Nel's New Day

June 22, 2020

Week 178 – Glimmers of Hope for the Future

The media has been consumed today with how Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who wanted to be the comeback kid, failed in Tulsa yesterday. Fire marshals estimated his crowd at 6,200 after DDT bragged that he has requests for over 1 million tickets. Reporters wrote about how teenage TikTok users and Korean pop music fans (aka K-pop stans) quietly spread the news to Snapchat and Instagram users to order tickets from false accounts and telephone numbers as a prank.  

DDT was furious with the small turnout and the publicizing of six campaign workers infected with COVID-19. The result was a low-energy event, especially when he returned home shown by this video of his return to Washington. People question if he will be explaining by the end of the week he was only inspecting the inside of BOK Center.

Missing from his 123-minute speech: references to tragic deaths of Black people, anything about Juneteenth and the end of slavery, the number of people who have died from COVID-19, the unemployed tens of millions, and any sense of compassion or empathy for suffering people. Important stuff that DDT shared in his speech with lots of lies: 15-minute detail of how well he can walk, a demonstration of how he can drink with one hand instead of two hands (causing the crowd to go wild with cheering), horrible, radical “rioters” in the streets, and his order to “my people”:

“When you do more testing to that extent, you are going to find more people, you will find more cases. I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’”  

This week, DDT heads to Arizona, speaking at a megachurch with a capacity of 3,000. When Students for Trump rented the Dream City Church auditorium in northern Phoenix, the church didn’t know the purpose was DDT’s campaign rally. It stated online, “facility rental does not constitute endorsement of the opinions of its renters.” Phoenix now has a mask ordinance. DDT also plans to look at his border wall at Yuma, among the hardest hit locations in the state which has become a hot spot for COVID-19. 

After refusing to reveal any information about which businesses received the $600 billion from the CARES $2.3 trillion act, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin caved into the protests and announced he will announce general information. Loans of under $150,000, about 25 percent of the total, will be lumped together into categories of industry, business type, and demographics with no names. The remainder will be groped by amount: $150,000-$350,000, $350,000-$1 million, $1 million to $2 million, $2 million to $5 million, and $5 million to $10 million. Demographics are vital because the agency gave no guidance to lenders about prioritizing rural, minority, and women business borrowers who may not have received loans guaranteed by legislation.

 In California, a district judge stopped enforcement of the Education Department’s rules preventing undocumented students at the state community colleges from getting a portion of the state’s $580 million from CARES funds for pandemic relief. The law does not restrict types of students eligible for aid.

A U.S. district judge in New York blocked ICE from making civil arrests at courthouses. A federal judge in Massachusetts make the same ruling last year; the appeal is pending.

The U.S. Soccer Federation repealed the league’s three-year-old ban on kneeling during the national anthem, and the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association apologized to its “players—especially our Black players—staff, fans, and all who support eradicating racism.”

After DC Circuit Court judge Lawrence Silberman called renaming U.S. bases honoring Confederate officers “mad,” a Black law clerk responded in this brilliant way, when he wrote about his slave ancestors.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) cannot order the 11 Confederate statues removed from the capitol, but she can take down four portraits of previous House Speakers who served in the Confederacy. One of them, Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (left) who was expelled from the U.S. Senate for supporting the Confederacy, became the Confederate Secretary of State. The last House Speaker portrait to be removed was that of former Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL). In 2015, then Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) took it off the wall after Hastert pled guilty to breaking banking laws when he obtained hush money concealing molestation of young boys while he was a wrestling coach.

An investigation from a panel created by the National Academy of Public Administration panel found that NOAA violated its scientific integrity policy in “Sharpiegate,” NOAA’s backing of DDT’s falsifying Hurricane Dorian’s path last September. After DDT mistakenly identified the Hurricane going into Alabama, NOAA contradicted its own meteorologists, and DDT changed Dorian’s path on a map with his Sharpie pen. According to the report, NOAA’s acting administrator Neil Jacobs and former NOAA deputy chief of staff and communications director Julie Kay Roberts twice violated agency codes through their involvement in the Sept. 6 statement. Jacobs is still claiming that DDT was correct in his ignorance that Alabama “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Jacob’s problems continue: The Commerce Department’s inspector general, responsible for NOAA, and the House Science Committee both plan to release reports. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire NOAA’s top employees if they didn’t endorse DDT’s fake claims. 

A three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court upheld the dismissal of a defamation lawsuit against former British spy Christopher Steele, center of the publicity surrounding the Mueller report. Russian investment giants, owners of the country’s Alfa Group, claimed Steele’s reports had defamed them.

The FDA withdrew the emergency use authorization for DDT’s COVID-19 drugs of choice, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, because of health problems they may cause.

The King County Labor Council, the largest labor group in the Seattle area, expelled the city’s police union because it fails to address racism. The vote was two days after the city council unanimously voted to ban police use of tear gas, pepper spray, etc. after law enforcement used them on primarily peaceful demonstrators. Among other police attacks on protesters, an officer deliberately pepper-sprayed a seven-year-old and then arrested Evan Hreha, who videoed the episode, with no evidence of any wrongdoing by Hreha.   

White supremacists, DDT’s base, have infiltrated protests to cause a race war. Steven Ray Baca, 31, opened fire against protesters trying to pull down a statue of Spanish conquistador and tyrant Juan de Oñate outside a museum in Albuquerque (NM), leaving a person in critical condition. Heavily armed people in military-style garb calling themselves a “civil guard” circled Baca for protection. Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, an avid far-right extremist “boogaloo boy,” killed a sheriff’s deputy in Santa Cruz County and an Oakland courthouse guard. A peaceful protest of 200 in small Bethel (OH) was overtaken by over 700 heavily-armed menacing people circling them like snipers. And more. DDT ignores the violence from the far-right while ranting against the far-left.

Facebook finally started deactivating DDT’s lying, hate-filled campaign ads, beginning with one using a Nazi symbol for political prisoners on protesters he falsely calls the Antifa and “far-left groups.” Along with the red inverted triangle, ads labeled peaceful protesters “Dangerous MOBS.” The campaign presented 88 ads, a significant number representing “Heil Hitler” in white supremacist code.

Earlier, FB took down ads with misleading references to U.S. Census and more recently one from DDT with copyrighted materials. The company proclaims, however, that it has a “light touch,” defending Holocaust deniers, claiming he did not believe “they were intentionally getting it wrong.”

Twitter marked a DDT campaign ad “manipulated media” to deceive viewers before the ad was removed because of copyright infringement. DDT’s campaign used an video from last year that went viral showing a white toddler chasing his best friend, a black toddler, to hug him and ran a fake CNN chryon, “TERRIFIED TODLER (sic) RUNS FROM RACIST BABY.” The ad used its fake chryon to accuse CNN of faking poll numbers. Facebook also removed the ad for copyright infringement. 

