Nel's New Day

February 28, 2021

DDT Can’t Escape His History

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) has left the White House and denied access to his favorite communication device, Twitter, but investigations into events during his term in the White House continues to be exposed.  

A recently released report explains how Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was involved in how Jamal Khashoggi, U.S. resident and journalist, was coerced into the Saudi embassy in Turkey for the purpose of torturing him before his murder and dismemberment. DDT consistently covered up MBS’s involvement in the crime for a number of personal reasons. MBS was also a personal friend of DDT’s his son-in-law Jared Kushner. The released intelligence report now fully proves DDT knew about MBS’ involvement in the killing since its occurrence in October 2018 despite his repeated denials.

DDT had been enamored with Saudi Arabia and MBS since his inauguration. His journey to the country was his first foreign trip after he moved into the White House. The media fully covered the visit where he tried to participate in the sword dance and touched  the glowing “orb” along with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and Saudi King Salman. According to MBS, a new book by New York Times reporter Ben Hubbard, DDT was given the orb, but people were afraid the photos people took with it would cause a scandal. Hubbard wrote, “The orb was hidden away in embassy storage.”

DDT’s not-so-secret weapon to derail mail-in voting, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, has reappeared in a congressional hearing. In DeJoy’s first few weeks last June, he cut back workers, overtime, and equipment to drastically slow down first-class mail delivery so much that Congress tried to block him. Despite lost equipment from his beginning, most of the ballots managed to get delivered on time, thanks to the efforts of Democratic legislators. DeJoy has remained in his position because the DDT-appointed board for the postal service is leaving him there. During his hearing last Wednesday, DeJoy showed a high degree of arrogance. When Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) asked him how long he planned to remain as postmaster general, he responded, “Long time. Get used to me.”

In the hearing, DeJoy also promised greater delays in service along with higher prices, including no longer having two-day delivery for first-class mail and limit air transport for it. DeJoy said, “Does it make a difference if it’s an extra day to get a letter?” He didn’t address the fact that some first-class mail isn’t delivered for weeks. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “The Postal Service needs leadership that can and will do a better job.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) joined other Republicans in accusing Democrats of conspiracy theories to create “chaos and confusion” in the information about delayed mail delivery. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) answered Jordan:

“I didn’t vote to overturn an election. And I will not be lectured by people who did.”

During the hearing, President Joe Biden announced his decision to fill the three vacancies on the nine-member USPS board with these nominees: Anton Hajjar, former general counsel for the American Postal Workers Union; Amber McReynolds, chief executive officer of Vote at Homes supporting mail-voting in the 2020 election; and Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general on Biden’s transition team. Stroman quit last year because of DeJoy’s position on delaying the mail. Two of the appointments are Democrats; McReynolds is unaffiliated. She was Denver’s director of elections from 2011 to 2018 where she implemented a complete vote-by-mail elections system for the city. Appointments include two men of color and a woman.

The current DDT-appointed chair, DDT-supporter Ron Bloom, can also be replaced because he took the place of another board member whose term ended in December 2020. All the Republican members on the board are friends of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and, like DeJoy, have donated large sums to both the GOP and DDT. The entire board is composed of wealthy white men with limited postal service

Last week’s hearings included an investigation into the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by the House Appropriations Committee. Key moments:

Intelligence reported to the U.S. Capitol Police headquarters about an attack on January 5, but the department’s leadership wasn’t notified, according to former Chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the insurrection. The FBI sent an email the night before the attack about an eminent attack, but Washington’s acting Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department Robert Contee said a late-night evening email was not sufficient to highlight the threat.

The insurrection was coordinated, with prepared people bringing equipment such as climbing gear, explosives, chemical spray, etc. They used hand signals and radio communications when they breached the building. Some rioters claimed they were caught up in the spirit of the event, but members of far-right extremist groups planned the attack for weeks and months, judging by the criminal charges against them. Even DDT’s lawyers claimed the attack was pre-planned during the impeachment trial.

Pentagon officials were either unable or unwilling to rapidly sent National Guard troops, as evidenced by their delay after desperate pleas for help.

Sund said he asked the two former congressional sergeants of arms for an emergency declaration to call in the National Guard, but neither one recalled the request. According to Sund, Paul Irving said he “was concerned about the ‘optics’ and didn’t feel the intelligence supported it.” Irving denied saying that and couldn’t remember talking to Sund although Sund said he made the request at 1:09 pm on January 6.

Phone records prove Irving ignored Sund’s pleas for help, according to Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, who said Sund called Irving at 12:58 pm to request the National Guard as rioters breached the building. Lawmakers were forced into hiding. Sund called Irving another four times until 1:45 pm.

The continued presence of law enforcement and a fence remains, according to Pittman because militia groups announced their intention to “blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible” when Biden addresses the Congress.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), responsible in the past for putting Russian disinformation into the Senate record, read  a statement from an observer standing out by the fence that the violence came only after police provoked the protesters and “fake Trump protesters” were at fault. Before the hearing he had said there was no armed insurrection on January 6.

DDT’s financial records including his tax returns for eight years—reportedly millions of pages—are now with Cy Vance, Manhattan’s district attorney, for review after the U.S. Supreme Court refused DDT’s appeal to block the subpoena. The question now is whether DDT can slow the process long enough to get past the statute of limitations, six years in New York. State law, however, now excludes the time when a person charged with a state crime while acting as president, but the question is whether this exclusion is also for criminal conduct predating the law’s passage. If the law holds up, the time for limitations begins on January 20, 2021. Vance also has only ten months left in his current term and doesn’t plan to run for re-election.

Meanwhile, Vance has enlisted outside experts, including a forensic consulting firm, to examine the documents. The accounting records can determine fraud by showing how tax figures were calculated as were done in the Paul Manafort investigation. Manafort was sentenced to over seven years in prison before DDT pardoned him in December. Tax returns can also determine whether other financial records are false.

Despite DDT’s pardon for Steve Bannon, DDT’s former main strategist, DOJ prosecutors won’t dismiss the indictment against him as a matter of record. Bannon allegedly siphoned off over $1 million from GoFundMe donations for building part of DDT’s southern wall. According to Nixon v. United State, a pardon does not erase the grand jury finding probable cause for Bannon’s committing the indictment’s offenses. The prosecutors’ letter explained:

“Were the Court to dismiss the Indictment against Bannon, it could have a broader effect than the pardon itself, among other things potentially relieving Bannon of certain consequences not covered by the pardon.”

Vance’s office has subpoenaed Wells Fargo and GoFundMe for financial records tied to Bannon’s crowd-funding effort. Bannon may face state criminal charges which cannot be pardoned by a president.

DDT may have a parallel with the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City (NJ) which was leveled by an implosion on February 17, 2021. People paid $10 for watching it in person, and a front-row seat cost $575. The building was the first of DDT’s casinos going bankrupt with unpaid contractors and suppliers. During his campaign he bragged about how much money he made in Atlantic City where he put personal debts on the casinos, leaving debts to investors. The eyesore was destroyed as an “imminent hazard” because of falling debris and metal.

February 27, 2021

Biden, Democratic Congress Moving Rapidly Forward

The year 2021 marks the 20th year of the U.S. preemptive war in the Middle East, starting with George W. Bush’s attack on Afghanistan. President Joe Biden delivered the latest bombings, seven against two Iran-backed militias smuggling weapons in Syria. The airstrikes hit buildings on a border crossing with Iraq. Iranian state television reported 17 fatalities, but Biden had no exact number. Biden said he intended to “send a message” about the militias’ aggressive actions in Iraq against the U.S. including last week’s rocket attack. Experts have differed on the appropriateness of Biden’s actions, but Biden hopes to keep the path open for renewing an anti-nuclear agreement in Iran.

Years after U.S. intelligence prepared a report on the 2018 torturing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and journalist, in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey, the new Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has declassified and released the document. According to the report, available here:

“Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi… The Crown Prince has absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization.”

Although Congress mandated the information be made public, former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had covered up for MBS because of his friendship with Saudi Arabia and took no action about the vicious assault.

On the day before the report’s release, Biden called the 85-year-old Saudi king, instead of his son MBS, the crown prince and heir apparent, who has been giving orders. Biden may have had trouble reaching the king: sources say, “MBS has controlled his father’s switchboard.” The conversation skipped the report, but Biden “affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law” and discussed working on “mutual issues of concern.” Biden has eliminated U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The U.S. does not plan to charge MBS of any crimes, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the “Khashoggi Ban,” restricting visas for people acting on behalf of foreign governments directly engaged in “serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities, including those that suppress, harass, surveil, threaten, or harm journalists, activists, or other persons perceived to be dissidents for their work.” The ban can also cover family members and will be applied immediately to 76 Saudis “believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing.” The Treasury Department also sanctioned a former Saudi intelligence official, Ahmed Hassan Mohammed al Asiri, and the crown prince’s personal protective detail, the Rapid Intervention Force (aka the “Tiger Squad”). Blinken echoed Biden’s earlier statement that the U.S. wishes to “recalibrate” the relationship with Saudi Arabia “to be more in line with our interests and our values.”

