1970. The current federal promotion of business over environment and the elimination of regulations that protect air, land, and water have resulted in a giant backlash both within the courts and among individual efforts. In lawsuits, the people are winning in many areas as environmental groups fight against agribusiness food, pesticides, and genetically modified foods. In a tragic event, LGBTQ and environmental rights activist David Buckel died after he set himself on fire on April 20, 2018 to demonstrate how people are destroying the planet. He wrote:

“Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather. Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result—my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”

People power in 2018:

A Louisiana water protector locked herself into a cement-filled barrel placed in the trench of a horizontal directional drill to block construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

People in Maryland blocked construction before a tractor blockade intended to prevent building a compressor station to bring fracked gas from the Mid-Atlantic to the Dominion export terminal.

A busload of Lancaster (PA) protesters took a 12-foot-long piece of pipeline into a corporate meeting room, singing songs and chanting, asking “How does it feel to be invaded?”

Protesters built a small longhouse to block the main entrance to the corporate headquarters in a Bellevue (WA) energy company.

People protested California’s Gov. Jerry Brown about fracking when he spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Hundreds of people protested Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf about his pro-fracking policies.

Protests are stopping pipeline investments in Canada and drastically slowing down the transportation of tar sands and fracked gas.

Tree-sits in West Virginia are increasing to prevent the Mountain Valley pipeline for fracked gas that will destroy trees and the habitat.

Cities are no longer divesting in banks that fund fossil fuel projects because of protests.

Washington activists defeated the largest oil-train terminal in the nation.

HSBC, the biggest bank in the world, will no longer fund oil or gas projects in the Arctic, tar sands projects, or most coal projects.

Groups and individuals are suing corporations and the federal government are facing lawsuits from individuals, organizations and state and local governments over climate change and environmental degradation.

ExxonMobil is facing a number of lawsuits because the company misled the public and polluted decades after it knew about climate risks and failing to stop investigations into its actions.

Twenty-one young people are allowed to go to trial against the federal government about its environmental destruction after a trial court and the 9th Circuit Court allowed them to continue.

A court ruled that the EPA violated the Civil Rights Act following decades of inaction after complaints; hundreds more complaints about environmental racism face the EPA.

The Supreme Court is hearing a case about whether the U.S. must obey treaties with indigenous people. 

Edmonston, a working-class Maryland town with a median income of $19,000, developed a green town, turning empty lots into community gardens, adding rain barrels, and adding permeable pavement, solar panels, fruit trees for food, and native plant landscapes with leaves collected by the city and composted.

People in Brooklyn reclaimed land, beginning with a vacant lot turned into an almost 2-acre community space with garden beds, an outdoor movie screening area, a pumpkin patch, and an educational production and research farm and transforming over 200 sites. [Data on vacant lots in the city and help for people to reclaim them.]

Wind farming is creating jobs in red states like Texas.

Beyond Extreme Energy is hold a Crack the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory System) protest to increase pressure on the agency that supports fossil fuel and nuclear industries; the protest is at the same time as the Poor People’s Campaign beginning on Mother’s Day to spend 40 days educating the population about links between the environmental crisis with economic inequality, racism, and other issues.

Daniel Webb, 36, has kept all of his plastic—4,490 items with just 8 biodegradable and 93 percent single-use—to make a mural with them.

The Solar Foundation mapped solar jobs, the fastest source of new energy, by congressional district as solar is the fastest growing source of new energy.

Beginning on May 1, the Popular Resistance School, an eight-week course, teaches how movements grow, build power, and succeed and explains the role people can play in the movement. You can sign up here.

 

Make every day Earth Day. You can save the planet!

March 25, 2018

‘Be Outraged’

Almost 55 years ago on May 2, 1963, thousands of young people marched in Birmingham and changed the nation. They were bombarded with water from fire hoses, attacked by police dogs, beaten with police batons, and jailed, but others took their place. These young people  took part in the Children’s Crusade because they knew that adults who marched would lose their jobs and homes if they marched for integration. Children took their parents’ places. Martin Luther King, Jr told them, “What you do this day will impact children who have not been born.”

Yesterday young people marched again when over a million people, many of them young people as young as nine years old, participated in the March for Our lives in at least 800 places covering all 50 states throughout the United States and around the world. Cameron Kasky, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas student (Parkland, FL), described their mission when he called on politicians to pass universal background checks and ban the sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. At the speeches, young people registered others to vote.

Signs from protests.

The Park Service no longer estimates the number of people attending protests, and there were no aerial photographs until the event finished. CBS lowballed the figure in Washington at 200,000 while a better estimate might be 800,000.

Congressional legislators went home Friday morning, so today some young people went to them . Inspired by the 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery (AL) during the civil rights movement, 40 high school activists in Wisconsin are marching 50 miles from Madison to Janesville, home town of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), in a call for gun safety laws. Ryan did not respond to the students’ attempt to contact his office. In February, he said, “We shouldn’t be banning guns for law-abiding citizens.” A rally is planned at Traxler Park when the march reaches Janesville on March 28.

In his Palm Sunday sermon today, Pope Francis cited World Youth Day, begun by Pope John Paul in 1986 to inspire a community of different cultures and encouraged young people to lead.

Syndicated Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts had powerful messages about gun safety in two recent columns:

“Last week, a puppy died in an airplane overhead bin. Three days later, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy introduced a bill to safeguard pets. But after Columbine and Aurora, after the Navy Yard, Sandy Hook and West Paducah, after Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and San Bernardino, after Charleston, after Tucson, after Fort Hood, after Sutherland Springs, we settle for a thin gruel of cliches — thoughts and prayers, good guys with guns and now is not the time.

“Sure, puppy lives matter. But human lives do, too.”

“And someday, when America is sane, when future generations wonder how it ever was we protected guns more than we did children, or that a disturbed 19-year-old was able to legally purchase a weapon of war, or that carnage became routine, or that some of us said this routine carnage was the price of freedom, maybe we will look back on this as the pivot point. Trump, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and every other politician who accepts money soaked in blood from the extremist NRA should consider themselves on notice.”

Conservatives can argue that Pitts is one of those “liberals” (ugh!) who don’t understand the Constitution. One of the most determined originalists about the document from the Founding Fathers and one of the most conservative members of the Supreme Court also disagrees with the “guns at any cost no matter how many people dead” philosophy of conservative gun owners. Ten years ago, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion of Heller v. D.C. that regulation of gun ownership is compatible with the Second Amendment:

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…” It is “… not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

“Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

“We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller [an earlier case] said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those ‘in common use at the time.’ We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”

Meanwhile the NRA voices grow more shrill, claiming that young people aren’t smart enough to do any organizing, that all the marches were created by “gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites.” On NRA TV, Colion Noir said to Parkland students if their friends hadn’t died, “no one would know your names.” The NRA is justifying its “good guys” theory at a school with a shooting at Great Mills High School Maryland when a teenager shot and killed his former girlfriend because “only” one person died. Both that school and Parkland had school security officers. Over Great Mills students joined the Washington protest for gun safety laws.

The conservative Arizona Republic misrepresented the 20,000 people at the Phoenix March for Our Lives, first with a headline about a “Clash” with people opposed to gun safety laws and then changing it to “Faced Off” after readers objected. About two dozen people in the anti-March group received half the video coverage, mostly with adults and not the young planners of the March, with vacuous comments about the Second Amendments.

Young advocates of gun safety laws have persevered despite smears about their credibility, insults about their intelligence, and outright death threats. Out-spoken survivors of the Florida school shooting are also receiving death threats. Fox network concentrated its Saturday reports on one Parkland student who supports the NRA.

