Nel's New Day

June 7, 2019

DDT: Week 124 – Didn’t Go Well

Since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his entourage departed England, their gain is the U.S. taxpayer loss. Although he reported stayed at the home of the U.S. ambassador to the UK, VIP rooms at InterContinental hotel on Park Lane, linked to Qatari royal family, cost over $1.2 million.  Another $339,386 was spent at the Hilton and on “passenger car rental.” The Churchill Hyatt Regency reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars, including almost $50,000 for a generator, and the Grosvenor House hotel charged at least $266,882 that included special voice and data cabling in the hotel suites. The Cumberland hotel got only $96,162, but the embassy contracts for chauffeured limousines ran $353,070. Total for this tip of the iceberg expenditures ran about $2.3 million. And then there’s the food, flights, other travel, and other perks of travel. All so that DDT and his family could embarrass the United States.  

After a week of disagreement with GOP legislators who threatened veto-proof legislation against taxing Mexican imports, DDT backed down with his claim that he reached an agreement with Mexico. There’s no indication that he got his way to stop all “illegal immigrants” from coming across the southern border, but he will present a spin that he is victorious. Fox will agree, and DDT’s supporters will believe him. Summer parties can continue now that the top four imports from Mexico—beer, avocadoes, tomatoes, and tequila—won’t be taxed on entry to the U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and GOP senators agreed that DDT was bluffing.

Everyone has always known that it’s all about DDT, but now he plans to prove it again with his own celebration of himself on July 4 and giving a campaign speech at the Lincoln Memorial.  He’s moved the fireworks display which adds to problems of crowd control. Forget a nonpartisan celebration of the Fourth of July.

DDT continues to tell current and former executive branch personnel to ignore House subpoenas to testify, and the House plans to vote on a resolution that authorizes civil enforcement of subpoenas in federal court and permit the House counsel to represent the chamber in litigation. Using DDT’s orders, fixer AG Bill Barr, former White House counsel Don McGahn, and former Communications Director Hope Hicks have already ignored House subpoenas. The resolution would move the issue to court without addressing the language of “contempt.” The House Oversight Committee may also hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt after they refused to turn over information about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Congress has discovered that DDT approved the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia twice after the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. DDT put off giving Congress the information for over two months about the timing of seven transfers of nuclear expertise to Saudi Arabia. Lack of congressional notification may put DDT in violation of the Atomic Energy Act. Saudis refuse to agree that it will not develop nuclear weapons.

Thanks to DDT, the U.S. company Raytheon will start building high-tech bomb parts in Saudi Arabia, leaving the possibility that the Saudis will acquire information about formerly closely-guarded technology. These are the weapons used to target civilians, leading President Obama to stop bomb sales to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Raytheon is shipping 120,000 precision-guided bombs to the coalition, adding to the tens of thousands of bombs that Saudi Arabia and UAE have stockpiled. As with all other of DDT’s unconstitutional decisions, he declared an emergency for giving Saudis U.S. technology.  

Too few regulations can be a serious problem for big business, as 17 major auto companies pointed out in a letter to DDT protesting his rollbacks to fuel-efficiency standards for the industry that allow less efficient vehicles and greater pollution. With the exception of Chrysler, the world’s largest automakers said his plans to weaken tailpipe pollution standards could cut profits and result in “untenable” instability for them. California and 13 other states won’t tolerate the reduction in standards so manufacturers have to build different cars for different places if they want to avoid fines for violating regulations in 28 percent of the states, possibly 50 percent of the population. List of 83 EPA rollbacks in the past 869 days to increase deaths and health problems as well as destroying the planet. Alaska makes over $2 billion a year from people looking at wildlife so DDT also plans to kill the animals in an expansion of trophy hunting.