CNN’s Jim Acosta asked press secretary Kayleigh McEnany about DDT’s fake ad:

“So you’re saying it’s okay to exploit two toddlers hugging one another on a sidewalk to make some sort of political point? You — I mean, as you know, the President has described members of the press as ‘fake news’ during the course of this administration. When you share fake videos like that, doesn’t that make you fake news?”

McEnany tried to call DDT’s ad a satire “that was quite funny,” but Costa called her out, “What’s funny about these two toddlers … hugging one another?” The argument continued, and McEnany came out second in the exchange.

On its advertising platform, Google banned ZeroHedge, a far-right website trafficking in conspiracy theories after policy violations from comments about Black Lives Matter protests. The server also took the same action against The Federalist after a three-day warning. Google said that both websites violated its policy against monetizing content that “promotes hatred, intolerance, violence or discrimination based on race.” Having created a culture of monopolies, conservatives are complaining about how they behave.

June 5, 2020

DDT: Week 176 – Only Wealthy Better off

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is happy. The stock market is going up again, thanks to the many trillions of dollars  the government has made available to big corporations and wealthy people. Lockdowns started on March 18, and the nation’s richest people’s wealth increased over $565 billion while 42.6 million workers filed for unemployment. Those 42.6 million people don’t buy stocks. 

May added 2.5 million jobs, two-fifths of them part time and 1.2 million in the poorly-paid hospitality sector. Yet 21.2 million jobs were lost in March and April, and the 13.3 percent unemployment rate is the worst since World War II. The jobs were also for white people, whose unemployment rate went down from 14.2 percent to 12.4 percent: for blacks, unemployment went up from 16.7 to 16.8 percent. DDT called this “a tremendous tribute to equality.” The CBO forecasts unemployment levels above 10 percent for almost a year and doesn’t reflect self-employed people with serious losses and college graduates who had not started looking for jobs. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pointed out the increase in jobs is propped up by the stimulus money, soon disappearing.

To Yamiche Alcindor, a black woman who reports for PBS NewsHour, who asked him for specifics on a plan to address police violence against blacks, he said, “You are something.” In the above photo, DDT shushes Alcindor.

DDT did, however, put a happy spin about George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer:

“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that is happening for our country. This is a great day for him… This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”

DDT used the word “great” 55 times during his ramblings. mThe White House also rearranged chairs for the press to put them closely together with no social distancing because “it looked better.” Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was right: DDT should stop talking. 

After his campaign rally, DDT headed to another one at a factory in Maine, but all the swabs made during his photo-op there will have to be thrown away. With no mask, he stopped to talk to the workers wearing white lab coats, masks, hair nets and plastic booties. Last month, almost one-third of Maine nursing homes reported they had no nasal swabs for testing, and over 60 percent of the respondents said they had fewer than eight available.  

While in Maine, DDT announced his new task force to crack down on illegally harvested fish and appointed former sexist, racist Gov. Paul LePage as its chair. During the conversation, he asked if the lobsters harvested off Maine are equivalent to those a few miles north off the Canadian coast. And he promised auto tariffs on the EU if it doesn’t lift duties on lobsters imported from the U.S. Tariffs on U.S. lobster, like many other products, came from DDT’s trade wars. DDT also opened a fragile marine conservation area off Cape Cod to commercial fishing, hours after DDT declared himself a “great environmentalist. The change harms the endangered North Atlantic right whale as well as deep-sea coral and sponge gardens thousands of years old. No evidence exists that the conservation area had hurt fishing revenues.

According to a new study, DDT removed protections from almost 35 million acres of public land, about the size of Florida. “President Trump is the only president in U.S. history to have removed more public lands than he protected,” stated the analysis. DDT already removed protections from 16.6 times the land Theodore Roosevelt protected for parks and monuments.

The U.S. Park Police stated it was wrong when he said no tear gas was used to clear protesters so DDT could cross the street.

AG Bill Barr has decided to “flood the zone” by bringing in thousands of unidentified law enforcement to Washington, D.C. Some, found out by wearing shirts and patches, showed they are from two prisons in Texas, one of which has at least five guards with COVID-19 infections. In Washington, DC., they failed to wear masks while close to each other and demonstrators. The Bureau of Prisons confirmed guards dispatched to two cities didn’t wear their uniforms “because they are serving a broader mission.” In a letter to DDT, Washington’s mayor Muriel Bowser wrote:

 “Unidentified federal personnel patrolling the streets of Washington, D.C., pose both safety and national security risks. The deployment of federal law enforcement personnel and equipment are inflaming demonstrators and adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting for change and for reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing Black Americans.”

In the Senate, Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which passed the House 410-4, because it was so broad it could include “minor bruises.” The Senate could force the bill to the floor, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the senior senator from Paul’s state up for re-election this year, doesn’t want to bother. According to the bill, “nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress during the first half of the 20th century,” and “between 1890 and 1952, 7 presidents petitioned Congress to end lynching.”

Two Senate committee chairs planned to deliver subpoenas in an investigation of the origins of the Russia probe and allegations of President Obama’s wrongdoing (aka Obamagate, according to DDT). Ron Johnson (R-WI), elected two years ago and chair of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is moving forward with 30 subpoenas determined by a party line vote. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), vulnerable in his current reelection and chair of the Judiciary Committee, said he’ll wait until next week for a vote on 50 subpoenas.  

In a series of angry tweets, DDT declared he pulled the August WeGOP conference out of Charlotte (NC) in August, but the RNC hasn’t given official notification “regarding its intent for the location of the convention.” The state is moving forward toward opening, already in Phase II, but Gov Roy Cooper—a Democrat—won’t promise the facility open to 20,000 Republicans because of social distance. GOP governors are salivating for the gig with offers in Nashville (TN), Jacksonville and Orlando (FL), Phoenix, and Georgia. Las Vegas is also interested, but Dallas has already turned it down. The RNC said DDT will not accept the Republican nomination in Charlotte. Planners are considering a rolling convention in several cities so DDT can say he had the largest convention ever.

Using the “economic emergency,” DDT signed an executive order waiving long-standing environmental laws to speed up federal approval for new mines, highways, pipelines, and other projects by limited state environmental reviews. Thus far, DDT has completed 66 rollbacks of environmental protections, and another 34 of them are in progress, most of them related to air pollution and emissions with 11 about water. Wheeler singled out a recent veto of a natural gas pipeline by New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, to block such impacts as damage to aquatic life, downstream impacts, and climate change. The rule follows DDT’s attempt to remove California’s authority to set its own vehicle emission standards under the Clean Air Act.

