Nel's New Day

June 22, 2019

DDT: Week 126, Threat Balloons Backfire, More Lies

This blog refers to the man inaugurated in 2016 and limited by the U.S. Constitution to two four-year terms as “dictator.” A video from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) shows his interest in being “president for life”—up until the year 10,000.

In his interview with Chuck Todd about the proposed preemptive strike on Iran, to be shown on Sunday, DDT claimed no planes in the air and no final approval. Planes were most likely in the air, however, because the operation required them to go from distant bases hours away from Iran. Unless there was an operation. DDT did declare that his on Iran would be “obliteration like you’ve never seen before.” People in the U.S. could be the ones obliterated. Even Fox network figured out that he is lying: Shep Smith and Chris Wallace both questioned DDT’s statements

Increasingly disenchanted with Fox, DDT also accusing them of “fake news” because of Fox polls showing Biden leading over DDT in several battleground states and disputing the Fox report that DDT spend 30 hours with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos—which he did. Fox’s Sean Hannity, who reportedly has nightly telephone pillow talk with DDT, is not as popular with DDT as shown by DDT’s comment that Hannity is motivated more by ratings than by patriotism. DDT also mocks Hannity’s fawning behind closed doors as dull and unchallenging. DDT may no longer need Hannity Since Paul Manafort is in prison for 7.5 years, DDT may not need Hannity who apparently illegally passed information between Manafort and DDT while Manafort waited in jail for his trial. A judge unsealed hundreds of emails between Hannity and Manafort, some of the time when Manafort was under a gag order not to communicate with anyone except lawyers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told DDT not to go through with his misbegotten war plans when DDT briefed her, joined in the White House by other congressional leaders Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). About the 3:00 pm meeting, Pelosi said, “Democratic leaders emphasized that hostilities must not be initiated without the approval of Congress.” DDT supposedly called off the strike at 7:00 pm, about two hours before the scheduled finale. Perhaps DDT obeyed Russia’s president Vladimir Putin who said that a U.S. attack on Iran would be a “catastrophe.” Bully and television performer, DDT loves drama and sends up threat balloons to find a reaction; hopefully the backlash was too much for him.

In another failed threat balloon, DDT defended his plan to deport “millions” tomorrow before tweeting that he was delaying the deportation “for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans” can agree on an (unidentified) resolution for “Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.” There won’t be a resolution because Republicans don’t want one. Pelosi tweeted, “Families belong together.” DDT disagrees although he lies about his position and blames the non-existent “sanctuary cities.” Houston police chief Art Acevedo in Houston, nowhere near giving sanctuary, tweeted his approval of blocking deportations:

“Rhetoric that causes fear & panic & pushes folks further into the dark places all at risk.”

Even acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who supervises ICE, knows that separating children from their parents is becoming political suicide. That’s the reason that GOP senators are crying “humanitarian” on a bill designed to get more money to separate families and cage children. The bill escaped a committee, but questions have been raised since publicity about the neglect and abuse of children on the southern border. Democrats need to be careful; DDT considers a wall “humanitarian aid.” DDT is good for human smuggling across the southern border. Every time he mentions his wall, more migrants head toward the United States. While DDT pushes billions for a southern border wall because of the illegal drug trade, $1.2 billion worth of cocaine was shipped into a Philadelphia port out of Chile, Panama, and the Bahamas—one of the biggest drug seizures in U.S. history. Although this shipment was discovered, Joaquín Guzman (“El Chapo”) has talked extensively about smuggling drugs through ports of entry.

The Senate is running short on time. Within 40 “working” days, the U.S. is ripe for a shutdown because of no bills for raising the debt ceiling and passing appropriations bills. GOP congressional leaders have a bipartisan deadlock with DDT on budgeting because acting chief of staff and budget director Mick Mulvaney’s agenda disagrees with DDT’s desires. The actions of Mulvaney, formerly a South Carolina GOP representative, are particularly galling to Republicans. During a White House meeting last Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested a one-year stopgap measure that keeps funding at its current levels with a one-year debt limit suspension, unpopular with Democrats. Schumer pointed out that McConnell blocked moving 2020 spending bills under “regular order” to please DDT. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said:

“Mulvaney does not want a deal, and I think that’s the biggest point.”

The group didn’t discuss offsets to pay for the GOP tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, a serious problem because Republicans will want to take money for the bottom 80 percent.

In an interview with Time, DDT lied when he said he never separated children from their parents. He falsely claimed, several times, that President Obama separated families and he (DDT) “ended separation.” A court ruled against DDT’s family separation, but he continued the practice after the court’s decision. DDT repeated his lies to José Díaz-Balart, anchor of “Noticias Telemundo,” in his first interview on a Spanish-language network. The rare occasions when President Obama separated children was for threats to children or adults detained for criminal convictions or felonies such as carrying drugs. In April 2018, the DOJ under former AG Jeff Sessions ordered every illegal entry case to be prosecuted, separating children from parents even if parents only committed a misdemeanor by crossing the border. Children were put in cages and sometimes didn’t recognize their parents after lengthy separations. 

In the Time interview reporters, DDT threatened a journalist with prison after he tried to take a picture of a letter that DDT claimed was “written by Kim Jong Un. It was delivered to me yesterday. By hand.” DDT went off the record for a few minutes, and a reporter later brought up the issue about DDT trying to “limit Mueller’s Russia probe to only future election meddling” and dictating a letter to Corey Lewandowski, “telling him to tell” former attorney general Jeff Sessions “to limit the investigation.” DDT told the journalist that “you can go to prison instead, because, if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you—” Asked if he was threatening prison for the journalist, DDT went off on a rant, including how Time should make him “man of the year.” They did, just three years ago.