DDT told Puerto Ricans to be grateful to him for the $19.1 billion disaster relief bill after he repeatedly blocked the bill because of aid to Puerto Rico. The 7.8 percent of the bill that the U.S. territory receives is a fraction of what the U.S. government promised—and failed to deliver—to Puerto Rico. DDT still doesn’t understand how Congress works. After GOP stalling for weeks and DDT’s obstruction, Congress passed the wall-free disaster relief bill in the House by 354-58 and 85-8 in the Senate. DDT tweeted that “House just passed the 19.1 Billion Dollar Disaster Aid Bill. Great, now we will get it done in the Senate!” Nope, it’s all done with a veto-proof vote. DDT later deleted his tweet, another violation of the public records law.

George Nader, former key witness to Robert Mueller’s investigation and member of DDT’s transition team for the Middle East and Russia, was arrested on child pornography charges in New York when he returned from Dubai. He had pled guilty to the same charges 27 years ago in Northern Virginia. Nadar organized a secret meeting in Seychelles among DDT’s associates, Blackwater founder and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ brother Erik Prince, and a Russian banker linked to Vladimir Putin in January 2017. Prince had tried to convince people that the meeting was just a chance encounter with the principals although they met a month later. In April 2017 Nader, an adviser to the United Arab Emirates, wired $2.5 million to a top DDT fundraiser Elliott Broidy through a company in Canada. 

The idiocy of hiding John McCain’s name on a ship from DDT while he was in Japan didn’t stop after he came back from Japan last week. The story went like this:

  • Reaction #1: Of course, no one would tell the Navy to move the ship “out of sight” before DDT’s trip to Japan.
  • Reaction #2: “I never would have done that,” tweeted DDT. But, he added, how accommodating that someone had done it.
  • Reaction #3: The Navy said it wasn’t a “fake” story; it had been asked to hide the USS John S. McCain but didn’t comply.
  • Reaction #4: Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney believes that “probably somebody on the advance team” had given an order to hide the ship, “not an unreasonable thing to ask.”
  • Reaction #5: Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told his chief of staff to tell the White House not to put the military in political situations, to “reaffirm his mandate that the Department of Defense will not be politicized.”

My favorite reaction:   

“Hey @realDonaldTrump, we read the story about the sailors on a US warship being ordered to hide from you because you’re triggered by the name on their hats. So we turned Madame Tussaud’s into a giant USS John McCain baseball cap. Welcome to London!”

There may have been comments in between these reactions. If DDT and White House officials didn’t lie so much, they wouldn’t have to lie to try to get out of trouble. Amazon is sold out of John McCain caps.

Only 75,000 jobs were added in May, and job count numbers for March and April dropped their totals 75,000, making an average of 164,000 job increases for 2019. Wage increases were lower than expected, staying close to the amount of inflation. Construction, mining, and manufacturing are largely flat, and retail is showing a loss. Manufacturing at the lowest level since DDT’s inauguration and last month the worst in almost a decade. U.S. manufacturing dropped to its lowest level since DDT was inaugurated, and last month was the worst month in almost a decade. Business owners and economists blame the slump on DDT’s trade wars around the world. The federal reserve is so desperate that it suggested a drop in interest rates, the only reason that the stock markets began to catch up on last week’s losses. JP MorganChase predicts a 40-percent chance this year for a recession, up from a 15-percent estimate the month before. Tax studies, including one from DDT’s alma mater Wharton, report that tariff taxes on consumers will wipe out any gains from tax cuts.

The commander-in-chief is now assigning U.S. military to painting duties. Displeased about the aesthetics of his wall at Calexico (CA), DDT sent service members for 30 days to paint it. And we need more taxpayer money for the military because?

October 20, 2018

GOP, DDT Try to Pull Cons

As midterm election fever ramps up, the Republicans become more desperate with the thought of losing. Because over half the population supports the Affordable Care Act, GOP candidates and their leader Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) have decided to pretend that they support coverage of pre-existing conditions on all health insurance.

Last Thursday, DDT tweeted:

“All Republicans support people with pre-existing conditions, and if they don’t, they will after I speak to them. I am in total support. Also, Democrats will destroy your Medicare, and I will keep it healthy and well!”