A Fox survey, however, shows that a majority of respondents, 53 percent, think preventing gun violence is more important than protecting gun rights, compared to the 40 percent how disagree. In other results, 91 percent want criminal background checks to buy a gun, 84 percent ask for mandatory mental health checks, and almost three-fourths believe in raising the minimum age to 21 for buying guns. Fifty-seven percent oppose arming teachers.

Young people are doing more than marching and speaking to the media to make their schools safer. Students against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) have over 315 clubs in 40 states to oppose bullying and encourage inclusiveness. The SAVE philosophy is that an accepting culture in which students don’t feel left out can greatly reduce violence. The program connected with Sandy Hook Promise, started by parents who lost children in the 2012 elementary school massacre in Newtown (CT). Almost 2.5 million students and adults in schools in all states have been trained in at least one of the four Know the Signs programs, beginning with the Start with Hello. The others—Say Something, Safety Assessment and Intervention, and Signs of Suicide—are designed to help protect children from suicide, bullying, and gun violence. Say Something includes anonymous online bullying reporting of suspicious behavior. Grants are available for hosting community-wide events and spread anti-violence and anti-bullying messages. As written in the bible, “A little child shall lead them.”

A few weeks ago, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said he would rush into the high school without a gun to face a shooter with an AR-15 to save the students; yesterday he took a detour back from his golf course to avoid student protesters.

Rule #4 of Masha Gessen’s primer on surviving in an autocracy: “Be outraged.”  Young people are following that rule, and we should follow them.

January 27, 2018

DDT: Week Fifty-three – Judicial, Legislative Protests

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:33 PM
Tags: , ,

Today marks the first anniversary of protests against the ban on Muslim immigration by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), and the protest that followed the Women’s March set off a year of opposition to DDT’s oppressive regime. Most recently objections led to the resignation of Steve Wynn as RNC finance chair because of his sexual misconduct. Republicans demanded that the DNC return donations from Harvey Weinstein after the discovery of his sexual misconduct but said nothing about the $2.5 million Wynn donated to the Republican Governors Association, $411,000 to the National Republican Senate Committee, $248,000 to the RNC, $100,000 to the National Republican Campaign Committee, and $729,217 to DDT’s inauguration as well as his hosting the $100,000 a couple fundraising at Mar-a-Lago last weekend for the GOP.

Lawsuits:

In Pennsylvania, the worst gerrymandered state in the nation, a judge blocked the districting map for the 2018 elections. In the last three elections, the vote for the state has been almost 50/50 between the two parties, but Republicans won 13 of the 18 seats in the U.S. House. Lawmakers have until February 9 to draw a map and the governor until February 15 to approve it. If the parties don’t agree on the plan, the court will draw it. The map won’t be ready for the special election on March 15 for a district where Republican Tim Murphy resigned after the public learned that he encouraged a woman to have an abortion following an affair with her. Pennsylvania legislators have appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the decision was based on the state constitution. The only argument is that Article I gives state legislature, not the state courts, the power to set the rules for congressional elections (subject to congressional override).

A U.S. International Trade Commission panel struck down the 300-percent U.S. tariffs against narrow-body Canadian jetliners. South Korean leaders promise to try the new steep tariffs on imported washing machines and solar-panel components at the World Trade Organization.

Fifteen low-income Kentuckians are suing DDT’s administration for the new Medicaid work mandate because eligibility for this health care is based on income.

Advocates for sexual violence victims are suing DDT’s administration after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos eliminated methods of dealing with campus sexual assault under the 1972 Title IX. New guidelines impugn the credibility of women and girls who report sexual violence and do not require schools to investigate sexual violence or issue interim measures to protect victims from more harassment or violence during the proceedings.

Alexis Bortell, 12, is suing AG Jeff Sessions, the DOJ, and the DEA for their threat to vigorously criminalize the use of cannabis. With the use of cannabis, Alexis has been seizure-free for the past two years. Other plaintiffs include former NFL player Marvin Washington.

Also in Colorado, the state Supreme Court ruled that the state’s constitutional ban on using taxpayer dollars for abortion doesn’t stop funding Planned Parenthood for its non-abortion health care services, i.e., breast cancer screenings. Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice wrote that defunding PP “would lead to an absurd result,” reiterating a lower court’s example that a state worker paid with taxpayer money couldn’t donate money to an organization that performs abortions.

Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York plan to sue DDT over the new tax law that costs their residents billions of dollars.

A member of the Satanic Temple is suing Missouri for violating her religious rights with its restrictive abortion laws, including ultrasounds and a 72-hour waiting period. Earlier a plaintiff had been told that she had no standing because she had already had the abortion before he heard the case and therefore wasn’t pregnant. The state solicitor general admitted before the Missouri Supreme Court admitted that the law does not require an ultrasound, only “offers” it.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is suing the EPA for eliminating scientists receiving EPA funding from its advisory boards. The suit states that the directive “portrays legitimate, independent scientists—who provide accurate, evidence-based information backed by verifiable, peer reviewed research in order to inform environmental policy ― as just another interest group seeking to advance an agenda” and violates the 1972 Federal Advisory Committee Act.

A married gay couple is suing the State Department because only one of their 16-month-old twins can legally move to the U.S. When Elad and Andrew Dvash-Banks went to the U.S. Consulate with the twins in 2016 to begin the process for Israeli-born Elad’s green card and the boys’ citizenship, they were required to have DNA tests for proof of the biological father. The couple was forced to reveal the secret that Andrew was Aiden’s biological father and Elad was Ethan’s. Aiden now has a passport, but Ethan’s application was denied. His tourist visa expired in December. The situation would not have happened to opposite-sex couples. Allison  Blixt and Stefania Zaccari, a U.S. citizen and an Italian who married in London before the U.S. recognized marriage equality are facing the same dilemma because each one of them gave birth to one of their children. Act 301 only requires a parent who is a U.S. citizen.

The Center for Biological Diversity may sue DDT for using his wall to waive environmental regulations along the U.S.-Mexico border for clean water, endangered species, historic preservation, and antiquities. DDT also plans 20 miles of wall to replace vehicle barriers between El Paso and Juarez.

DDT’s search for the mythical “voter fraud” is on hiatus as the Department of Homeland Security will supposedly focus on cyberattacks and manipulation of state and voting systems. The disbanded “election integrity” commission targeted Latinx voters in Texas by asking for “Hispanic surname flag notation” on voting registration. The committee’s leader, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is in trouble with Kansans because he has leaked the last four digits of Social Security numbers on thousands of state employees that includes almost every member of the state legislature and his own SS digits as well as thousands of current and former candidates for office. Unauthorized disclosure of this “personally identifiable information” is illegal under both state and federal laws and puts every one of these people at serious risk for identity theft.

Oregon voters approved taxes to keep health coverage for the state’s low-income people when voters rejected a ballot measure to overturn legislative action. Nine-four percent of Oregonians have health insurance, and the successful measure preserved insurance for 350,000 people. The $320 million provided by the state is matched by almost $1 million, about one-third of one DDT weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

Oregon has introduced a bill to require candidates for president and vice president to reveal their most recent tax return or complete the state’s standard income disclosure form for public officials. Thus far 23 states have introduced similar bills; New Jersey was the first to pass this law, and Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the one passed in California.

Montana is the first state to declare net neutrality rules after Gov. Steve Bullock signed an executive order requiring that state contractor maintain these principles.

DDT is giving other countries the opportunity for leadership by withdrawing from global cooperation. Japan now leads the 11-country Asia-Pacific trade pact, formerly called the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, and Chile. Around the world, 35 new bilateral and regional trade pacts are under consideration with the U.S. included in only one of them. Phil Levy, economist for George W. Bush, said, “The world just moves on without us.”

