Nel's New Day

April 9, 2019

DDT’s People: Part II, Proximity Instead of Professionalism

Where does Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) find the people who he extols, hires, berates, and then fires? A family wedding planner received an important HUD position. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner found economic adviser Peter Navarro while browsing Amazon and seeing the title of his book, Death by China. For the Federal Reserve, DDT is nominating Stephen Moore, a GOP pundit who co-wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that complained about the Federal Reserve keeping the economy from glorious heights. The lies in the piece caught the attention of DDT’s national adviser Larry Kudlow, who subscribes to the same falsehoods. He told DDT about Moore, and DDT tweeted that he would nominate Moore, “a very respected Economist,” to fill a vacant position “on the Fed Board.”

Moore is neither an economist nor respected. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones wrote that “this is about like nominating Dr. Phil to run the CDC.” Moore admits that he knows very little about monetary policy, a focus of the Federal Reserve.

“I’m kind of new to this game, frankly, so I’m going to be on a steep learning curve myself about how the Fed operates, how the Federal Reserve makes its decisions. It’s hard for me to say even what my role will be there, assuming I get confirmed.”

About the appropriate size of the Fed’s balance sheet, Moore said,“To be honest, I’m going to have to study up on this one.” During the 2008 recession, Moore regarded Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged as his economic guide, but he didn’t even get the pretentious novel’s plot right. He used an event in which the government co-opted an invention to banks pressured to accept bailouts when the U.S. economy was ready to crash. Moore’s recommendation was to watch the world burn.

Moore’s owes $75,000 in unpaid federal taxes, interest, and penalties. When he was found in contempt of court for refusing to pay his wife tens of thousands of dollars in delinquent divorce, alimony, and child support payments, four police officers, two realtors, and a locksmith came to his house to sell his residence, per a court order. He had claimed he “paid off his wife,” but the total was just a fraction of what he owed after the seven people came to the house. Past-due payments came to $333,000. After Moore paid his ex-wife about two-thirds of his debt to her, the court called off the sale of the house.

Chief economist for the right-wing Heritage Foundation, Moore received his M.A. from George Mason University, the third most conservative college in the U.S. He is on the editorial board of the Murdoch’s conservative Wall Street Journal and founding president of the union-breaking Club for Growth, partly funded by the Koch brothers. They also donated $12 million to “Freedom Works,” where Moore is listed as “senior economic contributor.” He does no economic research but is always ready to make right-wing comments in economic policy debates. A respected conservative economist, Greg Makiw, said Moore “does not have the intellectual gravitas for this important job,” and even Fox’s Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller finds Moore unethical.

Slate wrote:

“Stephen Moore is a living embodiment of the sucking intellectual void at the core of conservative economics, an inept pundit who has spent his career evangelizing the supply-side dogma that tax cuts pay for themselves while shilling for Republican officeholders, all from well-paid perches at think tanks and in the media.”

Moore follows the failed theory of the GOP economic platform that big tax cuts for billionaires and corporations will cause prices to fall. He wants to use a Fed position to “free” the economy from “oppressive taxation” although the Board has nothing to do with taxation. Moore was heavily involved in destroying Kansas’ economy when he told former Gov. Sam Brownback to make his draconian tax cuts. The extreme austerity for government programs decimated their educational systems and other needs, and people raised taxes as soon as Brownback escaped into DDT’s government as a world ambassador for “religious freedom.”

Moore doesn’t reserve his public opinions to economics.

  • He defended Alabama’s U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of molesting a teenage girl by claiming that his opponent, now-Sen. Doug Jones, was as bad because he supports abortion rights.
  • He tried to slut-shame Stormy Daniels, paid off by DDT to keep their affair secret, in an interview on Don Lemon’s show.
  • He argued that scientists lie about their concern regarding climate change to get “really, really, really rich.”

The question is what the Senate will do with Moore. Eight years ago, GOP senators blocked President Obama’s Fed nomination Peter Diamond, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, for over a year and then killed it. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), still in the Senate at the age of 84, joined others to question Diamond’s qualifications.

Reeling from Moore’s nomination, people were even more shocked to hear that DDT is considering the former presidential candidate, pizza man Herman Cain, for another Fed position. On paper, Cain’s credentials may look slightly better than those of Moore: he served on an advisory board to the Kansas City branch of the central bank for a few years in the 1990s. Fortunately for the bank, he had no decision-making power.

People who watched the 2012 presidential campaign may remember Cain when he argued that people “need a leader, not a reader” and said he didn’t care who “the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” is. He also touted his 9-9-9 tax plan based on false information. Cain quoted Pokemon in his departure from the campaign and then turned his mailing list into peddling suspected scams after he quit. During DDT’s campaign, Cain was a supporter, calling DDT a “shucky-ducky kind of candidate.” And it got worse from there. In 2015, Cain told Glenn Beck that Muslims should not be able to serve in government until they took a loyalty oath.

Cain dropped out of his 2012 campaign after allegations of sexual harassment. He denied them by saying that thousands of women he worked with would not make that claim. Cain’s lawyer, however, said that any women considering such accusations should “think twice.” Slate legal editor Dahlia Lithwick pointed out how this statement only exacerbates the threat of patriarchal power—something that DDT is still wielding.

Cain has a pattern of selecting people who may participate in sexual misconduct like DDT has. Sharon Bialek said that Cain told her she had to put up with his running his hand up her skirt if she wanted a job. Karen Kraushaar said that Cain groped her in the 1990s. Cain denied these allegations last week by stating that he would “be able to explain [the allegations] this time, where they wouldn’t let me explain it the last time. They were too busy believing the accusers.”

Others:

  1. GOP Senators confirmed Brett Kavanaugh for a Supreme Court position after three accusations of sexual misconduct.
  2. Andrew Puzder dropped out as a nominee for Secretary of Labor only after a publicized video showed his ex-wife in an Oprah Winfrey show called “High Class Battered Women.”
  3. DDT replaced Puzder with Alex Acosta, a billionaire pedophile enabler.
  4. Bill Shine acted as “fixer” for Fox executives accused of sexual misconduct.
  5. Barry Myers, nominee to lead NOAA, was chief executive for a family company that paid $290,000 after being found guilty of subjecting women to sexual harassment.
  6. Steve Munoz, accused of sexually assaulting five men at The Citadel military college, is still listed as assistant chief of protocol of visits for the State Department.

None of these men, including DDT, exhibited any remorse about their actions.

A CNBC survey of Wall Street shows that a majority of them doesn’t want either Moore or Cain on the Federal Reserve board. Results opposed both Moore by 60 percent and Cain  (53 percent). Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. Financial Market Economist at Oxford Economics, wrote that the men’s confirmations “would be very disruptive at a time when monetary policy is at an important crossroads.” Fund managers, economists and strategists participated in the polling. They also predicted the confirmation of Moore by 51 percent and Cain by 49 percent. Forty-seven percent of respondents think that nominations combined with DDT’s directing the Fed are “reducing the central bank’s independence” with implications for markets and the economy. Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said, “Stacking the Fed with partisan hacks would alter how the market views the Fed’s decisions.”

DDT wants to people on the Federal Reserve Board who will cut interest rates for personal financial and political benefit. His recommended idea, quantitative easing by buying Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities used to get out a recession, would give the economy a sugar high long enough, DDT hopes, to get him elected. These nominations for a supposedly independent agency bodes poorly for the vast majority of people in the nation and around the world.

March 4, 2019

State TV Fox Tied to DDT, Vice Versa

For several years, people have noted the close relationship between Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Fox network as the faux news network has remained a combination of propagandist and feeder of falsities to the man inaugurated over two years ago. DDT has given Fox 44 exclusive interviews, with the number accelerating. In the past six months, DDT has tweeted over 200 Fox items to his 58 million followers. In the New Yorker, journalist and author Jane Mayer has detailed the relationship between DDT and Fox in an 11,000-word essay.

Instead of reflecting the news, Fox radicalizes the people with its fear-mongering. Conservative pundit Bill Kristol, employed by Fox as a contributor until 2012, said, “Before [Trump], it was conservative, but it wasn’t crazy. Now it’s just propaganda.” Sean Hannity has long been known as a confidant for DDT, often freely appearing at his dramatized events to toss him easy questions and one of the nightly triumvirate with Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham to scream over guest statements opposing DDT. Called the Shadow Chief of Staff, Hannity talks to DDT every night after his show. Fox Business hosts Pete Hegseth and Lou Dobbs offer DDT policy advice in the Oval Office. DDT thinks of hosts of Fox & Friends as his personal friends, and they pander to him with unvetted ideas.

