Nel's New Day

February 16, 2019

DDT: Week 108 – On Top of ‘Wall’

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:20 PM
Tags: , , ,

Throughout all the kerfuffle about passing the budget and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) declaring a national emergency to build his wall, the confirmation of Bill Barr for DOJ AG mostly slipped under the media radar. Although the vote was postponed a week, the GOP determination to scuttle the Russia investigation made the decision a given. Along with 51 Republicans, three Dems voted in favor of Barr: Doug Jones (AL), Joe Janchin (WV), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ).

Barr has consistently refused to guarantee that he will release Mueller’s report to the public and/or Congress without redactions and that he will not recuse himself from the investigation’s oversight on recommendation from the DOJ ethics counsel. He wrote a memo opposing the investigation and stating that the president is above the law. After the confirmation, Matt Schlapp, whose wife works in the White House, cheerfully tweeted, “Mueller will be gone soon.” Barr has been clear that Rod Rosenstein, the deputy AG who appointed special investigator Robert Mueller “will be gone soon.” In 1992, Barr’s support of six pardons, including Reagan’s Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger for lying to Congress, helped George H.W. Bush escape his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, thereby ending the investigation into U.S. support of terrorists in Nicaragua and sale of arms to Iran.

Those of us who thought that Barr’s taking over the DOJ gets rid of acting AG Matt Whitaker are destined to be disappointed: he’s now a senior counselor. Maybe he’ll help people with patents to make toilets for men with 14-inch penises as he did in the past. (Information about 5 minutes, 50 seconds into the video.)

DDT is still battling to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census. A federal district judge in Manhattan ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), that Ross’ decision was arbitrary and made in spite of evidence that the question would unconstitutionally depress census response rates. The judge considered only the 1,320 pages filed by the Commerce Department but noted that other evidence illustrates that Ross acted in bad faith. California and Maryland have other cases, independent from this one, and Ross is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee on March 14. The Supreme Court has agreed to consider citizenship question case, which has not appeared on decennial census forms for 70 years.

The search for the “leaker” of DDT’s schedule showing wide swaths of “Executive Time” seems to have lost traction while another four days of schedules were leaked with DDT spending 50 percent of his time television watching, idle phone calling, etc. DDT said that he’s “generally working, not relaxing” during this time, that he works “more hours than any past president” because the country was “a mess” when he moved into the White House. Later he said that “no president ever worked harder than me.” DDT’s new toy for his “Executive Time,” a room-sized golf simulator costing $50,000, lets him play 18 virtual holes while staying inside, useful during the shutdown while he bragged about staying off golf courses for 69 days.

If you want to destroy an institution, appoint a person who hates it. That’s what DDT did when he picked David Malpass to lead the World Bank after Jim Yong Kim abruptly quit in January. Chief economist for Bear Stearns when it collapsed from the subprime crisis in 2007 and 2008, Malpass wrote a few months before the recession that “neither the economy nor job growth has been dependent on housing.” He criticizes the World Bank because it creates “mountains of debt without solving problems.” Fortunately, the World Bank members, not the U.S., select the head of the organization.

Another way to destroy an agency is to for no one to serve on it. When the head of the Merit Systems Protection Board, which holds hearings for federal employee appeals of firings, demotions, suspensions, and alleged misconduct, leaves this month, the Board will have no members. Although courts can adjudicate cases, the Board can’t decide appeals. Last year, Congress passed a special statute allowing one person to grant relief in whistleblowing cases, but even that person will be gone. One suggestion is for the staff to make decisions without a board.

For the director of NOAA, DDT has re-appointed Barry Myers, the nonscientist who owned the for-profit AccuWeather, after the Senate didn’t confirm him last year. AccuWeather just paid $290,000 to partly settle charges of sexual harassment and hostile work environment for women. NOAA oversees the National Weather Service, which compiles data used by AccuWeather that previously limited what the Weather Service could make public so that they could make more money for the company to provide that information. In 2005, Myers donated to then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) who introduced legislation to curtain government competition with private weather services. Myers also lobbied to privatize the National Weather Service.

DDT nominated lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to replace the corrupt Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA, and Wheeler Energy, run by Bob Murray, cancelled its contract with Wheeler’s former lobbying firm. Murray may think he no longer needs a lobbyist; DDT pressured a public energy to keep its Kentucky power plant, Paradise #3, open although it is considered too expensive to operate. The plant gets its coal from Murray, a generous donor to Republicans. The TVA board, with four of seven members appointed by DDT, voted to close Paradise #3 with a 6-1 vote. At the same time, Wheeler is not necessarily a shoe-in for EPA director. Five GOP senators questioned Wheeler’s willingness to bend to oil industry interests over the Renewable Fuel Standard and waivers for small refineries. Wheeler can afford to lose only three of those senators.

The Fox reality show White House has added Lea Gabrielle to head the Global Engagement Center which fights foreign efforts to meddle in U.S. elections while exposing and countering disinformation from Russia and other governments. With no experience in information warfare, she fits with DDT’s other appointments and is perfectly poised to protect Russia. She may be going it alone because DHS has gutted two teams that were preparing to block Russia from its planned onslaught on the 2020 elections.

FEMA director Brock Long has quit with a “more time with his family” excuse, but bitter feuds with DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen may have been the reason. Nielsen may be grateful to see him gone so that she rip off more millions from FEMA for her deportations. Long may also have been avoiding an investigation into his misuse of government vehicles he used to travel to his North Carolina home.

Heather Nauert, assigned by DDT to be the UN ambassador without having her name formally submitted for confirmation, also quit after two months because of a former nanny who was or wasn’t in the country legally but was paid in cash and didn’t pay her taxes until Nauert insisted. She described her past two months as “grueling.”

Republicans are furious with the Democrats’ attempt to make a president’s tax return public. Is it possible that the GOP knows that DDT broke the law?

GOP members are also attacking Democrats for reducing voter suppression, complaining about what they called “radical ideas” such as automatic voter registration, restoration of voting rights for ex-felons, and public financing of campaigns. Almost one-third of the states have automatic voter registration and some form of public financing of campaigns; only 20 percent of the states refuse voting rights for ex-felons. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also described the idea of making Election Day a paid holiday as a “power grab”—unlike building a wall with a fake national emergency.

After DDT’s trade war with China, Midwest farmers are declaring bankruptcy at record rates because of DDT’s trade war—almost double in 2018 as in 2008.

Wealth concentration has returned to the levels of a century ago: the 400 wealthiest people in the U.S. have assets equal to 150 million people in the bottom 60 percent. These same 400 people have tripled their wealth in the past 30 years while the share of wealth held by the bottom 60 percent dropped from 5.7 percent in 1987 to 2.1 percent in 2014.

Energy Transfer brought a $900 million racketeering and defamation lawsuit against Greenpeace and others who fought the company’s pipeline projects. A federal judge just threw out the case and wrote, “Posting articles written by people with similar beliefs does not create a RICO enterprise,” and “Donating to people whose cause you support does not create a RICO enterprise.” Last month, another judge dismissed another similar case against Greenpeace by Resolute Forests Products.

DDT’s selection of a doctor for his physical this year was somewhat more circumspect than last year’s effusive Ronny Jackson, but the new one may also be covering for DDT. This year’s doctor is a “little concerned” about DDT’s inability to remember words, but the results of an accurate cognitive test probably won’t appear until many of us are long gone.

Joseph Trump, Melania Trump’s specially invited guest who claims that classmates bullied him because of his name, took some “Executive Time” at DDT’s State of the (Dis)Union Speech.