DDT is bored with COVID-19; he hasn’t talked to Dr. Anthony Fauci for weeks. Barr plans to solve the health crisis by suspending constitutional rights, among them asking Congress to pass laws allowing people to be indefinitely held without trial. 

The Pentagon is spending most of its $10.6 billion for shipbuilding, submarine launch equipment, missile tube and body armor.

West Point had canceled its in-person graduation this year because of COVID-19 until DDT insisted on giving a commencement address to 1,000 graduates on June 13 in order to perform this ceremony at all service academies. This past week, the Army found asymptomatic infections in 1.5 percent of them. The decision produced protests on the West Point Parents Facebook page.

Unwilling to be seen weak by going to his bunker, DDT has made the White House into a fortress with tall security fencing and concrete barriers for 1.7 miles around the white House. 

On the same day of DDT’s disastrous photo-op at a church, Ivanka Trump, possibly responsible for the tear gas clearing of the Washington, D.C. peaceful protest for her father’s photo-op, tweeted, “Less hate, more love!” for LGBTQ Pride Month. Her responses were less than positive. DDT refuses to issue a Pride proclamation, but his campaign is trying to make money for a MAGA t-shirt with rainbow-colored letters.

DDT, the great opposer of mail-in ballots who always votes by mail, seems to be homeless when it comes to voting. He gave up his home in New York City to declare residency in Florida where he can’t declare Mar-a-Lago as his residence because it’s a club. DDT’s solution was to use the White House as the address for his ballot although he says his residence is in Florida. That’s voter fraud

Barr is so desperate to please his boss he made up a story about foreign countries printing and mailing phony absentee ballots without detection but couldn’t provide evidence. In multiple states, election officials said such a scenario is virtually impossible because of security protections—unique tracking bar codes, tally marks, matching signatures, regulation envelopes, etc.

In the world of COVID-19, the U.S. has 1,965,708 cases and 111,390 deaths on June 5. The small coastal town where I live has picked up 17 new cases since the county began to open and allow tourists. The number is small, but it’s a 170-percent increase over the first three months of cases in the state. Eighteen states have reported spikes in the number of infections.

May 31, 2020

Week 175 – Sunday Good News

In the midst of protesting George Floyd’s killing throughout at least 75 cities where police attack and arrest law-abiding reporters, one place in the United States provides a model of reaction to demonstrations. In Flint (MI), a sheriff and his officers put down their riot gear and joined with protesters. Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson (left) told the crowd marching on the Flint Township police station he wanted to hear them. He added he and his officers are in service of their demands and their protest. The leaders talked with Swanson, and law enforcement joined with protesters to “make this a parade, not a protest.”

Local photographer Leni Kei Williams documented the event in a photo essay posted to Facebook. He wrote about the inception of the interaction:

 

“When we reached the police station, the officers were lined up and everyone immediately took a knee. The Sheriff asked one question… ‘We are mad too! What can we do?’ and the crowd responded, ‘Join us.’”

“You got little ones here, you got dogs,” the sheriff said to the crowd in remarks caught on camera. “So listen, I’m just telling you, these cops love you. That cop over there, hugs people. So you just tell us what to do.”

Later, Swanson said:

“We can’t forget on all our police cars across the nation it says, ‘protect and serve.’ That means all people, that means all people deserve the same dignity. If you can’t call out what’s wrong, try to make it right. And that’s the magic we saw tonight. Nobody’s arrested, nobody got hurt. This is how it’s supposed to be.

“This is the way it’s supposed to be—the police working with the community. When we see injustice, we call it out on the police side and on the community side. All we had to do was talk to them, and now we’re walking with them. … The cops in this community, we condemn what happened. That guy [who killed George Floyd] is not one of us.”  

More of Williams’ photographs.

Similar actions happened in Camden (NJ), Coral Gables (FL), Santa Cruz (CA), Norfolk (VA), and probably other areas.

As DDT grows more desperate in his opposition to mail-in ballots, including raving about bands of children stealing ballots from mail boxes to get them signed and mailed in, a large majority of people in the nation, including 57 percent of Republicans, want mail-in ballots. We all feel we can safely cast our votes without long lines or dangers of crowded places. A new Brennan Center poll finds 80 percent of U.S. people, 90 percent of them registered to vote, want all voters to have the option of mail ballots for the 2020 election.  A Reuters poll found 65 percent of Republicans want the mail ballot option. In addition, two-thirds of people in a poll want voting available for as long as two weeks to eliminate long lines. Republicans are also creating organizations supporting mail ballots, for example former Pennsylvania GOP governor Tom Ridge who has co-founded “VoteSafe.” 

Ridge’s definition of democracy differs from Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons who said, “If you don’t [feel safe], don’t go out and vote.” He’s the same guy who passed on the question about who was responsible for the massive crowds at the Lake of the Ozarks who kept gathering because the county said it was the state’s responsibility. With an answer fitting every question, Parsons said, “It is what it is.” And about the tragic death of George Floyd, Parsons said, “It didn’t look too good.” [Parsons may not fit the “good” part of Sunday’s blog post, but his comments are too good to pass up.]

The Texas absentee voting lawsuit is still ping-ponging through the courts. State AG Ken Paxton wants mail-in ballots greatly restricted, but people want to maintain social distancing by voting from home. The latest state Supreme Court ruling is that concern about COVID-19 is insufficient to obtain a mail-in ballot. But the news for people isn’t all bad. The court also decided voters can assess their personal health to see if they have a disability, defined as a “sickness or physical condition” preventing a voter from appearing in person without the risk of “injuring the voter’s health.” Voters are also not required to explain what their disability is; they just check the box on the application form. And Paxton cannot prevent local election officials from sending ballots to voters who cited lack of immunity to the virus.

In an attempt to exonerate Michael Flynn and DDT, Congress released what the media calls “transcripts” of Flynn’s communications with then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak when Flynn personally negotiated with a foreign country while Barack Obama was president. The conversations followed President Obama’s sanctions on Russia because of the country’s interference in the U.S. 2016 election. Flynn asked Kislyak to be “even-keeled” about the president’s punishment because “we can have a better conversation” about the relationship between U.S. and Russia after DDT’s inauguration. What has been released is enough of a condemnation of Flynn, who lied to the FBI in denying details of the conversation and undercutting a sitting president. Rep. Adam Schiff (R-CA) said the conversations also prove Flynn liked to VP Mike Pence. DDT had fired Flynn for his lies and admitted Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The released material, however, is only a summary of the interactions with some quotation—transcripts of every part of their conversations. DDT’s allies are still claiming Flynn did nothing wrong, and AG Bill Barr called Flynn’s actions “laudable.”