Former Fox employees hired in the White House such as disgraced Bill Shine, former head of Fox News’ programming division, further burnish the Fox’s image with DDT devotees. Fox currently pays Shine while he collects his paycheck from taxpayers as part of the coordinated work between DDT and Fox. Former Fox contributors include HUD Secretary Ben Carson, national security adviser John Bolton, former deputy national-security adviser K.T. McFarland, and recently resigned UN Ambassador Heather Nauert. Donald Trump Jr., girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who also left Fox in disgrace works on DDT’s reelection campaign. Hope Hicks, DDT’s formers head of communications, went to Fox, and others such as Sebastian Gorka, are regularly on Fox. [Fox separated from Gorka as of this article’s publication.]

DDT’s political rise matched a shift in tone at Fox. Early on, CEO Roger Ailes opposed Fox being a shill for the Tea Party, but owner Rupert Murdoch created an audience that became the “party of Trump.” Before DDT, Fox ridiculed birtherism, Bill O’Reilly described its promoters as “unhinged,” and Glenn Beck, who hosted a Fox show until he went over the conspiracy edge, called them “idiots.” DDT made birtherism respectable, and Hannity got his way to promote the extremist far-right party. He described President Obama’s negotiations with North Korea “disturbing” but called DDT’s failed efforts a “huge foreign-policy win.” Fox built its audience by elevating Benghazi far above other embassy ambushes causing deaths in its constant attack on then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Hannity appeared on stage at a DDT rally with little objection from Fox. Murdoch went from correcting DDT by tweeting that “Mexican immigrants, as with all immigrants, have much lower crime rates than native born” to tolerating Fox’s frequent diatribes about hordes of “illegal aliens.” Murdoch and DDT are both about the bottom line and ratings.

Megyn Kelly asked DDT “tough” questions in the Fox-sponsored presidential debate, but insiders said that Ailes alerted DDT about the questions. Kelly wrote in Settle for More that DDT called Fox executives the day before the campaign to complain about her “very pointed question directed at him.” After the debate, DDT boycotted Fox, driving down until ratings until Ailes groveled.

During the summer when DDT became the GOP presidential candidate, Ailes’ sexual misconduct forced him out, and he joined DDT’s debate team. Fox gained two Ailes loyalists, Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine, as co-presidents who turned the network over to DDT propaganda, furthering empowering him and Hannity. At 85, Murdoch claimed the CEO position, but insiders reported that after his serious health issues, “the lunatics took over the asylum.” During DDT’s campaign, a Fox reporter confirmed the story about his affair in 2006 with Stormy Daniels, but Fox editors denied her going public. She told colleagues that Ken LaCorte, then head of FoxNews.com said, “Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.” The same reporter kept digging and discovered that the National Enquirer made a “catch and kill” deal with Daniels in which the tabloid bought the exclusive rights to story before it buried the information.

The story went public when the Wall Street Journal published the details about Daniels and the Enguirer, a year after DDT was inaugurated. The reporter was demoted, she sued the network, and her settlement includes a nondisclosure agreement banning her from talking about her work at Fox. LaCorte, still paid by Fox after he left, said that he squashed the story without talking to superiors because it hadn’t “passed muster.” Blogger Nik Richie called him out for being a “LIAR,” tweeting that he “was one of your sources.” Richie voted for DDT, but he thinks that the story would have swung the election.

Part of Shine’s job at Fox was to handle sexual misconduct complaints. Any woman who complained was gently treated unless she persevered, when Shine would warn her that her career would be destroyed. At least four civil lawsuits against Fox name Shine as defendant, and Fox settled on in 2017 for $90 million. That suit claims Fox spent $55 million to settle sexual harassment claims out of court. Shine was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in a Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s investigation into company funds for these payoffs, but Shine agreed to interviews by prosecutors. The investigation disappeared after Ailes death in May 2017, but Shine was his enabler as shown by payments he signed to accusers’ settlements.

Under Shine’s leadership in 2017, Fox and O’Reilly paid $13 million to five female employees accusing him of sexual misconduct with a sixth $32 million payment in negotiation. After advertiser boycotts and street demonstrations, Fox fired O’Reilly and then Shine. Hannity became Fox’s top-rated star and highest-profile DDT promoter and helped Shine get a job as White House communications director and deputy chief of staff.

DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has always been close to Murdoch, but Murdoch made up with DDT after calling him “a f**king idiot” to benefit from specialized treatment for his business interests.

  • DDT’s administration approved Fox’s sale of most of its entertainment assets to Disney for $71 billion, with the Murdoch family getting $2 billion and becoming a major stockholder in the combined company that accounts for half the box-office revenue in the United States.  DDT promised the creation of jobs from the deal that has resulted in thousands of layoffs.
  • DDT’s FCC blocked Sinclair Broadcast Group, more conservative than Fox, from buying Tribune Media Company that would have given Sinclair access to 72 percent of the U.S. population.
  • DDT’s DOJ stopped AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, owner of CNN, after Murdoch failed to buy Time Warner in 2014. A sweetener for DDT was retaliation against CNN, DDT’s most hated media source. Although DDT claimed that he was “not going to get involved,” he ordered Gary Cohn, then director of the National Economic Council, to pressure the DOJ to intervene in the sale although Cohn knew that DDT’s action was inappropriate for a sitting president and refused. A federal court has ruled against the DOJ and permitted the $85 billion merger—for the second time. [Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said that a president has the right to punish the media by blocking this merger.]

The more DDT does for Murdoch, the more Fox does for DDT. Yochai Benkler, a Harvard Law School professor who co-directs the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, said, “Fox’s most important role since the election has been to keep Trump supporters in line.” According to Fox, the only collusion is between Clinton and Russia,  the special investigator is perpetrating a “coup” by the “deep state,” DDT and his associates aren’t corrupt, U.S. courts are corrupt, illegal immigration is an invasion and not at a 15-year low, and all news organizations offering perspectives different from these are “enemies of the American people.” Benkler, author with Robert Faris and Hal Robert of Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation and Radicalization in American Politics, said:

“It’s not the right versus the left. It’s the right versus the rest.”

Conservative media outlets focus on confirmation of the audience’s biases and provide propaganda and lies that spread uncorrected to Fox because viewers hate for falsehoods to be disclosed. Fox fired Glenn Beck for baseless conspiracy theories, but Hannity is rewarded for them. Only boycotts of Fox advertisers forced Hannity to drop his conspiracy accusations about murdered Democratic staffer Seth Rich.

Alisyn Camerota, former co-host of Fox & Friends, quit because of its lack of standards and wrote the novel Amanda Wakes Up about propaganda on a cable morning show. She said that the show’s producers would “cull far-right, crackpot Web sites” for content and never bothered with second sources. The primary standard was that “this is going to outrage the audience!” Guilfoyle got her information from an avid fan who sent her content for her topics such as “physically weak men” are “more likely to be socialists.”

Matt Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters, thinks that Fox drives DDT more than the reverse. A recent example how DDT caused the 35-day shutdown and declared a national emergency because of Fox ridicule.

“The President’s world view is being specifically shaped by what he sees on Fox News, but Fox’s goals are ratings and money, which they get by maximizing rage. It’s not a message that is going to serve the rest of the country.”

Fox’s problem comes from its one-pony show of DDT to make money, and ratings fall when he looks bad. Fox’s evening ratings have dropped by 20 percent since the midterms with only a spike for DDT’s interview after Michael Cohen’s testimony. A change may be in the wind: much smaller since the Disney sale, Fox will be supervised by conservative Lachlan Murdoch who might move to center right. The test could be the release of Robert Mueller’s findings. At this time, Fox’s hosts and guests are swearing war. The question is whether Fox wants to start the war.

The most frightening part of Jane Mayer’s detailed look at the authoritarian DDT and Fox network is that it’s not as shocking as it should be for a country that prides itself on being a democracy.

March 1, 2019

DDT: Week 110 – Really Bad Week

Following Wednesday’s day-long open testimony before the House Oversight Committee by Michael Cohen, one-time fixer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), about how DDT runs his business, the grand summit in Vietnam with North Korea ended with a splat when a luncheon signing ceremony was canceled after the table was set. DDT’s tone about Kim Jong-Un was much cooler than his earlier declaration about the love affair with Kim Jong-Un. The U.S. had already stopped the need for a full accounting of North Korea nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. U.S. intelligence agencies continually maintain that North Korea does not intend to fully denuclearize.