Some of DDT aides think they are above the law, just as DDT does. Kellyanne Conway indicated that the Hatch Act, that prevents all federal employees except DDT and the vice president from campaigning for candidate, doesn’t apply to her. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is also being investigated about his possible violation of the law preventing federal employees from political activities after the media reported that he is working with DDT’s campaign officials to work on fundraising strategies. Kushner is supposedly “the campaign’s key liaison in the West Wing” and has “multiple daily conversations” with campaign manager, Brad Parscale. In 2016, Kushner’s companies were also flagged for suspicious activity in Deutsche Bank money-laundering reviews. Ivanka Trump’s tweet with DDT’s campaign slogan “Make America Great” and her claim that “the best is yet to come” on her government Twitter account may also violate  the Hatch Act:

“Four years ago today, I introduced my father @realDonaldTrump when he launched a Campaign that would forever change America. Because of his courage, Americans are safer and more prosperous…and the best is yet to come!”

Last week when DDT kicked off his 2020 campaign in Orlando, a place surrounded by swamp, the city’s newspaper Orlando Sentinel, traditionally endorsing Republicans, made its 2020 endorsement: not DDT.

“After 2½ years we’ve seen enough. Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies. So many lies—from white lies to whoppers—told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity. The nation must endure another 1½ years of Trump. But it needn’t suffer another four beyond that. We can do better. We have to do better.”

The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial wasn’t much more supportive, asking why DDT should be re-elected if he didn’t do anything in his first term. About DDT’s Orlando speech:

“The most striking fact of his speech was how backward looking it was. Every incumbent needs to remind voters of his record, Mr. Trump more than most because the media are so hostile. [The people who aren’t core supporters] want to know why they should take a risk on Mr. Trump and his volatile character for another term.

“On immigration, however, the President missed a chance to strike a deal trading more border security (including his wall) for legalizing Dreamers. On trade, Mr. Trump has disrupted global rules but has put nothing new and stable in their place. Asking voters to believe he’ll do better on these issues in a second term isn’t likely to turn many swing voters his way.”

DDT’s staunch supporter, The Washington Examiner, retracted a story repeating DDT’s lies that a New York Times “fed information” to the FBI about Jared Kushner. The complete story is here.

DDT’s lies and chaos have lost him some right-wing media.

March 3, 2019

GOP Values Reflected in People They Choose

Michael Cohen’s testimony this week uncovers the nature of the man who has been elected president of the United States, but it also clearly shows the nature and values of the people who support Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). During the hearing, Republicans constantly called Cohen a liar—sometimes a “pathological liar”—yet ignored the pathological liar who sits behind the desk in the Oval Office. Republicans said almost nothing to refute what Cohen said but repeated, ad nauseam, that Cohen had admitted to lying to Congress and to committing multiple felonies.

Before the testimony, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is not a member of the Oversight Committee allowed to question Cohen, sent a threatening tweet that attempted to intimidate Cohen. DDT even called to praise Gaetz for his action, which raises the question of whether DDT fed Gaetz negative information about Cohen. Gaetz, Jim Jordan (R-OH), and other Republicans decided 18 months ago to actively undermine Robert Mueller’s investigation through reinvestigating Hillary Clinton and the origins of the FBI investigation of Flynn and other DDT associates as well as smearing the FBI.

Sean Hannity, Fox propagandist and DDT’s BFF, said that Cohen had told him that DDT had nothing to do with the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels for a secret affair. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) tweeted:

“Sean Hannity is now volunteering himself as a witness. I look forward to his testimony.”

National security lawyer Bradley P. Moss said, “Hannity just made himself a witness in a congressional inquiry and the SDNY [Southern District of New York] probe.”

The people who DDT selects to surround him and who are confirmed by the Republicans in the senate demonstrate their own values. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos continually tries to destroy public education, former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney wanted to destroy consumer protection, and former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wanted to destroy public lands. Former oil lobbyist David Bernhardt took over from Zinke, and former pharmaceutical executive leads the Department of Health and Human Services. The replacement for former Secretary of Defense James Mattis is former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta has been accused of protecting a sex trafficker who molested teenage girls.

Shannon Lee Goessling, DDT’s pick for director of the Office of Violence against Women at DOJ, is the most recent example of DDT’s desire to select appointees imminently unsuitable for every position. She has fought to keep Alabama’s driver’s license exams only in English, bringing concerns that she would provide domestic violence resources in any non-English languages as well as probability that she could not handle policies for survivors’ immigration statuses and eligibility for public support. Also questionable is her respect for cultural differences in domestic violence. Goessling has also opposed marriage equality and advocates greater gun ownership to prevent violence against women, perpetuating the myth that women with guns can prevent “a completed rape.” According to a study, firearms in the home are more likely to be used against a woman and/or her family than as defense against outside intruders. Victims are five times more likely to be killed if their abusers have access to firearms. Her history is obviously anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, anti-racial justice, and anti-activists opposing sexual violence.

Andrew Wheeler, who became acting EPA director and is now confirmed for a permanent position, came from the coal industry, the largest water polluter responsible for 73 percent of toxic water contamination in the U.S. Last August, Wheeler planned to weaken automobile fuel economy standards before he destroyed a power plant regulation that, according to the EPA, will cause 1,400 more premature deaths each year. Scientists from 13 federal agencies, including the EPA, confirmed findings that U.S. temperatures will be nine degrees higher within less than a century, but Wheeler refused to recognize the study’s validity without reading it. In December, he recommended loosening carbon dioxide emissions reductions at coal-fired power plants and finished 2018 by announcing that he will promote the release of mercury and other dangerous pollutants from coal-fired plants. A recent Wheeler project is to slow down the elimination of toxic, cancer-causing “forever chemicals” contaminating drinking water across the country. Wheeler was confirmed by 52 to 47: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joined all Democrats except Krysten Sinema (AZ) who did not vote. In 2017, Wheeler had held a fundraiser for John Barrasso (R-WY), who presided over the confirmation.

