Nel's New Day

April 14, 2017

DDT: Week Twelve, More Failures Plus War-Mongering

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) went by himself to Mar-a-Lago this weekend—no senior staffers to monitor him and his tweets. You can keep track of his trips there—seven out of weekends thus far—and expenditures to taxpayers. He left after referring to the U.S. armed forces as “my” military and glowing about the “most beautiful” cake in his restaurant there while talking about bombing Syrians to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Hopefully, Xi didn’t get sick while he was at Mar-a-Lago because health inspectors has found undercooked meat and dangerous fish at the resort, one time before the state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Among two broken coolers, 13 violations, three of them high priority, were found in the kitchen were a record for a resort that charges $200,000 in initiation fees.

Distraction of the Week: DDT’s polls rose only four percent with the Syrian bombing so he dropped the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan, the first time that the nation’s largest non-nuclear bomb was used. The nickname supposedly comes from an acronym for the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, but considering that the most destructive device outside of nuclear bombs was developed by men, built by men, and dropped by men, it might more appropriately be called “father of all bombs.” The replacement cost is $16 million; the number of ISIS fighters killed is 36. Each death costs almost one-half million dollars in replacement charges for the bomb. Asked about whether he approved the strike, DDT refused to answer.

At the same time, DDT’s bullying tweets about North Korea are causing increasing tension with a country that could easily release nuclear bombs on the United States. Han Song Ryol, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, said, “Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words. We will go to war if they choose,” he added. Without DDT keepers for a long weekend at Mar-a-Lago, the U.S. could be at war with North Korea by Monday.

Steep Learning Curve: About the healthcare plan, DDT said, “Who knew it was so complicated?” After talking with Chinese President Xi Jinping for ten minutes, he said that “it’s not so easy” for Beijing to quickly take care of North Korea. DDT told Xi that he “should let North Korean leader Kim Jong Un know the U.S. doesn’t just have aircraft carriers, but also nuclear submarines.” As if the entire world doesn’t know?! Then he protested that “you cannot allow a country like that to have … nuclear weapons.” First, North Korea already has these weapons, and second, DDT said during his campaign that all countries should have nuclear weapons and just fight with them. have nuclear weapons.

Whither Syria: Last week, DDT bombed Syria after warning Russia to get out of the way and probably letting Russia warn Syria. This week, he bombed Syria again, killing 18 members of the ISIS-opposition team. He claims that “we’re not going into Syria,” but the U.S. already has at least 1,000 members of the military stationed in the country. DDT’s Syrian policy during the past two weeks could cause whiplash:

  • March 30, 2017 – Bashar Assad can stay in power; the U.S. won’t take part in another Middle Eastern conflict against a leader backed by Russia.
  • April 5-6, 2017 –  Assad must leave power because of his alleged chemical attack that killed about 80 people; DDT bombed the Shayrat airbase in Syria.
  • April 6-10, 2017: The issue is not Assad but chemical weapons use.
  • April 9, 2017: Attack Isis first and let Assad stay or go depending on the Russian position; (Tillerson) the priority is the defeat of ISIS, and overthrowing Assad would be disastrous.
  • April 9, 2017: The country should have multiple priorities beyond defeating ISIS.
  • April 10, 2017: The U.S. will respond to barrel bombs by bombing Syria.
  • April 10, 2017: No, the U.S. will not respond to barrel bombs.

Erasing the Holocaust: In an effort to justify DDT’s Syrian bombings, Press Secretary Sean Spicer called Bashar Assad worse than Adolf Hitler because the Nazi leader did not “sink to the level of using chemical weapons.” Questioned about his statement, Spicer apologized and said that the Hitler used gas in the “Holocaust centers.” Yet he maintained that Assad’s acts were worse because Hitler didn’t use “airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people.” On the first day of Passover, commemorating the Jewish flight from Egypt in 1313 BCE, Spicer didn’t mention the six million Jews killed during the Nazi regime, but he personally called Jewish donor Sheldon Adelson to apologize—but no one else.

More Spicer Statements:  Earlier in the week, Spicer had to take back his statement that DDT’s bombing took out 20 percent of Syria’s entire air force by explaining it was 20 percent of one wing—about 12 planes out of several hundred. He said he didn’t want to draw attention away from DDT’s attempts to “destabilize” the Middle East. No, that’s not a typo. More of Spicer’s gaffes here. At a townhall meeting, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) said that Spicer “needs to go.”

Ally Russia: Spicer also referred to Russia as one of our allies. At a G7 meeting in Italy with six other industrialized nations, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” Abandoning Ukraine would give Tillerson a lot of money from Russian oil. Asked what Tillerson meant by his question, State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond said, “Rhetorical device.”

Another Firing: The National Security Council is still suffering from shifting members. Michael Flynn was fired, Steve Bannon was demoted, and now GOP pundit K.T. McFarland got the axe. Known for bragging in a meeting about “wearing shoes from Ivanka Trump’s brand,” she early on in her brief tenure told seasoned staff members that they needed to “make America great again.” Her disappearance follows several other potential major DDT-chosen players in the administration during just a few months. Evidently she was offered a job as ambassador to Singapore.