Grim geopolitical news since DDT, including his “threats of nuclear war and climate change,” moved the Doomsday Clock 30 minutes closer to the end of humanity to two minutes, the same place as 1953. The clock has moved between two and 17 minutes until doom since its creation in 1947 for atomic scientists from the Manhattan Project.

The Guggenheim Museum refused DDT’s request to borrow Vincent Van Gogh’s Landscape with Snow but said he could have Maurizio Cattelan’s America. The 18-carat toilet is fully functioning “should the President and First Lady have any interest in installing it in the White House.” Cattelan said that his installation art was in part a recognition of Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 artwork Fountain, a urinal.

Wisconsin Scott Walker must be worried about getting re-elected. He wants to use $200 million of state money to stabilize the Affordable Care Act market.

Democratic Kentucky Rep. Mary Lou Marzian made news in 2016 with her bill to restrict erectile dysfunction drugs as the GOP restricts abortion. Her new bill is in response to others, i.e., one requiring doctors to give women a medical description of images from the mandated ultrasound before women may have abortions. The bill would:

“… require all medical and nursing schools established and assisted financially by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to cease all training of any health care providers and the provision of any health care services; require all medical and nursing schools to refer citizens who are requesting advice or health care services to their state representative or state senator.”

Marzian said:

“It’s obvious that our legislators think that they know more about women’s health than women and their physicians do, so why bother training medical professionals anymore? Let’s just have everyone consult their lawmakers when they get sick. Lawmakers are clearly the ones who know best.”

With DDT, the economic growth slowed to 2.6 percent last quarter, ending in 2.3 percent for the year, below the 3 percent that DDT guaranteed and the 4 percent that he promised. The 2.1 million new jobs in 2017 are lower than the 2.2 in the previous year. The 2017 growth was the third best in the past five years, and economists predict that it won’t have much momentum. Independent economists predict 2.7 percent for 2018.

The “backfire effect,” the study that people become more entrenched in their positions if presented with opposing facts, may be false. Facts matter!

November 19, 2017

DDT: Week Forty-Three – Democracy Threatened

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), his minions, and the GOP daily threaten democracy in the United States.The most egregious action from the past week—and certainly one of the least known—may be the trial against over 150 of the 217 protesters arrested during the January 2017 presidential inauguration. They each face 60 years in prison for breaking less than ten windows. (Rapists have received a sentence of six months in jail, and the minimum prison sentence is four years.)

Law enforcement “kettled”—scooped up—protesters, journalists, and legal observers without demanding that they disperse. Police extensively used pepper spray, concussion grenades, and stingers, even on already detained individuals, and kept people outdoors “for excessive periods of time” without access to food, water or bathrooms. Photojournalist Shay Horse said he was told to drop his pants and had his testicles “yanked on” before the officer “stuck his finger up each of our anuses and wiggled it around.” The rally in Charlottesville (VA), where white supremacists discharged firearms, produced no blanket felonies and conspiracies to riot although the white supremacists brutally beat a black man and killed a woman by driving a car into a crowd of counter protesters.

Jury selection began on November 15 for the first six protesters, and arguments start tomorrow. Judge Lynn Leibovitz in D.C. Superior Court said that guilty verdicts require proof that the person helped organize or incite the mayhem. For proof of conspiracy, DOJ uses typical protesting clothing, chanting, and other types of organization for all marches and protests. Two photojournalists are still charged with no knowledge of why they were not released with another seven journalists.

DOJ is also using taxpayer money to protect DDT in at least four lawsuits against his private businesses in DOJ’s defense of DDT’s unconstitutional decision not to divest himself from hundreds of companies that profit from foreign governments and officials.

Russia keeps haunting Dictator Donald Trump (DDT):

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee suspected that Jared Kushner is withholding emails from Donald Trump Jr.’s correspondence with WikiLeaks and asks Kushner for additional information. Missing documents include one document about a “Russian backdoor overture” and communications that a Russian-born businessman had sent the DDT campaign.
  • Special investigator Robert Mueller is further investigating Michael Flynn’s $15 million kidnapping plot with the help of Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, who had been accused of money laundering.
  • White House Communications Director Hope Hicks will meet with Mueller’s investigators.
  • Stephen Miller, White House aide who drafted the memo urging the firing of former FBI director James Comey, has been identified as the “senior policy adviser” who George Papadopoulos referenced in coordinating a meeting between DDT and Vladimir Putin during DDT’s campaign. Documents show a possibility of obstruction of justice on Miller’s part. Miller wrote speeches for Jeff Sessions, who lied under oath to Congress about his Russian contacts during the campaign, and still works for the White House.
  • Cambridge Analytica, Robert Mercer’s data company that helped elect DDT, is in greater trouble after increased revelations about Russian connections. In early June 2016, the company contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange; the first DDT campaign payment was dated July 29, 2016. The campaign paid almost $9 million to the firm. Timeline of known contacts as of a week ago.
  • For almost a year, Donald Trump Jr. exchanged tweets with Wikileaks and complied with some of their requests to disseminate Russian-created propaganda against Hillary Clinton.
  • DDT is paying $2.83 million to the former head of KGB counter-intelligence to provide security for the U.S. embassy in Moscow. A loyalist to Vladimir Putin, Viktor Budanov was once the former KGB officer’s boss. Budenov has worked with Kim Philby, a British defector to the USSR, and taught Bulgarian agents how to kill dissidents. 
  • DDT also praised Vladimir Putin, called past leaders of U.S. intelligence agencies as “political hacks,” and denied any Russian involvement in his election. Backlash, including angry words from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), led DDT to change his words, saying that he believed Putin meant what he said but also believed in the current intelligence agencies. DDT’s statements indicate that he may try to remove sanctions from Russia.
  • More problems for DDT come from his Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City, earning him at least $13.9 million in the past three years, that is used for money laundering by international organized crime, including money from Russian gangsters and Colombian drug cartels.  Although DDT may not have attempted to promote criminal activity, he has done nothing to prevent it.

DDT’s trip to Asia was extremely successful—for him. China gave him preliminary approval for 38 trademarks including hotels, spas, escort and concierge services, massage parlors, personal security services, and insurance. These applications were pending since six months before DDT was elected. With no objection, the trademarks will be formally registered in 90 days.

The National Women’s Law Center and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement are suing DDT for violating federal law in blocking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rule requiring employers to report pay data broken down by sex and race.

DDT’s latest blow against the people he promised to protect is his FCC’s chair Ajit Pai’s decision to downgrade the Lifeline program allowing low-income people to get broadband internet access and other telecommunication access for a reduced cost. The FCC’s next step is to prevent telecom providers not operating their own network infrastructure from offering Lifeline-subsidized plans. Over 70 percent of wireless Lifeline customers lose not only their preferred plan but also any carrier. Pai’s former employer, AT&T, has already discriminated against low-income communities by failing to upgrade infrastructure. Big losers are the program’s enrollees in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico struggling back from devastating disasters, impoverished Native American people living on reservations, veterans who use Lifeline to find jobs and health care, and low-income elderly who need access to technological communications as well as children who no longer have access to the internet for their schoolwork.

DDT is making more money for Wall Street with his “wall.” Stock Value for Sterling, the one publicly-held company of the six chosen to build prototypes, has seen its stock increase by 65 percent in less than three months since it was chosen to develop the prototype. DDT has promised to shut down the government if he doesn’t get funding for his wall.

Breaking a tradition of almost two decades, DDT will not greet the eight U.S. Nobel laureates this year before they travel to Sweden in December to receive their prizes: chemist Joachim Frank; physicists Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish, and Kip Thorne; geneticists Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young; and economist Richard Thaler.

U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson blocked the federal government’s attempt to withhold law-enforcement money from Philadelphia over its so-called “sanctuary city” status. In the first decision since cities sued DOJ’s attempts to pull funding, Baylson, a Reagan appointee, ruled that the city complied with federal law banning municipalities from restricting contact with ICE.

