Nel's New Day

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.

September 23, 2019

Chaos from Israel, Iran

Last week, I was biting my fingernails until I heard the results of Tuesday’s Israeli election to see if the corrupt far-right, ultra-Orthodox prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu would lose his power over the country. If he does, that’s the third country moving from far-right positions.

Italy was the first to go in the past few months when it ousted far-right Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini with a coalition between the pro-European Democratic Party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. Salvini failed to take over for Giuseppe Conte, the independent prime minister who resigned. The interior ministry will be run by migration specialist Luciana Lamorgese who wants to solve the humanitarian crisis caused for the former government. The new coalition is fragile, but it’s a start.

The UK parliament turned against new far-right prime minister, Boris Johnson, who failed to get enough votes for his position to walk out on the European Union with no deal in place. A Supreme Court decision this week will help determine UK’s direction about Brexit. The background is here. 

Almost a week after Israel’s election, a leader still hasn’t been finalized, and Netanyahu failed to coalesce rival rightwing parties the second election within six months. Instead of voting for a person, Israel votes for parties that then select a prime minister. As of yesterday, Netanyahu was behind a coalition supporting Benny Gantz because most of the Arab Palestinians, one-fifth of Israel’s citizens and 13 votes in parliament, picked Gantz as the lesser of two evils. President Reuven Rivlin will select the new prime minister.

Rivlin attempted to unify the government by calling Gantz and Netanyahu to a meeting lasting almost two hours. The two opponents will meet again tomorrow. For Arabs, supporting Ganz has been difficult because he led Israeli forces to devastate large parts of the Palestinian enclave and kill 2,000 people, mostly civilians. Three Arab parliamentarians called him a “war criminal” and backed out of his support, but for the remainder Netanyahu is a worse choice. Rivlin’s choice at forming a government has 28 days plus a 14-day extension to get coalition agreements. Failure means another 28 days before the parliament members recommend a third potential candidate with a majority vote who has 14 days to form a government.

Arabs have good reason to reject Netanyahu. Last summer, he declared that they were to officially be second-class citizens when he said, “According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people—and only it.” In his reelection campaign, Netanyahu promised to illegally annex parts of the West Bank belonging to Jordan before he presents a “peace plan.”. He also posted a huge gold “Trump Heights” sign in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights that belongs to Syria. On his official FB chatbot, suspended as a “violation of hate,” Netanyahu posted that Arab politicians “want to annihilate us all.”

Netanyahu is desperate for a win; otherwise he faces prosecution in three criminal cases involving fraud, bribery and breach of trust. He conspired to curb the circulation of a daily newspaper owned by supporter Sheldon Adelson for better coverage in Yediot Ahronot, a rival paper critical of Netanyahu. In another accusation, Netanyahu, fixed the regulation of huge telecom Bezeq to get favors from Walla, a news website owned by Bezeq’s then-majority shareholder, Shaul Elovitch, who also faces charges. Elovitch told Walla to go easy on Netanyahu and his wife Sara to get a merger that raised antitrust concerns. These are details of Netanyahu’s involvement in these issues.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has provided the script for Netanyahu’s rhetoric. Corruption charges are a “witch hunt” in the “leftist media,” and Netanyahu calls himself “the most maligned person in the history of Israeli media.” On a billboard of critical journalists’ images, he posted, “They will not decide. You decide.” He has interviews only on one far-right outlet, and communicates through social media. He called for a boycott of a network and accused those involved in the network of “a terror attack against democracy.”

After Netanyahu appeared to lose the election, Israel’s stock markets rose in celebration. Netanyahu canceled his meeting with DDT and his speech at the UN this week, not appearing at its main debate for only the second time in ten years. DDT is also distancing himself from his former BFF saying, “Our relationship is with the state of Israel.”

Israel is privy to U.S. classified information through cellphone surveillance devices placed by the country’s agents near White House “sensitive locations” to spy on DDT, his top aides, and his closest associates. DDT, who called for a congressional investigation into President Obama’s non-existent surveillance of him, didn’t indicate any distress about Israel’s real surveillance.

Another country is causing ulcers as the world waits to see what will happen with Iran. Since drones from an unspecified location by an unspecified group hit Saudi Arabian oil fields on September 13, the U.S. has consistently said that Iran is responsible for the attack claimed by the Yemeni Houthis. Countries such as Japan disagree, and even Saudi Arabia has not identified the location where the attacking drones was launched. DDT claims he waits for direction from the Saudi, following orders from the country that tortured and dismembered a U.S. journalist instead of the constitutional requirement that Congress is in control of declaring war. DDT says that the U.S. doesn’t need Saudi oil but wants to “help our allies,” a turnaround from five years ago when he said that the Saudis “should fight their own wars.”