After protests from media such as The Rachel Maddow Show and legislators including Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Gary Peters (D-MI) and Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Max Rose (D-NY), DDT extended the deployment of over 40,000 National Guard troops fighting COVID-19 through mid-August. He originally removed the deployment on June 24, 89 days, to refuse Guard troops any federal retirement and education benefits. Earlier deployment would also have caused problems for states depending on the Guard in new hot spots caused by reopening economies. Troops help understaffed and underfunded public health agencies with testing, contact tracing and other health services. Deploying on June 24 would have meant troops would leave by Jun 10 to quarantine for two weeks. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and National Guard Chief General Joseph Lengyel endorsed an extension last week, and 42 governors sent DDT a letter demanding continued federal support for the Guard.

Paul Manafort got out of prison because of COVID-19. So did Michael Cohen. But DDT wanted to leave all the other prisoners in danger of infection in place despite a virus hot zone in a federal prison in Ohio. For once, the Supreme Court disagreed—at least temporarily—with DDT. 

Late Friday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to reject a California church’s challenge to the restrictions intended to protect people’s health. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that Gov Gavin Newsom could impose these restrictions because he didn’t single out specific places of worship. The court also turned down a request for Illinois churches to reopen. Both states had already removed some restrictions and permitted in-person services on last Sunday’s Pentecost, 50 days after Easter.

In the midst of DDT’s fight with Twitter, one of his judges rejected a lawsuit alleging Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Google conspired to silence conservative voices. Right-wingers accused the four companies of stifling First Amendment rights. Washington, D.C. appeals court Judge Trevor McFadden said First Amendment rights regulates the government, not the private sector and the plaintiffs didn’t prove the companies are “state actors.”

Opponents of Keystone XL and other pipelines picked up another victory from the 9th Circuit Court in a ruling that upheld a lower court ruling suspending a federal fast-track permit for the tar sands project. The court’s ruling stated the government and fossil fuel companies behind the project “have not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits and probability of irreparable harm to warrant a stay pending appeal.” This decision followed a U.S. district court in Montana which ruled DDT’s Army Corps of Engineers violated the Endangered Species Act when it used the fast-track “Nationwide Permit 12.”

The League of Women Voters of Michigan has the right to be interveners in a lawsuit attempting to stop the mandate for Detroit to conduct an aggressive purge of voters, some of them most likely eligible because of the questionable and unsubstantiated data used in the process. The purge risks removing voters with similar names and allegedly “deceased” voters who are still alive. The League asserts federal law doesn’t require purges from third parties using questionable data, Detroit meets federal law requirements, and the process would threaten voters’ rights.

Twenty-three U.S. states, four cities, and the District of Columbia are suing DDT’s administration for weakening fuel efficiency standards. The lawsuit also pits auto manufacturers against each other: GM, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and others support DDT, and Ford, Honda, BMW, and other automakers oppose him.

President Trump’s job approval sank to 42 percent last week in a two-year low from the highly conservative Rasmussen poll. During several days of protesting, DDT’s rating dropped four points from the previous Friday.

May 29, 2020

DDT: Week 175 – Creation of a Banana Republic

Over 100 years ago, U.S. writer O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) coined the term “banana republic” in describing the fictional Republic of Anchuria. A century later, the term expanded from being a small country economically dependent on a single export commodity to one which is poor, corrupt, and badly ruled, typically by a dictator or the armed forces. Since the election of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), the United States, although a large country, has grown closer dto fitting this description, and this week puts the U.S. on the edge of Banana Republic classification.

On Memorial Day, a police officer, now discharged and arrested, killed George Floyd while at least three other police officers watched. The former officer pressed down on Floyd’s neck with his knees for over eight minutes. Floyd cried out “I can’t breathe” until he lost consciousness after a little more than five minutes. He died because he literally could not breathe. Floyd had complied with police requests after he tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. National protests followed the lack of action regarded the police officer’s crime. Video from the store shows that Floyd did not resist.

This morning, black/Latino CNN reporter Omar Jimenez (left), his producer Bill Kirkos, and his Latino photojournalist Leonel Mendez were arrested by several white Minnesota state police officers while the video was playing live on air. Police claimed crew refused to move when instructed, but the video footage shows only courtesy on the part of Jimenez. Later, the state patrol tweeted an insinuation that they didn’t know the men were reporters. The three men were wearing CNN identification, and Jimenez politely explained to the police that he was standing where they had told him to be. Jimenez said that he would go anyplace that they told him, but they handcuffed him and led him away. The police refused to answer his question about why he was being arrested before they arrested Kirkos and Mendez. The camera, still running, chronicled the arrest

At the same time, white CNN correspondent Josh Campbell was reporting about a block away. He said that the police were “polite” when they asked him the name of his outlet. The arrested men were released about an hour later after the Gov. Tim Walz intervened and apologized to CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker. Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis city council vice-president, told CNN in an interview that the arrest was another example of systemic racism and asked local and state officials to declare racism in Minnesota a public health emergency.

Since his inauguration, DDT has been complaining about the media violating the First Amendment by publicizing facts about him. The arrests of Jimenez, Kirkos, and Mendez are a real violation of the First Amendment.

Yet DDT whines about Twitter stifling his free speech because the company suggested a fact-check on the outrageous lies DDT tweets about mail-in voting. DDT has not talked to Floyd’s family, but he did have time to tweet about the protesters, calling them “THUGS” and blaming the events on “the very weak Radical Left Mayor.” In the same tweet, he threatened to kill protesters: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter responded with a warning that reads:

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

Twitter followers can read the tweet by clicking on the warning but cannot, like, dislike, or retweet the message. Thus far, DDT seems to have backed down from an attack on Twitter, merely tweeting that looting can lead to shooting. The weekend isn’t over, however.

DDT has a history of glorifying racist protesters, beginning almost three years ago when he called violent white supremacists in Charlottesville (VA) “very good people.” When protesters who tried to open up all business in Michigan carried assault-like rifles and broke into the capitol, DDT told Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to give them what they wanted. He praised them as “very good people.” He may be partially correct about the term “thugs.” Members of the “boogaloo movement”—gun enthusiasts who have found a home with white supremacists—have decided to infiltrate the protests about the killing of George Floyd, perhaps to encourage a race war. The boogaloo-ers were behind the protests in Michigan. Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher at the ADL Center on Extremism in Chicago said:

“There’s two versions of boogaloo. There’s the white supremacist burn society down and build a white ethno-stage. And then there’s the anti-government resist tyranny at all costs, and if it creates a civil war, so be it version.”