The Treasury Department also replaced sanctions on Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler for corruption in Africa after DDT rolled them with no explanation or announcement during his last few days in the White House. Gertler is a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden also plans sanctions and other punishments for Russia for the SolarWinds cyber-espionage campaign, interfering in elections, and the Kremlin’s use of a banned chemical weapon against anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny before jailing him.

On Thursday, three Republicans supported the Democratic representatives in a 224-206 vote to expand federal protections for LGBTQ people by prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The Equality Act amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act to include specific protections for LGBTQ people. The Republicans voting for the bill are John Katko (NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), and Tom Reed (NY); the other Republican support discrimination in the name of religious freedom. The legislation passed the House almost two years ago, but then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ignored it. McConnell has become the minority leader, and the Democrats will likely address the House bill.

Early Saturday morning, the House passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan by 219-212 with opposition from all Republicans and two Democrats, Kurt Schrader (OR) and Jared Golden (ME).  Although the Senate parliamentarian refuses to allow the hourly $15 minimum wage in the reconciliation bill permitting a 50-50 vote in the chamber without a filibuster, the House included it in their bill.

As usual with a Democratic president, Republicans are arguing for austerity after driving up the national debt with massive tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. Another false argument is that only a small portion of the $1.9 trillion goes to combating the virus, “actually used to put shots in people’s arms,” according to Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO). He ignores the funding for stimulus checks, school openings, unemployment payments, assistance for small businesses, and other types of expenditures the GOP legislators willingly passed while DDT was in the White House.

Biden insisted on changes in the bill’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans after they went to big businesses in the first bill instead of the mandated small business. He wants to guarantee loans to businesses with under 20 employees and restricts applications from these businesses for 14 days so that lenders can prioritize those businesses. Other changes open up loans to people with non-fraud felony convictions and to non-citizen business owners. In the last round, a large number of loans were flagged for potential fraud. A new mandate tackling “waste, fraud, and abuse across all federal programs” requires approval of PPP loans “contingent on passing [Small Business Association] fraud checks, Treasury’s Do Not Pay database, and public records.”

A proposed bill for a special commission probing the January 6 attack on the Capitol, such as the one which investigated the 9/11 attacks, is struggling because of GOP opposition. Objections started when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wanted a majority of Democrats on the commission. If Republicans approached the situation with a lack of bias, the equality might have worked. Yet Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) believes not only that DDT had nothing to do with the insurrection but also that it was a friendly group of people who were coming into the Capitol until the Capitol Police provoked them. Earlier, he had falsely asserted the seditionists were all on the left side, that all of them were not DDT’s supporters. Some GOP legislators, such as Steve Scalise (LA), second in House minority command, still maintain Biden is in the White House illegally and should be removed.

In addition, almost 150 GOP legislators of the 261 Republicans in Congress voted to overturn the legal votes from the electoral college after the far-right attack on the Capitol to stop the vote—almost 40 percent of the number of Republicans in Congress. All those Republicans have a conflict of interest to be on a commission to investigate the insurrection and would likely sabotage its investigation and reporting.

On the Senate side, Republican Mitch McConnell insists the commission also investigate all Black Lives Matter protests. If not that, then it should concentrate only on Capitol security failures, avoiding any white supremacy terrorism issues. The approaches would be like telling the 9/11 Commission to focus only on planes hitting the World Trade towers without reviewing radical Islamist terrorism or focus on all international violence. The mandate of the 9/11 Commission was to examine “the facts and circumstances relating to the 9/11 terrorist attack . . . including those relating to intelligence agencies; law enforcement agencies; diplomacy; immigration, nonimmigrant visas, and border control; the flow of assets to terrorist organizations; commercial aviation; the role of congressional oversight and resource allocation; and other areas determined relevant by the Commission for its inquiry.”

After DDT’s administration ignored reunification of families who they separated at the southern border, Biden appointed a task force to find the parents of 611 children. In less than a month, 105 children have been returned to their families, and the group is working to reunify the others.

Biden revoked the following presidential orders and memoranda signed by DDT:

  • Cutting funding from cities DDT declared as “anarchist” havens.
  • Mandating all new federal buildings be designed in classical aesthetic.
  • Limiting the ability of federal agency employees to make regulatory decisions.
  • Calling for agency heads to review welfare programs and strengthen work requirements for some recipients.

After a month in the White House, Biden has an overall job approval rating of 56 percent with 54 percent for his handling the economy and 56 percent for foreign affairs. His best rating is 67 percent approval in handling the coronavirus. That rating might go up with the FDA approval of a third vaccine, the one-shot vaccination from Johnson & Johnson. In DDT’s last six weeks, people received 12 million vaccinations. Biden promised 100 million in the first 100 days: in his first five weeks, people have gotten 58 million, 1.6 million a day and rising.

On February 26, 2021, the number of daily U.S. infections is down (80,625), but the daily number of deaths is averaging above 2,000—the most recent number 2,216. Total U.S. infections – 29,136,912; deaths – 523,082.      

February 19, 2021

Biden: Mundane Can Be a Relief

Tomorrow celebrates the one-month anniversary of President Joe Biden in the Oval Office, and the contrast to the four years of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) in the White House is overwhelming. Before DDT, much news would have been mundane, reflecting ordinary governance—like now. News about DDT, however, usually reported his alienation of foreign allies, rejection of help for anyone except the wealthy and big business, and complete chaos as he rapidly changed his positions—sometimes before the end of a sentence.

Participating in the G7 summit, Biden pledged full commitment to NATO after DDT cursed it for four years. “Democracy doesn’t happen by accident,” he said. In a major address to the Munich Security Conference, he warned that “democratic progress is under assault” in many parts of the world, including the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. also officially rejoined the Paris climate accord and supports a global effort to equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines, donating $4 billion over two years for the effort. After cancelation of the G7 summit, scheduled for the United States in 2020, the UK plans the 2021 summit in June at a Cornwall seaside resort. 

Biden also offered to join European nations in diplomacy with Iran and backed away from DDT’s attempt to restore UN’s sanctions on the country. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reported the U.S. plans to join them for the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran. EU’s deputy secretary general asked the other original signers—Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China—to bring back the agreement, possibly with the U.S. as observer or guest instead of participant to work with Iran. The U.S. hopes to expand the agreement to control Iran’s growing missile ability as well as the country’s support of terrorist groups and the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

After DDT violated the agreement, Iran compiled and enriched nuclear fuel over the 2015 limits. Biden started negotiations by withdrawing DDT’s demand of UN international sanctions against Iran. Other nations had dismissed insistence from former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for invoking the “snap back sanctions” because DDT had dropped out of the agreement. Biden is also lifting travel restrictions on Iranian officials allowing them to attend UN meetings in the U.S.

Biden plans to “recalibrate” the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, communicating with King Salman instead of his son Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). Next week, the U.S. will release the report of MBS’s torture and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and journalist, over two years ago. Biden also cancelled the arms sale to Saudi and criticized Saudi human rights abuses. DDT discounted his intelligence conclusions; protected MBS, a friend of DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner; and ignored a law passed by Congress in 2019 to submit an unclassified report about the Saudi involvement in the murder. DDT’s intelligence director John Ratcliffe’s excuse for violating the law was “a marginal ‘public interest’” in the declassification.  

In domestic issues, Biden will appoint Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. As a senior CMS official for President Obama, she helped implement the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion and insurance-market reforms. Expanding insurance coverage is a goal of Biden’s administration. Brooks-LaSure also wants to improve health coverage and address high rates of maternal mortality, much worse than in other industrialized nations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) promised Congress will approve the $1.9 trillion relief bill by March 14. The House plans to pass the bill next week and send it to the Senate perhaps Friday or Saturday, allowing that chamber to work through issues before returning it for final passage. Current $300 weekly emergency federal employment benefits expire on March 14, and the current bill would increase benefits to $400 until fall.

Also in the bill are $1,400 stimulus checks for those eligible to add to the $600 approved in December; $350 billion for city and states governments with massive revenue shortfalls; $160 billion for vaccines, increased testing and other health care assistance; approximately $130 billion to help schools reopen; food assistance and rent help; and an increased child tax credit. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told GOP  House members to vote “no” and called it “Pelosi’s Payoff to Progressives Act,” referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He accused the bill of keeping schools closed, bailing out blue states, and paying people not to work.

Although a split between the two parties in voting for the bill may seem to lack the “unity” Biden wants, the country is unified in supporting the relief. Earlier this month, 78 percent of people supported the stimulus checks, including 64 percent of Republicans. The entire bill has overall 68 percent support, and only 47 percent of Republicans oppose the bill. 

Republicans are suffering low polls compared to Biden’s 62 percent approval rating:

  • 19 percent: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • 27 percent: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
  • 26 percent: Congressional Republicans job performance
  • 23 percent: Approval of Republican Party direction 

Biden promised help for mayors in at least 17 large Texas cities and other county officials suffering loss of power because of the state grid’s failure and lack of potable water for almost half the state’s population. Republicans failed to get FEMA generators to hospitals so Biden is working with local governments to move them.