Whether DDT will talk to Iran or bomb them depends on the hour, but he increased sanctions twice since the attack, including on Iran’s central bank.  His attitude reflects how much money he can get from them for his personal business.

A basis for DDT’s decision about attacks on Iran is most likely the price of crude oil. When he made war noises, the price per barrel went up almost 40 percent, only to come back down when he calmed down. Global markets set oil prices, and an invasion in the Middle East could double prices as it did when the U.S. dived into the Iraq-Kuwait conflict. In 1973, prices quadrupled after OPEC declared an oil embargo because of U.S. support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War. DDT’s 2020 campaign could be damaged by increases in oil prices, a war that no one wants, and the fear of a recession, already on the horizon. Six of the last eight recessions came after a spike in oil prices, including the most recent one in 2007.  High oil prices cause inflation and hurt economic growth, directly affect prices for goods made with oil and indirectly affecting costs from transportation and heating for consumers. Other goods are sold because people have a finite amount of money.

Whether DDT will talk to Iran or bomb them depends on the hour, but he increased sanctions twice since the attack, including on Iran’s central bank. His attitude reflects how much money he can get from them for his personal business. He claims that the U.S. needs the Saudis to bring them job, and every time he talks about the opportunities he adds thousands to his mythical number. What he really wants, however, is money in his own pocket from the Saudis pouring cash into DDT’s U.S. hotels and Scottish resort. His big problem is that hawks and hardliners want war, and he’s already bombed Yemen to please Saudi Arabia, contributing to a horrific humanitarian crisis with 3.3 million of Yemenis displaced and another 14 million desperately needing food, medicine, etc.

DDT may find little foreign support for a war against Iran. The United Arab Emirates has already backed off the Saudis’ war in Yemen, the Egyptian president faces new protests against his faltering economy and repression, and Israel has no leader. Even the Saudis are lukewarm about a fight with the Iranians. DDT has proved himself to be an on-again-off-again follower of the last person he talks to, well demonstrated when he called off a strike against Iran last June just ten minutes—according to him—before the final order without talking to his advisers.

Iran wants new talks on the nuclear agreement, and DDT refuses to negotiate. Talks also can’t resume while the U.S. has crippling sanctions on Iran, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wants to block DDT from sending more U.S. troops into the Gulf. DDT has isolated the U.S., and other countries such as China are moving in to take advantage of Iranian resources. Tomorrow, he plans to give a speech at the UN to get support against Iran, and leaders of three EU countries—France, Germany, and UK—now say that Iran was responsible for the attack. Yet DDT’s disregard for global involvement does not bode well in an organization where people are more interested in diplomacy and denuclearization instead of buffoonery.

April 28, 2019

The Religions of the Right

The religious right loves guns, wants to own women’s bodies, and listens to rantings of hatred and violence from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). These leading stories are since their holy time of the Easter weekend on April 19-21:

Yesterday, a young white man killed a woman and injured another three people at a synagogue in Poway, near San Diego, because he hates Jews. The tragedy occurred on the last day of Passover and six months to the day since another gunman killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. At his rally in Green Bay (WI), DDT made a short statement against anti-Semitism and hate “which must be defeated.” Then he launched into his familiar diatribes. The FBI people who investigated him are “scum,” according to DDT. He welcomed “lock her up!” chants about Hillary Clinton—who hasn’t committed any crimes—and then lied about Democrats wanting to execute babies. He denounced the media who covered the event as “sick people.” The day before he again defended protesters at United the Right, the Charlottesville (VA) protest organized and advertised as a racist and which supremacist event. [Photo: the self-described “young, vibrant man” at his rally.]

Two days before the Poway shooting, hundreds of people admired the guns filling a football-field-size venue at the NRA convention, and DDT bragged about pulling out of the international agreement, the Arms Trade Treaty, that regulates arms sales to keep weapons from human rights abusers. Technically, the U.S. has never been in the agreement because the conservative Senate has refused to ratify it since 2013. At least 101 countries have formally agreed to the treaty, and the U.S. joins Iran, North Korea, and Syria in the 29 countries refusing to sign thus far.

Other messages sent to the NRA cult members include “the first to uphold ‘Judeo-Christian values’”; VP Mike Pence’s opposition to the Green New Deal; Sen. Ted Cruz’s (D-TX) ridicule of the Democratic primary; and DDT’s mocking presidential candidate Joe Biden. The biggest cheers came from DDT’s “building the wall” and his lies that 400 miles supposedly built “by the end of next year.”