The DOJ has ruled that DDT’s tweets are “official statements of the president.” Here’s a sampling from the past week:

  • After a mass shooting killing five people in California, DDT tweeted about “God [being] with the people” but got the wrong place, referencing Sutherland Springs (TX), a tragedy of nine days earlier.
  • DDT made vicious statements about Al Franken’s sexual harassment of Leeann Tweedom but stayed silent about those of Roy Moore. (According to White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short, DDT believes the allegations against Moore because he’s not campaigning for him.)
  • DDT may reverse his reversal of removing the ban on importation of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia after serious backlash. Even Fox News host Laura Ingraham objected to the trophies.
  • Angry because the father of one of three basketball players freed from jail in China for stealing sunglasses wasn’t grateful to him, DDT wrote, “I should have left him in jail.” DT continued the tweet war today.
  • Insulted for being called “old”—but not for being called a “lunatic,” DDT called Kim Jong-Un “short and fat.”

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – NOVEMBER 13: Protesters burn an image of US President Donald Trump fashioned on a swastika as they march the streets of Manila during the start of the ASEAN meetings between heads of state on November 13, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. Thousands of Filipinos protested in Manila as U.S. President Donald Trump’s attended the ASEAN meetings in the Philippines, a stop included in his 12-day Asia trip. (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)

During the past week, protesters in Manila burned a DDT effigy while he attended the ASEAN conference in the Philippines and bonded with murderous Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte over their mutual dislike for President Obama.  DDT also plans to close the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington, D.C. because they aren’t allowed to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians. This action followed his promise to broker peace between Palestine and Israel by declaring his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in charge of peace. Kushner’s family has made millions by supporting Israeli illegal building on Palestinian land.

The Fact Checker has now catalogued 1,628 false or misleading claims made by Trump since he took office: That’s an average of 5.5 a day. The number per day is accelerating: during the past 35 days, his average is up to a daily nine lies, headed for “peak liar” status of at least 1,999 the first anniversary of his inauguration.

September 6, 2017

Fight Authoritarianism with Humor

Filed under: Politics — trp2011 @ 10:37 PM
Tags: , , , ,

My partner and I get together every afternoon and talk. I drink scotch, and she drinks fruit juice. We start out with each of us listing three good things that happened to us during the day and then continue with wherever the conversation leads. I sometimes talk about what I’ve been reading, and she asks questions that makes me want to delve further into the topic. Often, the subject is politics, yesterday the tragedy of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) rescinding DACA, work permits for children brought illegally and involuntarily into the United States. I segued into how stupid DDT looked when he was trying to load a pickup for a photo op. She asked why it mattered, and we launched into the importance of ridicule to oppose authoritarians.

[Anti-fascist protesters in Wurzen, Germany, last week. Markus Keine/NurPhoto via Getty Images.]

Today, the New York Times published Tina Rosenberg’s opinion piece, “Neo-Nazis in Your Streets? Send in the (Coup Clutz) Clowns,” that followed our discussion. Here are excerpts:

In Olympia, Wash., in 2005, a march of about a dozen brown-shirted neo-Nazis was met by protesting clowns, goose-stepping, Nazi-style. Hundreds of counterprotesters turned the occasion into a celebration of diversity and unity.

Two years later in Knoxville, Tenn., residents countered a white supremacist march with a hastily assembled group calling itself the Coup Clutz Clowns. The clowns pretended not to understand the shouts of “White power!”

“White flour?” the clowns cried, throwing some in the air. “White flower? Tight shower? Wife power!” For wife power, some of them put on wedding dresses.

And in 2012 in Charlotte, N.C., clowns protesting a far-right march held up “Dwight Power!” signs, evoking the Charlotte Hornets player Dwight Howard.

Responding to far-right demonstrators with mockery originated in Europe, where one outstanding recent example took place in the German town of Wunsiedel. Unable to dislodge annual marches with ordinary counterprotests, the town took a new tack in 2014. For every meter the neo-Nazis marched, the town donated 10 euros to an organization that helped people leave right-wing extremist groups. Residents hung silly signs along the route and threw confetti at the end, leaving the neo-Nazis responsible for raising $12,000 against their own cause.

Humor has a long and honored place in American politics as well.

And counterintuitive though it may seem, ridicule and mockery have long been an effective way to disarm protesters who espouse bigotry and racial supremacy. If you want to resist those who would stir up violence, using humor is more effective than staying at home when they march, and far better than rewarding their provocations with a melee in the streets.

Here’s what white supremacists want to do when they stage a rally:

  • Legitimize their views.
  • Strengthen their self-image as part of the downtrodden.
  • Unite their squabbling factions.
  • Attract new people to the movement.
  • Control media coverage.
  • Feel powerful and heroic.

They can accomplish all of those goals when the Antifa, or anti-fascists, respond to violence by throwing fists or rocks.

“For the far-right groups, violence is central to their way of looking at the world,” said Peter Simi, associate professor of sociology at Chapman University. “The idea of having violent confrontation and conflicts fuels and energizes them. They feed off it.

“It also helps perpetuate their own narrative about victimization and persecution —‘Look, we can’t even have a free speech rally without being attacked.’ ”

For the same reasons that violence by counter-protesters helps the far right, mockery hurts. “Ridicule makes the far right look less attractive to the type of people they want to attract,” said Cas Mudde, an associate professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia. “There’s a sizable portion who are there for the thrill. It doesn’t mean they don’t believe in the broader ideology, but they really enjoy the potential violence. They want to feel dangerous and important. They don’t want to feel like part of a sketch.” He thinks that’s true for the Antifa as well.

After all, which plan is more attractive to young macho men? “We’ll face a small group of masked tough guys” or “We’ll face a large number of men, women and children wearing silly hats and big red noses”?

Humor and mockery are also good strategies for classic political protest — whether against politicians who enable white supremacists, or policies like tax cuts for the rich.

Founded in 1980 as part of the Solidarity movement, [the Orange Alternative in Communist Poland] specialized in surrealist protest, often conducted by people in orange garden gnome costumes. At a protest in 1988, 10,000 people marched wearing gnome hats. One of the group’s common tactics was to mock the state through exaggerated obedience.

On Poland’s annual day honoring the secret police (you can’t make this stuff up), the Orange Alternative carried banners and posters proclaiming complete devotion: “Love the People’s Police!” “Long Life to Undercover Agents!” During the annual celebration of the Russian Revolution, the group shouted Bolshevik slogans, and during a state-supported referendum in the city of Wroclaw, Orange Alternative marchers chanted “Vote Yes Twice!” as they called for a “200 percent voter turnout.”

The police found themselves in a conundrum. They couldn’t let the protesters continue. But by making arrests, they acknowledged that no one could possibly believe in the Communist orthodoxy — and anyone who said they did must have been joking. Most Poles already knew that, of course, but the Orange Alternative forced the state authorities to make it visible.

All of these organizations changed people’s thinking by putting familiar ideas into a disorienting new context….

Soon Congress will be considering proposals to drastically cut taxes for the rich and services for the poor. What’s the message? “No tax cuts for the rich”? “Protect social services”?

Better to do what Billionaires for Bush did during the George W. years. Put on your (fake) mink stole and pearls, or don your tux — look fabulously wealthy, or just fabulous. Carry a cardboard Rolls-Royce door or a Champagne glass and hold a sign that says “Pools, not schools.” Or “Only little people pay taxes.”

The group adopted a logo that cast the Republican Party’s elephant as a piggy bank and described itself as a “grass-roots network of corporate lobbyists, decadent heiresses and Halliburton C.E.O.s.” When President Bush made privatization of Social Security the flagship issue of his second term, the Billionaires, tired of waiting, put Social Security on eBay.