On Wednesday, Bill Magness, president of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), said rolling blackouts started on Monday because the state’s entire power grid providing power to 90 percent of the state “seconds and minutes” from crashing. Without that action, Texas could have suffered uncontrolled blackouts for an “indeterminately long” crisis, possibly for months. Gov. Greg Abbott, who appointed members of the three-member ERCOT board, has called for their resignations. 

Biden has been replacing DDT’s incompetent, conservatively biased loyalists, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has two of them at the top of his list—Andrew Saul and David Black, Social Security Administration commissioner and deputy commissioner. Brown said they “cut the benefits that hardworking Americans have earned, attacked the Social Security Administration’s employees, denied beneficiaries due process, and needlessly increased disability reviews during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Current law protects them from firing except for “neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.”

To block unnecessary deportations, Biden signed orders and directives to reduce the excuses ICE agents use for deporting people and mandates greater oversight of ICE agents. The order is good for 90 days while the agency develops long-term guidelines, but ICE agents rebelled by attempting to release three men convicted of sex offenses against children, against Biden’s orders, until they were stopped. These orders lead into Biden’s immigration reform bill. 

President Ronald Reagan was responsible for the last big immigration reform bill in 1986 when Republicans believed in passing on “America’s triumph … into the next century and beyond.” Senate passed a bill in 2013 by 68 to 32 when, as Jennifer Rubin wrote, GOP Sens. Marco Rubio (FL) and Lindsey Graham (SC) “still sounded like Reagan.” Since then, Graham’s best friend Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) died, and Rubio decided he wanted to be president. And the House killed the Senate bill.

The paths to citizenship including not only Dreamers who arrived in the U.S. as children but also farmworkers and refugees fleeing danger in their home countries provide immediate eligibility for green cards and applications for citizenship after three years. Others will need to wait eight years. all need to have arrived in the U.S. before January 1, 2021. The bill also increases available diversity visas and assigns more funding to immigration courts and technology. Other provisions include “increased border technology to interdict drug traffickers and smugglers, higher penalties for employers who exploit undocumented laborers in the United States, and increased funding for immigration courts.”

The current administration rejected an anti-immigrant agreement signed by illegally appointed Ken Cuccinelli, acting DHS Deputy Secretary, on the day before Biden’s inauguration. The document gave the ICE union veto power over any changes and policies by the new administration. Biden had 30 days to “approve or disapprove” the directive; he denied it Tuesday, hours before the deadline. A whistleblower exposed the document as part of a complaint into Cuccinelli’s corrupt actions.

Biden told Congress the Equality Act has his full support. Adding sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation to protected classes in the Civil Rights Act, the bill provides complete anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community in areas like housing, credit, employment, public spaces and services, and federal programs. LGBTQ+ people have no federal civil rights protections and can be denied the rights of heterosexual people in 29 states. The new bill is the fourth one with these protections since the first one was introduced in 1974. Last June, the Supreme Court ruled Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in the workplace also covers sexual orientation and gender identity, but the ruling does not list other areas such as housing, healthcare, and education. The decision also lacks the power of a bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the president.

One of DDT’s actions in his last year was to remove conservation of water by passing new regulations against low-flow toilets and increasing water flow in many other household appliances and fixtures. Biden plans reviews of these regulations and other DDT’s energy-wasting rules such as using LED lighting, saving not only resources but also money in utility bills.

January 2, 2021

DDT: Week 206 – Sabotage, Blocking Change

President-elect Joe Biden continues to face sabotage from the far-right loyalists of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), and Dana Milbank lays much of the responsibility in the hands of DDT’s budget director, Russell Vought. During Vought’s two years in the office, the national debt increased by $6 trillion while predicting a 2.8 percent GDP growth last February, just before the economy’s collapse. Milbank writes:

“But what Russ Vought is very good at is sabotage. He’s sabotaging national security, the pandemic response and the economic recovery — all to make things more difficult for the incoming Biden administration… He has blocked civil servants at OMB from cooperating with the Biden transition, denying President-elect Joe Biden the policy analysis and budget-preparation assistance given to previous presidents-elect, including Barack Obama and Trump himself. Transition figures warn that it will likely delay and hamper economic and pandemic relief and national security preparation (the Pentagon is the other key agency resisting transition cooperation with the incoming administration).”

Milbank tells about Vought’s past:

“He was the author of a Sept. 4 memo attacking critical race theory and canceling racial sensitivity programs, which he called ‘divisive, anti-American propaganda.’

“Vought was also the mastermind of Trump’s executive order that attempts to reclassify tens of thousands of civil servants who work in policy roles so they can be easily fired…

“He was a key figure in the Ukraine imbroglio, freezing military aid to the country as Trump pushed for Ukraine’s president to announce a probe of Joe and Hunter Biden and the Democrats… Vought also ignored a subpoena during the impeachment inquiry.

“[In] a 2016 article … he wrote: ‘Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ, his Son, and they stand condemned.’

“Vought spent seven years on the vanguard of conservative extremism as a senior official at Heritage Action, the political wing of the Heritage Foundation…

“Before Heritage, Vought worked for the right-wing House Republican Study Committee whose job, he said, ‘is to push leadership as far to the right as is possible and flat out oppose it when necessary.’

“At an antiabortion rally, he claimed credit for blocking Planned Parenthood’s funding. He infuriated Democrats by refusing to share projections with Congress…

“He ran the botched White House response to the 2019 government shutdown, issuing legally dubious decisions and, as one Republican budget expert told The Post, ‘making up the rules as they go along.’ It became the longest-ever shutdown and ended in Trump’s surrender.”

Now Vought is in charge of destroying the transition—and the U.S. along with it.

The Secret Service is planning changes in its protection for Biden because of existing white House agents’ loyalty to DDT. While working for DDT, some agents told colleagues not to wear masks during trips, perhaps the reason over 130 agents tested positive for COVID-19 or were quarantined because of exposure to the virus. In addition, former agent detail leader Anthony Ornato also worked as DDT’s chief of staff. Ornato helped coordinate the photo op when DDT walked through the cleared Lafayette Square to pose with a Bible and his people attacked peaceful protesters with tear gas.

One country nervous about Biden’s upcoming administration, Saudi Arabia, departs the golden years of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). For four years, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam committed human rights abuses and even killed a U.S. journalist with no objection from DDT who promoted the sale of huge quantities of weapons to the Saudis used to kill large numbers of people in the Middle East, including Yemeni civilians. DDT sided with Saudi Arabia over Qatar where the U.S. has a military base. In possible steps to appease the new administration, the Saudis are considering the release of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Haltoul, sentenced in 2018 to almost six years in prison for defying the country’s ban on women driving, and a resolution to its four-year blockade of Qatar.

This week, Biden made three appointments to the Department of Defense.

Kathleen Hicks, nominated for deputy secretary of defense, has a history of posts in the office of the Secretary of Defense.

Colin Kahl, another former Pentagon official overseeing Middle East Affairs, has been appointed for undersecretary of defense for policy.

Kelly Magsamen, former principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs now at the Center for American Progress, has been named Pentagon chief of staff.

Meanwhile DDT continues his “scorch the earth” policies and killings. He headed home early from Mar-a-Lago before the large New Year’s Eve party where he had promised to appear. Those who attended still managed to make it a grand superspreader event with mask-less proximity and kept Mar-a-Lago fiscally afloat by paying over $1,000 a ticket each. Before he left the club, DDT had a tantrum about his wife’s renovations of his living quarters and demanded the removal of the white marble and dark wood.  

Trying to get the heat off Russia’s paying bounties to the Taliban to attack U.S. troops, DDT declassified unconfirmed information about China paying people in Afghanistan to attack U.S. soldiers. Months ago, news reports revealed Russians gave bounties to Taliban militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

DDT also completely ignored the Nashville (TN) explosion taking out AT&T communication from Georgia to Kentucky. The alleged perpetrator was a 63-year-old white man who supposedly died in the explosion. According to reports, the man believed in conspiracy theories such as “aliens and UFO’s began attacking the earth” on 9/11, and the world is controlled by reptilians and lizard people masquerading as humans. The man’s girlfriend told the police over a year ago he was building bombs, but police discounted her information and didn’t follow up on it.

Three federal executions will be DDT’s way of honoring the 91st anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s birthdate; one of the killings is of a mentally-disturbed woman

DDT extended the ban on some immigrant work visas for three months, including the diversity visa lottery allowing people from underrepresented countries to come to the U.S, the H-1B tech program, and the H-2B non-agricultural seasonal workers.

Customs and Border Protection are illegally expelling newborn U.S. citizens from the country with their migrant mothers without giving any citizenship proof. CBP is lying about the women, asylum seekers, voluntarily leaving the U.S.

Although DDT cannot defund foreign aid, he plans to freeze it for the last 18 days. 

The sinking ships are still leaving the rat. One resignation came from U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania David Freed, who fueled DDT’s claim of widespread voter fraud when he told him about nine discarded mail-in ballots in Luzerne County. The election worker had made a mistake, she was fired, and the ballots were retrieved. Yet Freed improperly made a public declaration, and DDT turned a preliminary investigation into a conspiracy theory.