It was on his way to speak for the fifth consecutive year at the NRA convention that DDT spoke about his being “a young, vibrant man.” The convention was as woebegone as DDT looks in this photo. A schism in the NRA led to Oliver North leaving as president after only one year and Wayne LaPierre staying on as CEO. North didn’t show up at the convention in Indianapolis, leaving LaPierre the floor to accuse North of “extortion” for threatening to release “damaging” information about him.

The NRA had spent $30.3 million for DDT’s presidential campaign, but the money may have been funneled from Russia. Now the NRA has serious financial problems plus the New York AG, Letitia James, is investigating the NRA’s tax-exempt status. Some of the organization’s related businesses have also received subpoenas. James said that the NRA claims to be “a charitable organization” when he’s really “a terrorist organization.” The NRA is chartered in New York. NRA sued its ad firm, Ackerman McQueen, claiming that it won’t turn over financial records. Ackerman was paid $40 million in just 2017. LaPierre accused North of siding with Ackerman to the alarm of some board members. Ackerman is behind NRATV, the online streaming network that annoyed some board members from straying from Second Amendment issues. The network had addressed race wars and depicted trains in the children’s show Thomas & Friends in KKK hoods.

One difficulty came from the NRA Foundation, a charity, transferring over $100 million to the NRA and lending the NRA $5 million in 2017. Unlike donations to NRA, the ones to the Foundation are tax-deductible, which makes the transfer legally questionable. The NRA also paid $18 million since 2010 to the company that produces Under Wild Skies, a hunting show on NRATV. The NRA’s advancement director had a stake in the production company for most of that time, another possible nonprofit violation. These problems could lead to the NRA’s nonprofit status being revoked. In addition, the Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo questioned the NRA for insurance it offers to gun owners.

NRA members also think that leaders of the embattled gun rights group have lost their way and sense of mission. Members also complained about the NRA’s close ties to DDT. One member said to “stick to guns” and “keep your mouth shut about the wall.” Another one cancelled her membership because of the financial scandals. People might want to send IRA their “thoughts and prayers.”

Last Tuesday, the Saudis beheaded 37 citizens, most of them minority Shiites, in a sectarian-driven mass execution. One of them was well-known Shia religious leader, Sheikh Mohammed al-Attiyah. Thus far this year, the Saudis have killed 100 people.  At least six of the 37 killed were minors despite international law that prohibits death sentences for minors. Saudi Arabia has a pattern of executing minors.

Radical Rabbi Shloo Aviner told Jews that burning churches is acceptable if it’s in retribution for Christian actions. He claims that the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire is justified because of “the mass-burning of Talmud volumes by French Catholic priests” in 1242. “Christians must be punished,” Aviner said. The burning of the Talmud almost 800 years was triggered by Nicholas Donin, a Jewish man who converted to Christianity. Aviner doesn’t recommend burning of churches generally—“for the time being”—but in Israel “the issue is more complicated.” The targeting of homes, vehicles, and Palestinian individuals in Israel is a daily occurrence, and the website Mondoweiss notes:

“Several churches have been burnt in Israel in the last few years, and the police have been spectacularly useless in capturing the arsonists. In several cases, the arson was accompanied by slogans familiar from ‘price tag’ attacks in the West Bank (mostly along the lines of Jewish vengeance).”

Franklin Graham, son of famous evangelist Billy Graham, has said that God should kill gay people, and he’s applying that ethic to presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. Asked about the heckling that Buttigieg has received for being gay, Franklin responded with Leviticus 20:13:

“The Bible makes it very clear that homosexuality is a sin. ‘If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.’ (Leviticus 20:13). That’s what God says and that settles it for me. I stand with the Word of God. I care enough about people to tell them the truth and to warn them about the judgment to come for all sin.”

The verse finishes, “They shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.’”

The D.C. Circuit Court agreed with the House rules that prayers for the chamber must be “religious.” A self-described atheist is forbidden to offer a secular prayer in the House of Representatives. The judge made the decision, not against the person delivering the prayer, but against its content. The House had defended its position that the rules require “a religious invocation” from the time of former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

On the flip side, the IRS has determined that the Satanic Temple is a church. The group will have the same benefits as other religion organizations such as tax exemption and protection from discrimination. Its founder, Lucien Greaves, said, “I am following a code of ethics, having fellowship with brethren. Why can’t I be a religion?” Once called a cult, Christianity has entered mainstream religion. Benjamin Zeller, religion professor, described a letter that Pliny the Younger wrote in the second century to Emperor Trajan about Christianity at that time:

“This Roman governor is complaining about the Christians and using all this anti-cult language. He says that they have these secret gatherings, they’re stealing children from families, they’re engaged in weird sexual practices, and they’re disrupting the social order. Just replace ‘early Christians’ with whatever your current cult fear is.”