Yesterday, DDT signed a threatening executive order that may lack any power. It claims to remove immunity from lawsuits against Twitter for removing conservative tweets after Twitter posted a suggestion to fact-check his rabid lies about mail-in voting.  Although studies show he is wrong, DDT firmly believes that mail-in voting favors Democrats and will make all Republicans lose in the fall election. He tweeted:

“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives [sic] voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”

DDT’s frantic behavior comes from his losing to Joe Biden in the polls. He’s setting up the scene to be the victim if Biden wins the votes in the electoral college to become president. Four years ago, DDT shouted at his rallies that the election was “rigged.” Once he won the electoral votes, he quit mentioning a “rigged” election until his polls looked bad.  DDT’s fixer Michael Cohen said:

“Given my experience working for Mr. Trump. I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

As always, DDT was careful with his language: his order directed federal officials to examine Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. In the same way, the media reported that he opened up all the meatpacking plants when he told Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to tell them to follow OSHA. DDT’s order did state that companies could lose legal protection from lawsuits if they restrict the views that can be expressed on their websites. According to the order, online platforms “are engaging in selective censorship that is hurting our national discourse.”

Legal experts disagree with the order’s premise. Conservative legal UCLA scholar Eugene Volokh said:

“Twitter, Facebook and the like are immune as platforms regardless of whether they edit, including in a politicized way. Like it or not, this was a deliberate decision by Congress.”

The order tells the FCC to draft regulations regarding actions to expose Twitter to liability if it would “restrict speech in ways that do not align with those entities’ public representations about those practices.” About this demand, Eric Goldman, who teaches internet law at Santa Clara University, said:

“The FCC has no authority over this, because Congress hasn’t delegated that authority.”

Goldman added:

“The First Amendment protects those words that Twitter added. It means Twitter can say that there are additional facts that readers should consider.”

Marc Rasch, an expert on internet law at Kohrman, Jackson and Krantz, said websites are private entities and therefore can restrict content in the same way shopping malls can keep out protesters.

DDT’s regulation could backfire if social media protects themselves by deleting posts or blocking users. 

The complaints about Twitter in DDT’s executive order project DDT’s own actions. These objections about Twitter describe the way DDT operates and benefits:

  • “Hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet [to] exercise a dangerous power.”
  • “Shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.”
  • “Flaunt[ing] his political bias in his own tweets.”
  • “Profiting from and promoting the aggression and disinformation spread by foreign governments.”
  • “Use … power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.”
  • “Engage in deceptive or pretextual actions … to stifle viewpoints with which they disagree.”
  • “Problematic vehicles for government speech due to viewpoint discrimination, deception to consumers, or other bad practices.”
  • “Unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.”
  • “Suppress content … based on indications of political alignment or viewpoint.”

DDT’s demands against mail-in ballots may already cause him problems: the Pennsylvania GOP fears offending DDT by promoting mail-in ballots. All people in the state can vote by mail without a reason, and the GOP pushed the practice—until now. As of yesterday, about 1.3 million registered Democrats requested mail ballots for the June 2 primary election, compared with about 524,000 Republicans, only 29 percent of the requests from the GOP that represents 38 percent of registered voters.  

Meanwhile, 104,542 have died of COVID-19, and the number of confirmed cases is spiking, almost at 1.8 million by today, May 29.

May 1, 2020

DDT Does Nothing about COVID-19, Brags about It

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 9:21 PM
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The first 100 disastrous days of do-nothing Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in his non-response to COVID-19. A must read!

At her first formal press briefing today, Kayleigh McEnany’s biggest news was that she wouldn’t lie to journalists. Mostly she stuck to spin, misrepresentations, and (possibly) ignorance of the facts, but 15 minutes after her claim, she lied, calling the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh in his Senate confirmation for Supreme Court hearings “verifiably false.” The last White House press briefing was one year, one month, and three weeks ago.

DDT has declared himself a success regarding the virus, claiming that he had saved hundreds of thousands of lives through “aggressive response.” Last week, he considered fewer than 60,000 deaths a success. When the number went above 60,000, he switched to a success of under 100,000 deaths. If the U.S. continues its daily average of 2,000 or more deaths, DDT will be forced to again change his goalposts in under three weeks. DDT said:

“The testing and the masks and all of the things, we solved every problem. We solved it quickly. It’s been really spectacular. So, yeah, I don’t think anybody has done a better job with testing, with ventilator, with all of the things that we’ve done. And death totals, our numbers per million people are really very, very strong. We’re very proud of the job we’ve done.”

DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner joined him in crowing about the “success” of COVID-19 on the day that the economy contracted (aka dropped) by 4.8 percent in the first quarter with much worse results predicted for the second. May 1, the confirmed cases are 1,131,452 and deaths, 65,776. A prediction of deaths two days ago was 73,000, a total possibly reached in the first week of May. Kushner said on Fox & Friends:

“The federal government rose to the challenge, and this is a great success story. And I think that that’s really, you know, what needs to be told.”

The White House Gift Shop is selling commemorative coin for only $125 to demonstrate DDT’s only “success” during his first term. Another coin in the collection has DDT’s face. Advertising states the coin “symbolizes the genius level thinking & proven successes of President Donald J. Trump.” DDT’s campaign also plans to advertise COVID-19 with a red face mask

Afraid of what Dr. Anthony Fauci knows, DDT is blocking him from testifying before an Appropriations Committee about the administration’s response to the pandemic now. Maybe another time.

The federal government believes that the death rate will continue to be “really very, very strong”: it has ordered over 100,000 more body bags—the biggest order on April 21, the day after DDT said the COVID-19 death toll might not be over 50,000 or 60,000 people. At the same time, FEMA opened bidding for 200 rented 53-feet refrigerated trailers throughout the country. Each one would be 3,600 cubic feet; a human body is 1.76 cubic feet. Although Republicans follow DDT’s lead in saying that COVID-19 is no worse than the annual flu, the U.S. doesn’t normally have bodies lying around in U-Haul trucks; rent large numbers of refrigerated truck trailers; and order hundreds of thousands of body bags in a few months for one disease. 

A requirement for opening up businesses and states is extensive testing. Contravening DDT’s claim that “testing is not going to be a problem at all,” FEMA and HHS listed these problems:

“Limited number of diagnostic supplies. Limited capacity of test facilities. Limited trained response personnel to administer the tests. Unknown epidemiological information regarding COVID-19. Access to testing sites by underserved areas and at-risk populations. Effective vaccines and therapeutics will not be available in sufficient quantities to meet the need. PPE is required by [medical countermeasures] developers and manufacturers.”