As he earlier said about Vladimir Putin, DDT said, “I will take him at his word,” this time about Kim’s professed ignorance regarding U.S. citizen, Otto Warmbier, who was tortured in North Korea and was returned with severe brain damage. Warmbier died soon after his release. DDT failed to follow through with his promise to press Kim about human rights abuses: North Korea uses torture and “disappears” people accused of political crimes to prison camps where they cannot communicate the outside world. Before going to the summit, DDT asked Russia for advice on how to deal with North Korea, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was present in Hanoi during the summit. DDT also said he takes Kim “at his word” when he says he won’t be doing any testing of weapons. Kim one of several world dictators who DDT supports, sometimes believing them over U.S. intelligence: Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Journalists suffered from DDT’s ire, first forced to move their filing center from the hotel where they stayed because Kim wanted them out. DDT banned four reporters from covering an event—Associated Press, Bloomberg, LA Times, and Reuters—because questions were asked about Cohen’s testimony, showing a dictator that DDT has weakened the constitutional freedom of the press.

Before DDT went to North Korea, he said that he’s in “no rush” to denuclearize North Korea. His aides, including national security adviser John Bolton, predicted the summit would fail, and  Bruce Klingner, analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation, sees “no tangible progress” toward denuclearization since DDT’s meeting with Kim in Singapore. Klingner pointed out that periods of testing moratoriums were longer in previous administrations, and U.S. intelligence notes that North Korea is still building missiles. MIT nuclear expert Vipin Narang said, “We are nowhere. Which is probably exactly where the North Koreans want us to be.”

No longer is DDT falsely claiming that the U.S. has no nuclear threat from North Korea, as he did after the first meeting with Kim. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have stopped this claim because he had to lie to CNN’s Jake Tapper about the first time that DDT made this outrageous statement. DDT kept asking Pompeo to explain details of the summit at the press conference before he left Hanoi.

Although DDT complained that the Cohen testimony took attention away from his North Korea summit, he should have been grateful because of his failure in Hanoi. He bragged that Michael Cohen had said “no collusion,” but Cohen reported that DDT knew about the Trump Tower meeting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, Roger Stone got the Democratic emails from Julian Assange, and nothing went on at the Trump Organization—and probably the campaign—without DDT’s approval.

DDT’s most recent failure comes the disclosure of memos from two White House officials refuting his claim that he had nothing to do with the highest-level security clearance given to his son-in-law Jared Kushner in spite of intelligence officials’ warning against it. Former chief-of-staff John Kelly wrote a memo about how he was “ordered” to give a clearance to Kushner, and former White House counsel Don McGahn wrote a memo about security concerns regarding Kushner that had been raised by the CIA and a recommendation that he not be granted the clearance. Both of those men are gone, but Kushner is still harvesting the highest-level classified information for his personal financial benefit. Kushner also advised the Saudi Crown Prince how to avoid the blame for his murdering U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and amid this week’s controversy, Kushner had a friendly meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince. This fiasco is not just another of DDT’s peccadilloes; it’s a national security disaster.

The stock market is still sagging despite DDT’s claim about improved trade relationships with China. He supposedly backed off from more tariffs on Chinese goods but provided no details and has no signed official agreements. South Dakota’s GOP governor, Kristi Noem, said DDT’s trade wars have “devastated” her state. She warned that the agriculture disaster can touch “every main street business, everybody that has another entity out there that relies on a successful ag industry.” Over 60 percent of voters in the state hoped for a better future with DDT when they voted for him.

DDT is also backing down on steel tariffs, excusing 370 U.S. companies from paying them on imports of up to 4.1 million tons from China, Japan, and other countries. The almost 14,000 exemptions, 59 percent of them for firms with a foreign corporate parent, cover eight percent of the total from China and almost 30 percent from Japan.

In a backlash against DDT’s wall declaration, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Udall (D-NM) co-sponsored a resolution to terminate the national emergency because it is “an end run around Congress’s power to appropriate.” Collins quoted Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in the Federalist Papers about the power of the purse being reserved for the legislature as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people.” She said that Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) support the joint resolution.

More than a month after the longest government shutdown in US history ended, a significant number of Transportation Security Administration employees still have not received all of their back-pay.

A former staffer on DDT’s presidential campaign filed a lawsuit against him for sexual misconduct outside a rally in Tampa. His behavior followed his claim to a pattern in 2005: “Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” She is the first woman to accuse him of sexual misconduct after he announced his run for president.

White supremacist hate groups have increased by 50 percent to 148 in the two years since DDT was inaugurated. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the “Proud Boys,” in its category of “general hate” and supported by Republicans, as “the most relentless campaign of rightwing street violence in recent memory” in its attendance at frequently violent street rallies. The organization has 44 chapters in 31 states, and its chairman, Enrique Tarrio, was seen in a place of pride at DDT’s Miami rally last month. Tarrio also visited Roger Stone after his arrest by the FBI, and the Proud Boys have a video of Stone’s initiated into their group. The SPLC report also names DDT and his Twitter account for pushing “noxious anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views.”

As DDT prepares to hand over nuclear power to Saudi Arabia, leave nuclear power in North Korea, and invade Venezuela, he desperately wants a Nobel Peace Prize because President Obama got one. He bragged about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominating him for the award, avoiding the fact that Abe was asked to do so, probably by Jared Kushner. Abe has not yet verified that he sent a nomination to the Nobel committee. Last year, two “nominations,” both forgeries, came from the same person. Abe has not verified that he sent a nomination to the Nobel committee.

Another Manhattan condo association voted to take the Trump name off the building, the fifth in one neighborhood. In the 11 properties keeping the Trump name, the square footage brings less than in non-DDT-named places.

Release of 2018 ratings for world leadership shows that the U.S. went up only one percent after dropping from 48 to 30 percent between 2017 and 2018. Disapproval is still up 12 points since DDT’s inauguration.

Public opinion is heading in the opposite direction from GOP leadership: Russia is considered the chief enemy of the U.S., and 73 percent of people look at Russia unfavorably—both highs in Gallup polls. In a poll about affirmative action, 65 percent want programs for women, up from 60 percent, and in another high 61 percent want affirmative action for minorities. White people are behind the increase in voting for the need for minorities. DDT is rapidly losing his popularity with Republicans and independents.

September 18, 2018

‘Deny, Deny, Deny’

Toxic masculinity and our rape culture are front and center this week as Republicans are working to exonerate their new Supreme Court justice nominee from an accusation of attempted rape when he was 17 years old. The conservative response is that he certainly didn’t attack a teenage girl, but if he did, it’s normal behavior for teenage boys. A lawyer close to the White House said, “If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried.”

A letter from Christine Blasey Ford, research psychologist and professor at Palo Alto University and the Stanford University PsyD Consortium, described the way that Kavanaugh shoved her into a room, held her down, tried to take her clothes off, and covered her mouth to keep her from screaming, making her fear for her life. A polygraph test shows she is telling the truth, and she had reported the experience to a therapist six years ago. Kavanaugh has repeated denied even knowing Ford, but he has hired Beth Wilkinson, a high-powered Washington, D.C., trial attorney, to represent him.

Twenty-seven years ago, two current GOP members of the committee—Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT)—were also committee members who grilled Anita Hill about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thompson’s sexual misconduct before he was confirmed. The committee handled that confirmation hearing shamefully, ignoring another witness about Thomas’ sexual misconduct and failing to delve into Thomas’ behavior that supported Hill’s testimony about his inappropriate actions. Yet both these men avidly support Kavanaugh in a desperate attempt to get a far-right justice on the Supreme Court at any cost.

The day after the media announced Ford’s accusation, Grassley, the committee chair, released a letter from 65 women supporting the nominee. Three days later, only two of the signers stand by their support: dozens don’t respond to questions, and two declined to speak on the record. https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/17/politics/brett-kavanaugh-white-house-supreme-court-nominee/index.html  After yesterday’s nine-hour strategy meeting with Kavanaugh, the White House claimed that many of these women will publicly defend Kavanaugh. The White House also plans a press conference with these women.

Although DDT described Kavanaugh as without “blemish,” the Senate Judiciary Committee refused to hear federal court employees who wanted to speak out against Kavanaugh during his clerking for former 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski after he was accused of sexual misconduct by at least 15 women. Asked if he received any sexually inappropriate emails from Kozinski, Kavanaugh, who was very close to Kozinski, said, “I do not remember receiving any sexually inappropriate emails.” Kozinski was Kavanaugh’s connection to former Justice Anthony Kennedy who got Kavanaugh the nomination. Witnesses to Kavanaugh would testify that he was lying.

Hatch says that he believes Kavanaugh’s denials. Yet, Hatch added, if these allegations turn out to be credible, Kavanaugh is a good person “today”; therefore Kavanaugh should be confirmed.