These GOP candidates claiming to supported coverage of pre-existing conditions voted against the Affordable Care Act, and some of them are involved in legal challenges to the law. With his executive order to change the ACA, DDT already permitted insurance companies to not allow pre-existing conditions. In addition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that the GOP plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act after the midterms and reduce Medicare to cover ballooning deficits from deep tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. The underlying GOP goal is to strip almost everyone in the United States of any safety net while taking all power and giving the nation’s resources to the wealthiest and big business.

In another serious problem for DDT, the horrific scandal of a reporter’s murder in Turkey won’t disappear. Saudi Arabia commonly kills dissidents, but the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is unique: he was a U.S. resident who was tortured, dismembered, and murdered in an embassy on foreign soil. DDT is also supporting Saudi Arabia in its fantasy explanation of the murder, appearing to act as a PR person for the Saudi royalty. Vali R. Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said:

“This is a drastic break from American practice. It signals a very different foreign policy that does not hold governments accountable for things that are outside normal legal or ethical parameters. In effect, the U.S. is setting a new standard for itself.”

Vladimir Putin is well aware of the new standard for the U.S. that represents a double standard—punish Russia for its killing of a Russian but reward Saudi Arabia for its killing of a U.S. resident. DDT has been very clear, however, that he won’t hold foreign countries accountable for human rights, and now that lack of concern impacts a murdered U.S. resident with three U.S. citizen children. Not addressing Khashoggi’s murder removes the U.S. from the high ground when China tells the West to stop its false regard for human rights.

In addition to taking Saudi’s assurance that Khashoggi’s death came from a “fist-fight,” DDT is accepting Putin’s guarantee that Russia didn’t interfere in U.S. elections and Kim Jong-Un’s pledge that North Korea will denuclearize. Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the U.S. policy of “trust but verify” has been changed to “trust but look away.”

Conservative commentator Max Book wrote about DDT:

“This is the president who said it’s “great” that Xi is declaring himself ruler for life, praised Duterte for the ‘unbelievable job’ he was doing ‘on the drug problem,’ congratulated Recep Tayyip Erdogan for winning a rigged referendum that spelled the death of Turkish democracy, and declared his ‘love’ for Kim Jong Un of North Korea. When confronted by Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes about Kim’s catalogue of crime — ‘repression, gulags, starvation’ — Trump was dismissive. ‘I get along with him really well,’ Trump said. ‘I have a good energy with him.’ He was equally blasé when Stahl asked him about reports that Putin is involved in ‘assassinations’ and ‘poisonings.’ He probably is, Trump conceded — but ‘it’s not in our country,’ so who cares? Britain can deal with Russian hit teams on its own.”

Boot concluded:

“This is a good time to be a dictator — and a dangerous time to be a dissident. Trump has given every despot on the planet a license to kill without worrying about the American reaction.”

Saudi Arabia has been paying for positive PR in the U.S. since 15 of 19 plane hijackers in the attack on the U.S. were Saudi nationals, but the amount of money poured into its effort escalated in 2017 to $27.3 million in lobbying alone after DDT’s inauguration to $27.3 million in lobbying alone. More money was given to universities, think tanks, and over 100 people registered as Saudi foreign agents in the U.S. who contacted media outlets over 500 times. The Saudis also had 45 contracts with FARA-registered firms. Agents contacted officials at the State Department almost 100 times in 2017 and over 200 congressional members with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) the most contacted. These congressional members received $390,496 for campaigns. In 2018, Saudi lobbyists fought to defeat a House bill that would end U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen, asking them to ignore the 10,000 civilians who were killed in Yemen.

DDT has been very upfront about how he is selling himself and the U.S. to gain money from the Saudis. And he has the blessing of fundamentalist Christians. Televangelist Pat Robertson wants people to “cool” it about the torture, dismemberment, and killing of Jamal Khashoggi because he’s just “one journalist.” What would Jesus do, according to Robertson? Profit from that probably nonexistant $100 billion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia so that they can kill thousands more civilians.