Texas owes Pennsylvania’s Lt. Gov. John Fetterman $3 million because of its bounty on cheating voters, and he isn’t letting them forget. Fetterman claims Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick—the man who suggested old people should die of coronavirus to open up businesses—should pay him the money because of Fetterman’s proof of voter fraud, all three cases against Republicans. Fetterman also pointed out that his legal case is far stronger than the false one for election fraud Texas sent to the Supreme Court.

After the deaths of 346 people in the 2018 and 2019 crashes, the Boeing 737 Max was grounded for 20 months until the FAA permitted the plane style to return to the skies. Within 34 days, an engine issue in a 737-8 Max forced the plane to divert to Tucson (AZ) four days ago.

DDT is transferring up to $700 million from low-paid wage earners to their employees by giving tips for waiters and waitresses to back-of-the-house employees. That money can then be used for minimum wages. With the change, tipped people can be required to do non-tipped work for their minimum wage, as low as $2.13 an hour and under the federal minimum wage in half the states. Employers can then fire some of the regular minimum wage employees.

The favorite bankers of DDT and Jared Kushner at Deutsche Bank, Rosemary Vrablic and Dominic Scalzi, have unexpectedly resigned after the Manhattan DA’s office and New York AG subpoenaed Deutsche Bank about its lending relationship with the Trump Organization.  DDT owes Deutsche Bank about $330 million, and the loans come due in 2023 and 2024. If he doesn’t repay the bank, it can collect on his personal assets. Last year, the bank’s anti-money-laundering specialists recommended DDT’s and Kushner’s transactions be reported to the Treasury Department’s financial crimes watchdog, but executives failed to follow through.

As the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths skyrockets, so does the number of hospitalizations. The total ratcheted up to over 125,000, up from 100,000 five days earlier. Although totals drop from lack of recording on weekends and holidays, new infections in the U.S. for the second day of 2021 are 232,227. Deaths are 2,107.

December 26, 2020

Unity of Kwanzaa, Divisiveness of DDT

Saturday, the first day of the seven-day Kwanzaa, a non-religious holiday to honor Black peoples’ ancestral roots, does not have a religious purpose. Everyone could follow its principles, those of working together to benefit all in a form of Democratic socialism, instead of tearing society apart. Kwanzaa for each day:

  • Unity: striving for and maintaining unity in the family, community, nation and race.
  • Self-determination: defining, naming, creating and speaking for oneself.
  • Collective work and responsibility: uplifting the community by solving problems together.
  • Cooperative economics: economically uplifting the community by working together to build and maintain businesses.
  • Purpose: returning the community to its greatness.
  • Creativity: leaving the community more beautiful and beneficial.
  • Faith: believing in the people, parents, teachers, leader, and the struggle’s victory.

People can thank Democratic socialism for vaccinations against COVID-19. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) takes credit for the vaccine in a short time, but it comes from decades of medical research and development along with public-sector funding. Distribution comes from public funding—Democratic socialism in health departments. To those who claim God will prevent them from getting sick or dying, He doesn’t seem to be doing a good job these days.  

People who refer to Democratic socialism as the “radical left” and fight for almost nonexistent government involvement ignore the ways they benefit from the philosophy in the United States: police, fire departments, libraries, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, education, unemployment, workers’ compensation, food stamps, welfare to those in need such as farmers and oil companies, the military, transportation, roads and highways, parks and recreation, Federal Reserve Bank, courts, prisons, water and sewer, utilities in some areas—the basis for everyone’s everyday life.  

According to Democratic socialism, both economy and society should be run democratically to meet public needs, not to make profits for a very few. Corporate bureaucracies with business executives and wealthy stockholders should not control society by making decisions for the few and taking all the profits, leaving workers with unlivable low wages. Regulations and tax incentives can encourage companies to act in the public interest.

The Cares Act, passed in March to help people suffering from COVID-19 intended to help small businesses gave tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars to big businesses. The new, not-yet-signed stimulus bill makes forgiven loans tax deductible—unlike charitable contributions—and creates a commission to oversee safety in horse racing. Republicans gave $6.3 billion in tax breaks to wealthy corporate backers but couldn’t manage another 25 percent to the bill for $2,000 checks. Seven months of COVID-19 gave U.S. billionaires an additional $931 billion, almost as much as the stimulus bill costs taxpayers.

Over two months ago, the top 1 percent of people in the U.S. owned 30.4 percent of all the nation’s household wealth while the bottom 50 percent had 1.9 percent of the assets. The wealthiest 10 percent have over 88 percent of all corporate equity and mutual fund shares, yet people look at the changes in stock markets to judge the economic health of the U.S. Under largely GOP control, these figures of income inequality, although currently skyrocketing, continue the increasing inequality during the past four decades. Income follows the same pattern.

Fair elections are another part of democracy. DDT claimed he would be working while at Mar-a-Lago, but Saturday he spent his time tweeting attacks against the recent election, ranting against the Supreme Court, the DOJ, the FBI, the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), GOP senators, and the U.S., which he called a third world nation.  DDT also called President-elect Joe Biden a “fake president.” Saying the election would be rigged if he lost, DDT has kept that promise to lie about election fraud. Now he claims he has “absolute proof” about non-existent widespread fraud and whines that no one will pay attention to it. There’s no evidence of any widespread fraud.

Another DDT lie comes from his mischaracterization of a year-old report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz. The IG found no evidence of political bias in the investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 campaign, only criticizing the handling of four FISA applications putting DDT’s adviser Carter Page under surveillance for 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions.” DDT maintained:

“The details of the report are far worse than anything I would have even imagined…This was an overthrow of government, this was an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it and they got caught. They got caught red-handed.”

Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI,who worked under Robert Mueller at the bureau, said DDT had never seen the report and is “lying about it.”

DDT may not have been re-elected, but his incessant lies about election fraud makes Russia very, very happy, according to its state media. After its president, Vladimir Putin, recognized Joe Biden as the U.S. president-elect, the media expressed sympathy that “our candidate”—“poor, poor Trump”—will be leaving the Oval Office. The bright side of DDT’s loss to Russia, however, comes from DDT’s successful destruction of the U.S. political system. Russian political expert, Alexei Martynov, said, “They burned the reputation of U.S. institutions during these elections.” Evgeny Popov, the host of Russia’s 60 Minutes, added, “Let’s be glad about that,” and Deputy of the Russian Duma Alexei Zhuravlyov concluded, “The worse for them, the better for us.” Popov pointed at the map to show how the U.S. is 50-50 divided—badly polarized.

According to the Russians, U.S. Republicans are disturbed because Biden is putting minorities into top-level positions. Dmitry Mikheev, who claims to be familiar with conservatives, said, “The whites aren’t being allowed in there. [The GOP] got scared.” Popov agreed, “And the head of the Department of Defense is Black. What is this? That must have been the red line.” Co-host Olga Skabeeva used racial slurs on Russian 60 Minutes, fitting the Russian tactic of sowing discord as described in Robert Mueller’s report from U.S. intelligence and supported by the Senate report. The GOP’s delight in DDT’s insulting minorities and vilifying immigrants works better than Russian disinformation as calls for division and violence comes from inside the White House.

Death defines DDT’s legacy—killing civilians in the Middle East, gutting environmental regulations, endorsing domestic violence, promoting rampant hunger, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to die from COVID-19, and executing more federal prisoners than any other person in the Oval Office since the 19th century. One execution, however, may not happen. The DOJ illegally scheduled the execution of Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, during a stay of execution, and a judge vacated her latest execution date for January 12. This month, Montgomery’s lawyers contracted COVID-19 while visiting their client and asked for additional time to file a clemency petition. The execution can’t be scheduled until January 1, 2021, and a death-row inmate must be notified at least 20 days before the execution—in this case, January 21—which is the day after Biden’s inauguration. Two other federal inmates scheduled to be executed in January are positive for coronavirus, and their attorneys are also seeking delays. Biden “opposes the death penalty now and in the future.”

After a 17-year hiatus, DDT’s DOJ executed ten federal prisoners in 2020, the total killed by Grover Cleveland in 1896. One of the executed men wasn’t present at any murder, and jury members now question the capital punishment. Three of the ten have been during DDT’s lame-duck session, the first series of federal executions in this time period since the 19th century. Until 2020, only three other federal inmates were executed since the reinstatement of the penalty in 1988, and no federal inmates were executed since 2003. State executions are at a 37-year low, only seven in five southern states during 2020 and all before July 8. State death sentences dropped to 18, the fewest since the Supreme Court struck down capital punishments statutes in 1972.

DDT also plans to cover up for the Saudi Arabian murders of U.S. residents—the three U.S. servicemen killed by a Saudi officer at Pensacola Naval Air Station a year ago and the Washington Post journalist killed at the Saudi embassy in Turkey over two years ago. Eight other service members were wounded in the Pensacola attack. The service member’s families have never heard from the White House and are still waiting for the attack’s solution and the Saudi royal family to take care of them, as DDT promised. He is considering legal immunity for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from a federal lawsuit for targeting a former intelligence officer for assassination, leading to the dismissal of these other cases against MBS as well as Saudi’s involvement in 3,000 people killed in the U.S. on 9/11/01. Such action removes any legal actions in other murders of U.S. residents. With the Saudi officer murderer having “significant” ties to al-Qaeda, the killings mark the first successful deadly terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. In justifying his obsequious attitude toward the Saudis, DDT says, “We do a lot of business with them.” By that, he may mean personal business with his companies.