Yet hundreds of former students who graduated between 1967 and 2018 from Holton-Arms, Fords’ high school, called for an investigation into Kavanaugh stating:

“Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”

Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote was scheduled for Thursday, but Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have asked for time to investigate the accusations. Flake is on the Judiciary Commission, and his vote is needed to have the GOP majority for committee confirmation if all Democrats vote against Kavanaugh.

Like Thomas, Kavanaugh perjured himself at least four times during his confirmation hearings according to documents released by Democratic senators—and that information came from only seven percent of his documents released by Kavanaugh’s friend and GOP watchdog Bill Burck. After their release, the documents were still redacted three times, including by Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The “confidential” documents released by Democrats over the objection of Grassley have nothing to do with national security and everything to do with making transparent Kavanaugh’s dishonesty:

Kavanaugh’s interview with Judge William Pryor before his confirmation when Kavanaugh said, “I don’t believe so” when asked if he interviewed Pryor. Three years after Pryor’s nomination, Kavanaugh flatly denied under oath that he had an interview with Pryor. Kavanaugh also lied under oath about not “handling” Charles Pickering during his confirmation proceedings. In an op-ed, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) wrote that Kavanaugh is a “calculated liar who uses dishonesty to advance his own career.”

Kavanaugh’s denial of receiving stolen documents in 2003, documents clearly stolen that Kavanaugh expressed ignorance about the source that was marked “confidential” from a Democrat, has “Spying” as the subject line, and beings with the statement, “I have a friend who is a mole for us on the left.” Kavanaugh said that none of this “raised a red flag.”

Kavanaugh’s false claim about warrantless wiretaps that he first heard about it from the New York Times, when he emailed DOJ lawyer John Yoo over four years earlier than the source that Kavanaugh gave.

Kavanaugh’s writing that Roe v. Wade is not necessarily “settled law of the land” despite his promise to pro-choice senators to the opposite. In confirmation, Kavanaugh changed the term to “precedent,” knowing that all “precedents” can be overturned if he wins his confirmation. In addition to opposing abortion, Kavanaugh is against contraception, as he indicated in this ruling referring to birth control as an “abortion-inducing drug.”

If Kavanaugh is willing to lie about these issues, he cannot be trusted to tell the truth about Ford’s statements.

Kavanaugh should not only be removed from nomination to the Supreme Court for his perjury but also impeached from his current position as judge on the Washington, D.C. Appeals Court. When he lied under oath in 2004, senators did not have access to his emails showing that he had lied; now they are in the public domain. Lisa Graves knows that Kavanaugh lied: she wrote some of the memos that Kavanaugh received from GOP Senate aide Manuel Miranda, the ones that he said he denied received and then said that he didn’t know were stolen. As a member of Ken Starr’s impeachment team, Kavanaugh argued that President Bill Clinton should be impeached for lying under oath. Using Kavanaugh’s own standard, he should be impeached for lying under oath.

The Democratic Coalition plans to file an ethics complaint against Kavanaugh for his answers about whether he received stolen documents. Complaints are typically reviewed by the chief judge of the court, who in this case is Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court who was completely ignored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The 11 white male GOP senators on the judiciary committee have noticed that their gender may be a problem: they are considering the use of female aides to question Ford during the hearings. Grassley is already dodging the problem of 11 white male GOP senators questioning Ford, especially after the many clips showing the brutal questioning of Anita Hill in Clarence Thomas’ hearings 27 years ago, by declaring himself a victim. Asked on Hugh Hewett’s radio show if these all-white, all-male GOP senators might subject Ford to “insensitivity or indifference,” Grassley accused journalists of being “very insensitive to Chuck Grassley, because I’m the only chairman when it says Chairman Grassley, chairman of the aging, or chairman of the Judiciary Committee, 84 years old…. So there’s already discrimination against me.” The ten Democrats on the judiciary include four women and three people of color.

Where Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings stand as of the evening of 9/18/18:

Kavanaugh’s former classmate Mark Judge, who has written reams about his drunken lifestyle and Kavanaugh’s drinking as a teenager, wrote a brief letter stating that he won’t testify to the senators about Ford’s claim that he was in the room when Kavanaugh assaulted her. He has “no memory” about what happened.

In a first, DDT carefully kept to his script when he said that there is no need for a rush to complete the confirmation, that he wants to hear both sides. It’s a first. Like his reactions to Roy Moore, Rob Porter, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Jim Jordan, and others accused and sometimes found guilty of sexual misconduct, DDT talks about how much these people are suffering and consistently refers to Ford as “the woman.”

Ford said that she has received death threats, been forced to more from her home, and had her computer hacked. After insults from GOP senators, she said that she will wait to testify until after the FBI investigates her claims and Kavanaugh’s behavior.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) also called for an investigation into an issue regarding a life-time term in the nation’s highest court. The order must come from DDT, and he has not done that. Grassley has gone so far as to lie when he said that the FBI cannot do this investigation. DDT said he won’t ask for an investigation because “the FBI said that they really don’t do that.”

Republicans won’t allow any third-party testimony in a hearing about Ford and Kavanaugh.

As people have often written during the past 18 months, if … were innocent, why doesn’t he want a thorough investigation. Instead, Kavanaugh follows DDT’s advice, reported by Bob Woodward in Fear: “Deny, deny, deny.”

April 8, 2018

Evangelicals Enable Sexual Misconduct, Other Un-Christian Behavior

After enabling Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) for his non-Christian behavior during his campaign and since his inauguration, evangelicals worry about losing elections from his behavior and divisive language. A leader of a faith-based ministry said about the Stormy Daniels’ affair, “We’re very concerned.” Christian evangelical leaders plan a meeting with DDT on June 19 at DDT’s Washington, D.C. hotel. DDT has been asked to take questions for 90 minutes during the daylong meeting with questions about the women suing him in private discussions, a “sidebar conversation.”

A source referenced Galatians:

“There’s things that are like fingernails on the chalkboard to people of faith. That’s not who we are; that’s not a ‘fruit of the Spirit’; that’s not leading with humility.”

Ethical concerns come from its organization with the White House its venue at DDT’s hotel. A planner said, “This is probably the best deal in D.C.”

Two years ago, mostly white evangelical Protestants met with DDT at a New York hotel to reassure evangelicals about DDT’s vulgarity and multiple marriages just a few months before DDT’s infamous Access Hollywood tape. According to evangelicals, DDT followed his campaign promises on abortion, religious freedom, and Israel policy. They want DDT’s reassurance and mobilization of conservatives around other issues for the election. Other agenda items  include discussing priorities and strategies for the elections, such as the insertion of voting reminder in church bulletins. Church leaders will be told to describe voting as a Christian’s “civic duty.”

The need for such a meeting shows a recent change in the political climate. Only a month ago, ultra-conservative megachurch leader Robert Jeffress said:

“Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star. However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him…. Evangelicals knew they weren’t voting for an altar boy when they voted for Donald Trump.”

The shift in the evangelical movement from “family values” to the focus on white males is shown in the new church on the evangelical block, Focus on the Family, a charity founded by James Dobson who was a strong supporter of Roy Moore. In joining the religious welfare state by declaring itself a church, the charity eliminates all taxes and audits with the loose IRS requirements that “organization need not have all of the characteristics (few churches do, and newly-created churches cannot be expected to); thus, no single characteristic is controlling.” VP Mike Pence, a worshipper of James Dobson has promised Focus on the Family the administration’s unwavering support.

In a 1998 letter, Dobson wrote:

“What has alarmed me … has been the willingness of my fellow citizens to rationalize the President’s behavior even after they suspected, and later knew, that he was lying. Because the economy is strong, millions of people have said infidelity in the Oval Office is just a private affair–something between himself and Hillary. We heard it time and again during those months: ‘As long as Mr. Clinton is doing a good job, it’s nobody’s business what he does with his personal life.’

“That disregard for morality is profoundly disturbing to me.”

Dobson cited that people involved in licentious behavior would be fired in any other situation—for example, corporate, academic, and medical fields–and finishes with the vital importance of “character”:

“As it turns out, character DOES matter. You can’t run a family, let alone a country, without it. How foolish to believe that a person who lacks honesty and moral integrity is qualified to lead a nation and the world…! Those two positions are fundamentally incompatible. In the Book of James the question is posed, “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring” (James 3:11 NIV). The answer is no.”

Twenty years later, Dobson’s answer to the question from the Book of James is “yes.”

Operating as a “church auxiliary,” Liberty Counsel, a collection of lawyers, also escapes filing forms with the IRS. Members represented Kim Davis in her losing fight to illegally deny same-gender couples marriage licenses, awaits the Supreme Court “wedding cake” decision about whether businesses can discriminate against anyone they don’t like, and fills the DOJ. Others travel the world to push legislative draconian anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Evangelicals should clean their own house before controlling the lives of others who choose not to be a part of their religion.