It seems too basic to even say, but the rule is violated again and again: Successful political activists are strategic. They ask: “What will reach, and motivate or convince, the people we need?”

Very often, the answer is: Make ’em laugh.

DDT said that he rejected the Paris Agreement because he didn’t want people in the world to laugh at him, failing to understand that he is the laughing stock of the entire world—sometimes openly and other times covertly as in Saudi Arabia where they consider him to be useful. In his first 100 days, DDT was the target of jokes from late night hosts, with 1,000 jokes about him, and the second 100 days just got worse.

Humorist Garison Keillor wrote about DDT:

“The cap does not look good on you, it’s a duffer’s cap, and when you come to the microphone, you look like the warm-up guy, the guy who announces the license number of the car left in the parking lot, doors locked, lights on, motor running. The brim shadows your face, which gives a sinister look, as if you’d come to town to announce the closing of the pulp factory. Your eyes look dead and your scowl does not suggest American greatness so much as American indigestion. Your hair is the wrong color: People don’t want a president to be that shade of blond. You know that now….

“Running for president is your last bid for the respect of Manhattan. If you were to win election, they couldn’t ridicule you anymore. They could be horrified, but there is nothing ridiculous about being Leader of the Free World. You have B-52 bombers at your command. When you go places, a battalion of security guys comb the environs. You attract really really good speechwriters who give you Churchillian cadences and toss in quotes from Emerson and Aeschylus and Ecclesiastes.”

As we now know, DDT’s adlibs revealed a high level of ignorance and a low level of vocabulary.

People are afraid of humor and satire because they are effective. Hollywood executives fought Charlie Chaplin when he wanted to satirize Nazism and Hitler in The Great Dictator. Arab airlines helped defeat the U.S. electronic ban with sarcasm. “Fake” news is so commonly used now for real faux news that DDT uses the term less and less. As Mel Brooks said, comedy robs people of their “power and myths.” Director Michael Moore told people to “form an army of comedy” to defeat DDT because “he’ll implode”; it’s “his Achilles’ heel.”

When Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) mocked DDT’s small hands and small something else during the campaign, DDT talked at a debate about how he was well-endowed. He may not be reacting as much to the jokes recently because of John Kelly’s tutelage and restrictions of what DDT watches, but John Kelly won’t be in the White House long. The humor will lead to DDT’s destruction.

August 19, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty – Further Losses

People cheered at the departure of white supremacist Steve Bannon from the White House, but the problems of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) aren’t over. Last Tuesday’s press conference his support of neo-Nazis and denigration of those who want racial equality started a firestorm that lasted the rest of the week. As he blasted the people he called the “alt-left,” Chief of Staff John Kelly, “Trump’s Last Hope” according to a Time cover, stood helplessly by. His words started a domino effect resulting in his isolation.

By now DDT has alienated business leaders, world leaders, Republican leaders, religious minorities, racial minorities, military leaders, Fox network, the intelligence community, and his own staff. All he seems to have left are Sebastian Gorka, Stephan Miller, Saudi Arabia, racist Christian evangelicals, and white supremacists, including their media and David Duke. He doesn’t even have Steven Bannon any more

Only 24 out of 292 GOP members of Congress criticized DDT by name, but most of the others still aren’t happy about the disturbance of their agenda. DDT switched tweet attacks from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to “publicity seeking Lindsey Graham” and “Flake Jeff Flake.” Both had criticized DDT’s espousing an equivalent between white supremacists and their opposition.

DDT’s advisory councils have fallen apart. As CEO members of both the Manufacturing Advisory Council and the Strategy and Policy Forum dropped like flies, he disbanded them. He eliminated the Infrastructure Council, created by an executive order, before it was even finalized. The next one to go was the President’s Commission on Arts and the Humanities, created by Ronald Reagan in 1982, as all the members resigned, stating:

“Your words and actions push us all further away from the freedoms we are guaranteed. Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values.”

The first letters in each paragraph of the letter spelled RESIST. Following these disasters, DDT announced that he would not be attending the Kennedy Center Honors on December 3.

DDT also lost Carl Icahn as an advisor for regulatory matters after Icahn financially benefitted from his advice. One reason for his departure may be an expose on Icahn’s conflicts of interest and questionable legal actions in the New Yorker.  

At least 16 charity organizations, including the American Cancer Society, have pulled their events from DDT’s resort Mar-a-Lago, and more are leaving every day.

House Democrats introduced a congressional censure resolution because of DDT’s support of the white supremacists. The conservative USA Today published an editorial in favor of the resolution and called for “formal condemnation.” Conservative columnist for the Washington Post Jennifer Rubin stated that “any Republican not willing to sign on [to the censure resolution] should be voted out. Period. It’s the only litmus test that matters.” The only president formally censured in Congress was Andrew Jackson in 1834.

DDT is considering privatizing the war in Afghanistan, with Eric Prince, the brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, in charge. Prince, who had owned the violent Blackwater security services, wants his workers to be controlled by an appointed “viceroy” who would make all the decisions including spending and contracting.  He’s recommending billionaire Stephen Feinberg for the job. Feinberg was a member of the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in college.

After creating chaos in the insurance market with his sabotage of the Affordable Care Act, DDT has reluctantly agreed to make the August subsidy payments to insurance companies. GOP legislators had urged DDT to make these payments because they know they will get blamed for ACA problems. The Congressional Budget Office announced this week that stopping these payments would increase the federal deficit. Ending them would immediately increase insurance premiums and cause other government subsidies to rise. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the health committee, said that congressional members should quickly pass legislations to continue next year’s payments. These payments keep deductibles and co-payments far lower. Without them, premiums would increase by 20 to 25 percent in the next two years. Conservatives have preached doom and gloom about the ACA, but only two U.S. counties don’t have an exchange insurer for 2018. Cutting off the subsidies would cause insurance companies to abandon the exchanges, leaving customers without coverage.

  • A Kaiser poll discovered the following about public opinion surrounding the ACA:
  • About 80 percent want DDT to stop undermining the ACA and take action to make it function.
  • Only 30 percent want the GOP to continue the “repeal and replace.”
  • Sixty percent say that DDT and the GOP are to blame for any upcoming health problems.
  • A solid majority, 52 percent, like the ACA, with only a majority of Republicans against it. That’s a nine-point increase since DDT was elected.

While you were watching Charlottesville:

Opioids: DDT’s press conference on August 8 announced no need to declare an emergency. Then he received bad press about his failure to address the problem and declared an emergency. But he failed to give official notice to Congress which means that there will be movement on the crisis.

North Korea: Kim Jong-Un backed off after China dropped sanctions on the nation, and DDT seemed to take credit.

NAFTA renegotiations: DDT wants more than tweaking, Mexican farmers and workers demand the trade agreement scrapped, and Canada will challenge the rules in favor of its lumber and other trade issues. What can go wrong?

Stock Market: Even a bounce of 60 points after Bannon’s firing didn’t save the DOW from going down over 280 points on Thursday and Friday. DDT probably won’t announce that.

Terrorism in Spain: DDT, the self-identified “fact-seeker, cannot respond to the tragedy of a van driver killing and injuring people in Barcelona, Spain, so he reverted to his lie from the past about General Pershing conquering terrorist Muslims. Late night host Stephen Colbert described DDT’s speech.

Vladimir Putin: In a poll of 37 countries, people in almost half of them declared that they trusted the Russian president more to do the right thing for the world than DDT—and Putin only got 26 percent. Countries with more faith in Putin include Japan, South Korea, Venezuela, Mexico, Germany, France, Greece, and Turkey.