For the first time in history, the Senate confirmed a federal judge over the opposition of both senators from the appointee’s home state. Eric Miller’s lifetime appointment to the 9th Circuit Court was completed after a brief hearing during a congressional recess with only two GOP committee members present. Miller does not agree with the U.S. Constitution that all children born in the U.S., even those of undocumented immigrants, should have U.S. citizenship and made his name fighting the rights of Native Americans. Two prominent Native American organizations, the National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Rights Fund, objected to Miller’s confirmation—only the third time that either group has opposed a federal judicial nominee. Miller, however, fits both DDT’s requirements: young and bigoted.The Senate was close to this historical first with the nomination of Oregon’s Ryan Bounds until the one black GOP senator, Tim Scott (SC), opposed Bounds because of his previous racist writings. Last November, McConnell said, “Confirmation is a political decision based on who controls the Senate.” To him, party is all and democracy is gone.

As Shanahan comes to the government from Boeing, DDT’s former UN ambassador Nikki Haley goes to Boeing’s board of directors. She joins 19 former high-level military officers hired by Boeing after their retirement. Lockheed Martin, builder of the notoriously dangerous F-35, tries the same strategy: in just 2018, the contractor hired 55 former senior government officials as executives, directors, or lobbyists. Former employees for Lockheed include Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and John Rood, undersecretary for policy at the Pentagon.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who lied about the reasons for and methods of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, violated his ethics agreement when he inaccurately reported stock holdings on his 2018 financial disclosure form. He reported selling stock that he kept. The refusal to certify Ross’ report has never happened before, but the Ethics Office had earlier warned Ross about his “failure to comply with his ethics compliance agreements.” In 2018, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, asked then-AG Jeff Sessions to review Ross’s disclosures for “potential criminal violations.”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson plans 17 EnVision Centers, as a one-stop place for low-income residents needing social services such as job-placement programs and education. Unfortunately, he didn’t designate any funding for his plan.

Ryan Zinke, who resigned from his Secretary of Interior gig at the end of last year in the hopes of not being investigated, may face a grand jury for lying to federal investigators about not granting commercial casino petitions by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes. The Connecticut tribes’ lawsuit claims that Zinke caved to GOP Nevada legislators, Rep. Mark Amodei and then Sen. Dean Heller who has received large contributions from MGM Resorts International. The government is not commenting on Zinke’s other scandals, including at least 17 ethics probes.

As if one Bill Barr in the administration isn’t bad enough, his son-in-law, Tyler McGaughey, will leave the DOJ to join the White House council where he will “advise” DDT on legal issues—presumably the Russia investigation. The jobs seem to “intersect” (aka provide a conflict of interest). Barr’s oldest daughter, Mary Daly, will leave the DOJ for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to give Dad more heads-up about Russia.

After the military concluded—several years ago—that climate is a serious national security threat, DDT appointed William Happer to lead his Committee on Climate Security to refute his own agencies’ research. Happer claimed that carbon pollution benefits people and compares scientific evidence that carbon dioxide causes global warming to Nazi “propaganda” like “demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.” He calls science a “cult.” An article from the New York Times lists disasters from climate change in the near future.

DDT found a replacement for Heather Nauert, who resigned as acting ambassador to the UN for illegally hiring a nanny after Nikki Haley resigned. Kelly Knight Craft, Ambassador to Canada and another science denier, has no qualifications to recommend her, but she and her husband donated millions of dollars to DDT’s presidential campaigns. They are also from Kentucky, and Craft has been “highly recommended” by other Kentuckians Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, Elaine Chao, who is also Transportation Secretary.

In selecting the most unqualified ambassadors in modern history, DDT chooses those who donated almost as much money to his campaign as the ambassadors picked by Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton, and Obama in their nine presidential terms.

The only people worse than DDT in his appointments are the Republicans—and a few Democrats—who confirm them for lifetime positions. Their values go from simple reward of incompetence to sinking deep into corruption and fraud.

February 15, 2019

DDT’s ‘Art of the Deal,’ a National Emergency

Using executive action is “a very, very dangerous thing that should be overwritten easily by the Supreme Court” and an impeachable offence, according to Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). He tweeted:

“Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.”

On C-Span, VP Mike Pence said that real leadership comes from hammering out a deal with Congress. He explained:

“When I talk about the consent of the governed, that is where the American people work their will. If the president were to go through with this [national emergency order], he is acting outside the consent of the governed and is not providing leadership to solve this issue facing our country in the way the American people would expect a leader to do.”

That was five years ago, and now the man sitting in the Oval Office has created a fictitious national emergency “for virtual invasion purposes” to get money for “wall” because he failed to negotiate with Congress. DDT may get $600 million from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund—money taken from people who may not have been charged with crimes—and $2.5 billion from a Defense Department anti-drug program. Another $3.6 billion could come from military construction funds.

Under the National Emergencies Act (1976), House disapproval of DDT’s executive order would require Senate consideration that could pass with a simple majority. Several GOP senators have voiced opposition to DDT’s emergency declaration, and two-thirds of the people oppose building a wall, including more than one-fourth of DDT’s party. Even the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce criticized DDT for his “emergency” order. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that the action could allow a future president with different views to declare a climate emergency or gun emergency. After telling people over 200 times that Mexico would pay for “wall,” DDT is demanding that U.S. taxpayers provide the funds.

During his odd speech this morning, DDT said he “didn’t need to” declare a national emergency but wanted to “do it much faster.” He may have followed Sean Hannity’s directive on Fox that he could accept DDT’s signing a bill without “wall” if he immediately signed the national emergency order for funding. Ann Coulter disagreed when she called DDT’s national emergency declaration a way to “scam the stupidest people in his base.” She said, “The only national emergency is that our president is an idiot.” Right meets left?

A Pew Research poll found that 58 percent of the people oppose building the wall.

More of DDT’s odd statements this morning:

  • The courts, except for the Supreme Court, won’t accept his executive order—perhaps because he said he “didn’t need to” sign it.
  • The North Korea communist dictatorship has great potential to be an economic hub.
  • Women taken across the border were tied up with tape on their mouths—ala the movie Sicario. https://nelsnewday.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/how-long-will-gop-radicalize-conservatives/
  • He likes that China doesn’t have trouble with drug addiction because its government kills drug dealers—said in a fake Asian accent.
  • The wall hasn’t been built because of GOP legislators’ failure.
  • Right-wing talk show hosts support him, and Rush Limbaugh can talk for three hours.