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are due to hit 20 million by the end of the year; deaths will rise to 350,000. DDT never mentions them.

March 16, 2020

Congress, Russia, Saudi, Corruption

Last Friday night, the House passed a covid-19 bill by a large bipartisan majority. Unfortunately, it needed a “technical fix,” which requires a unanimous vote if the House isn’t called back into session. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) delayed the vote because he didn’t want a “rushed process,” according to Bloomberg reporter Laura Litvan. He also said that he didn’t know if it can be solved soon. The fix addressed virus-related sick leave for small firms. Gohmert finally withdrew his opposition after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gave DDT’s stamp of approval. Because of virus concerns, the House has postponed a return to Washington for an indefinite time.

The Senate recessed for the weekend and is stalling before considering the emergency bill until after it considers the surveillance bill that the House passed last week. (That one’s a doozy: it includes the provision that AG Bill Barr must approve in writing any investigation of an elected official and/or a candidate.) Even after the Senate addresses the covid-19 bill, there will be vitriolic discussions. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) told Fox & Friends that the bill may not pass the Senate because senators don’t want sick leave for people home with the virus. He wants tax rebates which could take far more time to be reimbursed than paid sick leave.

The Senate couldn’t meet over the weekend because Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had to go home with Justice Brett Kavanaugh to celebrate the new 37-year-old federal judge, considered the most unqualified judge that McConnell has ever pushed through confirmation. It’s called campaigning for the fall election.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) [right] also complained about the paid sick leave because it might hurt businesses although the bill covers the cost with a tax credit. Without sick leave, most of these people with covid-19 will go to work and spread the disease. Johnson said it might be better for the Senate to “pass nothing at all.”

Last week, Johnson pulled a vote on a subpoena from the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that he hoped would find damaging information about Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, in Ukraine. A bipartisan group persuaded him about the Ukrainian’s unreliability as a source for the committee’s investigation. The vote, however, is only postponed. Johnson said he will issue a subpoena to a lobbying firm for the Ukrainian energy company paying Hunter Biden as a board member. Committee staff members have worked on investigations helping DDT in his reelection campaign. U.S. intelligence agencies maintain that Andrii Telizhenko, Johnson’s source, has spread disinformation about Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 election to minimize actual Russian interference. Telizhenko, a friend of Rudy Giuliani, has appeared on the ultra-conservative One America News Network.

While DDT struggles with rapidly increasing numbers of covid-19 cases and deaths in the U.S., Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues his path to keep power in his country. He detained four senior princes, possible heirs to the throne, in Riyadh, including MBS’s uncle Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz and cousin Mohammed bin Nayef. They were charged with treason which carries the death penalty. MBS had replaced Nayef as crown prince in 2017 and has run the kingdom since then. Prince Ahmed returned to Saudi from Britain after assurances that he would be safe. MBS consolidated his power in 2017 by arresting hundreds of princes, government ministers, and business people and detaining them in Riyadh.

Saudi is struggling with dropping oil prices and MBS’ decision to block pilgrims from Mecca because of the virus outbreak. Aramco’s profits dropped 21 percent last year to $88.2 billion, and it is lowering capital spending for 2020. The world has also not forgotten MBS’ murder of U.S. resident and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. MBS is now repeating his 2017 actions by arresting hundreds more government officials, including military and security officers, for bribery and exploiting public office. The purge also added 16 more princes, two members of the council which decides the throne’s succession, and two judges.

In late February, MSP Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Parliament asked his colleagues to investigate DDT’s deals in which he acquired his Scotland properties, including the two multi-million dollar golf courses. Harvie said that DDT or people he’s tied with could be connected to serious crime and is seeking an “unexplained wealth order” from a Scottish court. The order is for “suspected foreign officials who have potentially laundered stolen money through the UK.” If the subject “cannot show a legitimate source for their riches,” the government can seize properties.

History will remember that Utah’s Mitt Romney was the only GOP senator who voted to impeach DDT. Payoffs for other GOP senators who claimed they voted against impeachment because DDT had “learned his lesson”:

  • Lamar Alexander (TN) – $9 million for high-speed broadband infrastructure projects;
  • Susan Collins (ME) – $9.5 million for affordable housing units;
  • Cory Gardner (CO) – $20 million for airport upgrades;
  • Lisa Murkowski (AK) – $20 million Port Infrastructure Development Program grant for Phase One costs at the Port of Alaska.

Collins, up for a difficult reelection this year, voted to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh despite his anti-abortion stand and for the tax cut benefiting the wealthy and big business even if she said she didn’t like it. She’s at the bottom of the Senate popularity contest and may lower her rating with the latest find. In 2009, she refused to include pandemic flu funding in an economic stimulus bill during the Great Recession. Democrats warned that the $870 million from the $787 billion would keep them from fighting an infectious disease outbreak, but she promised to withdraw her vote for the bill if that money was included. She said the funds “do not boost our economy” and persuaded two other Republicans to follow her example.

Eric Prince, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ brother and heir to $1 billion, advises DDT and almost persuaded him to let Prince set up a private military service for the U.S.. Congress accused Prince of lying under oath and referred criminal charges to the DOJ, a useless action since Bill Barr became AG. In the past, Prince moved to the UAE to keep from federal prosecution and claims that he is untouchable. Now the FBI is investigating Prince for trying to modify two U.S. crop-dusting planes into attack aircraft, a violation of arms trafficking regulations. He used the planes as part of the private services he suggested selling or using in Africa and Azerbaijan. The FBI investigation includes his lying to Congress and an armed aviation proposal to the UAE along with heightened scrutiny of Barr.

Prince has recruited U.S. and British spies to work with the right-wing group Project Veritas, known for doctored videos in false stings, to infiltrate at least one Democratic congressional campaign for Abigail Spanberger and organizations “considered hostile” to DDT. Ex MI6 officer Richard Seddon ran a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in an office of the teachers’ union AFT. In late 2015 or early 2016, Prince arranged for James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas to receive training in intelligence and elicitation techniques from a retired military intelligence operative named Euripides Rubio Jr. Rubio soon quit, saying that the Veritas group couldn’t learn.

DDT’s defense against Russian interference to elect him is to repeat that he’s tough on Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. Here are some of DDT’s favors for Russia:

  • DDT appointed his own loyalists to head up the intelligence agencies who ordered employees not to release information and who say that there’s no evidence of Russian interference.
  • DDT sent anti-tank missiles to Ukraine under conditions that make them useless against Russia.
  • DDT spread a disinformation campaign that Ukraine was responsible for the election interference, not Russia.
  • DDT protected Russia by withholding aid to Ukraine until publicity made him uncomfortable.
  • DDT still refuses to invite Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House to help Zelensky negotiate with Putin.
  • DDT’s sanctions on Iran helps Russia by boosting the price of oil.
  • DDT strengthened Russia’s longtime ally, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and ended support for moderate Syrian rebels which Russia wants.
  • DDT removed U.S. forces out of northern Syria, abandoned the Kurdish U.S. allies, and allowed Russians to move into abandoned U.S. bases.
  • DDT helped Russia in Libya by giving Khalifa Hifter information for overthrowing a UN-backed government in Tripoli.
  • Sanctions on Russia were done over DDT’ objections, and DDT persuaded the GOP Senate to lift them on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
  • DDT weakened NATO through incessant criticism and portrayal of the members as deadbeats.
  • DDT always believes Putin and never criticizes him.
  • DDT’s biggest help for Russia is his spreading chaos in the U.S. and its government through polarization of the U.S. people and denigrating U.S. intelligence officers and diplomats.

As the commentator on a popular Russian TV show said:

“I look at Trump and think: ‘May God grant him good health — and another term.’ This is a great situation for Russia.”

And the Republican Party blindly backs DDT and pro-Russia policies against U.S. benefits.

March 9, 2020

Markets—Stocks, Bonds, Oil—in Crisis

Reminiscent of the 2008 crisis, a full-flown trading panic sent the New York Stock Exchange shooting downwards as the Dow Jones dropped over 2,000 (7.8 percent) to the same level as 30 months ago, and the Standard & Poor and Nasdaq each lost over 7 percent. The radical drops during the first few minutes after the bell rang to open stock trading caused a 15-minute trading hiatus for all trading. The automatic trigger mechanism was created during the 1987 recession, and it’s only the second time since then that the stoppage has gone into effective, the last time in 2008 during the Great Recession. It’s the first time since 2008, during The Great Recession, that the trigger mechanism was utilized.  [Floor trader Peter Tuchman watches the stock numbers drop during the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange on March 9, 2020. Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images.) 