Holiday retail sales were the worst in nine years—since the last recession.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 60% of Americans oppose major new construction of walls along the U.S.-Mexico border, and 81% support a path to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

July 20, 2018

DDT’s Personnel: People Come, People Go

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 11:27 PM
Tags: , , ,

The shiny object of Russia distracts the media from appointments of federal officials by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), but he and the GOP senators continue to move the United States back into a 19th century known for its racism, sexism, and Puritanical Christian control.

Nominees:

Andrew Oldham, Texas’ Gov. Greg Abbott’s top legal adviser, slipped into the 5th U.S. Circuit Court with a 50–49 vote approval. DDT made him the fourth alumnus of Texas AG office to join the appeals court for Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi in the past 18 months. Oldham made news by refusing to say whether the famous desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided. About Oldham, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights wrote:

“As his record clearly shows, he has worked to restrict and undermine voting rights, immigrant rights, women’s access to reproductive care, environmental protection, and gun safety. Even more concerning is his potential influence on current litigation in the Fifth Circuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. If confirmed, Mr. Oldham could be a deciding vote to undermine healthcare access for millions of people.”

At 40 years of age, Oldham will be making conservative decisions for up to a half century. He is the 23rd appeals court judge confirmed since DDT was inaugurated.

The Senate panel moved seven more judges to the Senate floor, four of the nominees for federal appeals courts:

  • Britt Grant (11th Circuit Court): helped draft an amicus brief to strike down the Voting Rights Act and another that challenged protection from deportation for people in the country with children who are citizens or lawful permanent residents.
  • David Porter (3rd Circuit Court): opposed the individual mandate for the Affordable Care Act and lacks support of one of his state’s (Pennsylvania) senators.
  • Marvin Quattlebaum (4th Circuit Court): has limited experience practicing before appellate courts.
  • Julius Richardson (4th Circuit Court): little opposition.
  • Roy Altman and Jude Rodolfo Ruiz (U.S. District Courts in Florida); Raul Arias-Marxuach (U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico)

Brian Benczkowski, confirmed to run the criminal division of the Department of Justice, previously worked for Alfa Bank, the biggest Russia bank and one with ties to Vladimir Putin. His new position gives him the opportunity to look at the Mueller investigation and the chance to delay or deny the approvals, according to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Another problem would be if he passes along information to the Russians.

Kathy Kraninger, DDT’s nominee to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is his weapon to kill any remaining assistance for U.S. consumers. She lacks any experience or interest in consumer protection or financial services and resisted efforts to provide documentation about DDT’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies, the government response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and HUD’s ongoing affordable housing problems when she oversaw a $250 billion budget within seven Cabinet departments and 30 federal agencies. Kraninger’s closeness to acting director and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney will keep him in charge of the agency he wants to eliminate. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) issued a 14-page report about Kraninger’s “record of failure” in an examination of the agencies she supervises for the OMB.

Withdrawn: 

Ryan Bounds, DDT’s nomination for the 9th Circuit Court, has been withdrawn for lack of votes and with DDT’s support. An assistant U.S. attorney for Oregon, Bounds failed to receive approval of either the state’s senators. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) brought up Bounds’ earlier writing that ridiculed multiculturalism and criticized anti-racism groups. Bounds made the situation worse by omitting references to these writings in the materials he submitted for his confirmation.

Resignations:

Jennifer Arangio, a top National Security Council official, left after disagreeing with officials such as Stephen Miller over the immigration policy. Several members have bailed the agency after John Bolton took over. Below are some other DDT casualties up to the date of Scott Pruitt’s resignation. 

Jeffrey Tricoli, senior FBI official and expert in cyber intelligence, has left his position as one of the two leaders of the agency’s election-meddling task force. There is no indication of a replacement.

Four members of an advisory council for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) quit because of DDT’s “zero tolerance” policy, calling it “morally repugnant, counter-productive and ill-considered.” Two of the members sent additional letters condemning such policies as the Muslim bans, the border walls, and the elimination of the DACA program.

Scott Pruitt, the highest profile resignation in July thus far, left the EPA after a long list of ethics abuses and at least 18 federal investigations. DDT said that he will “go on to great things.” Pruitt may run for Senate or Oklahoma governor although his hopes for a presidential election may be gone. His charges for personal items, including some of his clothing, were phenomenal even in the time of DDT’s wastefulness. Pruitt’s mistreatment of his staff led to a large number of resignations from the EPA, some of them close associates he brought with him from Oklahoma. https://splinternews.com/were-still-finding-out-about-evil-shit-the-epa-did-unde-1827737702  The former EPA secretary’s legacy lives on in discovery of emails to Pruitt from his staff, attempting to protect him from the formaldehyde emissions of his new $9,500 desk. A few months later, Pruitt aides blocked public knowledge of an EPA report that the same chemical is “linked with leukemia, nose-and-throat cancer and other ailments.”

Replacements:

Andrew Wheeler, the new EPA acting director, continues the Environmental Plundering Agency’s destruction of lives: the most recent action by the former coal lobbyist is to pollute drinking water by rolling back coal ash storage regulations from 2015. The rule change also weakened testing standards for lead, cobalt, lithium, and molybdenum in adjacent waters. Highly toxic sludge from cooling coal ash that seeps into aquifers can contain arsenic, lead, mercury and chromium.

Bill Shine, new White House deputy chief of staff for communications and replacement for Hope Hicks, may be the most fitting appointment for DDT. Forced out of being co-president of the Fox network, Shine allegedly facilitated sexual harassment by Fox CEO Roger Ailes. He also covered up harassment complaints, persuaded employees to Reports about the scandals at Fox News indicate Shine was instrumental in keeping harassment complaints under wraps, rallying employees to protest accusers, and pushed women to confidential mediation so that the information would be kept secret. The Fox network is now the official state television outlet for the United States White House.

Darla Shine, Bill Shine’s wife, will also be welcome in the White House because of her racist tweets. For example, she questions why white people should be called racist for using the n-word if black people aren’t, defends the Confederate battle flag, and highlights black-on-white crime. She also defends DDT’s profane remarks African countries and his policy that Muslims be barred from the United States. Other of her tweets ridicule transgender people.

Shahira Knight, DDT’s tax adviser, has replaced Marc Short as the director of White House legislative affairs just as the senate faces confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court justice. Republican legislators said that she played an important role in getting the tax cuts for the wealthy and big business passed.

The clock is ticking down to future resignations. Chief of staff John Kelly is prime suspect for the next one, especially after rumors that, after DDT denied his own intelligence agencies in preference to Putin’s claim of not interfering in a U.S. election, Kelly told GOP legislators that they could protest DDT’s DDT’s false claims. Kelly has been making faces at DDT’s stupidity for months, and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders can say only so many times that he wants a full breakfast instead of pastries. For a long time, people have said that Kelly will stay as long as he can help the nation, but DDT doesn’t listen to him. Eleven days from now, Kelly celebrates his one-year anniversary as DDT’s punching bag. He may pick that time to depart. On the other hand, he may be too stubborn to leave although Bill Shine is golden in the White House. [Right: A happy Kelly watches DDT leave for his weekend golfing vacation at Bedminster.]

DDT has said in the past that he doesn’t need a chief of staff. He certainly doesn’t make use of one. But it might be a way to bring back Hope Hicks, who he viewed “like a daughter,” or elevate Shine.

But then National Intelligence Director Dan Coats is also in trouble for defending the intelligence agencies and playing to the audience at the Aspen Security Forum. With DDT, you never know what direction the wind blows.