In discussing her new book, Fascism: A Warning, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that using a national emergency to address border crossings is an example of fascist behavior and the act of “a bully with an army.” She noted a “long history” of undemocratic leaders seizing control and subverting lawmaking bodies through so-called emergencies and described DDT as showing “undemocratic” tendencies through “his approach to the free press, to democratic institutions, to the independent judiciary,… and his general disdain for the rule of law is genuinely alarming.” William Rempel describes the parallels between DDT and Philippines’ democratic president-turned-dictator Ferdinand Marcos during the 1970s.

DDT signed the veto-proof bill approving the budget until September 30. The Senate accepted the budget with 83-16 vote; four Democratic candidates voted no. The House voted 300-128 in favor; 109 Republicans and 19 Democrats voted no, and 87 Republicans voted yes. Before the vote, a large complement of Capitol Police physically shoved reporters, even a pregnant woman, away from senators willing to talk with the media. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was forced to stop an interview because of the police behavior.

DDT hopes to use an executive order to make up for getting less money for a barrier than he was offered before the 35-day shutdown of the government. Even worse, the new law blocks use of its $1.375 billion for a “concrete wall” and “only authorizes funds for ‘existing technologies,’ like the current fencing along the southern border.” DDT opposed additional immigration judges, but now he’s trying to use the additional 50 judges as a win for himself. He also got an increase in customs agents and border patrol personnel, but ICE can’t fill existing vacancies. DDT, famous for stiffing people who work for him, succeeded in doing the same for shutdown victims. He refused to pay the 580,000 federal contractors who went without pay for 35 days although they were furloughed or forced to work. That form of slavery saved him almost $200 million.

Democrats achieved more alternatives to immigration detention, more help (legal, medical, etc.) for detained immigrant families, and censure for some of the CBP’s worst practices. Immigration detention facilities must have adequate temperatures instead of freezing rooms and eliminate “chain-link type enclosures” (aka cages). Local communities will also have veto power over construction. To prevent separation of some families, DHS cannot remove or detain anyone who is a “sponsor, potential sponsor, or member of a household of a sponsor or potential sponsor of an unaccompanied alien child.”

DDT has a big problem with building the wall along the southern border: his land grabs. Yesterday, Democrats introduced bills to protect property from DDT’s eminent domain actions. One would remove DHS security to unilaterally waive “all legal requirements” for building “wall,” including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act. A second would require a $20 million fund to provide legal service for low-income landowners to protect their land. The third would guarantee full compensation for seized land.

David French, once a DDT supporter, wrote in the conservative National Review about why DDT lacks the power to circumvent Congress in his attempt to seize funding and land for his wall. The former JAG officer claims that this issue was already settled over 60 years ago during the Korean War when courts stopped President Truman from seizing steel mills to prevent a strike. The emergencies act doesn’t give DDT permission for his wall because he would have to prove he needed to use the military against an ally for a function of the civilian DHS.  The statute also specifics “use,” not funding, for essential projects to national defense. DDT also has no “credible evidence” of terrorists headed to the U.S. from Mexico.

Passing the budget—despite doing it almost five months late—may make some people breathe a sign of relief, but the deadline for raising the debt ceiling arrives in less than two weeks on March 1, 2019. Failure to do so forces Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to use “extraordinary measures” to not go over the ceiling. Usually the influx of income taxes paid by April 15 helps pay the government’s bills, but the GOP passed a massive tax cut last year for the wealthy and big businesses which means much less revenue this year. Theoretically, the day when the federal government hits a crisis in its inability to pay bills hits in mid-summer which means another possibility of a shutdown if either the far-right conservatives or DDT decides they don’t want to pay the bills that they have run up with their budgets.

Perhaps everyone will agree to take responsibility for the bills that Congress incurred, but if not, it’s crisis time again. Congress has a tendency to put off its obligatory decisions until after the deadline. DDT’s officials like Mnuchin and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney say that the deficit—which causes the national debt—doesn’t matter; congressional decisions about raising the debt ceiling will determine whether they agree with the GOP administration.

Foreign investors have grown so concerned about lending money to the U.S. that their share of the debt has gone from 49 percent to 39 percent of the entire debt. Thirty percent of the government debt is to itself, including to the Social Security Trust Fund and federal employee retirement funds. Ronald Reagan started “borrowing” from the Social Security surplus, and George W. Bush ran his loan of almost $1 trillion to the top of almost $3 trillion to pay for his tax cuts, war, and recession.

DDT announced that the United States has a national emergency at the border and then headed to sunny Florida for a stay at Mar-a-Lago and a few rounds of golf. And hundreds of thousands of government workers still aren’t getting paid while the deficit skyrockets.

April 23, 2018

DDT: Week Sixty-six – Legal Problems Add Those with Lawyer Cohen

The Cohen Crisis continues in the White House as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) claims that his former personal lawyer won’t “flip” on him, meaning that DDT knows he’s not innocent. At the same time, Republican congressional members not only have concerns about Michael Cohen cooperating with investigator Robert Mueller but also plan to get rid of Mueller.

DDT has also become increasingly rabid about James Comey, especially because his memos, given to the House Judiciary Committee, were immediately leaked following the release of Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty, earlier this week. Both the memos and the book were equally uncomplimentary about DDT. Instead of wiping out Comey’s credibility, as House members hoped, the memos seem to support Comey’s plausibility. DDT denied that he fired Comey because of the investigation into DDT’s ties with Russia, but his video with Lester Holt shows him saying that he considered “this Russia thing” in his decision to boot the FBI head. He also told two Russian diplomats in the Oval Office that firing “nut job” Comey took “great pressure” off of him.