Increased danger for people: Last week, DDT rolled back a regulation requiring truck drivers and train engineers be screened for sleep apnea, blamed for deadly rail and highway crashes. Metro-North in the New York City suburbs had discovered that 11.6 percent of its engineers suffer from this fatigue-inducing disorder.

No flood protections: This week he rescinded flood protections for federally funded buildings and infrastructure, revoking President Obama’s executive order that required new public infrastructure projects such as subsidized housing, hospitals, and fire departments be built a few feet above the “100-year floodplain.” DDT sees no problem with seas rising and is determined to erase President Obama’s entire legacy. The man inaugurated last January said that regulations slow down the approval process and wants to spend $200 billion on projects that can be damaged beyond repair in a few years. Federal flood insurance claims cost an annual average of $1.9 billion.

If President Obama wanted it …:  DDT has taken down a bike sharing station at the White House for its employees. Bike share participants save an average of $631 a year.

Cover coverage: DDT keeps making the covers on major publications.

Lawsuits against DDT:

Five active duty transgender service members are suing DDT for his tweets banning them from the military, having relied on earlier guidance permitting them to be openly transgender in their jobs. The lawsuit asks the courts to immediately block new guidelines that would fire them. The suit states that DDT’s tweets have “already resulted in immediate, concrete injury to Plaintiffs by unsettling and destabilizing plaintiffs’ reasonable expectation of continued service.” Secretary of Defense James Mattis had asked for an extension to an earlier year-long student of implementing the change to ensure that it is smooth.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a class action lawsuit for “unsubstantiated claims of gang affiliation” in immigrant deportations of minors. Accusations include the detention and transport of children to detention facilities without notification of parents or lawyers.

Neo-Nazi rally plans: Boston Common, August 19; Laguna Beach, August 20; Phoenix, August 22; San Francisco, August 26; Berkeley, August 27; various cities including Boston, Phoenix, Houston, Upland, Kansas City, and San Francisco, September 9. Participants are so-called America First, Act for America, and Trump Campaign.  On August 19, advocates of racial justice organized groups at over 30 cities, and the “free speech” rally in Boston brought out far fewer white supremacists than the almost 40,000 counter-protesters.

DDT’s tweet about the counter-protesters who supported equality:

“Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.”

Almost 1,000 people rallied in Portland (OR) on August 18 against hate. The best sign: pick a torch.

May 25, 2017

DDT Doesn’t Complete Embarrass U.S.

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:10 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

At the half-way mark of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT’s) whirlwind trip to the Middle East, NATO in Brussels, the Vatican, and G-7 in Sicily, he got back to Europe but marked the trip with hypocrisy, rejection of human rights, gaffes, and lots of meetings that have left DDT exhausted.

The people who voted for anti-Muslim, anti-global DDT were unhappy to see him with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi holding a creepy glowing orb in a darkened room for a ceremony opening a global organization. At the same event, he touted the similarities between the United States and the Muslim countries represented by 50 leaders in his audience and reversed all his former positions. No mention of “America First.”

President Donald Trump’s one time campaign adviser and longtime confidante Roger Stone said the royal reception Trump received in Riyadh, including the country’s highest civilian honor, made him want to puke. Both George W. Bush and President Obama received the same award, and both bowed. DDT criticized President Obama for this. Stone said that DDT should insist that Saudi Arabia pay for the 9/11 attacks which they financed. Instead DDT lavished praise on the Saudis. The opulence in Saudi Arabia made DDT comfortable, so comfortable that he made this comment when he was talking to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi: “Love your shoes. Boy, those shoes. Man!” (Note that the speaker is the president of the United States.) He gave a speech reversing all his former positions, but he made a lot of money for his friends with their multi-billion-dollar deals in the Middle East plus $360 billion in arms deals. In return, Saudi Arabia wants the repeal of a 2016 law permitting relatives of 9/11 victims to sue the kingdom for their deaths. After George W. Bush declared war on Afghanistan and Iraq, many people forgot that 15 of the 19 attackers came from Saudi Arabia.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also gave a news conference with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, to which only foreign media were invited—not any U.S. media. The UK Daily Mail provided a transcript to U.S. media.

DDT’s hosts were a bit concerned about his visit too. Speeches had to be cut down to a couple of minutes for the man who has a shorter attention span than a five-year-old, and everyone needs to be careful about what they tell him as he’ll tell anybody anything. DDT needs to be complimented and feel that he’s winning.

When DDT landed in Israel, his next stop after Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered his cabinet members to be present. Some of them had planned to skip the event. DDT said to a group of Israeli officials, “We just got back from the Middle East.” The men tried to control their laughs at the man who failed to realize that Israel is also in the Middle East.

Gaffes before the trip to Israel also riled his host there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hoped that the U.S. embassy would be moved to Jerusalem, giving Israel ownership over the city occupied by four distinctly separate groups. DDT decided against the move, however, because Jordan’s King Abdullah told him not to do it. DDT refused to go to the ancient mountain fortress of Masada because he would have to take a cable car instead a helicopter. The White House had told Netanyahu that he couldn’t go to the holy Western wall because it was in the West Bank although part of it is in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. The map used for the trip showed Israel’s pre-1967 borders, excluding East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Golan Heights, and the Gaza strip. In his appearance at the Jewish Western Wall where he seemed to be either doing exercises or maintaining his balance. DDT was afraid to speak to Israel’s Parliament because he might be interrupted. He limited his visit to the famous Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, to 30 minutes, and much has been made of the difference between his statement at the site compared to the one that President Obama wrote.

Truly embarrassing was DDT’s giving highly classified Israeli intelligence to the Russians while DDT chatted with two high officials in the White House Oval Office. Israel’s bitter enemy Iran is one of Russia’s closest allies. In child-like manner, DDT blurted out at a press conference that he never told the Russians that the information had come from Israel—something no one had been accused of doing. “Never mentioned the word Israel.” This response was to a question directed toward Netanyahu about any concerns regarding intelligence cooperation with the United States.

As for the Palestine visit, DDT had reported that his meetings with leaders in their territory were in Israel— another map issue. He skipped Islam’s Holy Sanctuary, where the prophet Mohammed is said to have ascended to the heavens, and his brief remarks to the Palestinians during his one-hour visit made no reference to a “two-state solution” between the two rival countries. As Hanan Ashrawi, senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said, “He’s still on a learning curve, and peacemaking is not a business deal.” Palestinians in Bethlehem joked that the greatest achievement was that the streets had been cleaned for the visit.

Iran commented on DDT’s constant criticism of the country. PressTV in Iran quoted Americans who wonder, “Why is the Saudi monarchy our friend but not democratic Iran?” Mehdi Hassan, based in the U.S., criticized Trump for speaking to a room full of “autocrats, dictators and despots.”

From Israel and the Middle East, DDT moved on to the Vatican; this photo shows the beginning of the meeting although Pope Francis did relax a bit by the end of the hour. DDT left the 30-minute private meeting, saying that he’ll remember what the Pope had said.

DDT took an extensive entourage with him although Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon were returned to the U.S. after just two days. DDT claimed that this was planned, but rumors included that they’re out of favor, anti-Semitic Bannon was dropped off the tour before Israel, they need to work with the budget, and—my favorite—they need to do something about the steady drip of Russia involvement with DDT.

Wilbur Ross returned with Priebus and Bannon, glowing about the lack of protests in Saudi Arabia. The Commerce Secretary raved, “There was not a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there.” Becky Quick, the CNBC anchor interviewing him, pointed out that the country is a police state and bans protesting. But he  knew better: “The mood was a genuinely good mood.” Saudi state security personnel had given him “two gigantic bushels of dates” which was “a from-the-heart, genuine gesture,” Ross said.