June 16, 2018

Court, Staff Problems for DDT

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) turned 72 this past week, trying to get out of lawsuits and scandals through a series of lies. Yet the information about his corrupt associates continues. More documents from DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen have been uncovered, including 731 pages of messages that he sent on such apps as WhatsApp and Signal that allow the content of the texts to remain encrypted. While getting data from a second phone, the FBI took 315 megabytes of data from one of his Blackberry phones. In addition, investigators reconstructed 16 pages of Cohen’s shredded documents. Yesterday was the deadline for Cohen to review hundreds of thousands of documents seized in the April raid of his office and home, and his lawyers disappeared yesterday, making him more likely to cooperate with the Russian investigation. The reason for the loss may be a fee dispute; Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said that Cohen’s bills could be as much as $500,000 per week. DDT’s campaign fund paid about $228,000 by the end of April, but it may have stopped because experts considered this to be potentially illegal.

Cohen is expecting to be arrested, and DDT is separating himself from his former friend. An opening gambit is DDT’s comment that anyone will lie to stay out of prison, insinuating that Cohen will take that tack. Leaks about Cohen’s legal problems may come from him in a signal to DDT that he will need a pardon. The pardon, however, would take away from using Fifth Amendment if he is called on to testify against someone else—like DDT. Meanwhile, however, Cohen fails in his search for a buyer for his expensive Trump building apartment and lawyers.

Cohen also failed in court to get a gag order on Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti to prevent him from speaking publicly about the lawsuit. Although Cohen had proclaimed “irreparable injury” to get the order, the judge regarded his request to be frivolous, “a complete joke and baseless” because Cohen “can’t deal with the truth, the facts, and the law.”

After several pundits said that Paul Manafort, former DDT campaign manager, should take a toothbrush with him to court, a judge ordered him to jail for tampering with witnesses while out on bail and waiting for trial on charges of federal conspiracy and money laundering. DDT again tried to minimize any relationship with Manafort and refused to talk about pardoning him. Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy, pled guilty to lying to Mueller’s investigators and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

A judge did rule has that Robert Mueller’s office must reveal names of alleged foreign agents who worked with former DDT campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

DDT’s charitable foundation is in legal trouble for its “political coordination” with his presidential campaign, among other issues, but a major problem could be “a $150,000 donation that the Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, made in September 2015 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for a 20-minute appearance” from DDT via video in Kiev. Two weeks after DDT’s election, his foundation stated in a tax form that it may have been illegally benefited by the donation.

George Conway, husband of DDT’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, has come out with strong support of Robert Mueller’s legal authority in the Russia investigation in his essay “The Terrible Arguments against the Constitutionality of the Mueller Investigation.” A graduate of Harvard and Yale and a Republican, George Conway is an attorney who served as a clerk in the 2nd Circuit Court.

The DOJ has found several meetings between the NRA and elite Russians during the presidential campaign in its investigation about whether lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the organization. Influential Russians hosted NRA representatives in Moscow while the Kremlin hacked Democrat emails and put viral fake news on U.S. social media accounts to smear Hillary Clinton. Donating or using foreign money in U.S. election campaigns is a crime. The NRA, DDT’s biggest financial supporter, spent over $30 million, perhaps as much as $70 million, on his candidacy and has attempted to hide its expenditures and donors.

Russia also influenced the Brexit vote for the UK to leave the EU, and at least two of the British actors in this collusion also provided support for DDT’s campaign. Emails show that British businessman Arron Banks, the largest donor in UK history during the campaign for UK’s departure from the EU who denied Russian involvement, had several meetings with Russians during Brexit. Banks also admitted that he gave phone numbers for these Russians to people on DDT’s transition team. The defense of “witch hunt” is now becoming popular with Brexit supporter Banks.

DDT’s staff are still causing him trouble. DDT bragged about how “everybody wants to work in the White House,” but so few people want to work for him that officials are begging for employee candidates at a conservative job fair.

Marc Short, White House director of legislative affairs, plans to leave this summer. His leadership of DDT’s legislative agenda has not always been successful, and DDT has frequently criticized him while he goes out on his own to make his own unsuccessful deals. An example this past week is DDT’s claim that he wouldn’t sign the more moderate immigration bill to go before the House this coming week before declaring that he would sign either one of the bills that was passed. Two other communications staffers left the White House this week—Steven Cheung, director of strategic response, and Cliff Simms, now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s senior adviser. At least 18 of DDT’s 31 assistants—including six replacements—left their posts.

Another imminent high profile departure may be Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Asked about the possibility, DDT said that “at a certain point everyone sort of leaves, you have to leave.” Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah may also resign by the end of the year.

Three DOJ lawyers refused to support AG Jeff Sessions’ decision to not support the Affordable Care Act, but senior career Justice Department official Joel McElvain flat-out resigned. GOP Congress failed to repeal the law so Sessions will try to kill the ACA by not defending the law of the United States.

At the beginning of June, Rudy Guiliani yelled at his son for making out with his wife at the theater. Now 32-year-old Andrew Giuliani lost access to the White House without an escort despite his $77,000 a year job in the Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs. Chief of staff John Kelly and others also won’t promote Andrew because he “subverts the chain of command” and has other workplace issues. Rudy Giuliani disappeared from media for over a week after his denigrating comments about Stormy Daniels appearance. Maybe because his current wife, Judith Nathan, went to the media about his affairs, one of them with married New Hampshire hospital administrator Maria Rosa Ryan.

Some jobs in the White House are vital, for example taping together documents that DDT regularly tears up in his ignorance of the law. Former records management analyst Solomon Lartey and Reginald Young Jr., each making over $60,000 a year, have been fired for no reasons from their positions to repair notes and memos that DDT tears up for preservation according to the Presidential Records Act. Other workers are still taping papers back together again.

Another important government job responsibility is to keep track of DDT’s loyalists—and a black list of those who seem less than loyal. Mari Stull, former food lobbyist and wine blogger and currently senior adviser at the State Department, maintains a list of government officials and employees of international organizations and agencies, examining social media for political disagreement and past support of any of President Obama’s policies. Included are people who work for such agencies as the World Health Organization and the United Nations. People on the black list are kept out of meetings, and her actions are causing three assistant secretaries of state—Molly Phee, Erin Barclay, and Nerissa Cook—to quit or change agencies.

DDT may manage one nomination this coming week, Kathy Kraninger as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Interim director Mick Mulvaney has already eliminated the “protection” part of the agency, so Kraninger’s lack of experience in finance, banking, and consumer issues is irrelevant. She will, however, follow Mulvaney’s leadership of no government and regulations while promoting business interests.

Little climate news hits the mainstream media these days, but WashPo has reported that the melting Antarctica’s ice sheet is annually dumping 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean which raises sea levels one-half millimeter a year, tripling in the last decade. There goes Miami—and a lot more East Coast homes.

June 10, 2018

People Come, People Go

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:21 PM
Tags: , , , ,

A few appointments by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) focus only on protecting the wealthiest people, for example, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) interim director Mick Mulvaney’s firing his consumer advisory council, created to identify problems for people treated unfairly by financial firms. The majority of DDT’s picks, however, are selected for their anti-immigrant, pro-white nationalist, pro-evangelical positions.

Arrivals:

Steve Bannon’s friend Michael Pack, the proposed nomination to lead the Broadcasting Board of Governors, would disseminate DDT’s conservative views through federally funded media outlets such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe in the nation’s biggest public diplomacy program. Its audience of 278 million people speaking 61 languages reaches over 100 countries. Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, DDT’s appointee already on the BBG told friends he wants to make the agency a “Bannon legacy.”