  • Anti-LGBTQ Matthew Dennis “Denny” Patterson, pastor for over 20 years at the Nolensville Road Baptist Church (Nashville, TN), resigned last September following charges of child abuse for at least two decades. He is accused of touching children, mostly male, in their underwear and having them sit on his face and stomach.
  • Bill Hybels, co-founder of the megachurch Willow Creek Community Church (Chicago, IL) had a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual misconduct and fired several pastors and staff members. Now former pastors and staff members are accusing Hybels of sexual harassment and misconduct, including a prolonged affair with a married woman.
  • Pastor Ken Engelking was fired for “sexual immorality” from the Morning Star Community Church (Salem, OR) because of abusive, adulterous relationships that included sexual assault and rape covered up by the church since 1982 and still led by Senior Pastor Scott Nelson. One victim said she decided to tell what happened after seeing the movie Spotlight, describing a newspaper investigation into the church’s cover-up of sex abuse by Catholic priests. Past reports about the sexual misconduct to pastors were not reported to minors’ parents or anyone else. Engelking’s wife blamed one of the victims for a rape because the victim was wearing a tank top instead of a t-shirt.
  • Former youth pastor Brad Tebbutt is on administrative leave by the International House of Prayer of Kansas City after being accused of sexually abusing a Washington woman three decades ago when she was 14.
  • Joshua Clemons, a former youth pastor, has been arrested for sexual assault of children while he worked at Cross Roads Community Church (Parker, CO) and the children were part of the youth group. The married pastor also had an affair with a 17-year-old girl.
  • Chauncey Walker, a former youth pastor at Wichita’s Word of Life Ministries Church,faces trial for having sex with a 15-year-old  girl. The senior pastor, Robert Rotola Sr, said there was nothing he could do because Walker had quit when the victim told him and threatened to shame the victim by going public. Conversations showing the guilt were taped and can be used in the April 9 trial, legal in Kansas because only one party needs to consent to a recording. The victim is suing World of Life Ministries and Schools, Rotola, and his son, Robert Rotola Jr who is the church school administrator, for $575,000. An amended lawsuit petition indicates that more victims might be added.
  • Navy Capt. Loften Thornton, chaplain for over 25 years, was from released from his post after a video showed him having sex with a woman in front of a New Orleans pub five minutes away from the Marine Reserve facility.
  • Andy Savage, pastor at Highpoint Church (Memphis, OR), received a 20-second standing ovation after he apologized to his rape victim, Jules Woodson, who he assaulted when she was a teenager. (Savage resigned two months after the ovation.)

These examples are only a few from a cursory search of articles during the past few months in reports of massive coverups regarding sexual misconduct. Coverups are demonstrated by an evangelical leader calling DDT the “dream president” and white evangelicals overwhelmingly supporting former judge Roy Moore in his run for the Senate seat in Alabama after women talked about his sexual misconduct when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

Evangelicals are reviving the “Billy Graham/Mike Pence Rules,” the evangelical solution to sexual misconduct and assault by preventing Christian male leaders from meeting alone with a woman who is not his wife. Katelyn Beaty, Editor at Large for Christianity Today, gives the female perspective of this male-centric guideline:

“The Pence rule arises from a broken view of the sexes: Men are lustful beasts that must be contained, while women are objects of desire that must be hidden away. Offering the Pence rule as a solution to male predation is like saying, ‘I can’t meet with you one on one, otherwise I might eventually assault you.’ If that’s the case, we have far deeper problems around men and power than any personal conduct rule can solve.

“Most female Christian leaders I know find the Pence rule frustrating. (All the people I know who keep the rule are men.) Imagine a male boss keeps some variation of the rule but is happy to meet with a male peer over lunch or travel with him for business. The informal and strategic conversations they can have is the stuff of workplace advancement. Unless there are women in senior leadership positions — and in many Christian organizations, there are not — women will never benefit from the kind of advancement available to men.

“The answer is not to ask women to leave the room. It’s to hold all men in the room accountable and kick out those who long ago lost their right to be there.”

If DDT were to leave office—for whatever reason—VP Mike Pence might replace him. And so would the “Pence Rule” for the nation’s administration. Women would suffer far more losses because of this evangelical control.

February 16, 2018

White House Misery from Russia, Sexual Misconduct

Most people in the U.S. pay Social Security taxes for the entire year, but February 16 is the date when the last millionaire can stop because of the ceiling of $128,500. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) finished his Social Security payments in less than the first hour on January 1.

The biggest news today, however, was Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian collusion in the presidential election. A grand jury has indicted 13 Russian nationals for tampering with the U.S. political process through the Internet Research Agency (IRA), aka Glasvet, and the Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering. Concord hid their payments to the IRA by calling them software support. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the defendants had “allegedly conducted what they called ‘information warfare’ against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust of candidates and political system in general.” He continued:

“They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

Chats from Julian Assange, who released edited emails through Wikileaks to denigrate Hillary Clinton and the Democrats also show his work to elect DDT and Republicans. The State Department and the Treasury Department had already missed the January 29 deadline to place sanctions on Russia.

These indictments are just one part of the investigation. Rick Gates, Paul Manafort’s junior business partner and DDT’s campaign staffer, is “finalizing” a plea deal after his earlier indictment. Former White House staffer Steve Bannon also testified to Mueller for over 20 hours before he refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee that may charge him with contempt.

The Democratic memo from the Intelligence Committee has been turned down by DDT who already released the Republican version in its entirety. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that DDT would be fair in determining the release of the memo, but he maintained that the Dem’s memo had classified information.

According to U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta, the GOP memo had already declassified information about the investigation. He made that pronouncement because the DOJ is fighting the release of when the FBI received the dossier after Buzzfeed asked for this information in fighting a defamation lawsuit. Mehta rejected the DOJ argument that they couldn’t reveal the date by saying that DDT “has now declassified an entire national security investigation.” The argument for not releasing the Democratic memo is gone. Thanks to Rep. Devin (R-CA) Nunes’ GOP memo, Buzzfeed has most of the classified information that it needed.  The FBI had already objected to releasing the GOP memo because it was misleading, but DDT didn’t even bother to read the GOP memo before he promised its release.

Another problem for DDT is the ruling from a federal appeals court to unseal 20-year-old records about his mobster, mafia, and Russian connections with Felix Sater who developed the Trump SoHo Hotel-Condominium and a tower in Fort Lauderdale, both resulting in fraud lawsuit. DDT was involved in a “pump-and-dump penny” stock scam that artificially inflates the price of owned stock through false and misleading positive comments to sell cheaply-acquired stock at a much higher price. DDT used The Apprentice to promote his So-Ho project and collected a large cash amount before its failure led to foreclosure; even then DDT earned an annual $3 million for managing it until its sale last year. Almost criminally charged, Ivanka and Erica Trump escaped with a large political donation to Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance. Sater told worked for DDT through back channels to get a Ukraine “peace plan” in exchange for dropping Russian sanctions after he promised DDT’ lawyer Michael Cohen that he would work with Putin to “get Donald Trump elected.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has asked the Treasury Department for documentation about DDT’s sale in 2008 of an uninhabitable Palm Beach mansion to Russian Oligarch Dmitry Rybolevley for much more than it was worth. DDT’s purchase price was $41.35 million, and he sold it for $95 million for a property evaluated at $30 million. Although DDT claimed that he never met Rybolevley, their paths crossed, including during DDT’s campaign in 2016.

The biggest DDT news in the last two weeks before Mueller’s indictments was the Rob Porter case. It began as a basic domestic abuse situation before it blew up into a situation marked by falsehoods by White House staff, led by Sanders and Chief of Staff John Kelly.

After Porter’s alleged beating and verbal abuse of two ex-wives became public, he resigned—although he stayed in the White House for an indeterminate time. As staff secretary, he held one of the highest positions there, serving as liaison between DDT and all government agencies, handling all the communications that go to DDT, and acting as “gatekeeper to the Oval Office, determining which articles and policy proposals reached the president’s hands and screening the briefing materials that his visitors shared with him,” according to WaPo. 

For several days after the revelation, Kelly supported Porter and tried to save his job. Even when Kelly gave up the attempt, he—and DDT—refused to acknowledge that Porter might have committed the acts attributed to him. Communications director Hope Hicks, who wrote the supportive statements about Porter, is also dating him, despite warnings from an ex-girlfriend of Porter. Staffer Kellyanne Conway said that Hicks was safe with Porter because she is strong and smart, insinuating that only weak and dumb women are victims of domestic abuse.