The losses were predictable. Global markets began shrinking over the weekend, setting up the scene for the losses in the U.S. London’s FTSE returned to three years ago by falling 8 percent, Japan’s Nikkei index went down over 5 percent, and Australia’s stocks lost over 7 percent.

Bonds also hit an historic low as investors sold stocks to because of covid-19 and the oil war. All yields fell below 1 percent for the first time ever: the 10-year Treasury bond is 0.62 percent, and the 30-year yield dropped almost 2 percent to crawl back up to 1.08 percent. 

 

 

 

 

 

The covid-19 pandemic has roiled the global markets, but the slumps were also caused by Saudi Arabia’s initiating an oil war with Russia which caused prices to collapse 30 percent to the level of the 1991 Gulf War. Despite a glut of oil on the market, the Saudis won’t scale back production after Russia flooded the market. Finishing down 24 percent, Brent was $34.44 per barrel and West Texas International crude at $31.13 per barrel. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) blew aside the destructive impact from uncertainty and fear by praising oil prices to save money at the gas pump. Lower oil prices also slash inflation that may match the 2008 financial crisis.

Last Friday, Russia refused an agreement with OPEC on cuts in oil supplies to bolster prices. Price drops hurt Venezuela and Iran, already suffering from U.S. sanctions. Highly indebted U.S. oil companies will have added pressure, and more of them may go out of business with ensuing decline in production. Oil producing states such as Texas have laid off workers. Canada will be hard hit, and developing companies such as Nigeria, Angola, and Brazil will face economic slowdowns. Shares of the Saudi national oil company, Saudi Aramco, dropped by 9 percent. If the Saudis increase output to make up for lower prices, prices in the world will continue to collapse, already about one-third this year.

Last week,  J.P. Morgan told clients that markets indicate a 90 percent chance of a recession, meaning six continuous months of economic contraction. Hits to the economy come from almost empty airplanes and hiring freezes. Middle-class people will stay at home to eat instead of patronizing restaurants and buy cheaper products.

DDT keeps talking about how strong “the economy” is, but people’s economic life and livelihood are not “the economy.” DDT’s policies on taxes, tariffs, education, healthcare, the environment, etc. have badly hurt most people’s finances. The 34 percent addition to the deficit negates the idea that the economy is booming, as are the frequent drops in the prime rate. Since his inauguration, DDT has run the government as if the U.S. was already in a recession. Education enriches the economy, but it’s cut in DDT’s budget as are service. Taxpayers have already paid $28 billion to bail out farmers because of DDT’s tariffs, and DDT wants to take the Affordable Care Act away from most people in a case before the Supreme Court. Climate change takes more money from taxpayers, but DDT and his administration ignore its problems of floods, wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes. The economy hurts most people.

Years before the 2008 financial crisis, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) warned about a vulnerable economy with trends of “shady subprime lending, rising household debt, a mortgage market where lenders didn’t bear the risk of their loans.” [Note: I sensed disaster coming too, but I’m not an expert.] Warren wrote another post less than a year ago about an eminent disaster:

“I see a manufacturing sector in recession. I see a precarious economy that is built on debt—both household debt and corporate debt—and that is vulnerable to shocks. And I see a number of serious shocks on the horizon that could cause our economy’s shaky foundation to crumble. Seventy-one million American adults—more than 30% of the adults in the country—already have debts in collection.”

She added that consumers were getting squeezed by “a generation of stagnant wages” and the rising costs of basic goods and services. The solution for U.S. households is to take on debt at historic levels with student loans, credit card debt, auto loans. Warren also wrote about corporate debt:

“Leveraged lending—lending to companies that are already seriously in debt—has jumped by 40 percent since Trump took office.”

This leveraged debt helped consumer debt to tank the economy in 2008. Like subprime mortgages, new corporate loans are “poorly-underwritten loans with minimal protections that are then packaged and sold to investors.”

The recession for U.S. manufacturing sector, tied to DDT’s trade wars, began in the beginning of 2019. Warren wrote, “For the first time ever, the average hourly wage for manufacturing workers has dropped below the national average.” Her solution was reducing household debt by canceling some debt and raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour; creating regulations to decrease heavily leveraged corporate lending; and investing trillions of dollars into new environmental research, production, and exports to strengthen manufacturing.

Instead, DDT kept wages low, blocked regulations, stopped investing in the country, and cut taxes for the wealthy and big business.

DDT is fond of comparisons to him with biblical figures such as Cyrus, David, Abraham, Moses, the apostles, Jesus, and even Queen Esther. Running out of Judeo-Christian figures, DDT quote-tweeted an image of himself as Nero and wrote, “Who knows what this means, but it sounds good to me!” Former ethics director Walter Schaub replied:

“It means Rome is burning and you’re fiddling around a golf course, Nero.”

When he was young, the emperor Nero had lavish palaces, threw wasteful parties, slept around, and went on the stage. In 64 A.D., he announced his plan to destroy Rome and build it back up in his preferred architectural style. The Senate refused, and Rome began to burn for nine days. According to legend, the extravagant emperor Nero “fiddled while Rome burned,” but violins didn’t come into existence until many centuries later. Nero’s first biographer claimed he sang while Rome burned. Other biographers asserted that witnesses saw Nero set the fire or hired thugs to do it. Nero committed suicide four years later after fleeing Rome and discovering that he was condemned to death as a public enemy. The people celebrated his death. [Left: A float depicting DDT as Nero in the traditional Carnival parade in Mainz, Germany, on Feb. 24. Michael Probst/AP]

The United States is burning, and DDT plays golf and blames the Democrats.

January 8, 2020

Iran – The Bully Backs Down

Within the last few days, Iraqi strikes killed one U.S. military contractor, the U.S. killed 24 Iraqis and injured another 50, the Iraqis fired in protest at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) assassinated the Iranian leader Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad airport. DDT warned Iran not to retaliate before Iranians launched over a dozen ballistic missiles at two U.S. air bases housing U.S. military members in Iraq, an act that Iran called “hard revenge” for Soleimani’s death. Iran stated that they would not fire again if DDT didn’t retaliate. Most countries, including Israel, won’t support DDT, and DDT caved—after people held their breath to see if he would move toward World War III. Last night, DDT tweeted, “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq.” 

Today DDT gave a brief speech filled with lies, mispronunciations, snuffling, repetitions, incompetent spins, blame for President Obama. DDT equated backing down with proof that Iran’s “campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer.” He miserably failed to make Iran less aggressive with “maximum pressure” by withdrawing from a successful deal controlling Iran’s nuclear program and issuing failing sanctions.

Iran threatened strikes against Dubai and Haifa, but DDT claimed that Iran was “standing down.”

DDT said he would “never let” Iran acquire a nuclear weapon with no strategy or leverage to block Iran’s nuclearization, just as he failed in North Korea.

DDT said the U.S. was “ready to embrace peace” and then promised to intensify the massive sanctions on Iran.

DDT took credit for “destroying 100% of ISIS” although ISIS hasn’t been destroyed.

DDT claimed, “We are now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world,” a status achieved under President Obama in 2012. which is true, though it’s a status the United States reached in 2012.

DDT wants to involve NATO in the Middle East after putting down the organization’s value; NATO is pulling its military after Soleimani’s killing.

DDT’s lied that President Obama’s administration paid for the Iranian missiles and that the Iran agreement “expires shortly.” The referenced funding was either money owed Iran through a court decision or their own money. 

DDT falsely said, “Iran’s hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013.” The deal was signed in 2015, and hostilities with Iran increased after DDT voided the agreement despite Iran’s complying with the terms.

DDT claimed Iran is “the leading sponsor of terrorism,” but in 2011, he said Saudi Arabia was “the world’s biggest funder of terrorism. Saudi Arabia funnels our petrodollars, our very own money, to fund the terrorists that seek to destroy our people.” In the 9/11 attack, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, and the 9/11 Commission found that al-Qaeda raised money for terrorism in Saudi Arabia.

The Pentagon spent less than $500,000 million on military equipment since DDT was inaugurated, less than 25 percent of DDT’s claim.

DDT bragged about how “our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal, and fast.”

Andrea Mitchell, a political correspondent for over 50 years, called DDT’s national security team the “worst” that she’s ever seen—“least experienced, the least effective, and the smallest” in recent memory. The “team” doesn’t even have a Senate-confirmed director of National Intelligence or a deputy director of National Intelligence. DHS lacks a Senate-confirmed Homeland Security secretary and deputy secretary, and there is no Senate-confirmed undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs or assistant secretary for arms control, verification, and compliance. The Pentagon has seen the resignation of six top officials in less than six weeks.

On the conservative website The Bulwark, Shay Khatiri wrote:

“President Trump didn’t hire the “A Team,” or even the “B Team,” of experienced Republican former national security officials. He skipped past them because most of them had, during the 2016 campaign, signed public letters and statements denouncing him. So the Trump administration began with the C Team. And as time passed and the members of the C Team resigned or were fired, the administration moved on to D and E.