In the 19th century, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons, was regarded as a con man. The church became a political movement after their establishment in Utah, and the 20th century saw them as a business. Now they’re mainstream. Protestants think that religions must have beliefs and a deity, both of which need to be taken seriously.

Maybe DDT followers and the NRA can declare themselves religions.

Careful! Jesus Christ has risen. And he’s watching.

April 13, 2019

DDT: Week 116 – Problems Pile Up

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has told former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, now acting DHS director, that he would pardon McAleenan for violating the law if he blocks migrants and asylum seekers from coming across the southern border. DDT fired Claire Grady from DHS because she was legally in the line of succession to take over DHS after DHS fired Kirstjen Nielsen. Neo-Nazi Stephen Miller is now in control of the U.S. immigration policy; the Senate has not confirmed officials for seven top DHS officials.

Although White House officials oppose “placing” undocumented immigrants in so-called sanctuary regions, DDT and Miller are determined to retaliate against Democrats. The term is used for places that follow federal law but don’t pursue migrants who have not committed crimes. Matthew Albence, ICE’s new acting deputy director, opposed DDT’s idea last November because transportation would take money and other resources from enforcement. In February, legal experts rejected the idea, and conservatives say that DDT’s idea gives migrants a free ride to their destinations and creates difficulty in deporting them later. Jessica Vaughan, head of the anti-immigration group Center for Immigration Studies, said that the “immigration policy amateurs in senior positions at the White House … should stay in their lane—which is not immigration.”

AG Bill Barr also reinstated an “efficient” judicial process to get rid of migrants. Instead of giving people fair hearings, DOJ will permit cursory opinions without explanation and set precedents with a small minority of appeals judges. For six temporary judicial seats, Barr—and DDT—can pick judges from immigration appellate judges who have the highest deportation rates. Immigration judges lack independence because they are within the executive branch. DDT has a personal lawyer in Barr as Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) had Roy Cohn to destroy thousands of people in the 1950s. With no evidence, the supposed AG dropped the erroneous word “spying” into his testimony to throw red meat to DDT’s base. Over 25 years ago, Barr had no legal basis for sweeping up millions of U.S. residents’ phone calls in the early 1990s for George H.W. Bush.

According to the conservative Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors in New York have “more evidence than previously known in its criminal investigation” into DDT’s directing Michael Cohen to make illegal payoffs for DDT’s extra-marital affairs. An interview with Hope Hicks, DDT’s former close aide, led to implicating DDT in federal crimes, and Keith Schiller, DDT’s former bodyguard, has calls to David Pecker, CEO of the National Enquirer’s publisher which admitted paying $150,000 on DDT’s behalf to hide his relationship with a former Playboy model. Investigators also have a recorded phone conversation between Cohen and the two women’s lawyer. Information came “weeks before” Cohen testified about the hush-money payoffs in court. Cohen has said that he has 14 million damaging files about DDT that he has not yet released and wants to postpone the May 6 reporting date for going to prison. This evidence may include “possible federal campaign finance violations by the Republican National Committee, including possibly illegal conduiting of illegal substantial donations to the RNC by foreign nationals, including from China.”

AMI is selling the National Enquirer along with tabloids Globe and National Examiner. The decision came after negotiations with Jeff Bezos’ legal team because of the Enquirer’s attempted shakedown in revenge for news about Saudi Arabia published in the Washington Post, especially the murder of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). The blackmail story threatening to publish revealing photos of Bezos and his mistress if the negative articles about Saudis didn’t stop is connected to DDT through AMI CEO David Pecker, close friend of DDT. The Enquirer fingered the brother of Bezos’ mistress as the photos’ source, but Saudis hacked into Bezos’ phone.

Congress wants answers about six secret authorizations from DDT’s Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, to give Saudi Arabia nuclear technology and services with no limits to block their developing weapons. In reference to MBS’s overseeing the torturing and dismemberment of Khashoggi, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) said:

“If you cannot trust a regime with a bone saw, you should not trust them with nuclear weapons.”

