Nel's New Day

November 11, 2019

DDT’s Record about Veterans Belies Speech about Them

In a normal world, the United States would be honoring the veterans on the day set aside to commemorate their service, and the commander-in-chief would join in the appreciation for their service. We no longer have a “normal world”: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is sitting in the Oval Office.

DDT abused veterans even during his campaign. In January 2016, DDT boycotted a debate other GOP presidential candidates over a feud with Fox’s Megyn Kelly and held his own rally at the same time, ostensibly to raise money for veterans. According to DDT, it was wildly successful, and he claimed he got $6 million. He promised the money to 20 different groups, but a little less than half the money was donated to veterans’ charities, much of it directly from donors to the groups instead of funneled through DDT. The other $3 million apparently stayed with DDT. 

Almost four years later, a few days before Veterans Day, a judge in New York ordered DDT to pay $2 million for misuse of his “charitable” foundation after DDT admitted that his fundraiser for veterans was designed “to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign,” according to Judge Saliann Scarpulla. DDT, however, issued a statement that he was not sorry or wrong after tweeting in June 2018, “I won’t settle this case!” DDT also confessed that he used the charity’s donated money to settle $100,000 in legal claims over an 80-foot flagpole at Mar-a-Lago, $158,000 to resolve a lawsuit over a contest at his golf course, $5,000 for ads promoting his hotels, and more money buying sports memorabilia and his portrait for his personal use. Eight organizations receiving DDT’s fine and the disbanded charity’s funds include Citymeals on Wheels, the United Negro College Fund, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The veterans are still missing their $3 million.

Any other president of the United States would have been pilloried for this fraud, especially targeting veterans. For DDT and his supporters, it’s just another day.

DDT is also trying to undermine the Uniform Code of Military Justice that details non-judicial punishment, Article 15. After Navy Chief Edward Gallagher was charged on ten criminal counts with fellow Navy SEALS as witnesses, DDT took up his cause, claiming that he should be exonerated. In the end, one witness changed his story after not being charged for a crime, and Gallagher lost his trial on one minor charge. For that, he was reduced in grade to E-1. Chief of Naval Operations has now reduced his grade but not his pay grade by keeping him a petty officer first class. In other cases which also either convicted or charged soldiers for violating the military’s rules of engagement and war crimes, DDT plans to “take action” for two convicted war criminals. He has been asked to disapprove findings in one case and dismiss the charges in the other. Any action from DDT will undermine the chain of command and the military justice system. Law-abiding veterans will be insulted if DDT dismisses charges, restores rank, and pardons war criminals.

During his campaign, DDT continued to denigrate honored veterans. He slammed then Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), repeatedly saying, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Gold Star family Khizr and Ghazala Khan were frequent objects of DDT’s attacks after Khizr Khan spoke at the Democratic convention. Their son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004 while he served in Iraq.

Two years ago, he called Myeshia, wife of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson with condolences after Johnson was killed in an ambush in Niger following his being missing for 48 hours. Myeshia said that DDT didn’t even know her husband’s name.

Last year on Veterans Day, DDT traveled to France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. He was a no-show at a key ceremony because he didn’t want to go in the rain. He has visited the troops overseas only once in almost three years, finding it not “overly necessary,” according to his statement. After Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified to the House about DDT’s July 25 phone call to the Ukrainian president, DDT tried to smear Vindman and called him a “Never Trumper.”  

DDT promised to improve the VA, but he made decisions that hurt the agency. One of them was his vaunted whistleblower protection office that deliberately put whistleblowers at risk. The agency’s inspector general reported that the office not only outed whistleblowers but also kept poorly performing senior officials and didn’t investigate issues in an accurate or unbiased manner. DDT’s political appointments have scorned career employees, according to the report, and acted in ways that demonstrated a lack of respect for people they considered “career” whistleblowers.

In 2017, DDT put three of his Mar-a-Lago buddies as shadow rulers for the VA who threatened health care of veterans: a Palm Beach doctor who provides “concierge” medical care for the wealthy, the chair of Marvel Entertainment, and a lawyer. None of the three has ever served in the U.S. military or the government, and they operated in private with no transparency, accountability, or oversight. Taxpayers provided for the cost of officials’ travel to visit with the triumvirate at Mar-a-Lago. One of the beliefs of the “Mar-a-Lago crowd” was privatization of health care, known to be dangerous for veterans’ wellbeing. They were responsible for the appointment of David Shulkin as VA director and then told him what to do.

Once Shulkin was fired in 2018, DDT wanted to appoint Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the military doctor who gave him the glowing report including the possibility that DDT could live to be 200 years old.  for another 200 years. Any appointment disappeared after allegations that Jackson provided an excessive amount of an opioid to a White House staff member, wrote himself prescriptions for the same medication, distributed the sleep aid Ambien to White House and media members on overseas trips followed by prescriptions for wakefulness, got drunk and “wrecked a government vehicle” after a Secret Service going away party, and demonstrated workplace misconduct. After investigations into his behavior, including an issue with VP Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, and her doctor, Jackson faded away. Now Jackson is back, thinking about a run for the U.S. House after DDT-supporter Texan Mac Thornberry declared it quits for the 2020 election.