Fred Fleitz, John Bolton’s new chief of staff on the national security council and longtime senior staffer at Center for Security Policy, joins the anti-Muslim think tank in contending that mosques and Muslims are working to “Islamize” the U.S. in a “stealth jihad” taking advantage of pluralism and democracy. Hawk Bolton accused Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin of being a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood. As a Russian “truther,” Fleitz claims that the U.S. intelligence reports about Russian election meddling was “rigged” and DDT should “pardon everyone” under investigation. Having published a book advocating aggression toward North Korea, Fleitz claims his concern is groups that promote hate.

Gary Bauer, DDT’s appointment for U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, wants anti-LGBTQ and anti-Islam laws. He calls the left the American Taliban because they hate America. Bauer joins DDT’s “anti-immigrant army” that is “infiltrating every part of the federal government,” including agencies whose purposes include advocating for immigrants and refugees, according to Julissa Arce.

Richard Grenell, conservative ambassador to Germany, continues to offend his hosts. First he ordered Germany to stop trading with Iran; then he said he’ll work on policy, not diplomacy. In his latest interview with Breitbart, he said that he plans to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders.” Germany has demanded a formal explanation from the U.S. about the meaning of Grenell’s statement that he promised to use his office to help far-right nationalists take power in Europe. In his praise of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, connected to the Freedom Party created in the 1950s by a former Nazi officer, Grenell was described as behaving less like a diplomat than “an extreme-right colonial officer.” Political members in Germany and Belgium expressed a number of criticisms about Grenell, and some have recommended that he be expelled from German. All this after Grenell promised during his confirmation to stay out of German politics.

Called upon to explain why Grenell plans to “empower” Europe’s anti-immigrant conservatives, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said:

“We have a very strong relationship with the government of Germany….  Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion. We obviously have a very long history with the government of Germany.”

On D-Day, 2,499 people from the United States were killed in the fight to liberate France from Nazi German forces. Grenell’s criticism of the “left” in Europe further strains relationships after DDT’s withdrawals from both Iran deal and the Paris climate accord before the imposition of tariffs on U.S. allies. Nauert’s later statements appeared to support Grenell’s comments.

Diane Foley, who ran a Christian organization operating two Colorado anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers,” or fake clinics, was quietly installed on Tuesday as deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, where she will lead the office responsible for the Title X federal family planning program.

A list of White House staff changes.

Departures:

On the anti-climate change side, Scott Pruitt is hanging on to his job as EPA secretary despite almost daily scandals, but his staff is dropping like flies. Sarah Greenwalt, Scott Pruitt’s senior counsel, and Millan Hupp, Pruitt’s director for scheduling and advance, bailed, and Pruitt’s top public affairs official Liz Bowman left Pruitt last month for Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), who called Pruitt as “about as swampy as you get.” She voted for his confirmation after he promised to protect the ethanol industry. Other EPA resignations include Samantha Dravis, Albert Kelly, and Pasquale Perotta.

Greenwalt and Hupp had received inordinate raises that Pruitt lied about before he had to admit that he set their salaries. Hupp quit the day after Pruitt used her sister, Sydney Hupp, to try to get a franchise for Pruitt’s wife, Marlyn, with Chick-fil-A. Pruitt asked Hupp to email Dan Cathy, head of Chick-fil-A, asking for a meeting about to discuss “a potential business opportunity.” An earlier request was setting up a talk between Pruitt and the head of the non-profit organization Concordia who paid Marlyn $2,000 plus travel expenses to help organize the group’s annual conference nine months ago. The EPA started preparing Hupp’s resignation papers after she testified to the House about the personal tasks that she was asked to do for Pruitt, including buying a used mattress from the Trump Hotel.

Emails released from a Freedom of Information request show a large variety of Pruitt’s improper use of his staff. One of them concerns his assignment to his security detail to obtain a special moisturizer available for Ritz-Carlton hotels. Available online for $27.20 a bottle, the lotion has “sweet notes of ylang ylang, jasmine and uplifting bergamot.” Another responsibility for his security personnel, costing $3.5 million a year, is picking up dry cleaning.

Pruitt needs all the aides he can get. A judge has ordered him to submit evidence by July 11 that supports his position that humans are not “a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” He has missed an earlier deadline, calling the legal action “a trap” and a “fishing expedition.”

Kelly Sadler, the White House aide who claimed that Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) vote didn’t matter because “he’s dying anyway,” no longer has a job “within the Executive Office of the President.” She may not have completely disappeared: Kellyanne Conway indicated that she might find another job in DDT’s administration. While she still had her job, she blamed Mercedes Schlapp, White House director of strategic communications, of leaking her comment.

Sadler is not alone. White House deputy chief of staff Joseph Hagin, who organized the North Korea summit, is leaving as soon as he returns from the meeting with Kim Jong-Un.  Drew Maloney, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for legislative affairs, has a new job in the finance industry. Also gone are Mark Inch, chief of the Federal Bureau of Prisons; Tom Ziemer, the National Security Council’s head of Global Health Security; Richard Johnson, the State Department’s acting assistant coordinator for Iran Nuclear Issues; and Cliff Sims, a special assistant to the president who oversees White House message strategy. An update of the departed DDT hires is here.

DDT can’t find anyone willing to take the associate AG position, third in charge at the DOJ and responsible for firing Robert Mueller if Rod Rosenstein won’t take action on this. Jesse Panuccio, acting associate AG since Rachel Brand left several months ago, would be acting AG if Sessions and Rosenstein were to leave. The DOJ is already missing permanent leaders for five DOJ units including criminal, civil, and tax divisions.

Problems:

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, named head of a commission to study school safety after the mass shooting at Parkland (FL), said that the commission will not study gun safety at schools. When Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked her why not, she said:

“We’re actually studying school safety and how we can ensure our students are safe at school.”

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime died in the murders on Valentine’s Day, tweeted:

“You just gave every parent who actually cares about school safety a reason to vote in November.”

DeVos said that the commission will also not look at best practices of foreign countries with much lower rates of gun violence. The school safety commission is composed of four Cabinet secretaries: DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. After criticism because the first commission meetings were not public and didn’t include teachers, school leaders, or students, the group had a listening session, but none of the commission members was present.

Confirmations for DDT’s nominees may slow down after Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) put holds on Treasury nominee Isabel Patelunas and possibly other Treasury nominees. The Treasury Department has refused to give him materials about DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen and his firm’s relationship with Novartis and other clients.

One of DDT’s major appointments, Chief of Staff John Kelly, calls the White House a “miserable place to work,” and the question is how long he and other aides will remain. DDT is already serving as his own chief of staff, spokesman, and human resources manager.

 

April 12, 2018

Washington Legislators, Officials Flee

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 12:14 AM
Tags: , , ,

Just when I think that the GOP world cannot get more bizarre, something happens to amaze me more. Today was one of those days. No, it wasn’t House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) announcement that he’ll stay home with the kids who haven’t had this attention for over a decade. My astonishment came from an earlier GOP House Speaker—John Boehner. Seven years ago, he said that he was “unalterably opposed” to legalizing marijuana. Boehner altered when he joined the board of advisers of Acreage Holdings, the cannabis corporation operating in 11 states. He tweeted:

“I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.”

Over 60 percent of people in the United States want legalized cannabis, and over 90 percent support legalized cannabis for medical use. Watching Boehner joining these percentages at a time when the DOJ wants to clamp down on cannabis and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants to kill all the drug dealers—presumably also those selling cannabis—is nothing short of mind-boggling.