These authorizations require congressional approval. A bipartisan bill requires the executive branch to regularly disclose information about allowing permission for nuclear energy cooperation with foreign countries.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin thinks that he doesn’t have to obey a 1924 anti-corruption law requiring him to turn over DDT’s tax returns. Section 6103 of the Tax Code states that Treasury officials “shall,” meaning no choice, turn over the tax returns “upon written request” of the chair of either congressional tax committee or the federal employee who runs Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. No request has ever been refused. In another potentially illegal act, Mnuchin told Congress that his legal team has consulted with the White House to block DDT’s release of tax returns to House members, in what may be obstruction of justice.

Section 7214(a) requires that DDT, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, IRS director Charles Rettig, and Mnuchin be removed from office if they fail to comply with the request to submit DDT’s tax returns by House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA). If convicted of this refusal, they “shall be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned not more than 5 years of both.” Removal from office can block service on corporate board and require disclosures to lenders. DDT may be busy pardoning himself as well as others. The primary question is how long Mnuchin can stall.

In his pompous appearance before the House Financial Committee this week, Mnuchin complained that the House had not brought NAFTA 2.0 to the floor. There’s a good reason: DDT hasn’t sent the Canada/Mexico/U.S. trade agreement to Congress. He also threatens steep new tariffs of cars imported from Mexico, an act exempted by the agreement. When asked how he could do something the agreement prevents, DDT said, “We haven’t finished our agreement yet.” Yet VP Mike Pence is on the road touting the agreement.

Opposed by top Pentagon leadership, DDT designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp—which he called Islamic RGC—as a terrorist organization. His unprecedented—and unpresidented—action puts the U.S. at risk of war, and Iran answered by labeling the U.S. military forces also a terrorist organization. The U.S. may no longer be able to successfully negotiate with Iran if U.S. ships just stray into Iran’s waters, as they did in 2016. DDT’s statement read that “if you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the goal was to force Iran to behave like a “normal” country, perhaps using the “new normal” in the U.S. as an example.

DDT is one of those people who has done “business with the IRGC” in his financial dealings with wealthy oligarch Ziya Mammadov to build a never-opened Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku in Azerbaijan’s capital city. The Mammadov family has strong ties to money laundering with DDT’s so-called “terrorist group,” the IRGC, and some workers were paid in cash—hundreds of thousands of dollars. Between January 2014 and July 15, DDT earned $2.5 million from the project and another $323,000 later, according to his financial disclosure report. A lawyer involved with the project said that the Trump Organization “approved the smallest details. DDT’s business admitted knowledge of developers’ ties to Iranian Revolutionary Guard in 2015 and may have also violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Maryanne Trump Barry, DDT’s older sister, retired as a federal appellate judge to dodge an investigation into her fraudulent tax schemes with DDT and other siblings to greatly increase their wealth. Barry, who will continue to collect a salary of about $200,000 was co-owner of a family-created shell company, All Country, to siphon cash from their father’s empire by marking up purchases already bought by employees in order to avoid gift and estate taxes. By the time of DDT’s father’s death, his children had acquired almost all the father’s estate. Barry also benefited from gross undervaluation of her father’s properties when she and the siblings took ownership. Her share was $182.5 million.

Despite the refusal of Secretary of State Betsy DeVos to protect campus victims of sexual harassment,  the 4th Circuit Court ruled that colleges and universities must take action against targeted violent, sexist cyber abuse including threats of rape and murder. The University of Mary Washington did nothing to stop these actions, and the court ruled court ruled that Title IX and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause require schools’ addressing cyber harassment and do not permit First Amendment protection for threats to kill or injure others. The decision sets a precedent for legal liability in all universities and colleges.

DDT says he know “nothing” about WikiLeaks after Julian Assauge was arrested, but he’s been praising WikiLeaks for over 30 months. In October 2016, DDT said, “This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove” and repeated the sentiment many times.

Once again, DDT bragged about a poll that showed his high level of disapproval, this one from Fox’s Lou Dobbs Tonight. Fox Business reporter Blake Burman had to correct that the 55-percent rate DDT shouted out was actually for the unfavorable impression of him.

February 20, 2019

First Amendment Contorted by Love for Saudi Arabia, Clarence Thomas

Remember Jeff Bezos? For a week, the media focused on his “junk,” his battle with the National Enquirer, and his search for the person who ripped off his photos and documents such as texts and emails. Turns out that the guilty person is Bezos’ girlfriend’s gay brother. Then Bezos generated more media buzz when he pulled the Amazon headquarters from New York City, much to the disgust of some and delight of others.