The White House standard line that no one had told them about any problems with Porter unraveled after FBI director, Christopher Wray, testified at a Senate hearing that the agency had reported about Porter’s behavior last March, in July, and again in November when the White House kept insisting that the FBI do more extensive investigations. WH counsel Don McGahn had said that Porter should resign in November, but nothing came of his suggestion. Several days after Porter’s resignation, DDT wished him a successful career and refused to answer a question during his event with sheriffs if he had any message for victims of abuse. Since then, DDT declared that he was opposed to domestic violence but didn’t say anything against Porter.

Within the first week after the Porter news broke, Sanders switched the blame to the FBI after admitting that the White House knew about the situation and then moved the focus to the White House Office of Personnel Security. Kelly’s support of Porter has led to the possibility that Kelly might be leaving the White House, but news about the problem has largely disappeared since the tragic school shooting in Florida and the indictment of Russians for their part in last year’s election.

GOP legislators are trying hard to cover for DDT. For example, Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) said that “blackmail and domestic situations [aren’t] crimes of character…. They aren’t dishonesty.” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who won’t run for re-election this year, came out to join the full-throated praise of wife-abuser and man who sees everything sensitive document despite no security clearance, Rob Porter, this week. Porter had earlier worked for Hatch, who wants him to “work his way through and do what’s right.”

Throughout his campaign, DDT has lambasted Hillary Clinton with accusations that she mishandled classified information and should go to prison. Yet more than 130 political appointees working in the Executive Office of the President lacked permanent security clearances a few months ago, including his top legal counsel, Press Secretary Sanders, daughter, and son-in-law. At least 34 of them started at the White House on the day that DDT did. Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who has recently left WH employment, never had clearance, and George Banks, special assistant for economic policy, resigned because he couldn’t get clearance. More are listed here.

DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen may have sent Stormy Daniels away with $130,000, but Karen McDougal has a report about her nine-month affair with DDT in 2006, beginning three months after DDT’s son Barron was born. She sold her account to the owner of the National Enquirer for $150,000, but it protected DDT by quashing the story.

DDT’s approval ratings may be crawling up around 40 percent, but women who are watching his approval of sexual misconduct have dropped his ratings among females to 29 percent. Among that group, the strongest supporters are still white women without college degrees, but their approval for DDT is falling seriously in the Rustbelt. Over 22 percent of white women without college degrees report that DDT’s actions have hurt them and their families, and 47 percent report the nation’s economy as not good or poor. Sixty-five percent believe he is not the “very stable genius” that he claims to be, and 79 percent see sexual harassment of women in the workplace as a problem.

For the first time in the nation, not one state viewed improvement in 2017, and 21 states saw their well-being scores decline, six states more than the previous record in the Great Recession of 2009.

January 26, 2018

DDT: Week Fifty-three – The Second Year Starts

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told White House counsel Don McGahn last June to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller last June, McGahn said he would resign rather than follow that direction. In July, DDT said that he would fire Mueller if he investigated DDT’s finances. DDT called this information “fake news,” but even the Fox network sort of agreed.

DDT’s mistake of the week: DDT has gone back to his position from last June that he is “100 percent” willing to testify to Robert Mueller “under oath” and is even looking forward to the interview. Then he added, “subject to my lawyers” who quashed the idea. Ty Cobb tried to cover for DDT by saying that he was in a hurry and only intended to say that he would meet with Mueller.

The government reopened last Monday after 33 members of the Democratic caucus bought Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) line of his “intention” to address the DACA issue either in the next spending bill (due by February) of after that. McConnell has a history of not keeping his promises, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) doesn’t put anything on the floor that can’t be passed with only Republicans. DDT is holding out for $25 billion for his wall, and the House bill would criminalize and deport any Dreamer who makes less than 125 percent of the poverty level. The reopening reauthorized children’s insurance for another six years, but it ignored funding that ended at the end of September for the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs (MIECHV), Community Health Centers, and opioid funding as well disaster relief.  DDT sneered at the Democrats for keeping the government open when he tweeted, “Schumer and the Dems caved.” He may be cheering early: the next deadline is in only 13 days.

Mick Mulvaney, maybe acting director of the consumer agency, said, “I found out for the first time last night that the person who technically shuts the government down is me, which is kind of cool.” When a representative in 2013, Mulvaney tried to continue a government shutdown when lawmakers had a deal to end it. Mulvaney’s “new mission” will protect companies from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) originally designed to protect consumers. His first action is to permit payday lenders to prey on their borrowers.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin drove the already weak dollar down, ten percent lower since January 2017, by saying that it is is good for the U.S. because other countries get exports cheaper. Imports to the U.S. become expensive, and buying U.S. equities and U.S. bonds is less desirable.

DDT’s trade war with the world is on, according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross after DDT slapped tariffs on solar panel and washing machine imports. “There won’t be a trade war,” DDT said. The first 1.2 million imported washers have a 20-percent tariff followed by 50 percent on all imports for two years because of a request from Whirlpool. Solar panel components get a 30-percent tariff, and the solar installation industry predicts a loss of 23,000 jobs each year and a slow-down on the renewable energy movement that DDT hates.

During a Q&A session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, DDT attacked the media, saying:

“It wasn’t until I became a politician that I realized how nasty, how mean, how vicious, and how fake the press can be.”

People booed and jeered. That was after they laughed at him for bragging about his business abilities. Initially, the crowd groaned when WEF Chair Klaus Schwab introduced DDT:

“I’m aware that your strong leadership is open to misconceptions and interpretation so it is so essential for us in the room to listen directly to you.”

Russia:

  • Dutch media warned the U.S. that a Russian hacker group Cozy Bear “launched an attack on the Democratic Party in the United States in 2015.”
  • The fiancé of Russian colluder, George Papadopoulos, said he, like John Dean of Watergate, will provide valuable information to Robert Mueller’s investigation.
  • Mueller interviewed AG Jeff Sessions about Russia, but nobody’s leaking the contents of the discussion.
  • Jared Kushner refused to be interviewed by the Senate Judicial Committee. These might be some of the reasons.
  • After DDT fired James Comey as FBI director, he interviewed Andrew McCabe for the position and asked him who he voted for in the presidential election.
  • Republicans are using emails as a shiny distraction from Russian collusion, messages between two FBI officials who shared political perspectives while having an affair during DDT’s campaign. They criticized far more people than DDT—Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, etc.—but the GOP demanded missing texts between December 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017, from software upgrade affecting “thousands of FBI devices. Republicans haven’t made any comments since these were found.
  • Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of House Oversight Committee, claimed that a text message, sent as a joke, revealed a “secret society.” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) added that “an informant” told Congress about “a group holding secret meetings off-site,” he backtracked because he had no evidence after embarrassing media coverage and being called “the senator who cried wolf.”
  • The smoke and mirrors GOP distraction from DDT’s collusion with Russia is so complex that reading an entire article is necessary. And more craziness.

Appointments:

  • Hero of the Week: DDT-appointment FBI Director Christopher Wray threatened to resign if the DOJ removes Andrew McCabe.
  • The Senate voted 55-43 to confirm former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar as health secretary, guaranteeing that drug prices will continue to rapidly escalate.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee sent 17 DDT nominations to the Senate floor, including Thomas Farr who lied to the committee during his hearing about his participation in intimidating black voters during Jesse Helms’s campaign for the 1992 North Carolina Senate seat. Also passed by GOP acclaim was Eric Dreiband to direct the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Earlier he gave testimony against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and opposed LGBTQ rights. When Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) asked opponents if nominees should be disqualified because of causes represented as a lawyer, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said the evaluation of conduct as private citizens is such that future litigants would be apprehensive to come before the judges. Charles Goodwin and Holly Lou Teeter, both receiving the ABA “not qualified” rating, were also advanced for confirmation.
  • Wendy Vitter was one of a dozen new judicial nominations. Currently counsel for the Roman Catholic church of the New Orleans archdiocese, she may be best known for defending her husband when he confessed to being a client of the “D.C. Madam.”
  • Taylor Weyeneth, 24, will leave his senior position of DDT’s Office of National Drug Control Policy after six months after the media publicized his inexperience and “misrepresentation” of his résumés. He was one of three ONDCP employees who was designated as “essential” during the recent shutdown.

(Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Sexual Misconduct:

  • After 150 women testified against Larry Nassar at his sentencing hearing, the judge added 40 to 175 years in prison to his existing 60-year term. Michigan State University’s 13-year president Lou Anna Simon resigned just ahead of a legislative bill calling for her removal.
  • For decades, casino mogul and RNC finance chair Steve Wynn (right) committed acts of sexual misconduct, according to a Wall Street Journal article. These actions include a $7.5 million settlement after forcing a woman to have sex with him in 2005. He blames his ex-wife for the allegations, but a number of women have supported the accusations.
  • Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA), removed from the House Ethics Committee after it became publicly known that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint with an aide, will not be running for re-election after he prayed about his situation. He denied any harassment but said that that they were “soul mates” and verbally attacked her when she told him she had a serious partner. Meehan blamed her and the vote on the Affordable Care Act for his actions.
  • Herriman High School officials censored a student newspaper article regarding the firing of a teacher, possibly for sexual misconduct, so the students published a website that included the article. A vice-principal had previously approved the article. The Supreme Court case Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier permits school censorship of newspapers. The students’ article.  Herriman is a small city of over 21,000 in north-central Utah.

Despite DDT’s claim in his inaugural address that “American carnage … stops right now” and AG Jeff Sessions’ claim that the mission has been accomplished, violence is increasing. The national murder rate increased by one percent in the first half of 2017—the time that Sessions addressed. Eleven school shootings in the first 26 days of 2018 include three this week, one of them killing two students. The 52 LGBTQ single-victim hate killings in 2017 is an 86-percent increase from 2016, making 2017 the deadliest year since compilation of these homicides. The actual number of LGBTQ killings is most likely larger because murders may be misclassified and misgendered.

DDT continues to incite people to violence. Brandon Griesemer was arrested after at least 22 threatening calls to CNN’s headquarters toward its cast, anti-Semitic remarks, racial slurs against employees, and the statement that he’s going “to gun you all down” with the claim that he has a whole team and “more guns than you.” In the past, DDT has tweeted videos of himself body-slamming and punching CNN, a “Trump Train” running over CNN, and himself stepping on CNN as an insect.

Slightly better DDT news tomorrow!

January 14, 2018

Fill the Swamp

All presidential nominations expired at the end of 2017, but these are some people Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants for his legacy.

Appointments:

Robert Weaver, nominee to head up the $6 billion federal agency Indian Health Service (HIS) overseeing medical care for over two million Native Americans, has been found to “misrepresent” his work at St. John’s Regional Medical Center (Joplin, MO) in Senate confirmation hearings. He described his “entry level” job as “variously hospital administration positions.” Copies of his employment records were destroyed in a tornado, but no one at the hospital at that time can remember him. Asked about his IHS experience, a DHS spokeswoman said Weaver needed the system as a child.

Andrew Wheeler has reemerged as nominee for deputy administrator of the EPA. Called “overwhelmingly unfit for such a crucial position,” he worked for the lobbying company that supported Murray Energy in erasing environmental regulations at EPA. Wheeler is accompanied by other unfit nominations, including Kathleen Hartnett White, head of Council on Environmental Quality; Barry Lee Myers, head of NOAA; and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), administrator of NASA. White, for example, thinks that science should not “dictate policy.” Lee owns a weather company and hopes to privatize NOAA. Bridenstine has no scientific credentials and wants to defund research into climate change which he denies.

Thomas Homan, acting head of ICE and nominee for Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, was picked by DDT because he looks “nasty” and “mean.” Some of his outstanding features:

  • He arrested both parents with a sick infant and a ten-year-old girl with cerebral palsy on their way to the hospital as well as arresting a transgender domestic abuse survivor at the courthouse where she was requesting a protective order against her abusive ex-partner.
  • He supervised a department allowing the removal of medications of a Dreamer before ridiculing him for his disability and failing to investigate thousands of sexual assault complaints by detained immigrants. ICE agents have given people unnecessary strip searches, forced them to eat moldy food, and denied pain medication for debilitating diseases.
  • He told DOJ that he wanted to sue and possibly imprison anyone responsible for complying with any of his agency’s demands.

Until DDT came into his life, Homan didn’t seem to be an extremist; he was set to retire. Obama officials say, “None of us recognize this guy.” Criticized by ICE hardliners, he switched to being tough and unyielding—just what DDT wants.

Kevin McIntyre, long-time corporate attorney for energy companies, was appointed as chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC), the nation’s top energy regulatory agency with no need to be confirmed. This past week FERC, with four DDT appointments of five members, unanimously rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to support struggling nuclear and coal power plants. Perry wanted utility companies to pay all plants, no matter how obsolete, “for all their costs and all the power they produce, whether those plants are needed or not.” FERC also supported the right of New York state to oppose the Constitution Pipeline. Other states—Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania—are also opposing pipelines on the basis of their impacts. Nebraskans are again appealing the route that the state Public Service Commission picked for the Keystone Pipeline.

Marie Royce, wife of the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been nominated for assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) announced his retirement from Congress at the same time. He is the eighth committee chair and the 31st House Republican to resign thus far. Term limits would cause him to lose the chair position. Believing he could not win, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is another of the Republicans leaving the House  although it is rumored that he might run in an adjoining district if GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) resigns. Hunter suffers from ethics investigations for misuse of campaign funds but says he doesn’t plan to resign.

Taylor Weyeneth, a 24-year-old former low-level campaign worker, is being elevated from deputy “drug czar” to a White House liaison role with the agency that coordinates the government’s multibillion dollar anti-drug initiatives and the opioid epidemic curbs.

On the Judicial Side:

In a confirmation hearing this past week for a seat on the 5th Circuit Court, Kurt Engelhardt defended two of his rulings against women in sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination cases. In one case, a Rite Aid employee said that male co-workers brushed up against her, cupped her breasts, and asked to go home with her. Engelhardt rejected the case because the harassment was neither “severe nor physically threatening and the plaintiff liked her job and performed well in it.” When asked about whether “cornering an employee [is] not physically threatening?” Engelhardt waffled for a while before he said he did not remember the specifics of the case.

In another case, a woman was fired two weeks after giving birth following bed rest for the last 16 weeks of her pregnancy because of complications. She declared discrimination because a male colleague was not fired although he took medical leave for the same length of time because of a gangrenous toe. Engelhardt ruled for the employer because “the fact that plaintiff’s absence was cause of pregnancy does not dispense with the general requirement that employees must show up for work.” In the hearing, he said that he didn’t remember the specifics of that case either although his ruling was that she wasn’t treated any worse than the man who was not fired.

During a speech to the Federalist Society, Engelhardt praised the dissent of Justice Clarence Thomas in Lawrence v. Texas, striking down sodomy laws, as “one man’s submission of personal preference in favor of adherence to constitutional principle.”

In the hearing for Howard Nielson, nominated as federal district judge in Utah, questions addressed his defense of California’s Prop 8, the ballot initiative recognizing marriage as only between a man and a woman. He had argued that homosexuality was a choice and that Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself for being gay and in a long-term relationship. Nielson said that he was only using his clients’ arguments and that he had called homosexuality a “maladjustment,” not a choice. Later Nielson co-wrote an amicus brief in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized marriage equality.

Nielson also worked in the Office of Legal Counsel for George W. Bush and defended the “torture memos.” He wrote a memorandum to remove protections for people in custody under the Geneva Conventions, arguing that the protection of civilians in enemy custody or detention applies only to civilians held on U.S. territory. His position that the U.S. could torture civilians outside its boundaries would mean that others could do the same to U.S. civilians outside their countries’ boundaries.

Civil rights leaders argue that Thomas Farr, nominee for a North Carolina federal court, is “a product of the modern white supremacist machine.” Counsel to former Sen. Jesse Helms, great fan of racial segregation, Farr defended voter oppression, a serious problem in the area over which Farr would preside. During Farr’s work on the Helms campaign, postcards were mailed to 100,000 black voters telling them that they could be arrested and prosecuted if they voted because were ineligible to vote. Despite Farr’s denial about involvement, an investigation showed differently.

Stuart Kyle Duncan is back as nominee for the 5th Circuit Court. Staunchly anti-choice and pro-Christian control, he maintained that harms to a lesbian mother who lost her parental rights were “overstated.” He also argued for the voter suppression laws against blacks in North Carolina before the Supreme Court and represented Hobby Lobby as lead counsel to remove women’s reproductive rights. Duncan claims to have been Appellate Chief in Louisiana and then the Solicitor General, but that job doesn’t exist. Instead he worked for a private firm, making hundreds of thousands from taxpayer funds. Also troubling is his connection with the religiously conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, a hate group.

DDT’s failed judicial nominees are sticking round. Highly ignorant and bigoted Brett Talley stayed as the deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy, which oversees DOJ’s vetting of candidates for judicial nominations, and dumb-as-a-post Matthew Petersen is on the FEC to help determine the enforcement of campaign finance laws.