But yes, Paul Ryan finally admitted that he won’t be running for re-election in 2018. He leaves a legacy of close to a $1 trillion deficit this coming year and exceeding $1 trillion every year after that for the next decade. In Ryan’s announcement of his departure, he called the tax cuts, causing much of the deficit, one of his proudest achievements. Abandoning past conservative fiscal policy, he decided that tax cuts and spending increases are good for electing Republicans. Ryan’s current competition in the primary is an anti-Semite white supremacist.

Satirist Andy Borowitz wrote that the Koch brothers—who actually gave Ryan’s campaign $500,000 in exchange for his tax cuts—have put Ryan up for sale on eBay with a $500 asking price. The humorist pointed out that Ryan’ “current high bid [is] seventeen dollars.” Borowitz wrote:

“The eBay listing suggested several possible uses for the former House Speaker, including as a Halloween ornament or garden gnome.”

The fight for his job is on, with Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) currently in the forefront while others bolt. One hour after Ryan’s departure announcement, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) said he won’t run for re-election. Retirements in the House are already far above normal, and the general election isn’t for almost seven months. One resignation, Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA), was made after the deadline to register for candidacy.

DJ Gribbin, DDT’s infrastructure policy adviser, left the White House after Congress largely ignored his plans for private and public partnerships. DDT has also told the GOP that these partnerships for infrastructure funding projects won’t work.

DDT claims that former VA Secretary David Shulkin resigned, but Shulkin disagrees, saying, “I did not resign.” Much was made earlier about his taking his wife with him on a business trip to Europe and his inability to get along with his staff. Yet that one trip was a drop in the bucket compared to other costs by other cabinet members; his conflict came from DDT staff hires who fought to privatize the VA health care. Replacement Ronny Jackson, the fawning doctor who gave DDT his physical examination, had said that he could live 200 years and had “incredibly good genes.” (DDT’s father died of dementia.) The biggest problem with Jackson, however, is his total lack of experience. If confirmed, Jackson will administer 360,000 employees, a $186 billion budget, and health care for nine million veterans. Fortunately for him, Shulkin had already stabilized the VA system of hospitals and health clinics, but Jackson’s sycophantic personality may cause him to dismantle everything. Veterans are coming out en masse in opposition to the privatization of health care that Jackson will rubber stamp for DDT and the Koch brothers.

John Bolton, appointed for National Security Adviser, may not be a shoe-in because of earlier political activity. He supposedly ended political activity with his PACs and stepped down as chair of his anti-Muslim Foundation for American Security and Freedom, but the PACs won’t be dissolved. He may also have a problem in his connection with Cambridge Analytica in electing Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) whose campaign may have been orchestrated by foreign workers. Bolton also appeared in a 2013 video for a Russian gun rights organization.

At least 3,000 Russia-linked ads from Cambridge Analytica reached over 126 million people during the 2016 U.S. election. HuffPo’s profile of white nationalist ”Ricky Vaughn”—28-year-old Douglass Mackey from Waterbury (VT)—shows how influential a few ads can be. C.A. also helped vicious Philippine dictator Roderigo Duterte win his election and participated in elections in Nigeria, Kenya, Trinidad & Tobago, and Latvia by creating ethnic tensions online by creating fear and misinformation online and entrapping political opponents with videos of sex workers.

The arrival of Bolton has led to at least three resignations/firings from the national security council. Tom Bossert may not be a great loss: the day before his firing, Bossert touted the movement of National Guard troops to the Mexico border and said that rape is the “price of entry” for women crossing the border.Michael Anton was known for writing DDT-supporting “American First” blog posts and essays under the pseudonym of Publius Decius Mus. Nadia Schadlow, trusted confidante of the fired H.R. McMaster who helped write DDT’s national security strategy, lasted only a few months after she replaced Dina Powell in January. Her mistake is believing in diplomacy. Here’s a list of people leaving DDT prior to that of Schadlow.

Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R) announced his resignation as of May 1 after an FBI inquiry into his spending and travel, including a trip to London with payday lending industry representatives. He finds his actions “ethical and lawful” but left as soon as the suggestion came from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R).

Dan Scavino, DDT’s former caddy turned into White House social media director, has replaced Hope Hicks as White House Communications Director. He is the last remaining staffer from DDT’s campaign launch.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, appointed almost a year ago, will stay because she claims that following “sincerely held religious beliefs” don’t break the law. She exonerated Col. Leland Bohannon for his refusal to sign a certificate of spousal appreciation for a retiring gay subordinate because because someone else signed the certificate that recognizes sacrifices of military spouses. Bohannon signs certificates for only heterosexual spouses. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is against policy. Wilson’s history of LGBTQ discrimination as a senatorial candidate includes opposition to a bill reducing anti-LGBTQ bullying.

DDT’s problematic appointments may be directly connected to the Presidential Personnel Office (PPO), DDT’s office to recruit and vet over 4,000 political appointees. In 62 weeks, it has found 309 candidates for 343 Cabinet agency positions requiring Senate approval. Of 1,200 positions requiring confirmation, only 387 from DDT have been approved, compared to 548 for President Obama and 615 for George W. Bush. Several DDT appointees have resigned after problems with comments, backgrounds, and qualifications. DDT’s PPO has a small staff of only 30—less than one-third of previous ones—and a serious lack of experience, mostly young people who worked on DDT’s campaign. They commonly have “happy hours” and held a frat drinking game called “Icing.”

During DDT’s transition, 100 researchers and lawyers under the supervision of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie prepared a list of candidates and hundreds of pages establishing a framework. DDT fired their leader, discarded all the information, and hired political operative John DeStefano as headhunter who required only loyalty to DDT as a job requirement. Even before DeStefano was hired, the database had only 87,000 applicants, compared to President Obama’s 300,000.

One of the most successful member of PPO is 75-year-old Katja Bullock. Her son became deputy assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, his wife is White House liaison at the Office of Personnel Management, and their sons are “confidential assistant” at the Social Security Administration and “staff assistant” at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. foreign aid agency that works to end global poverty.

Scott Pruitt is still clinging to his position as EPA Secretary, but his departure could leave Andrew Wheeler in charge if the Senate confirms him for the second-highest-ranking person in the agency. As a coal lobbyist, Wheeler is well known to the GOP senators, especially former boss Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).  His climate denying is so carefully phrased that Democrats haven’t really objected to his positions. Daniel Best, a former pharma insider, will be HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s pick to lower drug prices.

The media has paid little attention to either one of these people. Instead we focus on DDT’s promises to fire missiles at Syria while telling Russia that they can’t stop them. DDT seems to be having a spat with Vladimir Putin that can drive the United States into a war with the Middle East.

March 10, 2018

DDT: More Week 59 – People, Lawsuits

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:07 PM
Tags: , , ,

The swamp continues to fill as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appoints people, several of whom then resign, and faces lawsuits for his unconstitutional policies.

Appointments:

Peter Wright, DDT’s appointee as assistant administrator of  the EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management to oversee chemical spills from Superfund sites, is a top lawyer with Dow Chemical, the company linked to almost ten percent of these 1,340 toxic places. Former appointee, Michael Dourson, withdrew his name because of his many chemical company clients. Last year, EPA secretary Scott Pruitt appointed Albert Kelly, banned for life from the banking industry for violating federal banking laws, as adviser on the Superfund program.  Scott Pruitt also refused to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, produced by Dow’s subsidiary, despite it risk to children and farm workers.