The Bezos scandal highlighted the tie between the Enquirer and the Saudi government through Bezos’ letter to AMI, the owner of the tabloid. In its mandate that Bezos state he had “no knowledge” that the Enquirer’s coverage of his affair was “politically motivated or influenced by political forces,” people guessed that the issue was Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). David Pecker, AMI’s owner and DDT’s close associate, had an immunity deal with the DOJ for their criminal suppression of stories about DDT during his campaign, paying people for stories and then not printing them. Karen McDougal’s alleged affair with DDT was one of these articles that were killed before the election.

But Pecker may wanted the Washington Post, owned by Bezos, to stop printing negative news about Saudi Arabia. Pecker used his ties with DDT to cultivate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) for business opportunities, including borrowing money to buy major publications such as Sports Illustrated, Time Magazine, Fortune, and Money.  magazine. AMI’s 97-page glossy propaganda about Saudi Arabia and featuring MBS on the cover sold at Walmarts across the nation as part of Pecker’s pandering.

Jamal Khashoggi, U.S. resident and journalist, worked for the WaPo, and his writings were highly critical of MBS. Before the Saudis tortured and dismembered Khashoggi, MBS had said that he would use a “bullet” on Khashoggi if he got the chance, according to WaPo reporting. On the same day the Wall Street Journal wrote that MBS was actively enlisting U.S. media outlets to remake his image in the West and met with Vice Media co-founder Shane Smith on a yacht to discuss “an international media empire to combat the kingdom’s rivals and remake its image in the West.”

“For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve,” Bezos wrote. Former longtime Enquirer editor Jerry George said that Pecker was using Bezo’ damaging photos and documents as bargaining chips. As the story unraveled, Pecker failed because Bezos refused to give into blackmail. George cited AMI’s pro-Saudi propaganda as “suspicious” because the company was “cash poor” and “suddenly” got an “influx of cash.” He suggested that “there’s another shoe to drop,” referring to Robert Mueller’s investigation into “the Saudis’ role in all of this.” A restriction of AMI’s immunity included the company staying out of politics, and WaPo revealed that the company may not have lived up to its promises.

Last year, AMI contacted the DOJ to see if the company should register as a foreign agent but said that it didn’t get any Saudi funding for their Saudi propaganda. The DOJ said probably not, but AMI wrote that a Saudi adviser submitted content for its publication and then made changes to the final version after receiving an early draft. AMI’s extortion of Bezos has brought its relation to the Saudis has brought the issue back into visibility.

DDT, who denied his own intelligence showing that MBS was responsible for Khashoggi, now faces an investigation by House Democrats about DDT’s illegal push to sell nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia over objections by national security officials and attorneys, a plan that may have directly benefited his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Despite warnings of “potential conflicts of interest, national security risks and legal hurdles” in 2017, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and other DDT employees push for the sales. DDT plans to bypass Congress with an illegal technology transfer that can spread nuclear weapons throughout the Middle East.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pled guilty of lying to the FBI, was an early advocate for these sales after DDT’s inauguration and recommended that Barrack, who raised $107 million for DDT’s corrupt inaugural committee, be a special representative to carry out his nuclear plan. Appearing to be from DDT, a memo told federal agencies to do Barrack’s bidding.

The House reports Flynn’s working with retired military officers to circumvent U.S. law. After he resigned, the National Security Council continued with its plan in opposition to advice from its own ethics counsel. The next adviser, H.R. McMaster, said that the illegal work must stop, but McMaster left almost two months ago. Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation has examined the possibility of Middle Eastern monarchies financially influencing DDT’s political activities, starting with his presidential campaign. Congress has not look at claims about the nuclear sales until this year because of GOP control.

In more First Amendment issues, the Covington Catholic High School (KY) teenager who appeared to harass Nathan Phillips, a Native American elder and veteran, is suing WaPo for $250 million. The defamation lawsuit alleges that the newspaper “engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism” and “wrongfully targeted and bullied” the “innocent child” Nick Sandmann. According to his lawyers, Sandmann is suffering from “the pain and destruction its attacks would cause to his life.”

The lawsuit reads like a political polemic:

“[The Post wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump (“the President”) by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President…. [The Post’s coverage was] in furtherance of its political agenda … carried out by using its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles which effectively provided a worldwide megaphone to Phillips and other anti-Trump individuals and entities to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the President.”

Earlier this month, the Sandmann lawyers sent letters warning litigation to over 50 media organizations, celebrities, and politicians. As the wealthiest man in the world, WaPo owner Jeff Bezos has the most money and is considered DDT’s biggest media enemy, and the $250 million is the same amount that Bezos paid for the Post in 2013. Nick’s parents, Ted and Julie Sandmanns, say they want to “teach the Post a lesson it will never forget.” They argue that Nick is not a public figure, lowering the bar for winning their lawsuit.