Sanctions on Russia were another concern throughout the past week. Nikki Haley, UN ambassador and apologist for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), announced two days after DDT’s and John Bolton’s airstrikes on Syria that the U.S. is increasing economic sanctions against Russia. DDT overturned her statement the next day, and her declaration were described as a misstatement and privately as “an error that needs to be mopped up.” New DDT economic adviser Larry Kudlow called Haley’s comments due to “momentary confusion.” “With all due respect, I don’t get confused,” Haley said, and Kudlow apologized, saying that he was wrong. Within a week, DDT eased earlier sanctions on oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has a connection with the 2016 election. Comey said in his interview with George Stephanopoulos that Russia may have something on DDT to blackmail him.

The memory of DDT’s airstrikes on Syria has faded, and no proof yet exists that gas was responsible for deaths or that Syria was responsible. Initially, popular conservative pundits such as Fox’s Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham criticized DDT’s airstrikes while Michael Savage and Ann Coulter condemned DDT’s actions. Mike Cernovich tweeted that the chemical attacks in Syria were staged and wrote, “At least I won’t feel bad when he gets impeached.”

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, moving toward nomination for Secretary of State in a reluctant Senate, went to North Korea on Easter Sunday (also April Fools Day) to begin talks with Kim Jong-Un, and DDT is already trying to figure out how to make the non-talks with North Korea’s leader successful if DDT decides to bail on them. Hawk and new national security adviser John Bolton told DDT to feel free to leave the meeting at any time if he doesn’t get what he wants but that the meeting could be considered a success even if doesn’t last for an hour. DDT assured Bolton that he could sway Kim when he sees him in person.

DDT bragged about North Korea’s “denuclearization,” but Kim Jong-Un plans to keep his nuclear arsenal. DDT’s aides privately believe that Kim’s closing one nuclear facility is not a pledge to move toward nuclear disarmament. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who met with DDT last week, tried to tell him that past U.S. talks with North Korea have failed and questioned why Japan was the only U.S. ally that was not exempted from tariffs on aluminum.

A prime reason for Kim’s negotiation is to end the Korean War, suspended for the past 65 years but not formally ended. The U.S. could have a problem with the 28,000 military members stationed on the Korean peninsula.

The search warrants for DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen may be a bigger problem for DDT than Robert Mueller investigation. Last Monday, Cohen tried to freeze the inspection of his materials and had to reveal that Sean Hannity was one of his clients along with protecting DDT and Elliott Broidy from sex scandals. Hannity vigorously denied any professional involvement with Cohen which may have lost him any attorney-client confidentiality. A judge has not yet ruled about the confidentiality of Cohen’s materials regarding DDT but doesn’t seem inclined to keep Cohen’s papers from litigation.

Since warrants were served on his property, Cohen has withdrawn two libel suits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS, that produced the infamous Christopher Steele dossier about ties between DDT and Russia. Cohen can now avoid questioning from Fusion or turning over evidence related to the case.

Problems of Cohen, aka “The Fixer”:

  • Ties to Russian kleptocrats.
  • Close working relationship with convicted felon Felix Sater, Russian-financed real estate developer and former Trump Organization employee.
  • Shift from low-rate personal injury lawyer to mogul as he purchased a dozen luxury units in DDT properties.
  • 2016 meeting with Putin associates in Prague.
  • Partnership with a Ukrainian immigrant to purchase the biggest collection of expensive NYC taxi medallions.

Over 20 percent of donations to DDT’s 2020 campaign–$3.9 million—have gone for legal bills with almost $1 million during the current year. At least $66,000 of legal fees for DDT’s longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller have been paid by DDT’s campaign donations, perhaps illegally. Schiller was questioned about events as far back as 2013, long before the campaign. The campaign has also paid almost $288,000 for Donald Trump Jr.’s legal concerns.

The conservative Wall Street Journal wrote that Cohen stopped a Us Weekly story in 2013 about Donald Trump Jr.’s affair with Celebrity Apprentice contestant Aubrey O’Day between 2011 and 2012. The same article tracked Cohen’s payments to Stormy Daniels to kill her story about an affair with DDT and to a pregnant Playboy Playmate to conceal information about her affair with Elliott Broidy.

DDT’s long-time denial about his interaction with prostitutes in Russia (aka “pee tapes”) was that he’s a germophobe. His latest reason is that it couldn’t have happened because he didn’t stay overnight in Moscow during that time period in 2013. In the past, social media posts indicated that he was in the city for several days, his faithful bodyguard Keith Schiller related a different story to congressional investigators, and recent revelation of flight records shows that DDT was in Moscow from Friday, 11/8/13, through early Sunday morning (11/10/13).

The Russian scandal will get a great deal more media air time since DDT hired limelight-loving Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor, for his legal team. One reason for hiring Giuliani may be that he can get information out of the FBI. Before Comey was fired, he had begun an investigation about Giuliani’s possibly knowing about the email leaks during Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president before they were announced. Giuliani’s law firm advised Cambridge Analytics, under fire for using private data and providing foreign labor for GOP campaigns, and tried to resolve the case of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold dealer accused of violating U.S. law by helping Iran avoid economic sanctions. In 1988 Giuliani stopped FBI Agent Tony Lombardi from continuing the investigation into DDT’s money laundering just a few weeks before DDT raised $2 million for Giuliani’s mayoral campaign. Wayne Barrett, formerly of The Village Voice, also wrote about Giuliani’s key part in using New York City taxpayer money to support DDT’s buildings.

The team also has taken on former federal prosecutors Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin, a couple who manage a Florida-based law firm that specializes in responding to search warrants, who are willing to risk their reputation by working for DDT. None of DDT’s lawyers has much experience as defense attorneys.

DDT decided not to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership after he thought he would after he said he wouldn’t.

DDT is attacking two populations in the U.S. in its plans to allow health care officials and insurers to discriminate against transgender people and include indigenous people in a Medicaid work requirement. The latter comes from DDT’s position that Native Americans are “the tribes are a race rather than separate governments” which overlooks the history of treaties between the U.S. government and administrations from George Washington to Barack Obama.