One reason that people voted for DDT was their belief that he is a great businessman. The New York Time researched proved that claim to be a myth, but he’s still bragging about his wonderful economy. Despite his cheerleading, cracks are appearing—the lowest housing sales in three years, retail sales down for the past two years, a volatile stock market, an increase in trade market deficits—some of the same signs that led to the deep recession of 2008, especially the falling housing prices that were the first evidence. George W. Bush failed to see the warning signs in 2006, just as DDT’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow thinks that the U.S. is booming. A few months before everyone became well aware of the 2008 recession, Kudlow said, “There is no recession coming.” Four months later, he wrote “The Therapeutic Power of Recessions.”

That recession didn’t have the problem of tariffs. A trade war with the U.S. already prompted luxury-car makers BMW AG and Daimler AG to warn about lower profits while Chinese consumers staying away from showrooms forced Jaguar Land Rover to temporarily shut a factory. Sales to Chinese dealerships fell for a third month in September. Steve Man, senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong, said that this slump may be the biggest that auto manufacturers experienced in China, the world’s largest car market. GM, VW, and Honda are also decreasing in deliveries, and carmakers may have to close factories.

DDT promised to balance the budget in one year. He didn’t. The deficit blew up to $898 billion in the 11 months through August, exceeding the Congressional Budget Office’s forecast for the first full fiscal year after DDT was inaugurated. DDT’s deficit for the 11 months was one-third higher than the $674 billion for the same time during the previous year. While revenue gained one percent to about $3 trillion, spending rose by seven percent to almost $3.9 trillion. Thanks to the new COP tax cut law, revenue from corporations dropped $71 billion from a year before to $163 billion. The annual budget for President Obama’s last three years was $500 billion. Thanks to the GOP and DDT’s law and policies, the nation’s debt is growing out of control.

DDT’s family con jobs seem to have trickled down to son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has paid almost no income tax from 2009 to 2016 while quintupling his assets to almost $324 million. For example, in 2015, he made $1.7 million but declared $8.3 million in losses from his self-identified “significant depreciation” on real estate because the law allows scams with decline values on the books as properties appreciate. DDT, however, participated in illegal fraud to hide his and his family’s fortune from taxes.

DDT is so unpopular that the Trump name has been removed from a seventh building since DDT’s election, this one a condo tower at 200 Riverside Boulevard in Manhattan. Almost 70 percent of owners voted to take down the name after they were threatened with legal action 18 months ago when they made the decision. A judge ruled that the signage could go that’s what the residents wanted.

The Trump Ocean Club Panama also ripped DDT’s name off its sign after it evicted the Trump Organization. Ivanka Trump had lied about the number of units sold although the involvement of shell companies created difficulty in identifying why buyers had backed out. DDT’s family made millions on just this one project, an example of their system to lure investors into building projects and then walk away with the money when the projects collapse.

With his gullible base, DDT treats the United States like one of his scams, but most of us have no solution when he takes the money and leaves us bankrupt. And Congress will let DDT carry out his plans unless the electorate stops the GOP from controlling Congress. During the past half centuries, all the recessions have occurred while the president was a Republican with a supportive Congress.

September 10, 2012

Congress Returns–Briefly

The conventions are history, and Congress returns from its five-week vacation to go back into session today, at least for a few days. With almost 500 federal lawmakers up for re-election in 56 days, they’ll be gone in October to campaign, but they may disappear for part of September too.

Well-known for their procrastination and lack of commitment, Republicans need to get cracking on their six-month stopgap spending bill to keep the government functioning. House plans are to start today with a vote by Thursday. They can waste more time by discussing this again in another six months.

Federal farm programs are also due to expire on September 30, 2012, unless Congress does something about renewing them. The spending bill could include this extension, but food stamps are part of farm bill which might cause another stalemate. The Senate passed a five-year agriculture program last June, but as usual the House Republicans are dragging their collective feet especially with the disagreement about how much to cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Republicans may also let the farm bill expire so that they can blame the Democrats—as they do for everything—hoping to get more votes from farm states like Iowa.

Everyone might be better off if Congress does nothing about the farm bill. With no formal extension, food stamp and other nutrition programs continue, and most farmers will not be affected because the current farm bill covers 2012 crops no matter when they are harvested.

At the end of the week, the House Republicans will waste more time with a promised vote on the “No More Solyndras Act” bill which eliminates loan guarantees for solar and wind energy companies. The Senate probably won’t vote on it, but the House Republicans can look as if they’re doing something.