While Nick was described as a “child,” the lawsuit calls Nathan Phillips “a phony war hero” who “targeted and bullied” Sandmann. Phillips said that Sandmann and his peers from Covington surrounded him after he tried to stop possible violence between them and a few Hebrew Israelites. About Sandmann’s comment on the Today show, Phillips used the terms “insincerity, lack of responsibility”—“coached and written up for him.” About the encounter, Phillips said that he was trying to get out of an ugly situation. “That guy in the hat [Sandmann] stood in my way, and we were at an impasse.” Phillips added, “Then I went to go pray about it …. I forgive him.”

The Sandmanns may find support in their war on freedom of the press from Supreme Court Clarence Thomas. He hopes to attack the media through his proposal to reconsider the 1964 case New York Times v. Sullivan which determined that public figures must have greater proof to claim libel. Thomas’ “roadmap” to  helping DDT’s change in libel laws permitting him to sue news organizations came after Thomas and his far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas had dinner with DDT and his wife Melania Trump. Trump’s pledge to change libel laws so he can sue news organizations for their reporting.

Last Tuesday, Thomas expressed concern about the high court’s refusal to hear an appeal from Katherine McKee, who claimed Bill Cosby’s lawyer leaked a letter that distorted her background and damaged her reputation after she claimed that Cosby raped her. Lower courts cited the Times v. Sullivan precedent in dismissing her case with the justification that disclosing her accusation required her to meet a higher libel standard of malice that applies to public figures. The decision to not take the case was unanimous, but Thomas wrote a sole opinion that the 1964 case was wrongly decided.

Since 1964, public officials can sue for libel only if the person responsible for the statement knows that the statement is false or if the person recklessly disregarded its falsehood. Subsequent Supreme Court cases have added all public figures to public officials to protect journalists and media organizations from intimidation by wealthy and/or powerful public figures wishing to exploit minor errors in reporting. That Supreme Court decision protect the media reporting on Thomas sexual harassment by Anita Hill. Thomas, who claims to be an originalist, following only the word of the U.S. Constitution and not its meaning, said, “We should carefully examine the original meaning [of the First Amendment.]” An early interpretation of this right, as shown by the first Sedition Act in 1798, was that the government could punish any published story, and the Sedition Act still exists. If the Supreme Court supports Thomas, the First Amendment could disappear.

February 8, 2019

DDT: Week 107 – Temper Tantrums, Threats

A wild week—Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) delivered his usual lies in the State of the Union speech and the House committees began its investigative hearings. Tweets from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) have the stench of fear, with a recent example of a tirade about how investigations of his scandals not being “allowed” finished by how “Dems and their committees are … even stealing people who work at White House.” An unnamed staffer guided a CNN reporter to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the Intelligence Committee, for an explanation. Schiff has hired former National Security Council members, who DDT had dumped, to work in the investigation into DDT’s finances and foreign connections. In an inverse act, Kashyap Patel, former staffer for former House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes (R-CA), to join the National Security Council.

Acting AG Matt Whitaker joined Republicans in responding with the same fear as DDT. Whitaker rudely responded to Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee hearing today, even telling the chair that his time for questioning was up. Whitaker said, “I’m here voluntarily,” but he might not be so fortunate at his next hearing. He refused to answer questions while disrespecting House Democrats. GOP committee members repeated conspiracy theories including the lie about the FBI tipping off CNN for the Roger Stone arrest. After he pounded the table and yelled at chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) tried to shut down Eric Swalwell (D-CA) when he questioned Whitaker about taking donations from foreign groups. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) attacked Whitaker for the redactions in a memo from Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to Robert Mueller about the investigation. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) asked Whitaker to get DOJ employees to be loyal to DDT, despite the oath that they take to be loyal to the U.S. Constitution. Vox has a good rundown of the event.

Because the Senate still has a GOP majority, Richard Burr (R-NC), chair of its Intelligence Committee, is dragging his heels in any investigation of Russia collusion, but DDT still had to lie when he said that the committee had finished its investigation and had found “NO COLLUSION.”

The shutdown came about—and may return—because Congress has not provided a budget that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) will sign. At the same time, however, DDT has failed to comply with the law. It is his legal obligation to send a budget to Congress by the first Monday in February—February 4, 2019–which he has not done.

Yesterday was National Black HIV Awareness Day, and Tuesday DDT announced that he will end the HIV epidemic by 2030. Here’s the male white crowd who plan to carry out the plan.