A side effect of DDT’s tariffs is an increased cost in false teeth (aka Implants, crowns and bridges); 45 percent of these are imported from China and Mexico. About 30 percent of U.S. medical devices including hips and heart valves are imported. DDT’s economy is becoming composed of trickle down costs for most of the U.S. population.

The popularity of the tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthiest in the nation got a brief bump earlier this year but no more: only 27 percent respondents now call them a good idea. Thirty-six percent of people call them a bad idea in a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, and 53 percent predict a negative result to the new law. Political strategists consider the tax cuts a political loser, and the GOP has no other accomplishment during its first 15 months.

Appointments/lawsuits later this week!

April 16, 2014

Extremists Hope to Find Martyr in Cliven Bundy

Conservative constantly talk about deporting and even killing immigrants because “they’re breaking the law” They claim that following the law much be done at all costs. Other laws aren’t as important to them, however. A showdown this week in Nevada gives a very different impression of the law-abiding Tea Party members.

It started 20 years ago when the federal government asked rancher Cliven Bundy to stop grazing his cattle on federal land about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Farmers and ranchers must obtain permits and pay for each head of cattle that they put on federal lands. Bundy refused to pay his fees or remove his cattle. His permits were revoked, and he didn’t apply for any more.

Five years later, in 1998, the government issued a court order telling Bundy to remove his cows from the land and pay fees and a fine. The court order also included a charge of $200 per day for each head of cattle that stayed on the federal lands. Bundy did nothing.

Fifteen years later, in October 2013, the federal government went back to court because Bundy had not followed court orders.  The new order gave Bundy 45 days before the United States had the right to impound the cattle. By that time, Bundy had not followed the earlier court order, but he had extended the range of his grazing, trespassing on more federal lands. A court order gave the government the right to impound those cattle that Bundy refused to remove.

Bundy’s position is that “I don’t recognize [the] United States government as even existing.”  Government officials collected about 400 head of cattle before heavily armed extremist conservatives, including two Nevada affiliates of the Koch brothers Americans for Prosperity, gathered around Bundy’s ranch. They threatened to kill the government officials if they didn’t turn the cattle loose. U.S. officials backed off to maintain public safety and released the cattle, approximately half the number that Bundy was running on federal lands.

Extremists went away with the message that they can block the enforcement of U.S. laws and court orders by facing them down with a self-appointed armed “militia.”

There will undoubtedly be more to this story. Bundy and his extremist friends may think that they have won, but this was just a battle. The war is yet to come. Future battles, easily lost by Bundy, can include voiding his auctioning license and sales permits or lein his property. They can even pick off his cattle from a safe distance.

Another future for Bundy and some of his supporters could be jail, possibly followed by prison.

  • Contempt of Court: Bundy refused to follow court orders for almost two decades in “an act of disobedience or disrespect towards the judicial branch of the government, or an interference with its orderly process.” He also rallied supporters to put up armed resistance to keep the law from enforcing the orders. A judge could jail him until he complies with the court’s order.
  • Threats To Federal Officials: Anyone who “threatens to assault, kidnap, or murder, a United States official, a United States judge [or] a Federal law enforcement officer . . . with intent to impede, intimidate, or interfere with such official, judge, or law enforcement officer while engaged in the performance of official duties, or with intent to retaliate against such official, judge, or law enforcement officer on account of the performance of official duties” may be fined or imprisoned for up to 10 years.
  • Bringing Guns To Nevada: According to state law, people bringing weapons into the state, “knowing or having reason to know or intending that the same will be used unlawfully in furtherance of a civil disorder,” may be fined or imprisoned for up to five years. A civil disorder is defined as “any public disturbance involving acts of violence by assemblages of three or more persons, which causes an immediate danger of or results in damage or injury to the property or person of any other individual.” At least one militia member said he was at the ranch to provide “armed response” against “the tyrannical government.” Right-wing websites published this statement about the members’ decision to “mobilize to Nevada”:

 “All men are mortal, most pass simply because it is their time, a few however are blessed with the opportunity to choose their time in performance of duty.”

As Ken Cole wrote:

“The simple truth of the matter is that Bundy is a freeloading, welfare rancher who has an inflated sense of entitlement. It also appears that he and his supporters’ use of threats and intimidation likely violated several federal laws. Inasmuch as they used (such as pointed) weapons to cause the government back down, it can be considered an armed insurrection.”

The United States owns the property where Bundy grazes his cattle. Nevada was formed from parts of the Washoe, Utah, and New Mexico territories, land that the federal government gained from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1849 through the “Mexican Cession” after the U.S. won the Mexican-American War. Private land ownership, allocated under mining and farming claims, was later expanded under the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909. Because the nation never sold the rest of the land, it maintains ownership in trust of the land as part of the commons.

Bundy claims that he owns the federal land because his family used is since the 1870s. Citizens gave up all claims to unappropriated federal land in the Nevada state constitution, dating back to 1864. He does not have the “right” to graze BLM lands. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 confers permits to graze a specific number of cattle on public lands but does not confer right to graze or right to own the land. The Supreme Court backed this up in its 1976 ruling of Public Lands Council v. Babbitt. About 16,000 farmers and ranchers use Taylor grazing land.

The conservative media not only fanned the flames but also threw gasoline on them. Fox network Sean Hannity hosted Bundy and said that his actions “keeps the price of meat down for every American consumer.” In 2013, Taylor Grazing cost ranchers $1.35 per unit per month, meaning that each head of cattle cost Bundy $16.20 per year—a vast increase from what he would have paid in 1993 when he stopped paying.

Glenn Beck complained that the people confiscating the cattle were armed, and National Review Online’s Kevin Williamson called the agents “inflammatory” and described their actions as a “siege.” American Thinker (now there’s a misnomer!) accused Attorney General Eric Holder of being racist by enforcing the law. Alex Jones wrote that the government wants to “enslave us in an [United Nations] Agenda 21 future where we have no property and no rights.” He also said, “So your bottom line, like Paul Revere, you’re making your stand, you’re telling folks we’re being overrun by an out of control tyranny.”