John Gibbs, DDT’s appointee for HUD senior adviser in community planning and development division to spur economic development, had spread the false rumor of Hillary Clinton as a “Satanist” during 2016 when he accused her and campaign chairman John Podesta of consuming bodily fluids. His lies spread into #pizzagate that caused a man to shoot his gun in an innocent pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Matt Baker, a new appointee in the Department of HHS, proposed a registry for strippers when he was a Pennsylvania state representative. It would list name, stage name, address, phone number, date of birth, place of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color, criminal background information and their photo ID.

Gordon Giampietro, nominated to the Eastern District Court of Wisconsin, failed to reveal “an online post describing the Civil Rights Act as an “intrusion into private business” and diversity as code for “relaxed standards.” DDT’s judicial nominees have received an average of 23 “no” votes during confirmations, compared to the average of six opposing votes for President Obama, two for George W. Bush, and one for Bill Clinton.

John Konkus’ day job is the EPA’s deputy associate administrator for public affairs who vets “the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants the EPA distributes annually.” By night, the Republican is permitted to be consultant for unnamed private-sector clients with secret identities. Patrick Davis, another DDT political appointee, works by day as senior adviser for public engagement in the Denver EPA regional office and by night as sales director for Telephone Town Hall Meeting providing robocalls to political campaigns and advocacy groups.

Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, because she “impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election.” Special counsel Henry Kerner assigned DDT the job of “appropriate disciplinary action.”

Resignations:

Gary Cohn, DDT’s economic adviser, abandoned the White House ship after DDT insisted on steel/aluminum tariffs. On his departure, Cohn, a top executive at Goldman Sachs, claims to have accomplished what he wanted, basically enormous cuts for rich people and big corporations. The departures of Rob Porter and Cohn leave no high-ranking White House official to oppose DDT’s beloved tariffs; DDT cancelled a meeting with companies using steel and aluminum. Farmers are especially unhappy with a looming trade war, as this message from the Nebraska Farm Bureau shows. Some of the many people who departed the White House like” ships leaving the rats.”

Tony Tooke resigned as chief of the U.S. Forest Service after reports of sexual misconduct and a culture of racial and gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliations in the agency. Tooke was appointed by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, cousin of Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) who signed on to a bill that would discriminate against LGBTQ people.

Lawsuits:

The 9th Circuit Court ruled that 21 young people, mostly teenagers, can continue its lawsuit against the government for not addressing climate change despite DDT’s attempt to keep out of court. Without Supreme Court interference, a federal judge must decide which government officials can be questioned, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, formerly CEO of Exxon Mobil and head of a petroleum industry trade group. [Photo from AE Marling]

A federal court ruled that Idaho must allow transgender people to amend their birth certificates to accurately reflect their gender identity, leaving only three states—Kansas, Ohio, and Tennessee—that prevent transgender people from updating their birth certificates. A federal appeals court also decided in favor of Aimee Stephens, fired for transitioning to male, after her boss asserted “religious beliefs.” The federal appeals court ruled, “Tolerating Stephens’ understanding of her sex and gender identity is not tantamount to supporting it.”

Kansas cannot remove Medicaid payments for breast exams, birth control, and other non-abortion services from Planned Parenthood. The 10th Circuit Court stated that states cannot terminate providers if “that reason is unrelated to the provider’s competence and the quality of the healthcare it provides.”

Anthony Borges, the Parkland (FL) shooting victim who blocked a classroom door to keep the gunman from entering, is suing the school and county for not keeping him safe to pay for his huge medical bills. DDT also said that he would have run into the school to save the young people, but he can’t even stand up to the NRA that is now suing Florida for a slight restriction in gun laws.

Stormy Daniels, the porn queen paid to conceal her affair with DDT, is suing him with the claim that her nondisclosure agreement is invalid because DDT didn’t sign it. The suit also asserts that the $130,000 that she was paid was intended to influence the election. Two other complaints state that her payment violated election law because it was not reported as in-kind campaign donation after DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohn said he had paid the money himself. Her accusations include that she signed because of “intimidation and coercive tactics.” Cohen paid Daniels through a LLC created for that purpose. DDT is also in the middle of the Stormy Daniels mess after his lawyer complained that DDT had not reimbursed him the $130,000 for the payment to Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford) to shut her up.

Not only does the lawsuit give additional information about DDT’s problems with Daniels but it also puts him in a lose-lose situation. He either argues says that he paid hush money to an “adult film” star or backs off so that she can say whatever she wants. In a press conference, Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended DDT by saying that DDT had “won” its arbitration agreement, ostensibly admitting his involvement in the payment. DDT is furious with his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for telling the truth about the arbitration agreement. Details about Daniels’ statements here.

Although some people think that DDT’s personal life should stay private, he can be blackmailed to keep this information secret. Withholding information from the public violates federal law because voters have the right to knowledge about attempts to influence elections. A payment of $130,000 by DDT’s lawyer is far over the $2,700 campaign contribution cap. Complaints about this payment and another one to hush up another story about DDT’s affairs will be investigated by the FEC only if all four members—two Republicans, one Democrat, and one independent—decide to pursue the issue.

Ben Carson, HUD Secretary, has removed anti-discrimination language from his agency’s mission statement so that he can keep LGBTQ people and minorities out of low-income housing. The change is “to align HUD’s mission with the Secretary’s priorities and that of the Administration.” People for the American Way (PFAW) is suing for the release of HUD and DOJ documents with anti-LGBTQ plans.

DDT’s deadline for the end of DACA came with no legislation to continue it, and Maryland federal Judge Roger Titus ruled that DACA can legally end the program. Two other injunctions against its termination are still in effect with the ruling that DDT must provide legal reasons for this action.

Federal Judge William Alsup ruled that people can sue greenhouse-gas emitters in federal court in Oakland and San Francisco lawsuits against oil companies for climate change, rising sea levels, and waterfront damage. In 2011, the Supreme Court decided that Congress and EPA, not courts, police emissions, but that case concerned a U.S. electric utility, not international corporations.

Several states are suing after FCC chair Ajit Pai overturned net neutrality, and Washington passed a law preventing internet service providers from blocking and slowing down content online or charging more for faster delivery to benefit broadband companies and partner websites. Despite Pai’s ruling that no state can oversee internet services, two dozen other states have introduced similar bills, and other governors have signed executive actions prohibiting internet service providers with state contracts from blocking or slowing data on their lines.

Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State who wants to stop Democrats from voting, went to trial last week protecting his state law requiring people to prove citizenship when they register to vote. Plaintiffs claim that the law violates the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), allowing registrants at the DMV to ask people for minimum information. One in seven Kansas voters were blocked from voting between 2013 and 2016 until the law was put on hold in 2016. Kobach claims to have found five people who may have broken the law of the state’s 1.8 million registered voters. Kobach is running for governor this year.

During the trial, the judge reprimanded Kobach when he tried to testify to a document that he couldn’t find. She also had to explain to him how to phrase questions in cross examination, present new exhibits, and impeach a witness. On the first day his trial, he said that federal databases cannot identify noncitizens—although that was the mission of DDT’s now-disbanded federal commission he headed up to find illegal voters. More insanity from Kobach’s trial

DDT’s name came off the Trump-branded hotel in Panama City after the majority owner won his lawsuit to dump DDT’s company as its manager. Since Inauguration Day, two other hotels in Toronto and Manhattan’s SoHo have done the same, and other DDT properties are struggling.