Another DDT attack on veterans is to end the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP) that helps reunited Filipino veterans and their families while they wait for federal decisions about their visas. These elderly veterans from World War II need support from family members. Over 250,000 Filipino soldiers enlisted in the U.S. army, but fewer were permitted to move to the U.S. and become citizens. Despite their service and sacrifice in World War II, they lack full benefits afforded to military veterans and their families in the states. Japan occupied Manila after they attacked the Philippines on December 7, 1941. The U.S. and Filipino resistance lasted for months, and the Bataan Death March of 60,000-100,000 U.S. and Filipino prisoners of war, leading to death of thousands, was decried as a war crime. During Japan’s occupation of Japan for the entire war, the Philippines suffered almost 60,000 casualties.

Thus far this year, the U.S. House passed 56 bills for veterans, 25 of them bipartisan, after 32 hearings. These include VA mental health funding and suicide prevention, inequitable taxes on military families, and “expanded benefits for Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange,” according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has not allowed any of these bills to move through the Senate.

Today, DDT went back to the state he rejected in favor of Florida and gave his first speech in New York City. He had wanted to be Grand Marshall for the Veterans Day parade there for almost 25 years, but that honor goes only to people who served in the military. This Veterans Day is the third one in which he did not follow the presidential tradition of going to Arlington Cemetery.

According to news reports, DDT put on his pretend-president hat and sounded presentable. He listed specific American military victories, recounted stories of individual veterans, and told Gold Star families that he will “stand by your side forever.” The event included a moment of silence and a wreath-laying ceremony honoring fallen soldiers.

DDT’s speech was not uneventful. Like sporting events that he attended, he was greeted with chants of “lock him up” and “impeach and remove.” Signs in the buildings surrounding him in Madison Square including “Convict” and “Impeach” in a Murdoch building. Several dozen people holding banners reading “Traitor, criminal, lock him up!”, “Sexist in chief” and “Impeach Trump” gathered close to Madison Square Park in downtown Manhattan ahead of his speech.

Now that DDT has had the attention he craves, he can continue to send soldiers into places around the world to protect other authoritarians and create more disabled veterans.

April 28, 2018

DDT’s Swinging Door, Legal Issues Continue

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:07 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The people in the world of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keep coming and going.

Mike Pompeo, confirmed as Secretary of State with a vote of 57-42, lost votes from eight of the 14 Democrats who voted to approve him for CIA Director. Tillerson’s hiring freeze in the State Department left Pompeo several openings—eight of nine staff positions, 60 ambassadorships, and ten of 22 assistant secretary positions—leaving the Senate busy with many more confirmation hearings. He will be headed to Brussels for a NATO meeting with foreign ministers tomorrow, help DDT determine whether to close the Iran deal by May 12, and get the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, overwhelmingly condemned by the UN, open on May 14. Newly elected Doug Jones (D-AL) joined five Democrats running this year in red states.

It’s a guarantee that Pompeo will continue to eliminate reproductive rights from the annual report on human rights practices throughout the world. The 2017 report, used for decision-making, skipped such areas as “the ability of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children.” It was replaced with “coercion in population control.” Asked about the omission, State Department officials replied, “There’s still a long section on women.”

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), head of the so-called religious freedom party, finally forced someone out of his job in the House–Chaplain Patrick Conroy. Two possible reasons are that Conroy favored the Democrats and that conservatives were upset because Conroy asked a Muslim to give an opening prayer. A third reason might be that Conroy wasn’t conservative enough: Ryan has assigned two evangelical representatives, both pastors, to find a replacement who must be elected by the House members.

After months of postponement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Richard Grenell, a gay Republican, has been confirmed as ambassador to Germany with mostly GOP support. The GOP Log Cabin Republicans blasted Democrats for opposing a gay man for this position, despite gay ambassadors nominated by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Among the Democratic argument against the former Fox contributor and aide to John Bolton is his derogatory tweets about prominent women such as comparing Rachel Maddow to Justin Bieber. He claims that he finds his comments to be “funny”; the question is whether he will try out his “humor” on Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel while he is a “diplomat” there—or continue to scold the nation for not bombing Syria.

Dr. Ronny Jackson, DDT’s White House doctor, has withdrawn from his nomination as VA Secretary after a number of concerns about his professional ethics. The last straw, even beyond his nickname as the “Candyman” for his distribution of prescription drugs to unauthorized patients, may have been the report that he was drunk when he “wrecked a government vehicle.” (Allegations against Jackson by colleagues and former colleagues.) Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is to be commended for bringing up concerns about Jackson before a difficult re-election campaign in a red state, especially because DDT is going after him. Jackson is DDT’s 24th failed nominee in 15 months. Half the top aides who arrived at the White House with DDT are gone, usually in painful ways. Paul Waldman asked, “Is there a single Trump aide or official who will leave the service of this president with their reputation enhanced, or at least not diminished?”