Bundy’s responses were equally rabble-rousing as he used his presence on Alex Jones’ show to urge supporters to “go in there with force” and to stop the agents’ proposed auction. He agreed with Jones’ answer that “[the force] could be how the shot heard round the world happens in this case” and warned that “this could turn into 1776 very quickly.”

To protect themselves, the militia planned to sacrifice the women. Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff, said that the protesters planned “to put all the women up at the front.” That way they would be shot first.

Jamelle Bouie brought up an interesting question.  Would the faux militia of the Tea Party defend a group of black farmers or rancher or anyone against federal officials? Would the Fox network approve of black militia aiming guns at white bureaucrats?

The conservative support may be fading. One Nevada conservative activist pointed out that Bundy failed to pay his grazing fees for 20 years while other ranchers pay their own share. GOP legislative leadership say they haven’t followed the case that much, a statement that usually means “we’re staying out of it.” GOP strategist Brad Todd thinks that the story “won’t override Obamacare,” and Republican strategist Kevin Madden agrees.

In the National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke calls Bundy’s actions “indefensible.” Powerline’s John Hinderaker tried to defend Bundy’s actions but admitted that “legally, Bundy doesn’t have a leg to stand on,” that Bundy’s claim that the federal government does not own the land is flagrantly incorrect, and that Bundy has been relegated to defending himself because “no lawyer could make that argument.” As Cooke said, Bundy only wanted to win with no consequences to himself. Cooke explains the triviality of Bundy’s goal:

“I would not stand idly by quoting John Adams if a state reintroduced slavery or herded a religious group into ovens or even indulged in wholesale gun confiscation. But Bundy’s case is not remotely approaching these thresholds. Are we to presume that if the government is destroying one’s livelihood or breaking one’s ties with the past, one can revolt? If so, one suspects that half the country would march on Washington, with scimitars drawn, and that West Virginia would invade the Environmental Protection Agency…. This is a republic, dammit — and those who hope to keep it cannot pick and choose the provisions with which they are willing to deign to comply.”

And that’s a response from a conservative!

Unhappy that the situation has been temporarily resolved, Sean Hannity tried to convince Bundy in last night’s interview that the federal agent may show up in a midnight raid and kill him and his children. Hannity’s actions were made even more inexcusable because of Bundy’s near incoherence. In his attempts to make Bundy into a martyr, Hannity may cause the deaths that federal agents tried so hard to avoid.

No one died on the Bundy ranch last night. We’ll just watch to see what the Fox network decides to do next.

March 25, 2013

Woodward Teaches Readers to Question

Ever since I saw the movie All the President’s Men, I have considered Bob Woodward my hero because he was instrumental in bringing down a corrupt president using illegal actions to win his second presidential election . What a difference 40 years makes. Compared to George W. Bush, Richard Nixon doesn’t look too bad, and Woodward has become almost a villain.

Woodward’s legendary reputation may have finally ended when he accused White House senior official Gene Sperling of trying to intimidate the journalist. According to Max Holland, however, this fictionalizing seems to be a pattern for Woodward throughout his entire career. In adopting the style of New Journalism, Woodward and his co-author, Carl Bernstein, employed a novelistic style for what should have been a non-fiction book. Newspaper editor Barry Sussman said that the two were “wrong often on detail” about what happened in the newsroom and that they tended to “sentimentalize” their information.

Since the Woodward/Berstein papers were opened in 2007, other problems can to light in the inconsistencies between the notes of interviews with Deep Throat, aka Mark Felt, and how these notes were used in the book. It appears that statements attributed as quotes in the book may not have been Felt’s words and may be substantially altered. The book also has information not included in the notes.

References to the so-called Canuck letter, a 1972 letter to the editor of the Manchester Union-Leader, also never appeared in the notes. This letter alleged that then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Edmund Muskie had used the term Canuck to refer to constituents of French-Canadian descent around the time of the New Hampshire primary, and Woodstein alleged that the letter typified the “dirty tricks” thought up by the Nixon White House or campaign.

When Holland asked Woodward about these discrepancies, Woodward said, “I may have had a distinct recollection [while we were writing the book, and reviewing the notes] that something was in quotes … and so I may have put quotes in it.” These discrepancies also appeared in reporting aboutJudith Hoback, the bookkeeper for the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CRP). The book quotes Hoback as saying, “But Sally [Harmony, burglar Gordon Liddy’s secretary]—and others—lied.” In Bernstein’s notes from the interview, however, Hoback never asserts that anyone at the CRP “lied.”

All the President’s Men gave the impression that Mark Felt was leaking the information out of principle. The authors wrote that Deep Throat “was trying to protect the office [of the presidency], to effect a change in its conduct before all was lost.” Evidence shows, however, that Felt may have used these leaks as a tactic to undermine L. Patrick Gray, acting director of the FBI, and become FBI director after J. Edgar Hoover’s death. A top Justice Department official said, “[Felt] had enough contact with the press that he might have tried to use his Watergate information to hurt Gray.” Yet Woodward has always called Felt a “truth-teller.”

Since Watergate, Woodward has diligently tried to show that his investigation into Watergate wasn’t just a fluke. Like Orson Welles and his one-time success withCitizen Kane, Woodward spent his life looking for another success like the one he had at the age of  30. He never lost the craving to retain the high respect he gained from revealing the Nixon scandals.

Yet Woodward continued to have questionable episodes. In 1987, he reported a four-minute interview with CIA director William Casey; the family disagreed with Woodward’s description of its unfolding and conclusion. In the Valerie Plame affair, Woodward ridiculed a investigation into the leak of a CIA officer’s name without telling the public that he was the first reporter to be told about the leak.

Worse was his treatment of Jeff Himmelman, hired to research Woodward’s 2000 book Maestro, a “fawning tribute to Alan Greenspan,” according to Holland. Greenspan was the Fed chairman whose ideology brought about the worst recession since the Great Depression. At the same time, Himmelman gained access to the papers of Woodward’s former editor Ben Bradlee and found an interview. Among these were notes showing that Bradlee felt that the representation of Woodward’s meeting with Deep Throat in the underground garage was inaccurate. Disturbed by Himmelman’s report of Bradlee’s statement, Woodward smeared his book, calling it “alarmingly dishonest” and a “total dishonest distortion.” Woodward compared Himmelman with Nixon on Politico.