  • DDT: a reality-show personality who never had a government position before election, knows nothing about international affairs, doesn’t listen to intelligence briefings, and is ignorant about current events..
  • VP Mike Pence: former state governor and U.S. representative.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: former Army captain, U.S. representative, and warhawk.
  • Robert O’Brien (national security advisor): held low-level positions in George W. Bush’s administration.
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper: lobbyist who rose to this position from six levels down.
  • Secretary of Army Ryan McCarthy: crisis-management experience, former Army Ranger, and Afghanistan war veteran.
  • Secretary of Air Force Barbara Barrett: former non-Foreign Service Officer ambassador with no experience in national security crisis management.
  • Secretary of Navy: none.

Senate Democrats reported that the administration’s briefing on Soleimani’s killing failed to show an “imminent threat” to U.S. troops and diplomats. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) commented on “the lack of information” and described the administration’s “strike of choice” as “one that likely would’ve required congressional authorization beforehand.” The 75-minute briefing left senators with “multiple questions unanswered,” and only 15 of 97 senators in attendance could ask questions. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said:

“We did not see a plan, a satisfying plan for the future. As the questions began to get tough, they walked out.”

Utah’s GOP senator Mike Lee was even more harsh in his response to the briefing, calling it “probably the worst briefing I’ve seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate.” He described the message as telling lawmakers to be “good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public” and “insane.” The briefing, according to Lee, persuaded him to support Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D-VA) war powers resolution that reinforces resuming the constitutionally congressional power over the president for determining military actions. Fox network stopped Lee from talking about the briefing.

Congress abdicated its responsibilities after the 9/11 attacks with the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), which permitted the president to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against any countries whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the 9/11 attacks or harbored involved persons or groups. During the past 18+ years, U.S. officials have used AUMF to justify actions 37 times in 14 countries. VP Mike Pence supports DDT in using the AUMF for attacks on Iran with his falsehood about Soleimani’s connection to 9/11.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Iranian attacks were meant to kill U.S. military members, but facts refute his statement. The U.S. knew about the attacks hours in advance, and base personnel went to the bunkers. The highly accurate missiles avoided killing and great destruction by hitting lesser targets. 

Saudi Arabia supports DDT because he sells them weapons and doesn’t make them responsible for the torture and dismemberment of U.S. journalist and citizen, Jamal Khashoggi. On Monday, DDT tried to hide his meeting with Saudi Vice Minister of Defense Khalid bin Salman, the younger brother of the murdering crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Vice Minister publicized the meeting, however, tweeting that it was to discuss cooperation for “regional challenges” (aka Iran).

During his campaign, DDT warned that voting for Hillary Clinton would mean going to war. In 2016, about 66 million people voted for Clinton, and the U.S. may go to war.

Even without airstrikes, Iran can retaliate against the U.S. Iraq is on the verge of eliminating U.S. military presence in the country, one of Soleimani’s goals. Iran controls the Persian Gulf oil shipping lanes, supplies weapons to Yemen’s Houthis, and supports Bashar Assad’s war on his Syrian people. Most dangerous for the United States is the possibility of cyberattacks. Revenge is a dish best served cold, according to a centuries-old proverb, and Iran may be preparing and cooling its vengeance for the future.   

Some Republicans, like Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), think that they can’t win without lying when he tweeted a faked photo of President Obama with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The photo was debunked over four years ago after it was used to promote incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson (WI) in his opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement. Rouhani was photoshopped over former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (left) in this 2011 photo, and the color of the flag was changed. President Obama never met Rouhani. 

In the global community, 64 percent believe that DDT cannot be trusted to do the “right thing” in world affairs. European allies such as Spain, France, and Germany are as low as 25 percent in confidence, and the percentage drops to 8 percent in Mexico.

December 26, 2019

DDT: Week 153 – Not a ‘Merry’ Christmas

[Note: My weekly roundup of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) happenings is a day earlier, and I may not be posting on Nels New Day for the next week. See you in 2020!)

DDT stayed quiet about Saudi Arabia’s exoneration of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the torture and dismemberment of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman, the man behind the killing according to the CIA, got off scot free while five people were sentenced to death and three others to prison. The two men who directed the torture and dismemberment, former deputy chief of intelligence Ahmed al-Assiri and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s top aid Saud al-Qahtani, were exonerated. DDT claimed that he protected MBS so he could sell them weapons, but he also personally makes millions from the Saudi’s use of his hotels and their real estate purchases. 

North Korea threatens a “Christmas gift” of nuclear testing, and DDT’s former national security adviser claims that DDT’s administration will soon need to admit failure in stopping NK’s nuclear ambitions because the U.S. is not “exerting maximum pressure on North Korea.” The U.S. has only a “rhetorical policy” with no actions to stop NK having nuclear weapons that can hit the U.S. or its allies. North Korea is “operating at full tempo” in building nuclear warheads according to experts, but DDT says things are just fine between him and Kim Jong-Un. A new structure was seen on a recent satellite image of the location where NK makes equipment for launching long-range missiles, and Bolton called NK an “imminent” threat.

After far-right evangelical Christian leaders’ attacks on the op-ed in Christianity Today advocating impeachment, author Mark Galli reported a boost in readership and support that outweighs criticism. In a second CT op-ed, editor Timothy Dalrymple wrote that evangelicals can be proud of DDT’s anti-abortion and religious liberty stands but evangelicals are “also associated with President Trump’s rampant immorality, greed, and corruption; his divisiveness and race-baiting; his cruelty and hostility to immigrants and refugees; and more.” The Christian Post, published by DDT-supporting Richard Land, then attacked CT, causing Napp Nazworth, a CP editor since 2011, to quit. He said, “They’ve chosen to represent a narrow (and shrinking) slice of Christianity. That might be a good business decision, short term at least. But it’s bad for Democracy, and bad for the Gospel.” DDT is punishing anyone—including evangelicals—who don’t support him.

On the other end of retaliation comes massive rewards, as for Robert Blair, who refused to testify for the impeachment inquiry despite his witnessing DDT’s withholding military aid to Ukraine. Blair will support the 5G development efforts despite no background in telecommunications. With a law and diplomacy degree, he has overseen spending, most recently in the Defense Department, before he became senior advisor in national security issues for acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Johnnie Moore, a DDT appointee, participated on a UN panel to decriminalize homosexuality in 70 countries other than the U.S. but concentrated only on eliminating sodomy. Known for his anti-LGBTQ messages, Moore opposes marriage equality and supports DDT’s transgender military ban. 

Amidst Boeing’s disasters, CEO Dennis A. Muilenburg has been fired—immediately. Boeing’s shares dropped 22 percent since the grounding of the 737 Max planes in March, a $52 billion market value loss. Those in the know think that the new CEO David L. Calhoun, hired to reassure people, won’t make many changes.

To circumvent federal laws preventing the government from collecting some types of information, ICE uses social media and for-profit data brokers to track at least one immigrant before arresting him. The person’s only crime was to reenter the U.S. to be with his family. Reuters has a $20 million contract with ICE for use of its CLEAR database. Over 55 percent of all prosecuted federal crimes in fiscal 2018 were immigrant-related, an 87 percent increase during DDT’s first full year, with the vast majority being misdemeanor illegal entry.

Property owners in southern Texas don’t want to give up their land for the wall, but DOJ lawyers are filing lawsuits to take the land. Last week, they tried to seize the land before a scheduled court hearing in February. The Fifth Amendment requires “just compensation,” but the government can deposit any amount it deems fair with the court and then immediately take the land. Two judges recently ordered a private pro-DDT group to stop building its own wall so workers went on vacation for a few weeks. On another property in a federal wildlife refuge, workers decided that the land was too saturated to support metal bollards on top of concrete panels.

DDT’s retaliation against anyone disagreeing with him is to be feared, according to former Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI), who did not run for re-election after expressing concern about DDT’s erratic behavior in a closed-door meeting with GOP colleagues. Other former and current GOP lawmakers and party strategists have anonymously agreed that elected officials can either retire or not criticize DDT. Out of office, Trott said:

“Trump is emotionally, intellectually and psychologically unfit for office, and I’m sure a lot of Republicans feel the same way. But if they say that, the social media barrage will be overwhelming.”

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tweeted “Merry Christmas” yesterday before he launched into his increasingly vitriolic messages targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom for California’s homeless problem, the FISA court, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). His Christmas message called for “deeper understanding and respect.”

George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that requires 25 percent greater efficiency for household light bulbs. DDT blames President Obama for banning incandescent bulbs and continued his rants against problems with toilets, water for washing hands, and dishwashers. His latest problem is alternative energy when he said, “I never understood wind.” Then he claims that windmills create “tremendous fumes.” The person elected by 63 million people for the U.S. president can’t get his toilets to flush and doesn’t understand wind.

Why do people support DDT? In the Journal of Social and Political Psychology, UC Santa Cruz professor Thomas Pettigrew identifies five major phenomena of his supporters:

Authoritarian Personality Syndrome: The advocacy or enforcement of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom demonstrates a lack of concern for the opinions or needs of others. This syndrome can be displayed by aggression toward “outsiders,” resistance to new experiences, and a rigid view of a hierarchical society. Because it can be triggered by fear, leaders can use this emotion to gain allegiance. DDT is especially appealing to people with this syndrome.