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), who had declared he wouldn’t run for re-election, walked off the job to avoid the House Ethics probe into his secret settlement to a staffer accusing him of harassment. Gov. Tom Wolf will need to determine whether to hold special elections for his position and the one that Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) is leaving before the end of his term.

Brand new NASA director Jim Bridenstine tweets that he’s “committed to lunar exploration” with “an expanded lunar surface campaign,” but NASA canceled its only lunar rover currently in development. Nobody seems to know why.

On the legal side, bars can legally refuse service to people wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice ruling. The plaintiffs tried to justify their lawsuit by claiming religious discrimination because they had been “paying spiritual tribute to the victims of 9/11.” The judge ruled that supporting DDT is not a form of religion. The bar owner said that he was asked to leave because he was “verbally abusive to our staff.” Only in MAGA world. (And no, this really happened!)

Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit against DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen has been postponed for 90 days. The judge said that the lawsuit might endanger Cohen’s constitutional rights if it proceeds while he is under criminal investigation.

Activists who shut off valves on the Enbridge oil pipelines may argue their case of “necessity defense” in court. A judge had approved the request last year, but prosecution had appealed. Testimony will include the serious danger of global warming. Last month, 13 protesters arguing the same defense after arrested for blocking construction by sitting in hopes dug for a pipeline were not responsible for civil disobedience.

Seattle is vacating every misdemeanor cannabis conviction for 542 people from the past 30 years after Washington state legalized recreational cannabis. Philadelphia is also stopping crimination prosecutions for cannabis possession to focus on solving homicides.

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has filed an official complaint against Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and director of the Office of Management and Budget. In a speech to banking industry executives, he encouraged them to pay for lobbying efforts to persuade Congress to alter its funding source for the CFPB so that Congress and the banking industry take control of the agency. Mulvaney told the audience that he met only with lobbyists who contributed to his campaign. Eight years ago, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion of Citizens United allowing almost unlimited donations to campaigns that “there is only scant evidence that independent expenditures even ingratiate.” Mulvaney proves Kennedy wrong. POGO maintains Mulvaney’s speech violates federal anti-lobbying laws dating back to 1919 preventing executive officials from urging people to contact Congress in support of or opposition to pending legislation.

POGO is just one of the groups fighting back against DDT’s and the Republicans’ authoritarian behavior. Max Boot writes:

“If there is any silver lining to this dark cloud hanging over our democracy, it is that Trump’s outrageous behavior is provoking opposition from a growing number of good-government groups. Both the center-left and ­center-right are mobilizing and—best of all—they are cooperating, because they realize that their policy differences fade into insignificance at a time when our core institutions and norms are under assault.”

He follows that statement by listing several of these organizations including a new one, Renew Democracy Initiative. Help for those who want another way to join the resistance!

A dark decision from the judiciary comes from a three-judge 5th Circuit panel reversing a lower court ruling that a voter photo ID law from 2011 intentionally discriminated against black and Hispanic voters. Plaintiffs had argued that the requirement constituted a poll tax because of its expenditures, but the defense maintained that the law had been fixed because voters could vote without the ID with an alternative and swore to a “reasonable impediment,” that could include transportation, disability or illness. Dissenting Judge James Graves Jr. wrote, “A hog in a silk waistcoat is still a hog.” The decision might keep Texas from federally-mandated preclearance according to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but the Supreme Court is hearing another Texas election problem in gerrymandering.

Most of the news after the Supreme Court decision on Sessions v. Dimaya focused on DDT’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, voting with the progressive justices. Another issue, however, deals with the cases that have been held back until the Supreme Court makes its ruling. Most of the time, this “relist,” as they are called, amounts to very few, but in the Dimaya case, the number is at least 42. Details here.

DDT was so pleased with his disastrous monolog on Fox & Friends that he’ll do it “once a month and as news breaks,” according to his counselor Kellyanne Conway. Steve Doocy (left) had the fastest reaction time to look pleased at the announcement.

An Oxford University study shows that DDT supporters read and share more “junk” news from sites containing “propaganda and ideologically extreme, hyper-partisan and conspiratorial political information” than any other group. Ninety-six percent of DDT supporters had “strong connections to one of 10 groups” identified in this area, and 91 percent of “hard conservatives” shared “junk” information on Facebook. The results are not a surprise, but they do explain the difficulty in having reasonable conversations with DDT supporters.

DDT skipped tonight’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner for the second time since he was inaugurated. Parts of it were hilarious, including comedian Michelle Wolf. Last year, DDT went to Pennsylvania for love from his followers; this year he was in Michigan. In addition to attacking the usual people, DDT called for a government shutdown in September if he doesn’t get his border wall. What a patriot!

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