Describing All the President’s Men and its aftermath, Holland wrote:

 “[Woodward and Bernstein] wrote a self-glorifying account of their role, seemingly altered information from their notes, apparently reneged on a pledge to Deep Throat, then later downplayed evidence that Mark Felt was leaking for self-interested reasons. And finally, when a former Woodward lieutenant came across some facts that undermined the narrative that Woodstein had dined out on for decades, Woodward responded to this heresy by attacking the writer’s integrity.”

As Dennis Johnson writes,

How reliable is Bob Woodward? From the very first there have been those who thought, well, he was making shit up. Lots of people questioned whether there ever really was a Deep Throat, for example, when All the President’s Men came out. Even after former FBI associate director Mark Felt claimed to have been Deep Throat, doubts continued that the former agent–his mind clearly fogged by age–was quite the drama-prone informer depicted in the book.

“Nixon White House counsel Leonard Garment noted one of the better known counterpoints in his book, In Search of Deep Throat–that Simon and Schuster editor Alice Mayhew, who edited All the President’s Men, “told [former presidential counsel John] Dean that she was the one who had invented the detective story structure for the reporters’ book.

“Woodward’s second book, The Bretheren, co-authored by Scott Armstrong, contained so many outlandish assertions about the behavior of Supreme Court Justices behind the scenes that, in a front page review for the New York Times Book Review, Renata Adler famously declared that every sentence in the book should end “with the caveat ‘if true.’”

After riding on the Watergate explosion for almost 40 years, Bob Woodward lost all credibility when he appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox show and attacked President Obama’s past relationship with Ayers. The release of emails between Woodward and Sperling show a collegiality far from Woodward’s accusations of being threatened. It is a sad ending for a formerly venerable reporter.

The message from Woodward’s debacle is that so-called journalists’ reporting is always subject to doubt. So-called non-fiction books may be enjoyable reading, but their accuracy must always be questioned.

November 21, 2012

Peace, Economic Security a Little Closer

Today’s Best News:

Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire in Gaza after eight days of rocket fire and retaliatory Israeli air strikes left at least 100 Palestinians and three Israelis dead. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed to pursue a “comprehensive peace,” suggesting the Obama administration will rekindle two-state peace talks that have been frozen for the past three years over disagreements about Israeli settlements and future borders.

Occupy Wall Street (by now it seems to be Occupy the World) has come up with a great idea: the Rolling Jubilee project. When people can no longer pay their debts, individuals or companies can buy these debts at pennies on the dollar and then try to collect something from the people who owe money. Occupy has decided to buy these debts—and then forgive them. Even Forbes likes the idea. To test the idea, Occupy purchased $14,000 worth of outstanding loans for $500 and then pardoned the debtors. Now they are looking for donations to expand the project. Thus far they have managed to wipe out almost $10 million of debt for less than $50,000.

Occupy used Iceland for their model. After that country’s banks forgave loans equivalent to 13 percent of the GDP, Iceland’s consumer debt, its economy grew at 2.5 percent in this year’s first quarter. The result is expanded consumption, increased wages, improved standard of living, and no economic collapse. The banks’ action eased the debt burdens of over one-fourth of the country’s population.

Contrary to the beliefs of most conservatives, the U.S. “federal deficit has fallen faster over the past three years than it has in any such stretch since demobilization from World War II,” according to Matt Yglesias. This year the $1.089 trillion deficit is $200 billion smaller than last year and almost $300 billion smaller than when Barack Obama became president. This is not necessarily good news for economists because such a fast reduction in the deficit could lead to a recession, but learning about it might shut up all those candidates who use the deficit to whip the president. This chart, showing the rise and fall of the deficit over the past 60 years also indicates that Democrats seem to do better than Republicans. It appears that the liberals always have to clean up after conservatives. At least the Republicans shouldn’t be able to destroy the decrease in the deficit during the next four years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last piece of good news for today is that people in the United States may become more educated. There was a time when progressives felt that Fox News had a permanent stranglehold on the country’s population. Study after study showed that people watching Fox were more ignorant of political facts than those who didn’t follow any news, but the number of watchers kept growing. There’s a chance that Fox’s popularity is winding down. During the eight days after President Obama’s re-election, MSNBC’s average audience for the key 25-54 year old demographic drew about 8% more viewers than Fox, according the Nielsen ratings.

Two programs were at the top of the MSNBC lineup. Rachel Maddow won seven of the eight days against her Fox competition, Sean Hannity, beating him by an average 18 percent, and her 544k average was second to only Bill O’Reilly in all of cable news. Lawrence O’Donnell won all eight days against Fox’s Greta Van Susteren with a margin of victory of 17% for the eight days. Hannity, perhaps the most strident partisan host on Fox, frequently invites on his show Dick Morris, the man who loudly claimed the errors of polls indicating the president’s defeating Romney. Van Susteren has a close association with friend and client of her husband, Sarah Palin. The question is whether Fox will become more reasonable to keep an audience or ramp up the rhetoric of hatred and fear.

I’m guessing that the majority of conservatives had no idea how many lies the Republican candidates, led by the master of mendacity Mitt Romney, told them in expensive advertising. If the trend of watching MSNBC continues, the voters in the next election will be more aware of facts rather than Fox pundits’ impassioned attempts to sway the voters’ opinions through the largest collection of lies in any general election campaign since the invention of television.

In the election that seems so long ago but was decided only 15 days in the past, the majority of people voted for Democrats both in Congress and in the presidency. This happened despite the Republicans’ attempt to weed out Democratic voters across the country. Republicans need candidates who can win on their own merits, not through lying to voters and suppressing the votes. Maybe they will learn this.

 

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