Tuesday, DDT said that the U.S. can carry out 5 million tests a day, but Brett Giroir, the federal testing official, said current technology doesn’t allow that number. In the U.S., a total of five million people have been tested since March 21—40 days. When the Senate returns to Washington, D.C. in a couple of days, there aren’t enough tests for those 100 people.

DDT refuses to tell where his administration sends supplies for the COVID-19 response and permits six multi-billion medical supply companies receiving taxpayer money to block the data. Also secret is information about financial terms with these companies that reported over $2 billion in profits last year. The White House has also ordered all resource request forms from state, local, and private-sector officials to be routed though the White House.

Maryland first lady Yumi Hogan (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

The federal government is still stealing supplies ordered by state and local governments, but in one case it failed. DDT was furious with Maryland’s governor Larry Hogan who finalized a purchase of 500,000 test kits from South Korea because DDT believes that all COVID-19 belong to him. Yumi Hogan, the governor’s wife who was born in South Korea, used her native language to negotiate the sale of the kits to Maryland. The Hogans and members of the state National Guard met the chartered 777 Korean Air flight at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to take the kits and lock them up in an undisclosed place where the Guard is still watching over them. Larry Hogan said: 

“The administration made it clear over and over again they want the states to take the lead, …, and that’s exactly what we did.”

The federal government succeeded in hijacking one million N95 masks for firefighters in a Florida program to test people in their homes if they cannot get to drive-through testing. The company told them that the federal government took them, according to Frank Rollason, director of Emergency Management for Miami-Dade County. FEMA denied that they had seized any PPE from hospitals, states, or local governments but then said they seize the supplies “from individual bad actors and businesses hoarding PPE.” Yes, and from governments.

While DDT constantly denies that hospitals have any supplies shortages, Richard Stone, in charge of the VA healthcare, admitted that the country’s largest health-care system has a serious shortage because masks and other supplies were diverted to what Jared Kushner calls “our stockpile.” FEMA ordered vendors to send the masks to them instead of the VA. After VA Secretary Robert Wilkie begged, FEMA gave VA ten percent of their order so that employees working with COVID-19 could have more than one mask a day.

ProPublica has an in-depth piece on VA’s effort to find six million N95 respirators, the dissolving of a $34.5 million deal to get them to the VA hospitals, and the deaths of 20 VA staff from COVID-19 without the masks. The company given the procurement contract was inexperienced, and the VA agreed to a 350 percent markup for the costs of the masks. This contract wasn’t an isolated instance: DDT’s administration has paid $5.1 billion in no-bid contracts for COVID-19 supplies. Yet the VA has awarded most large contracts to little-known vendors for orders in which local, state, and federal agencies bid against each other. The end of the exposé:

“On the up side, the VA paid no money to [the company promising to procure masks for the VA] …

“As of [April 29], more than 2,200 VA employees had tested positive for COVID-19.”

New York wasn’t as fortunate. Based on advice from the White House coronavirus task force, the state paid an electrical engineer in Silicon Valley, Yaron Oren-Pines, $69 million for ventilators but never received them. Oren-Pines had tweeted the task force he could make the ventilators for $47,656 apiece—at least three times the going price for ventilators.

DDT blamed Sweden’s large mortality rate for no “lock-down. Late last month, he called on states to “liberate” its resident by lifting shelter-in-place and said he would not continue that recommendation in the U.S.

According to DDT, however, the people who go to Michigan to force their way into the capital with assault rifles and without masks, who violate the social distancing policy and scream at law enforcement, are “very good people.” As satirist Andy Borowitz wrote In “Michigan Governor Arrogantly Forcing Residents to Remain Alive,” satirist Andy Borowitz wrote:

“In a blistering takedown, Attorney General William Barr said the governor was ‘depriving Michiganders of their constitutionally enshrined right to die before their time.’”

The protests came the day after a Michigan court ruled that stay-at-home directives do not violate residents’ constitutional rights. In Kentucky, COVID-19 cases spiked after a week of protests.

 It’s Election Year, and DDT’s blame game goes on while he does nothing to contain the coronavirus.

DDT also declares he will retaliate against China for deliberately creating COVID-19 in a lab, something that U.S. intelligence agencies said did not happen after an investigation. Nevertheless, DDT believes the conspiracy theory and sent his agents to find “proof.” Under DDT’s orders, U.S. officials are exploring demands of financial compensation from China or considering not paying back debts to them. DDT also considers stripping China of “sovereign immunity” so that the U.S. government and virus victims can sue China, an action that might be illegal or require congressional approval. This threat came after DDT’s accusation that President Obama was responsible for “broken tests” for a virus that wasn’t discovered three years after DDT was elected.

DDT wants to go to Arizona this coming week. No doubt he’ll be back to rallying.

March 1, 2020

DDT Goes to India, Woos Taliban

Last week before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came home to the worst decline in the stock market since 2008 and the possibility of an epidemic in the U.S., he spent two happy days with another authoritarian. Jealous of the 50,000 audience for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston, DDT was promised a much bigger crowd during his stay on a trip to India. At a rally, 100,000 attendees cheered DDT before over one-third of them walked out of the cricket stadium during his speech. Another third left during Modi’s speech. In Ahmedabad, a city of six million, Modi failed to come up with the 10 million along the motorcade path, but he did provide costumed musicians, dancers, and a marching band on camels. [Visual Trump India]

During press conferences, DDT avoided Modi’s international condemnation for revoking the statehood of Muslims and establishing a religious test for new migrants to make India a Hindu nation and drive out the 200 million Muslims. DDT was supposed to talk “about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom” but instead skipped the subject. While police used tear gas and smoke grenades to disperse crowds in New Delhi, DDT spoke of India as a place where different faiths “worship side by side in harmony.” He ignored both the violence and the anti-Islam law. 

DDT may have hoped that his visit to the state of Gujarat would help him get donations and votes from influential Indian-Americans, It’s also the place where Modi tacitly supported the killing of over 1,000 people in 2002 in sectarian violence, almost 80 percent of them Muslims killed by Hindu mobs. George W. Bush banned Modi from visiting the U.S. because of his actions until he became prime minister in 2014. Like today’s sectarian violence, police didn’t intervene and sometimes joined in that attacks. Last week, over 30 people were killed in protests. George W. Bush banned Modi from visiting the U.S. because of his actions until he became prime minister in 2014. Both DDT and Modi achieved political power through inciting hatred of Muslims. The Delhi riots bear a strong resemblance to the ethnic pogrom in Gujarat almost two decades ago.

Modi, hurt by a steep economic downturn, can’t fulfill campaign promises on job creation. DDT imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from India that raised penalties on agricultural goods and restrictions on U.S. medical devices. DDT retaliated by removing India from a decades-old preferential trade program.