Sexual Misconduct:

Top on the week’s list is DDT. According to the conservative Wall Street Journal, DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to former adult-film star Stormy Daniels (aka Stephanie Clifford) a month before the 2016 election to shut her up about a sexual encounter with DDT. The newspaper had reported before the election that Playboy model Karen McDougal was paid $150,000 by the DDT-supporting National Enquirer to conceal her story of a 2006 affair with DDT, a year after DDT’s marriage to Melania.

Missouri GOP Gov. Eric Greitens has been accused of having an affair with his hairstylist and then threatening to release nude photographs of her if she publicized the relationship. At their initial sexual encounter, he taped her hands to exercise rings and blindfolded her before taking the nude photos. Greitens admitted the affair but refused to talk about the blackmail. He switched from the Democratic party to being a Republican after he said he was running for governor.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin called for the resignation of the state’s GOP speaker of the house, Jeff Hoover, after information was released about Hoover’s secret settlement of a sexual harassment claim by a woman staff member. Hoover resigned as speaker but stayed on the legislative body.

And on it goes.

 

December 16, 2017

DDT: Week Forty-seven – Sexual Misconduct Stays in News

The biggest news against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was Roy Moore’s loss in the race for Alabama’s U.S. senator, making the second loss for DDT in the election after Luther Strange lost the primary. Roy Moore won’t concede the election after losing by 1.5 points, claiming that he’ll win with military and provisional votes. He’s asking for donations for an “election integrity fund,” but probably not because Alabama is one of the worst states in the nation for voter suppression. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is dragging his feet in seating Sen. Doug Jones while pushing the tax bill before Strange departs. Seven years ago, McConnell pushed the seating of Scott Brown, a new GOP senator, to vote for the Affordable Care Act.

DDT’s false claims about Russian not meddling in the U.S. presidential election has been declared the lie of the year. The House Judiciary Committee failed to get FBI Director Christopher Wray to denounce the FBI and then grilled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about whether he would fire special investigator Robert Mueller. Rosenstein said he would not without good cause, which he does not have at this time. DDT has never hosted a Cabinet meeting about Russian interference in the U.S. election, and White House staff are not allowed to speak about the subject.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that he would talk diplomacy with North Korea “without precondition” for three days until he reversed his position to say that North Korea must “earn its way” by stopping its nuclear threats.

The week’s mystery is John Kelly’s ejection of former Apprentice star Omarosa Manigault Newman from the White House. The Secret Service denied that they escorted her off the premises, but she isn’t allowed to return before her last day on January 20, 2018. Steve Benen lists the major disappearances since January 20, 2017. Omarosa’s fame came from her statement that everyone “will have to bow down to President Trump. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”

Appointments:

The Senate has confirmed three lifetime appointments for the U.S. Circuit Courts and Court of Appeals:

  • Leonard Steven Grasz – Unanimously rated “not qualified by American Bar Association and supports the teaching of creationism and anti-LGBTQ policies;
  • Don Willett – Bases judicial decisions on personal anti-LGBTQ and anti-worker views;
  • James Ho – Wants to “abolish all restrictions on campaign finance,” defends torture, and opposes LGBTQ rights.  sides with teaching of creationism and anti-LGBTQ policies.

FEC Member Matthew Petersen has never tried any case, argued a case in state or federal court, and deposed anyone by himself. During a confirmation hearing, he could not define basic legal terms such as the Daubert standard, motion in limine, motion in limit, the Younger abstention doctrine, and the Pullman abstention doctrine. He claims to understand “the challenge” if he were named the U.S. District Court judgeship for the District of Columbia and thinks that he is qualified.

Michael Dourson backed out of the nomination for U.S. top regulator of toxic chemicals. He ran a consulting company that defended toxic chemicals on behalf of companies like Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and DuPont and advocates weaker chemical safety standards.

After Moore lost the Senate race in Alabama, Sen. Chuck Grassley pulled two of DDT’s judicial nominees from consideration. Jeff Mateer, DDT’s pick for the Eastern District of Texas, and Brett Talley, a choice for Alabama, both made comments supporting discriminatory groups or policies. Talley, whose wife works for White House counsel, had been considered “not qualified” by the American Bar Association and defended judicial discrimination, including against transgender people. Grassley pled ignorance about these problems despite wide media coverage about them.

Moving Forward:

DDT failed to kill “Obamacare” despite eliminating almost all funding for ads and assistance plus considerably shortening the signup time. This year’s enrollment is almost equal to that of last year. DDT has refused to extend the deadline even one day after December 15 although it has been extended to January 31 of the next year in the past.

Thanks to U.S. District Judge Wendy, Beetlestone, DDT’s rules of employers’ “religious or moral” exceptions to contraception which prevent its no-cost coverage are blocked nationwide during trials from lawsuits against them.

DDT thought that he would kill the nuclear deal with Iran, but because Congress failed to take action in 60 days, the agreement stays in force.

Thirteen U.S. scientists received “Make the Planet Great Again” grants from France’s President Emmanuel Macron, offered after DDT said that the U.S. was backing out of the Paris climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Grants were awarded to five other scientists in other parts of the world.

Assaulters of the week:

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) won’t be seeking reelection. He’s joined by Ruben Kihuen (D-NV). That makes seven congressional members going or gone thus far because of sexual misconduct—four Republicans and three Democrats.

Chief Justice Sidney R. Thomas of the 9th Circuit Court has asked that one of his judges, Reagan appointee Alex Kozinski, be investigated by another court for complaints of sexual misconduct by at least 15 women have accused Kozinski of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments. Dahlia Lithwick wrote about her experience 20 years ago with Kozinski when she was clerking for then Chief Justice Judge Procter Hug of the 9th Circuit Court.

Accused of sexual crimes and misconduct including sexual assault of a teenager, Kentucky state GOP Rep. Dan Johnson killed himself. Four of his Republican colleagues have also been accused of sexual misconduct. The House Speaker has already resigned. Johnson’s enabler wife plans to replace Johnson in the legislature.

DDT Tweets:

About a senator’s statements call for investigating sexual misconduct allegations against DDT: “Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Charles E. Schumer and someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!” Katty Kay, anchor for BBC World News America, called DDT’s tweet “clearly sexual” and “demeaning to women.” DDT has not responded to the same request from male Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Fifty-nine women congressional members have formally requested the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate allegations of DDT’s sexual misconduct. From an editorial by the conservative USA Today:

“A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.”

About women accusing DDT of sexual assault: “women who I don’t know and/or have never met.” Witnesses, videos, and photographs show that he is lying.

The funniest one comes from DDT’s namesake, Donald Jr.: “I would pay good money to see all those people complaining about Obama’s FCC chairman voting to repeal #NetNeutality actually explain it in detail. I’d also bet most hadn’t heard of it before this week. #outrage.” Ajit Pai is DDT’s FCC chairman, appointed in January, and millions of people know about net neutrality because they made public comments to stop its loss. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, joined by attorneys general from at least 18 states, plans a lawsuit to keep net neutrality. At least 83 percent of people oppose the commission’s decision; even three-fourths of Republicans don’t agree with losing net neutrality. The FCC net neutrality repeal cannot go into effect until it is approved by the Office of Management and Budget—which could take months.  The industry’s argument for Pai’s change of “freedom” of the net only allows corporations to control what people watch and overcharge customers.

Moving Backward:

DDT has erased rules that tried to prevent explosive train wrecks.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has authored a huge higher education bill that guarantees colleges and universities can discriminate against LGBTQ students without danger of losing federal funds under the guise of religious freedom. The bill also removes protections for victims of campus sexual assault.

In the trial of six protesters on DDT’s inauguration day, the judge eliminated one of the eight charges and lowered the maximum penalty from 60 years. In its closing argument, DOJ admitted that it had no evidence that the people on trial had committed acts of violence or vandalism or planned the protest march, but they incited others by wearing black. The lawyer also accused two of the defendants who gave medical assistance as being “prepared for war … “to mend them and get them up on their way.” Deliberations are scheduled for late next week.

DDT socialist move will let restaurant owners make servers share their tips with untipped employees such as cooks and dishwashers means that the employers, who are not required to distribute the tips, can pocket $5.8 billion a year. Comments are due by February 5, 2018.

Four Trumps failed to successfully vote absentee in a New York mayoral election on November 7:

  • Melania didn’t sign her envelope.
  • Ivanka didn’t mail her ballot until Election Day—too late for counting.
  • Jared Kushner didn’t return his ballot.
  • DDT put his wrong date of birth on his application for an absentee ballot.

DDT’s continued approval rating of 32 percent is near the tipping point of leadership failure at 30 percent.

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