March 5, 2018

DDT: More Week 58: Who’s In, Who’s Out

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:24 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Appointments:

John Dunkin, former personal pilot for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), is under consideration for FAA administrator.  In charge of all U.S. civil aviation, the FAA chair oversees a $16 billion annual budget. While Dunkin supervised the DDT campaign air fleet, VP Mike Pence’s plane had several “hard” landings, including a plane ended up 300 feet from a major highway. Dunkin also hired a pilot wanted for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, running over a colleague with his car three times, and deliberately running into someone with a motorcycle. Other DDT hires include:

  • DDT’s golf caddie as the White House Director of Social Media.
  • DDT’s bodyguard as the Director of Oval Office operations.
  • Eric Trump’s wedding planner in charge of HUD for the northeastern United States.
  • The husband of a member of DDT’s household staff at Trump Tower who ran a home contracting company called “Steve’s Tools in Motion” in a job at EPA Region 2 headquarters in New York.
  • DDT’s bankruptcy lawyer as the ambassador to Israel.

And John Dunkin in charge of a life-and-death job.

Wendy Vitter, appointee for a federal judge and wife of GOP Louisiana senator reelected after he confessed to hiring prostitutes from the “D.C. Madam,” omitted her anti-abortion speeches, interview, and letter from a disclosure form for the Senate Judiciary Committee. She skipped information about moderating a panel on the false dangers of abortion that supported the myth about women taking oral contraception having a higher risk of dying violent deaths, cheating on their partners, having fertility problems and unhealthy children, and experiencing poor relationships with their partners.

Resignations:

Hope Hicks, White House communications director who is “like a daughter” to DDT, left after she testified to the House Intelligence Committee that she told “white lies” for DDT. A black lie from November 2016:

“There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

There were contacts between DDT’s campaign and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, top advisers including family members met privately with the Russian emissary about “dirt” on Clinton, George Papadopoulos’ contacted with Russians, Carter Page traveled to Moscow and contacted with Russian officials, Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak’s met with a variety of DDT’s campaign surrogates and officials including Jeff Sessions, and Donald Trump Jr. privately communicated with WikiLeaks..

Josh Raffel, White House spokesman and “manager” for DDT’s children, White House officials, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, quit.

Joseph Yun, the top U.S. diplomat with the foreign service since 1985 who is overseeing North Korea policy, retired. Last year, Yun assisted the release of Otto Warmbier, U.S. citizen held prisoner by North Korea.

Roberta S. Jacobson, U.S. ambassador to Mexico and one of the most experienced Latin America experts in the State Department, left her position after the growing schism between the two countries and the diplomatic relations being assigned to Jared Kushner. Other major State Department resignations include Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the third-highest ranking official, and John Feeley, the ambassador to Panama.

Matthew Masterson, a GOP member of the Election Assistance Commission who won’t be reappointed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), brings the four-member agency down to two members. Masterson was an expert in non-partisan approaches to help states fight cyber attacks and develop anti-hacking protocols.

H.R. McMaster may resign as National Security Council adviser, his departure facilitated by Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis. The replacement is reportedly Stephen Biegun, a bigwig at Ford Motor Company who was on the council for a couple of years with the George W. Bush when national security warnings were ignored. He also tried to advise Sarah Palin on foreign policy when she was a VP candidate.

Lawsuits:

The 4th Circuit Court ruled 10-4 that Maryland’s ban on 45 different “assault” weapons, such as the popular AR-15 in mass shootings, and its 10-round limit for magazines does not violate the U.S. Constitution. The court wrote:

“Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war.”

Last year a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit sent a ruling upholding the ban back to U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake, ordering her to apply “strict scrutiny.” Maryland appealed to the full court which supported its decision. The fourth similar ruling in a decade, it follows the 2008 opinion from SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia in Columbia v. Heller that the right to bear arms “is not unlimited.” Other rulings permitting the ban came from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the 7th Circuit, and the 2nd Circuit.

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear DDT’s appeal of a federal court ruling to continue DACA; DHS must accept renewal applications for 700,000 young Dreamers, making DDT’s arbitrary March 5 deadline moot. Two weeks ago, DDT turned down six bipartisan compromises, including one that funded his wall in exchange for extending DACA protections to Dreamers.

Two victories in LGBTQ rights: The 2nd Circuit Court banned discrimination against LGBTQ workers based on Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The DOJ had supported discrimination in the lawsuit in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was fighting the discrimination. Last April the 7th Circuit Court was the first appeals court to ban this discrimination. The 11th Circuit Court ruled for discrimination in a split three-panel decision. The U.S. Supreme Court left in place the Arizona decision recognizing Suzan McLaughln as the legal parent of a child she and her female spouse, Kimberly McLaughlin, conceived through assisted reproduction.

The New York-based International Refugee Assistance Project has asked the Supreme Court to join Hawaii’s challenge to DDT’s travel ban, to be argued before SCOTUS in April. The 4th and 9th Circuit Courts have already ruled against the ban. Syrian filmmaker Kareem Abeed, nominated for an Oscar for Last Man in Aleppo with Feras Fayyad, could not attend the ceremony because of DDT’s travel ban. Also denied entry is Mahmoud Al-Hatter, featured in the movie as co-founder of the White Helmets, a humanitarian volunteer group in rebel-controlled Syria and Turkey that does search and rescue after bombing to evacuate civilians. Russian propaganda has pushed the misinformation from Syrian president Bashar al-Assad who accuses them of being a front for Al-Qaeda.

In the second recent lawsuit to reverse DDT’s deportations of people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), eight Haitian and Salvadoran recipients have sued with the argument that the decision was based on discrimination. Both suits use DDT’s “public hostility toward immigrants of color” as evidence. One of the Salvadoran plaintiffs began as a kitchen assistant and now has four Boston restaurants; he employs over 20 U.S. citizens.

A federal court ruled that South Dakota’s March 27 petition deadline is too early and that the 2.5 percent mandate of voters too high for a new political party in the state primary.

A federal judge stopped construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline in southern Louisiana, the southern extension of the Bakken Pipeline until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reconsider its environmental impacts.

Without permanent security clearance, Ivanka Trump explained the new U.S. economic sanctions against North Korea to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. An ambassador didn’t have this responsibility because DDT fired his nominee, Victor Cha, after Cha disagreed with DDT’s threats toward North Korea.

Net neutrality is dead, and AT&T is dancing on the body. After its claim that nothing will change, the company texted its customers to tell them that it’s expanding zero rating, content exempt from arbitrary usage caps, to “some” content meaning that which already belongs to AT&T and “sponsored” data—that is paying AT&T.

DDT hasn’t saved coal: the average for the closure of a plant every 16 days in 2017 matches the average for President Obama’s eight years.

DDT wants to emulate Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in killing drug dealers—over 12,000 in the past two years. “You know the Chinese and Filipinos don’t have a drug problem. They just kill them,’” DDT said.

The faculty at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA), self-identified as “among the nation’s premier research universities,” voted to rescind an honorary degree given DDT in 1988. The decision is now with the Board of Trustees which took no action on a petition with 35,000 signatures.

DDT’s most bizarre tweet last week:

“I have decided that sections of the Wall that California wants built NOW will not be built until the whole Wall is approved. Big victory yesterday with ruling from the courts that allows us to proceed.”

California officials fought the project, and the administration has no change in policy, despite a judge’s ruling that the wall can be built with no attention to environmental and endangered species laws.

Melanie Trump stayed in the U.S. on a “genius” visa, the EB-1, for only the highest accomplished artists, doctors, academics, and engineers in 2001. Only 3,376 immigrants with “extraordinary ability” were granted of the one million visas that year.

DDT’s problems in the White House:

A new poll sponsored by a conservative group shows that 77 percent of millennial voters, ages 18 to 35, want action to oppose human-caused climate change, and only ten percent oppose any action. Even 57 percent of millennial Republicans want to stop or slow climate change. Over twice as many millennials think that the country is “on the wrong track” as those who see it in “the right direction.” Last week, DDT’s approval rating was 35 percent.