Michael Fuchs wrote:

“The leaders of the world’s two biggest democracies are pursuing dangerous, nationalist visions at odds with their countries’ founding values.”

Both DDT and Modi achieved political power through inciting hatred of Muslims. The Delhi riots bear a strong resemblance to the ethnic pogrom in Gujarat almost two decades ago.

Yasmeen Serhan echoed Fuchs’ statement about democracies moving to autocracies

“As the leaders of the world’s two largest democracies, their shared disregard for norms, disdain for dissent (from the media and elsewhere), and dedication to strengthening their own executive power at the expense of state institutions designed to curb it have made them emblematic of the democratic deterioration that has been taking place in recent years.

“A mainstay of autocratic rule is the consolidation of executive power…. Trump’s bid to extend his presidential authority in the U.S. has steadily increased over time, from his attempts to defy Congress and the Constitution over his hardline immigration policies to his impeachment-spurring efforts to withhold congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine. In both cases, Trump’s rationale was largely the same: to invoke presidential privilege or, in autocratic speak, to declare himself constitutionally above the law. White House withholding press briefings and attacking news outlets and journalists perceived as critical.

“But perhaps the most common trait among burgeoning autocrats in recent years is the growing appeal to populist and nationalist sentiment. This has been most pronounced in India through Modi’s efforts to transform the country from a secular democracy into a theocratic, nationalist one that dominates its minorities. In the U.S., Trump has made his nativist rhetoric about immigration a hallmark of his administration.”

In praising Modi, DDT may have thought he was criticizing China, but he described his own approach to ruling the U.S.:

“There is all the difference in the world between a country that seeks to claim power through coercion, intimidation and aggression, and a country that seeks to grow by setting its people free, and unleashing them to chase their dreams, and that is India.”

Protests have come from the Indian 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which grants amnesty to non-Muslim immigrants from three nearby Muslim-majority countries—Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh—who came to India before 2015 in an expansion of the 1951 National Register of Citizens. Assam, which borders Bangladesh, has been registering “Indian” citizens since the 1951 census but now works to expel Muslims as “foreigners.” To stay in the country, Muslims, unlike those of any other religion, must provide proof that their families migrated to India before 1971, the year that Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan and created a refugee crisis. Generations of Indian Muslims born and raised in India must produce their grandparents’ legal documents, which in many cases no longer exist, or leave.

Under DDT, the U.S. stripped Latinx of citizenship even if they were born in the U.S. and have birth certificates. Officials demand documents such as baptismal records and ask questions such as “Do you remember when you were born?” Some had passports revoked, put in deportation proceedings, and barred from returning to the U.S. if they visited Mexico. The project began on the southern border but moved north to central states. DDT’s Muslim bans also draw parallels to Modi’s driving Muslims out of India.

AG Bill Barr created a new office to denaturalize citizens who committed any crimes. The new section replaces the one investigating cases about revoking citizenship for those convicted of terrorism, war crimes, human rights violations, and sex offenses. Under President Obama, the office focused on people who falsified applications and committed major crimes. Since 2008, 228 denaturalization cases have been filed, 40 percent of them since 2017. In three years, case referrals have increased 600 percent. Under DDT, the process may be used against people who make misstatements on the application.

Human rights lawyer Arjun Sethi called DDT and Modi the “worst kind of fascists.”

“Both Modi and Trump have criminalized minority communities, championed fake news and persecuted dissent, promoted supremacist ideologies, and played on the racism and anxiety of dominant communities.”

DDT’s visit to India also brought up his business ventures, the most in any country except the U.S. His India ventures include four luxury residential projects and an office tower branded with the Trump name under licensing deals. Since DDT’s last visit to India in 2014, one of DDT’s business has been accused of massive fraud, and the other faces a funding crunch. Both of them have close ties to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. 

The week concluded by the U.S. and the Taliban signing an agreement that would begin the complete withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops from Afghanistan over 14 months after over 18 years, the longest war on foreign soil. The text is here. Estimates of that war cost for the U.S. is almost $8 trillion by 2050. Secretary of State Pompeo said that the Afghans need to determine the future of their country, but no Afghans were at the table for the negotiation. It was entirely one-sided by the Taliban with the U.S. running the show.

According to the agreement, the Taliban will break off ties to terror groups, but nothing was said about human rights—oppression of females and harsh punishments exacted against anyone for petty offenses. The Taliban agreed that Afghan soil will not be used by terrorists to attack the United States or its allies, but it does not have control over areas outside Afghan hands. Several factions, including ISIS, control areas and could grow stronger without U.S. troops. Former national security adviser John Bolton wrote:

“Legitimizing Taliban sends the wrong signal to ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists, and to America’s enemies generally.”

The deal stipulates that the badly-split Afghan government must organize a negotiating team to begin talks with the Taliban by March 10. On the same day, before any talks, thousands of Taliban prisoners held by Afghans must be released in exchange for 1,000 Taliban-held members of the Afghan security forces. Twenty-two GOP lawmakers have issued a warning letter to Pompeo and DOD Secretary Mark Esper that the Taliban has “a history of extracting concessions in exchange for false assurances.” 

Under DDT, the U.S. signed an agreement with an officially listed terrorist group, the Haqqani Network, which has a campaign of suicide bombings. The Network’s leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is the Taliban’s deputy leader and military commander. A day before the signing ceremony, the Taliban’s multimedia chief described it as a historic landmark for proclaiming “the defeat of the arrogance of the White House in the face of the white turban.” Pompeo indicated that he doesn’t trust the Taliban to live up to the agreement; DDT said he wants to meet with them.

We have ten days to see any success. 

July 6, 2018

GOP Values: Separate Children from Parents, Charge People Higher Prices with Tariffs

Last week, Alexander Azar, HHS Secretary, told a Senate committee last week that the process is simple:

“I could at the stroke of—at keystrokes, I sat on the ORR Portal with just keystrokes and within seconds could find any child in our care for any parent available.”

The day after Azar explained the simplicity of reunification, a federal judge ordered ICE to stop most family separations and reunify the already separated ones. The parents were to have contact by phone by July 6, today, and all children five years old and younger, assumed to be about 100, were to be returned to parents by July 10. The other minor children were to be returned by July 26. The process of reunification seems to be more difficult than Azar claimed. Records linking children have disappeared with some of them destroyed, and the two federal agencies in charge of the separated children and parents haven’t shared records. The HHS solution is to find volunteers to search through 12,000 case records to confirm identities, locations, and connections. When children were separated from their parents, many of them were sent thousands of miles away, and the mothers and fathers were also separated from each other. Many children are also too young and/or frightened to speak.