In 2015, more than a dozen activists, members of the Shia minority, were in prison, convicted for peaceful activities. Waleed Abu al-Khair has a 15-year sentence from his peaceful criticism in media interviews and on social media. The writer Zuhair Kutbi was jailed for discussing peaceful reform on television. Others are sentenced to death. In November 2016, the Saudis executed a partially blind and deaf man for protesting. His family said he was tortured into confessing. He was accused of “sending texts,” but he was too poor to own a cell phone. Earlier in January, 47 protesters were executed in one day, and the total number of beheadings by July was 108. In addition, people break the law if they “distort the reputation of the kingdom” or “break allegiance with the ruler.”  A 2014 anti-terrorism law treats virtually all free expression as acts of terrorism, including “calling for atheist thought,” “contacting groups or individuals opposed to the Kingdom,” and “seeking to disrupt national unity” by calling for protests. Dissenters are tortured in prison as well as publicly flogged and sometimes beheaded.

Those praising DDT on his trip have used the low bar that he hasn’t embarrassed the United States. He did support all the actions that found wrong with the Obama: his wife didn’t wear a head covering in Saudi Arabia, and DDT bowed to the Saudi Arabia king. He also supported a global organization and praised the Islam faith. He violated all his promises to his base. Now he has four more days in Europe.

One more thing. From videos of the couple, DDT and his wife, Melania, may not have a close relationship. She preferred to stay in New York when he moved into the White House, and he largely ignores her, never returning to his Trump Tower home. She rarely travels with him although she is on this trip with him. There was one moment that some have called “the slap heard ‘round the world.” As the couple deplaned onto the red carpet in Tel Aviv, he reached out for her hand, and she swatted it away—in front of the dignitaries and news cameras while they walked to a photo op with Netanyahu and his wife. It’s not the first time, but it was the least subtle. this time it was less subtle.

May 6, 2017

DDT: More Week Fifteen

The spin on health care keeps coming. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) claims that she would never hurt people with pre-existing conditions because she has a special-needs child. According to Rodgers, states can have “new models for better patient outcomes” and criticizes health insurance for relying “on younger, healthier people subsidizing the costs of the older and sicker.” That’s why it’s called “insurance.” People whose houses don’t burn down subsidize people whose houses burn down. That’s insurance. The GOP is now officially “the party of death.”

Lucky for Rodgers, she’ll still have insurance if the rest of the nation doesn’t. And her need for “new models” didn’t extend to state retirement plans that can help the national retirement savings crisis. Republicans vote for states’ rights as long as they benefit only the wealthy.

About ten percent of the Republicans who voted to take health care from people are facing their constituents at town hall meetings, and their audience isn’t swallowing what their representatives are serving. A crowd loudly jeered Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) when he claimed that nobody dies from a lack of access to health care. A study published in 2009 by the American Journal of Public Health shows that lack of health insurance is linked with 45,000 deaths annually, about 2.5 times higher than the estimate from the Institute of Medicine in 2002. Uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993. Labrador probably isn’t aware of research surrounding health care because he probably didn’t even read the bill he supported.

The Republicans claim that no one should have to pay for other people’s health insurance, but they make sure that we pay for the GOP war that George W. Bush started over 14 years ago. Taxpayers also pay for the extended DDT family‘s travel around the world, touting their businesses. The budget that DDT just signed into law includes an extras $120 million for security that includes reimbursements to law enforcement in Manhattan and Palm Beach and another $73 for “necessary expenses for presidential security.” Between the election and inauguration, New York paid $24 million for Trump Tower security, and Palm Beach County has spent $4.5 million in overtime pay for presidential protection. DDT has not spent one weekend in the White House since his inauguration, and each of DDT’s seven trips—25 days—to Mar-a-Lago has cost over $600,000 for just the flights. None of these costs shows the loss to the economy as small businesses are badly damaged by restrictions from DDT’s presence.

DDT’s businesses are profiting. His frequent trips to his properties, including his Washington hotel for dinner and his Virginia golf course, has increased their income by 30 percent. Taxpayers also give DDT $1.5 million a year to rent the floor below DDT’s penthouse, and he still appears on ads his new condominium building on Uruguay’s coast. The Trump Organization is using Mar-a-Lago’s taxpayer-provided helipad for Marine One, and the club’s promotional magazine features quotes about DDT’s last presidential campaign and an advertisement for Ivanka’s jewelry.

During his campaign DDT was highly critical of costs for President Obama’s vacations and the time that he played golf. A DDT broken promise: “I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf.” In eight years, the former president spent $96 million–$8 million a year, a sum that DDT blew through in less than three weeks. Although he tries to hide his games, DDT has played golf on the average of three times that the former president did.

Some other happenings from last week:

The Heritage Foundation has fired Jim DeMint from his position as president. One reason was was tension between DeMint and Ed Feulner, his predecessor, who was concerned that the DeMint-era emphasis on political activism overshadowed the institution’s role in the intellectual development of the conservative movement.” Feulner will replace DeMint on an interim basis. But the reasons behind the coup against DeMint might be deeper.

Be careful where you laugh. CodePink member Desiree Fairooz, 61, could face up to a year in prison. Her crime was laughing after Sen. Richard Shelby said during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearings that the nominee had a history of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.” She didn’t disrupt the proceedings until she was arrested and dragged out of the Senate chambers. No one was arrested for laughing when Sessions “joked” about disagreements with his wife. Each of two men wearing KKK costumes at the Sessions hearing could also be in prison for a year each.

Current administrative officials treat leadership like a joke. Last week, Wilbur Ross, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, described the U.S. preemptive bombings on Syria as “after-dinner entertainment” for guests at the Mar-a-Lago club on 6 April. His audience of the wealthy and powerful at the Milken Institute Global Conference laughed. Ross continued by saying, “The thing was, it didn’t cost the president anything to have that entertainment.” Actually, taxpayers shelled out about $100 million for the “entertainment.” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) referred to the “most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen” five times when he talked about the bombing.

DDT touted the Energy Star program, which honors businesses and organizations that excel in energy efficiency, as “America’s resource for saving energy and protecting the environment.” Then he announced that he will eliminate the 25-year-old program. Energy Star posts information on appliances about their energy efficiency, and over 1,000 U.S. companies call it a model for successful collaboration between public and private sectors. DDT’s properties, also evaluated by the Energy Star program, typically get low ratings: eleven of his 15 skyscrapers in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco are less energy efficient that comparable buildings. On a scale of 1 to 100, his Mayfair Hotel, now converted into condos, received a 1. Follow the rubles.

As a campaigner, DDT said he’d label China a currency manipulator. Now he says they aren’t because he made China to stop manipulating the currency as soon as he was inaugurated. He didn’t know that China’s currency manipulation ceased in 2014. The question is whether DDT is delusional or merely ignorant.

DDT has abdicated another responsibility of “commander-in-chief.” The Pentagon is now in charge of setting troop levels in Iraq and Syria where over 5,000 military members are employed.

DDT looked forward to terminating the trade agreement like a Christmas gift to himself until his brand new Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue, showed him a map of how the farmers who voted for him would be hurt. DDT changes his mind based on maps as well as what hurts blue states and who talked with more recently.

Guns were banned at the annual NRA meeting in Georgia where DDT made a campaign speech. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Guns should be available everywhere with no restrictions. And NRA members are all responsible gun owners who would never kill people. Right!

Sean Hannity’s question about DDT’s biggest accomplishment brought a variety of responses. My favorite: Not getting impeached.

DDT wants to change libel laws  so that he can sue journalists and the media for articles that DDT considers inaccurate and “win lots of money.”