February 3, 2018

DDT: Week Fifty-four – Moon Precedes Failures

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:57 PM
Tags: ,

For anti-science far-right evangelicals, the week had evil omens. On Wednesday, a super blue blood moon—blue because it’s the second full moon within one month—appeared on Wednesday. [Photo by Justin Lane]  Joel 2:31:

“The sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.”

On Friday, the Dow Jones dropped 666 points, the name of the coming Antichrist. In between those two days, the Republicans gathered in Virginia after their train crashed to talk about the upcoming midterm elections. Meanwhile, the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues with the State of the Union speech, the release of the Nunes dud memo, and other DDT failures.

Another test to shoot down missiles failed this week, the second failure in seven months. Only nine of 19 attempts since 1999 have been successful in the $40 billion plus system. Last May’s attempt was initially touted as successful, but the missile blew itself up after it was marked as friendly.

The Senate failed to pass the House’s unconstitutional 20-week abortion ban: two women GOP Senators voting no and three male Democrats voting in favor of the false “fetal pain” ban. The bill had also required that the person who performed the abortion must try to save the fetus’s life.

Following protests, a plan to open mining in the Bristol Bay watershed 200 miles southwest of Anchorage (AK) is on hold. The proposed Pebble Mine is 100 miles upstream from the fishery that supplies almost half of the world’s wild sockeye salmon.

Protesters are mobilizing in the UK after British Prime Minister Theresa May invited DDT to London in October 2018. He said, “I think I’m very popular in your country,” but 1.8 billion people in the country with a population of 65 million signed a protest petition.

Nathan Ruser, a 20-year-old Australian college student, figured out that the advertising gimmick “global heat map” searching for areas of exercising reveals sensitive military bases, especially in the Middle East. (Left: The Strava map for Helmand Province, Afghanistan.)  Other security “glitches” from the past include U.S. intelligence contractors putting codenames of classified surveillance programs on LinkedIn in 2014 that allowed people to determine the people and companies worked on specific programs through Transparency Toolkit and ICWATCH. [Note: Strava’s world map is pretty cool!]

Slower internet access unless people pay more still has not been settled so activist Rob Bliss decided to show its problems by claiming to “liberate” drivers in charging them $5 for a newly created “fast lane” in front of the FCC building. The involvement of the police continued to prove his point, as this video shows. Last week, Burger King told its customers that paying $26 extra for a Whopper would get it delivered faster. Both of these examples explain what happens when large corporations control the speed of content based on consumer payments.

Appointments/Resignations:

Brian A. Benczkowski, nominee to lead DOJ’s criminal division, has represented Alfa Bank, a large Russian financial institution with owner ties to Vladimir Putin. The bank was investigated for its connections between DDT’s campaign and Russia. Benczkowski was not confirmed last year but has been reappointed.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, DDT’s pick for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, resigned after complaints that she bought tobacco company stock immediately after she got the position which involved overseeing programs for quitting smoking. Fitzgerald’s past included reversing natural aging, trying to fight childhood obesity in Georgia by partnering with Coca-Cola, and owning more tobacco stock.

K.T. McFarland, fired from the national Security Council and nominated for ambassador of Singapore, has withdrawn after a reappointment. She was found lying about not knowing about communications between Michael Flynn and Sergei Kislyak when he was Russian ambassador.

Kathleen Hartnett White, climate denier picked to head the Council on Environmental Quality, is also withdrawn. She maintained that people do not die of pollution and that coal ended slavery.

Ben Carson has been warned of conflict of interest because his son furthered his business interests in organizing the Baltimore “listening tour” last summer for the HUD director. Ben Carson, Jr. is a real estate developer, and Jr.’s wife, Merlynn, received a $485,000 contract from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for her company, Myriddan.

Victor D. Cha was dropped as a possible nomination for ambassador to South Korea after he expressed concern that the “bloody nose” strategy of a limited strike against North Korea would create a much bigger war. He also disagreed with threats to destroy a bilateral trade deal with South Korea after DDT put tariffs on washing machines and solar energy panels. South Korea has no U.S. ambassador and had already signed off on Cha. His op-ed about DDT and North Korea in the WaPost.

Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., the State Department’s top career diplomat, undersecretary of state for political affairs, and third highest ranking official, has resigned after 35 years, leaving the last of five “career ambassadors,” Stephen D. Mull, who is current on sabbatical. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who called Shannon a “walking encyclopedia,” has ignored his experts, and morale is plummeting.

Lawsuits/Decisions:

U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest compared DDT’s immigration acts to those in an authoritarian country and ordered ICE to immediately release immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir. She called the detention unconstitutional and “unnecessarily cruel,” ruling that officials violated his due process rights. Ragbir became a lawful resident in 1994 but was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy for accepting fraudulent loan applications while working at a mortgage lender. After his prison release from prison, he received four stays of removal and regularly checked in with ICE without breaking any laws. The judge wrote, “The Constitution commands better.”

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7-3 that DDT cannot remove the director from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because it is financed by the Federal Reserve. Mick Mulvaney has been playing DDT’s acting director of the agency, the court’s next issue, instead of current Acting Director Leandra English. Mulvaney requested no additional funds from the Fed for the upcoming quarter and may turn the predatory payday lending industry loose on its clients.

A federal district court blocked the Texas law mandating the burial or cremation of embryonic of fetal tissue abortions, miscarriage, or treatment for ectopic pregnancy. Last November a federal court overturned the law banning dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions is unconstitutional.

In a ruling by a federal judge that Florida’s lifetime ban on voting for anyone convicted of a felony is unconstitutional, the state gained another 1.2 million voters. Eight other states have the same law, all of them GOP states.

After the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled against gerrymandering in the state, it decided against a recently passed GOP law that kept new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper from regulating the state’s elections, necessary to reinstate voting rights.

For the last three decisions, Chief Justice John Roberts has voted against the right-wing bloc. He probably isn’t going moderate, but he might be slightly embarrassed by accusations that the Supreme Court has become a partisan wing of the executive branch.

DDT is considering the mass arrests of U.S. mayors and governors: Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she ordered federal prosecutors to review “what avenues might be available” to arrest and prosecute mayors of so-called sanctuary cities. The term “sanctuary” status means that police enforce local and state law, leaving federal immigration law to federal officers without violating federal law. These actions would pattern those in Putin’s Russia and Erdoğan’s Turkey.

DDT has stolen billions of dollars in tips from waitpeople, and the Labor Department leadership concealed its internal analysis showing how much the employees will lose by changing the data methodology to hide its impact. The executive order forces people who receive tips to share them with others, including their employers. The public comment period ends February 5, but DDT’s administration ignores all these comments for any changes by calling them bogus. Labor Secretary Frances Perkins would be enraged by these acts.

Sexual Misconduct:

Shares on Steve Wynn’s casino resorts dropped 19 percent, a $462.55 million loss for him. He also won’t be getting his money back from Republicans, despite the demand that the RNC made that Democrats return their donations from Harvey Weinstein. RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said that she’ll give Wynn the benefit of the doubt because he denied his sexual assaults.

People who donate to DDT’s campaign might want to know that 25 percent of their money goes to legal fees connected with Russian meddling in the U.S. elections.

Seventy percent of Republicans want their children to be like DDT because he’s a “good role model” for them. A picture of future Republicans: talk openly about the size of their penises at any time and place, treat women like “shit” (a DDT quote), lie, bully, cheat, hate people of color, put money above all else—the list of the GOP in the future as well as the present.

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