Four days before the deadline to reunify 100 children under six with their parents, the government asked for an extension because they cannot find parents for half the parents by the deadline. The DOJ hasn’t found parental identification for 19 of the 102 children. Another 38 parents can’t be found—half them somewhere in the U.S. and the other half deported. DOJ wants DNA identification as proof of biological child/parent relationship and vetting that the parents will be fit parents, but the judge sees no necessity if parents arrived at the border with their children.

The judge did offer to delay the deadline for the youngest children if the government provides a list of all children and their parents’ status by Monday morning. He also asked for a status conference over the weekend. The DOJ lawyer, representing the failed agencies, cannot attend a conference. Why? She has “dog-sitting” responsibilities in Colorado that keep her from appearing at a meeting about the status of 100 infants and toddlers involuntarily separated from their parents at the Mexico border. This action represents the status of the U.S. GOP; dog-sitting supersedes reunification of families after children have been torn from their parents.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) failed to buy one of the available sites for his Trump Hotel so Atlanta attorney Loren Collins bought it. TrumpHotels.org shows life at DDT’s “home” for migrant children kidnapped from their parents during the past few months. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) inspired the concept with his tweet, “The real Trump hotel,” accompanied by the photo of a detention facility in McAllen (TX) used as the website header. Collins said he would give DDT the site “in exchange for 10 years of his tax returns and the termination of 25 NDAs of my choosing.” TrumpHotels.org also links to articles showing articles such as DDT’s ridicule of a disabled reporter, his attacks on Mexico, and his unhappiness about parenting.

Collins is a conservative who ran as a Republican candidate for the George state House. Yet his writing shows his dissatisfaction with DDT’s policies, demonstrated in his book about critical thinking and conspiracies, Bullspotting: Finding Facts in the Age of Misinformation. Collins wrote:

“Even if you take all of his ill-defined political beliefs out of the picture, he’s still an ignorant, intemperate, foolish, gullible, intellectually incurious, pathologically dishonest conspiracy theorist who is utterly unqualified for the job of running a country. And every day since he’s taken office, he’s demonstrated how ill-suited he is for a job that demands diplomacy and considered thought.

“Which is why he not only managed to unnecessarily create this current border fiasco, but he cannot even appear that he has any real empathy for the people involved or has given any serious thought to how to remedy it. Instead, as always, he blames others and passes the buck, while he spends time holding rallies and insulting Jimmy Fallon on Twitter.”

DDT proves Collins’ description with his accelerating trade war through the world. The U.S. placed the first duties on $34 billion of Chinese goods today, China accused the U.S. of violating World Trade Organization rules, and DDT claimed that he will put tariffs on all products from China. Soybeans, corn, pork, seafood, and poultry are a few of the U.S. goods that China will target with tariffs. In return, DDT threatened to put tariffs on every Chinese import. Meanwhile, China is holding up shipments from the United States.

Defense Secretary James Mattis wrote that the Pentagon was concerned “about negative impact on our key allies” from the tariffs. Another concern is higher costs for weapons and infrastructure. Other countries could also stop defense purchases from the U.S.

DDT wants legislation to ditch World Trade Organization rules and maybe even WTO itself that would give DDT more control on U.S. trade policy by renegotiating with countries and applying tariffs. The plan follows DDT’s wish to withdraw from WTO. http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/team-trump-drafts-radical-economic-bill-unfortunately-crude-name?cid=eml_mra_20180702  DDT’s proposed legislation is the Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act (FART).

One person who won’t suffer from DDT’s trade war is DDT himself. Chinese government-backed firms will continue work on two large developments in Dubai and Indonesia that include DDT’s name. He will be paid to operate his second golf course in Dubai and for the use of his name. DDT’s partner in Indonesia is building a DDT-branded golf course, hotels, and villas, a separate contract from DDT’s planned project in Indonesia. One of China’s top state-owned banks pays $2 million annually for the 20th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan. Ivanka Trump will continue to get blouses, shoes, and handbags from Chinese assembly line workers.

In another attempt to make more money, DDT has called for further lowering the corporate tax rate another percent to 20 percent. Other than businesses becoming wealthier, no one has been helped by the six-month old tax cut. The Dow Jones is lower than it was then, wages are at the same pace, and a few people got small one-time bonuses. The majority of people have a negative view of the tax cuts.The greater the tax cuts, the more Republicans can moan about the deficit and use it to remove the safety net along with Social Security and Medicare.

Other major events of the week deserving longer examination are the resignation of Scott Pruitt and the continuing investigation of the Russian scandal. In an attempt to bury its news, the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on Russia’s election interference late the day before the Fourth of July. The bipartisan effort concluded that the U.S. intelligence agencies were correct in their findings that Russia tried to help DDT win the presidential election and intended to “denigrate” and “harm” Hillary Clinton as well as “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process” while helping Trump. The committee also supported the intelligence agencies findings that Russia’s tactics included cyberattacks and intelligence collection “against the U.S. primary campaigns, think tanks, and lobbying groups they viewed as likely to shape future U.S. policies.” There was “no politically motivated pressure to reach any conclusions,” according to the report. The Committee will be releasing a final report to contain information about the possibility of collusion between the campaign and Russia.

At the same time, seven GOP senators and a representative spent the Fourth of July in Russia wooing its officials.

In June, DDT proved himself inept at negotiating with North Korea. Kim Jung-Un got everything he wanted while continuing to build up his nation’s nuclear arsenal. DDT got nothing but still says that he thinks that Kim will keep his deal with DDT. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo feeds DDT’s ego by saying that Kim “made a personal commitment” and promising that North Korea will “denuclearize as quickly as we can achieve that.”

Now DDT is headed to a meeting with Putin in 11 days where he plans to give away more for nothing. National security adviser John Bolton said that DDT may recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. He also echoed DDT by saying that “Putin said…there was no meddling in 2016 by the Russian state,” something that a Senate Intelligence Committee disputes.

Before the Putin meeting, DDT will attend a NATO summit on July 11-12. He has already sent dunning letters to all the members indicating what they owe with an indication of “pay up or else.” His present for Putin the next week will be an attempt to destabilize Ukraine. DDT has already worked to unseat German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Friday the 13th will celebrate DDT’s meetings with UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II. Protests force him to see them at their homes outside London, Chequers and Windsor Castle. Two million people signed a petition asking May to cancel the “working visit,” a much less prestigious invitation than a formal state visit.

Protesters are planning to be in a number of places, including outside Chequers. DDT may not be directly exposed to the protesters, including the flying of the huge blimp, Trump Baby, but the world will be well aware of their presence. Demonstrations are also planned in Glasgow and Edinburgh when DDT travels to Scotland where he owns two golf courses. Only Vladimir Put supports DDT by now.

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.

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.

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