Social Dominance Orientation (SDO): Related to the authoritarian personality syndrome, SDO highlights societal hierarchy of groups. DDT stresses the whites as having a higher status over immigrants and minorities. People scoring high in these first two characteristics tended to vote for DDT.

Prejudice: Going back to Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy,” the GOP appeals to bigotry with code words signaling prejudice toward minorities audible to racists. DDT is more direct by calling Muslims “dangerous” and Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “murderers.”

Intergroup Contact: Contact with other groups than one’s own can reduce prejudice; DDT’s white supporters have significantly less contact with minorities. A 2016 study showed “racial and ethnic isolation of Whites at the zip-code level is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support.”

Relative Deprivation: Discontent comes from feeling deprived of what people believe they deserve, compared to others who they perceive as equal or inferior but who (unfairly) achieved more. DDT supported people’s feeling of entitlement by talking about U.S. jobs lost to Mexico and China while ignoring the large number of jobs lost to automation. https://qz.com/1144201/under-trump-us-jobs-are-moving-overseas-even-faster-than-before/   Ironically, DDT has sent more jobs overseas, including an additional 150 percent of federal contractors, than President Obama. The term “relative is used because the perception is skewed rather than “absolute.” For example, median annual income of DDT’s supporters is $72,000, smashing the myth of their being rebellious “working class.”

DDT promised a great economy for the United States, but the blue states bucking his policies see a faster growing economy than red states. Obsession to fracking caused 165,000 jobs, and coal mining has 53,000, an extra 2,000 during DDT’s office. Recent economic growth has occurred in urban areas, especially in the service industry. Blue states have increased the minimum wage, providing the national growth in wages which is small because the red states have largely left the wages static and suffering from inflation. The most heavily pro-Clinton areas saw mean household income increases of over $15,000 compared to the less than $10,000 rise in the most heavily pro-DDT areas. DDT promised jobs and wages; his tariffs brought exactly the opposite.

December 9, 2019

DDT’s Corruption: At Home, Abroad

Yesterday, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) excitedly tweeted about the upcoming release of a report about an investigation into the origins of an FBI investigation into members of DDT’s 2016 campaign. “I.G. report out tomorrow. That will be the big story!” DDT wrote.

Monday, after almost two years of investigating, DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz completed and released its 434-page report about the FBI’s opening investigations into George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Carter Page had an “authorized purpose.” It was a bust for DDT when Horowitz concluded:

“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations.”

The report criticized aspects of the FBI’s handling of the investigation but did not conclude that the bureau’s applications to monitor Page should have been rejected. Horowitz found that a tip from the Australian government was sufficient “to predicate the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.” Disappointed, Fox & Friends canceled an interview with former FBI director James Comey after the report’s release.

With no evidence, AG William P. Barr disagreed with a report key conclusion, stating the FBI started its investigation “on the thinnest of suspicions … insufficient to justify the steps taken.” Assigned by Barr to find supporting information for Barr’s opinion, U.S. attorney for Connecticut, John Durham, said he does “not agree with some of the report’s conclusions,” an unethical move because he has not finished his investigation. Four days ago, Durham said he found no evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies planted spies in DDT’s campaign. Durham and Barr visited foreign leaders to find support for their position that the FBI should not have opened its investigation into connections between DDT’s campaign and Russia.  

In another attempt to protect DDT, Barr’s DOJ argued on Monday that the emoluments clause doesn’t block DDT from accepting payments from foreign governments although the clause states that “no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” The lawyer claimed that Congress should have banned these emoluments—despite the U.S. Constitution. Judge David S. Tatel, one of three judges presiding over the hearing, told the DOJ lawyer that Congress doesn’t have information about DDT’s emoluments because DDT refuses to release his tax returns.

Monday, a Washington Post story about the 18+ year war with Afghanistan also rose to the top of the media that described research from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a federal agency with the goal of eliminating corruption and inefficiency in the U.S. war effort. Hundreds of confidential interviews and 2,000 pages of documents describe obfuscation about a war that cost $1 trillion and killed over 2,300 military members as well as tens of thousands of Afghan civilians. The article explains that U.S. officials altered statistics to “present the best picture possible” in the war, which began on October 7, 2001, through vague aims and inflated successes. Following administrations ignored the Afghan officials’ corruption and theft of U.S. aid. Sixty-two people interviewed were identified; the other 366 were treated as whistleblowers and informants.

Documents include previously classified memos dictated by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld between 2001 and 2006. Rumsfeld released some memos in 2011, and others of the remaining secret 59,000 pages came out in 2017 after a FOIA lawsuit. The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan began with retaliation against al-Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. and deteriorated into loss of direction about the identity of enemy groups that the U.S. never decided. U.S. troops couldn’t identify between friends and enemies.

From 2009 to 2012, lawmakers and military commanders thought that excessive money for civil works would improve security, money that aid workers compared to pouring gas on a dying campfire to keep the fire burning. One USAID executive said the 90 percent of expenditures was overkill. A contractor was told to give out $3 million daily in an area about the size of a U.S. county, leading to corruption. The war cost between $934 billion and $978 billion doesn’t include money required by agencies like the CIA and VA medical care. Afghan commanders pocketed money for tens of thousands of “ghost soldiers.” No one believed that Afghan army and police could protect themselves from the Taliban. Over 60,000 members of Afghan security forces have been killed.

The media also shows the failures of DDT the “Dealmaker” around the world:

Israel/Palestine: DDT said peace was easy before he said that no one could broker peace between the two countries if Jared Kushner couldn’t. Peace became even more impossible after DDT gave Palestinian land to Israel.  

North Korea: DDT threatening Kim Jong-Un and, after smearing the UN for years, called a UN meeting about the country’s weapons escalation. Kim stated NK conducted a “very important test” at a formerly dismantled rocket launch site, and a NK official called DDT “an erratic old man.” North Korea’s envoy to the UN vowed that “denuclearization” is off the table.

China: Next week, more tariffs on $160 billion worth of Chinese goods go into effect unless DDT changes his mind. Every few days, DDT claims a trade deal is “close,” pushing the stock market up, before he immediately reverses his position, and the stock market plummets. According to DDT, trade wars are “good, and easy to win.” China expressed frustration because it believes that the U.S. is infringing on its sovereign affairs and ordered all foreign computer equipment and software—such as HP, Dell and Microsoft—be removed from government offices and public institutions within three years.

Hong Kong: Protesters are still marching for democracy which puts DDT in the middle between the marchers and the Chinese. 

Middle East: DDT is covering for a Saudi gunman who killed three people while he was in training at a naval base in Pensacola (FL). Some of DDT’s base consider the attack terrorism and want to call off the training program that allowed the killer into the U.S. DDT sounded like a PR representative in his defense of Saudi Arabia after the shooting. Former Republican Max Boot wrote:   

“President Trump has long held a double standard when it comes to terrorist attacks: When the perpetrator is a white supremacist, he offers anodyne expressions of sympathy for the victims (often ‘thoughts and prayers’), while typically failing to label the attack an act of terrorism. When the perpetrator is a Muslim, however, he is vitriolic in his denunciations and his calls for a massive response, such as stopping all Muslims from entering the United States. After a car plowed into pedestrians in London on Aug. 14, 2018, for example, he tweeted: ‘Another terrorist attack in London… These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!’

“It turns out that Trump actually has a triple standard, because he treats attacks by Saudis differently than those from other Muslim nations. On Friday, a Saudi air force officer studying at the Naval Air Station Pensacola shot dead three Americans and wounded eight others. Instead of expressing outrage or vowing vengeance, or even waiting for all the facts to come in, Trump sounded as if he were auditioning for the job of press secretary at the Saudi Embassy. He conveyed King Salman’s ‘sincere condolences’ and his (highly questionable) assurances ‘that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people.’ Trump then told reporters that the king ‘will take care of the families and loved ones of the victims.’”

“… This is, of course, only the latest example of Trump’s suspicious partiality to Saudi Arabia — the site of his first trip abroad as president. Trump has taken Saudi Arabia’s side as it has blockaded Qatar, the home of a large U.S. military base; caused a humanitarian tragedy with its bombing of Yemen; and even murdered and dismembered Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Congress was so outraged by Saudi atrocities — both against Yemen and Khashoggi — that it passed legislation to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Trump vetoed the bills. And even while abandoning the Kurds who fought with U.S. troops to defeat the Islamic State, Trump has sent thousands of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, a deployment that in the past has inflamed jihadist sentiment.

Boot continues by citing DDT’s love of money he claims to get from Saudi Arabia–$110 billion in weapons sales that was actually $14.5 billion. That’s for the U.S., but the Saudis “buy apartments from me,” according to DDT. “They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.” Revenue at the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan suffered “two years of decline” before increasing 13 percent in the first three months of 2018 from “a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince [Mohammed bin Salman] of Saudi Arabia.” As Boot concludes, DDT’s “police is ‘Me First,’ not ‘America First.’”

And Republicans defend DDT’s extortion, bribery, and quid pro quo in Ukraine by swearing that he wants to wipe out corruption.

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