The Supreme Court released both conservative and not-quite-so-conservative opinions. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal wing in striking down Louisiana’s restrictive anti-abortion law—at least for now—but moved to the conservative side in refusing a Muslim any religious support during his execution in Alabama. The Supreme Court had already found the Louisiana law unconstitutional when the same one was passed in Texas, but DDT has added two conservative justices since 2016 when Roberts had dissented from overturning the Texas law. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), up for reelection next year, is taking criticism when she supported Brett Kavanaugh for the high court because she believed his promise that he would not overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade, legalizing some abortions.

AMI, owner of the National Enquirer which helped elect DDT with its suppression of news, may have lost its immunity from Robert Mueller. If the publishing company cooperates and avoids committing crimes, it won’t face prosecution for paying off a woman who had an affair with DDT. Upset about news published in the WaPo, AMI tried to extort Jeff Bezos, the newspaper owner, by threatening to publish more embarrassing material about his sexual affair.

Instead of being coerced, Bezos published the extortion message and his response in which he defined the extortion terms:

“In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we ‘have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.’”

Bezos’ documents can be read in entirety here. The National Enquirer’s final paragraph in the blackmail note reads:

“If [Jeff Bezos] agrees to cease and desist such defamatory behavior [meaning reporting in the Washington Post], we are willing to engage in constructive conversations regarding the texts and photos which we have in our possession. Dylan Howard stands ready to discuss the matter at your convenience.”

Bezos indicated that the reason for National Enquirer’s may be WaPo’s coverage of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve,” wrote the world’s richest person.

DDT has refused to submit a requested report from Congress regarding White House findings on whether Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is personally responsible for the torture and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. U.S. intelligence determined that the premeditated murder was almost certainly from orders by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but DDT said he would retain relationships with Saudi Arabia even if the rulers were responsible for the killing. Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, has claimed that the killing was a “rogue operation.” A bipartisan Senate group is considering asking the White House to lay sanctions against anyone considered “responsible.” A bill might include a refusal to sell Saudi Arabia certain military arms.

ICE may have hit a new low. Ordered last summer by the Supreme Court to give specific hearing dates, ICE agents issued “dummy” dates with threats that people would be deported if they didn’t attend. Immigrants crossed the country to comply with the orders only to find that the fake scheduled hearings didn’t exist. Chaos ensured as the photo to the left shows. Court administrators tried to help the immigrants by double-checking addresses and promising that they would soon receive hearing notices.

Because DDT has pulled out of a nuclear treaty with Russia, Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s military to develop new ground-launched hypersonic missiles with an intermediate range and to convert previously sea-based cruise missiles for ground launch.

U.S. Central Command (Centcom) Commander Gen. Joseph Votel, the top U.S. general in charge of military operations in the Middle East, testified that he was not consulted before DDT’s announcement of all 2,000 troop withdrawal from Syria. He also testified that taking pressure off ISIS will permit it to regroup and have “renewed vigor.”

The GOP and DDT’s tax cuts for the wealthy and big business may raise the deficit trillions of dollars, but many DDT’s supporters are discovering that it doesn’t help them. Here’s one of the angry responses:

“The @GOP tax bill cost my family THOUSANDS of dollars this year on our return due to changes, thereby hitting us with the LARGEST tax increase of our lives. We are middle-class homeowners, and you raised our taxes. Infuriating!”

IRS accounting deception to keep people unaware of how little tax cuts would help them—at least until after the midterm elections—may have added to their frustration. Instead of telling people that the tax “reform” wouldn’t give much relief to most people, the IRS changed withholding guidelines that would give more money back to workers in each paycheck by reducing the amount of taxes withheld throughout 2018. In the past, people tended to get refunds, but the new system means much smaller refunds or even the requirement to send more money to the IRS. Discovering that corporations are getting even more of a break than they were promised will undoubtedly result in more rage, especially if they find out that companies get a much larger tax break fi they move their profits overseas—about half as much tax responsibility.

Maybe some people have already learned their lesson: over three-fourths of registered voters want the wealthiest people in the U.S. to pay higher taxes. Even a Fox poll shows that 70 percent of people want increased taxes for those earning more than $10 million.

Other polls are also not favorable for DDT. He went into the Oval Office with a growing economy, but two years later, 56 percent of people in the U.S. believe that the economy is slowing down or worse. Seventeen percent think that the economy is in a recession or depression. Sixty-seven percent of Americans believe interest rates will go up in the next six months, including 20 percent who believe they will go up “a lot.” Likewise, a majority (61 percent) see inflation rising in the near future, including 17 percent who say it will increase a lot.

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