No More Data to Shame “Sanctuary Cities”: After only three weeks of publishing a weekly report about cities that supposedly refused to cooperate with ICE, DDT has stopped this effort because of massive mistakes. Another reason may be that the reports show the incompetency of ICE as they confused different counties in statistics and blamed some areas for events in others.

Texas Voters Win: Veasy v. Abbott has been wandering the courts for years, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that the Texas voter ID law’s intent is discriminatory against minorities. If the court order is upheld on appeal, the entire law would be thrown out, and Texas would be brought back under federal supervision. The question now is whether five SCOTUS justices will agree if the high court takes the case.

Iran Deal Successful: One of DDT’s virulent criticisms during the campaign was President Obama’s agreement with Iran to control its nuclear weapons. Iran is following the agreement—probably to the disappointment of DDT who would like to see failure for all the former president’s actions.

Lawsuit of the Week: Watchdog groups plan to sue DDT because he has stopped releasing logs of visitors to the White House, including lobbyists. The problem became obvious last week when Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) reviewed intelligence reports on the White House grounds before he briefed DDT about what DDT’s staff told him. In the past, exceptions to the visitor logs have been private visits to the family. The defendant is the Department of Homeland Security, overseeing the Secret Service, which is subject to freedom of information requests. Information is also being sought from DDT properties where he holds meetings such as Mar-a-Lago.

Climate Lawsuits against DDT: Seventeen states are suing the federal administration regarding DDT’s orders to promote climate change, including the implementation of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that sets standards for power plants. The group also notified Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, that they will sue to if the government stalls on standards requiring specific electrical items meet low-carbon emission goals. In addition, it has petitioned New York federal courts to force DDT to implement efficiency standards for other goods, citing no justifiable reason for delaying these regulations for another six months.

Resistance: Lest DDT think that the protesting against him and his policies have been quelled, three protest marches are scheduled for the second half of April, one of them tomorrow:

  • April 15: Tax March, demanding that DDT release his tax returns.
  • April 22: March for Science, building a “broad, nonpartisan, and diverse coalition of organizations and individuals who stand up for science. We are advocating for evidence-based policymaking, science education, research funding, and inclusive and accessible science.”
  • April 29: People’s Climate March, defending the environment and mitigating the harmful effects of climate change.

More failures and bit more of Trumpia tomorrow.

January 31, 2017

Supreme Court Nominee, Lack of Independent Judiciary

Republicans said last year that no Democratic president would ever put a justice on the Supreme Court, starting with their refusal to vet President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, nominated almost one year before the end of the president’s term. Today Donald Trump (DT) drew attention away from his Muslim ban on entering the U.S. by his appointment for this position.Supreme Court nominees can be filibustered unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) changes the rule to a simple majority.

DT’s nominee: Neil Gorsuch, 49, judge on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals covering six Western states; the son of perhaps the most corrupt head of the Environmental Protection Agency in its history; attends Episcopalian church; appointed by George W. Bush in 2006; would be the most conservative judge on the court except for Clarence Thomas; opposes assisted suicide, legal in six states, because “human life is intrinsically valuable”; sided with Hobby Lobby in viewing contraception as immoral and defunding Planned Parenthood; falsely described birth control drugs and devices as having the effect of “destroying a fertilized human egg”; believes that business owners have religious liberty claims over their employees’ statutory right to access preventive health care; favors Christian religious expression in public spaces; endorses lack of gun safety laws; opposes agency regulatory power to consolidate power within the judiciary; is originalist, interpreting the Constitution as it was understood at the time it was adopted; opposes using the court for social reform; endangers labor and environmental protections, immigrants, and criminal defendants; most likely supports “religious liberty” to escape anti-discrimination laws; co-founded the ultra-conservative publication The Federalist; wants police to be immune from lawsuit for official actions unless “clearly established” law is violated.

In short, Gorsuch as Supreme Court justice would reward corporations and the Koch brothers and penalize voters, workers, women, and the planet. The question is whether DT appointed Gorsuch because the Democrats will filibuster against him and then go with Thomas Hardiman. Another question is how this nomination connects with the Department of Justice.

In his campaigns, Donald Trump (DT) promised to protect the U.S. Constitution. On Day Seven of his presidency, he issued a Muslim ban that violates up to three constitutional amendments, and on Day Ten he fired Sally Yates a few hours after the Acting Attorney General upheld the Constitution. DT claimed that she “betrayed the Department of Justice” and made the country less safe.

The last president to fire an Attorney General was Richard Nixon when Richard Nixon, who fired his AG and Deputy AG in the “Saturday Night Massacre” because they denied his order to dismiss the Watergate Special Prosecutor. Yates replacement is Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, until Senate confirms a person for AG. He said that he would order the DOJ to defend DT’s Muslim ban. At this time, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is being reviewed by the complete U.S. Senate.