Why would DDT call for “a good shutdown”? Maybe because he wants to know how far he can go and still have support. A year ago he said that he could kill someone in the street, and he would still get elected president. Now he’s called president—although he wasn’t sure about it at a recent speech. Fill the Cabinet with billionaires who hate their agencies? Sounds good. Shut down the press? No problem. Buddy up with the world’s tyrants while rejecting the nation’s allies? Just fine. Now he wants a “good shutdown” in September to fix the “mess” in government. He blames the constitutional checks and balances:

“I think the rules in Congress – and in particular the rules in the Senate – are unbelievably archaic and slow moving. And in many cases, unfair. In many cases, you’re forced to make deals that are not the deal you’d make. You’d make a much different kind of a deal. You’re forced into situations that you hate to be forced into.”

To change the “rules of the Senate” is because “for the good of the nation things are going to have to be different.” A major goal is to do away with the Senate filibuster of 60 votes if more Republicans aren’t elected. He’ll have to do more than that because of the serious split in the GOP.

DDT ran on a campaign promise of changing Washington, D.C., yet 54 percent of voters say that he’s made no progress. I disagree: he’s made it much worse.

May 1, 2017

Three Massive Protests, NYT’s Paid Climate Denier

Donald Trump Jr. is known for killing large animals in Africa such as elephant, leopard, kudu, civet cat, waterbuck, crocodile, antelope, buffalo, and great warthog. Last weekend he changed his sights to Montana and the fierce prairie dog, a species that supports entire ecosystems. They can’t be used for food, and killing them doesn’t provide wildlife management. Right now is the breeding system when female prairie dogs are most likely to be pregnant or nursing. For fun, Jr. went killing with U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte, who thinks it’s fun to use high-powered rifles that make the animals explode with “body parts severed and sent flying.” That’s what the son of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) did on Saturday, the same day that 200,000 marched in Washington, D.C. for the People’s Climate March.

 

The People’s Climate March was the second of three massive marches in the nation in just nine days, following the March for Science on April 22, Earth Day. The city was hot—91 degrees that tied the record high for April 29 in 1974—but people joined the 300 other marches in the United States and around the world. Here are photos of signs from WaPo.  The size eclipsed the crowds from the March for Science, one week earlier. Paul Getsos, the national coordinator for the People’s Climate March, said:

“It’s not just an enviro event. We have 43 labor union buses, we have indigenous [groups], we’ve been organizing communities of color, we have a big faith and youth contingent. … we are part of a larger resistance.”

A visual time-lapse of the march in Washington is available here along with more signs.

Science supporters are always important, but this year more than any other time in the modern era they are vitally needed. The Republican president, 142 representatives, and 38 senators who reject the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity causes climate change have received a total of $82,882,725 in donations from coal, oil and gas industries. Only seven states have no climate deniers in their delegations, and I’m proud that Oregon is one of those seven. The other six are five New England states and Delaware.

The Environmental Protection Agency celebrated the week after Earth Day “updating” its website with “language to reflect the approach of new leadership.” The Secretary is a permanent climate denier, and DDT thinks that the Chinese perpetrated the science of climate change as a hoax. This ideology will be reflected in the EPA’s “to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first.”

Adding to climate denial promotion, the New York Times has hired a known climate denier, Bret Stephens, to write about the climate. Stephens came from the Rupert Murdoch-owned, climate-denying Wall Street Journal where he was deputy editorial page editor. It’s expected that the conservative publication would hire a climate denier, but the NYT has long been considered so progressive than my Republican friend wouldn’t read it.

James Bennet, the newspaper’s editorial page editor, justified the action by saying that there are “millions of people who agree with him.” He added, “There’s more than one kind of denial,” indicating that he might agree with more than one kind of truth. Millions of people, many of them DDT-supporters, deny climate change, but far more believe that climate change exists and it’s caused by humans. Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say they are worried a “great deal” or “fair amount” about global warming, up from 55 percent at this time last year and the highest reading since 2008. In addition, 68 percent of people think that there is climate change and that it’s caused by humans.

Pro-Israel war hawk Stephens once wrote a column on “the disease of the Arab mind” and thinks anti-racists are the real racists. He said that people who accept climate change science are motivated in part by the “totalitarian impulse” and they worship “a religion without God.” According to Stephens, “global warming is dead, nailed into its coffin one devastating disclosure, defection and re-evaluation at a time.” In 2015, Stephens described climate change a “mass hysteria phenomenon” for which “much of the science has … been discredited” and that global warming — along with hunger in America, campus rape statistics, and institutionalized racism — are “imaginary enemies.” He dismissed the well-documented “vanishing polar ice” as based on “flimsy studies.” The NYT itself has documented the problem of melting ice at the poles.

Stephens started his first column for NYT by explaining that scientists could be wrong about climate change because the polls projected a win for Hillary Clinton. First, the polls were right on target with their projections, but the Electoral College process put DDT into the presidency. But more important, scientific analysis isn’t the same as taking surveys. Science isn’t about opinions, it’s about evidence.

In an interview with Vox, Stephens explained that he doesn’t worry about climate change because he knows a climate change activist who “just had a baby.” His belief is that “if he thinks in 20 years we’ll be heading toward unsustainable climates and there will be tens of millions of people being displaced, presumably including himself, at the most apocalyptic level, then presumably he wouldn’t be having children.” So there you have it: people who have children know that climate change doesn’t exist.

His column was so bad that reporters and news editors from the NYT have panned it. Andy Revkin, former NYT climate reporter and blogger quoted twice in Stephens’ first column as justification for his ideas, tweeted that the column featured “straw men” and other flaws. Stephens used reports to support his position, but the report was opposite to what Stephens wrote. The rate of warming, cited by Stephens as “modest,” is 50 times greater since 1880 than the rate of cooling in the previous 5,000 years and drastically increases to probability of destructive catastrophes such as Superstorm Sandy.

The degree of global warming in upcoming decades depends on carbon pollution. Taking immediate action to cut these emissions can limit the warming to perhaps four degrees along with the accompanying climate consequences. Stephens, however, discourages people from doing this by cutting off any discussion about future climate crises.

Both the liberal and the conservative sides of media criticize people who slam the NYT for presenting Stephens’ columns as valid for debate. Yet how far are those “free speech” arguers willing to go in supporting the employment of people who present “alternative facts”? Would the NYT give space to columnists who argue that the world is flat? Or that the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School were faked by the government? At one time, the NYT provided credible journalism. Now it seems to just go with the flow—and the flow is sharply downhill. As Matt Gertz wrote about the NYT after DDT’s election, “The paper sold new subscribers on providing vigorous resistance to the ‘alternative facts’ that fueled his rise. Now, it’s publishing them.”

More protesters marched today, May Day. The White House website noted May 1 as “Law Day” and touted the importance of the Constitution and the partnership of law and liberty. It ignored the theme of the American Bar Association for this year’s Law Day, “Transforming American Democracy,” celebrating the 14th Amendment that “advanced the rights” of all people in the United States “through its Citizenship, Due Process and Equal Protection clauses” as well as “extending the reach of the Bill of Rights to the states.” And it ignored other meanings of May 1, for example International Workers Day and the labor protests in the United States that go back to Haymarket Square 131 years ago.

Although the White House website made no mention of any other meaning to May Day, it might take note because of the huge and angry protests in the United States joining those around the world. This year, the focus was a denunciation of DDT’s crackdown on and deportation of undocumented immigrants, many of them working in low-paying, non-unionized jobs—agriculture, fast-food, hospitality, child care, and other services. Others attacked his Muslim and refugee ban. Some protesters didn’t go to work today, and immigration-run convenience stores and other businesses closed in solidarity. A rally in front of Manhattan offices of Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase protested their dealings with private companies that build and/or manage government detention centers.

The term Mayday is also used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure. Considering DDT’s actions in his first 100 days, people may need the term.

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