Meanwhile, the Senate may vote tomorrow about whether to debate a bill from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) to get jobs for veterans. It includes a veterans jobs corps to employ veterans as firefighters and police officers and in fields of conservation, recreation, and resource management projects on public lands. Republicans will push for an open amendment process for this bill to add everything including tax cuts. If they don’t get to do this, they may sulk and filibuster.

Some economists have warned of a recession without any Congressional action on a combination of the expiration of all Bush tax cuts and the impending across-the-board spending cuts. Again the two parties have opposing views. Republicans say they want everyone to have tax cuts, and Democrats want to renew them only for households netting less than $250,000 a year.

Another potential amendment could be replacing automatic defense spending cuts, known as sequestration, set to begin in 2013. Both parties agreed to these cuts last summer during the debacle of the debt ceiling crisis if a committee could not come to agreement regarding how to fix the deficit. Mitt Romney said yesterday that the Republicans were wrong to vote for this and blamed it all on the president. Romney’s VP pick, Paul Ryan, was one of those “wrong” voters although he’s tried to lie his way out of the situation. In an interview, Ryan said that he voted for the bill that did the cutting, but he did not vote for the cuts.

While disturbed about the defense cuts, military leaders, unlike Republicans, understand that the budget needs revenues as well as cuts. “I hope we can find a way to address the sequestration threat of Jan. 1,” Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said in Charlotte, N.C., where Democrats held their convention last week.  “It has to be done on a bipartisan basis … [and] it has to include revenues as well as spending cuts.”

Other pressing business for the lame-duck session include averting a 30-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare fees, passing the annual Pentagon policy bill, improving cyber security for the nation’s critical infrastructure, a Russia free-trade bill, and legislation to reform the Postal Service which may have to default on a $5.5 billion payment into its pension fund to cover people retiring 75 years from now.

Congress this year has managed to pass just 61 bills, the fewest number in more than 60 years. Last year, they passed 90 bills, down from 258 during the previous year. The average worker in the country has a median household income of about $50,000 compared to lawmakers’ salaries of $174,000 or more. At the same time, the average worker has 13 days of paid vacation; lawmakers have more than four months of recesses this year.

I’m waiting for the next anti-women bill from the Republicans. They’ve tried one each week during the 112th Congress.

Asides: On Meet the Press yesterday, Ann Romney said, “Mitt and I do recognize that we have not had a financial struggle in our lives. But I want people to believe in their hearts that we know what it is like to struggle.” This is a very different struggle from her description of it just two weeks ago in her speech at the GOP convention.

According to a study by Harvard economics professor David Cutler, the increased costs for seniors in the changes of Medicare would move as much as $16 to $26 billion to profits for insurance companies. Romney tried to discredit the study by saying that Cutler was once an advisor for President Obama.

The Associated Press FactCheck failed when it evaluated Joe Biden’s statement that 4.5 private-sector jobs have been created during the past 29 months. They agreed that this information was true but gave it a half-true because it omitted the time before that and didn’t include the 500,000+ jobs lost in the public sector. If fact checkers can’t based their opinions on facts, they should quit. Also small-government advocates complaining about unemployment should realize that they are getting what they ask for. Smaller government means less employment; the loss of public sector jobs during the current president is equivalent to the jobs that George W. Bush added during his eight years.

Ideally voting should be based on information, which makes the level of ignorance throughout the country truly frightening. A prime example of this comes a question in a recent Ohio poll about whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney deserves more credit for killing Osama bin Laden. (Some people may remember that Romney sneered at President Obama for his decision to find bin Laden, indicating that it was a waste of time.) Only 63 percent of possible voters gave the credit to the president; 6 percent thought Romney did it, and 31 percent didn’t know. The women were 2 percent more knowledgeable than men, and 86 percent of African-Americans knew it was the president compared to only 60 percent of Anglo-Americans. Only 38 percent of likely voters gave the president credit for killing Osama bin Laden, and the North Carolina percentage was lower at 29 percent. Frightening!

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