In a letter to Justice Department lawyers, Yates stated that the DOJ must take positions in court that “remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand up for what is right.” She also pointed out that the DOJ’s mission is to defend and uphold the Constitution based on established legal precedents. Almost a year ago, she wrote a memo to employees that they must “ensure that politics does not compromise the integrity of our work.”

Concluding that DT’s Muslim ban failed to meet basic constitutional and moral tests, she said she would not assign federal attorneys to show up in court to defend the policy in court. The New York judge granting a temporary restraining order stopping the ban declared that it was likely unconstitutional.

During her 27 years with the DOJ, Yates prosecuted “numerous white-collar fraud and political corruption matters.” She was confirmed as Deputy Attorney General with 85 votes in 2015. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said:

“I supported her nomination, both in Committee and today in the full Senate, and I hope that she will show independence as she provides leadership at the Department. As she told us during her hearing, she is aware that her client is, ‘The people of the United States… not the President… not the Congress, it’s the people of the United States.’”

Sessions, now an anti-Constitution nominee for AG, supported Yates positions:

“Well. you have to watch out, because people will be asking you to do things you just need to say ‘no’ about. Do you think the attorney general has a responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that’s improper? [„,] If the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say no?”

Yates answered that the AG or Deputy AG had the responsibility to follow the law and the Constitution with “independent legal advice to the president.” Sessions followed up:

 “Like any CEO, with a law firm — sometimes the lawyers have to tell the CEO: ‘Mr. CEO, you can’t do that. Don’t do that. We’ll get us sued. It’s going to be in violation of the law. You’ll regret it, please.’ No matter how headstrong they might be. Do you feel like that’s the duty of the attorney general’s office?”

Yates agreed with the 2015 Sessions by saying, “I do believe that that’s the duty of the attorney general’s office, to fairly and impartially evaluate the law and to provide the president and the administration with impartial legal advice.” The year 2017 has a very different president, and Sessions, if confirmed for AG, plans to support the president who lacks respect for the document that Republicans promise to revere.

White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, defended the Muslim ban by citing the tragic attack on a Quebec mosque that killed six people and wounded another eight but made no reference that this was an attack on Muslims. The alleged attacker on the Muslims was Alexandre Bissonnette, a pro-Trump white French Canadian who was known for making anti-immigrant and misogynist remarks. Justin Trudeau accurately called it a terrorist attack on Muslims. Yet the Fox network and the Gab messaging service misinformation insisted on identifying a man of Moroccan descent as a suspect and not a witness.

Another DT defense of the Muslim ban is the attack in San Bernadino by Tashfeen Malick on a K1 visa. Malik was from a wealthy Pakistan family and later moved to Saudi Arabia; neither country is on DT’s list of banned countries. Her husband, who participated in the attack, was a U.S. citizen.

Asked about the five-year-old Iranian boy detained over the weekend in response to DT’s new Muslim ban, Spicer replied, “To assume that just because of someone’s age or gender or whatever that they don’t pose a threat would be wrong.” An 11-month-old baby, a U.S. citizen, was separated from the mother, a legal permanent resident who the Muslim ban tried to deport. The mother was kept from breastfeeding her child.

The press secretary also lied in his references to President Obama’s 2011 policy temporarily delaying visas for Iraqis. And Homeland Security and border patrol officials ignored court orders to release the detainees or even let lawyers see them.

DT also moved James Ragsdale, the Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to his former position with no explanation. He was replaced with Thomas Homan,  “deporter in chief” who deported at least 920,000 people and “spearheaded the management and reform of the largest civil detention system in the nation” by adding detention beds. An executive order signed by Mr. Trump last week calls for tripling the number of deportation agents. DT has now indicated that he intends to emphasize Homan’s harsh enforcement measures.

The possible confirmation of Jeff Sessions as AG is a continuing constitutional crisis exemplified by the firing of Sally Yates. White supremacist Steve Bannon said that he and Sessions are at the center of Trump’s “pro-America movement” and the global nationalist phenomenon. Bannon claims that the nation is “witnessing now is the birth of a new political order, and the more frantic a handful of media elites become, the more powerful that new political order becomes itself.” Sessions has refused to recuse himself from any investigations into DT, his family, his aides, his conflicts of interest—anything that would challenge DT. And he’ll have the support of the white supremacists.

DT’s firing Yates goes far beyond unconstitutionality of the Muslim ban to raise questions about his commitment to the Constitution and the law of the land. He has said that federal district judge, Gonzalo Curiel, could not properly adjudicate a fraud lawsuit against Trump University because his parents were born in Mexico. DT would “instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look” into Hillary Clinton if he got elected and suggested he would break the law by waterboarding terrorism suspects.

Firing Yates also raises questions about DT’s relationship with the judiciary, which is intended to be an independent government branch. Did DT require commitments from his new nominees, Sessions and Gorsuch? Would he directly contact them about personal complaints? Or push them toward decisions that he wants?

The United States may be in the midst of a coup, “a change in power from the top that merely results in the abrupt replacement of leading government personnel”–a massive power grab by people who hate the rule of law.

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