Nel's New Day

March 16, 2019

DDT: Week 112 – U.S. Become a ‘Banana Republic’

Once again, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has given the people of the United States a bad week. He began with a cruel budget for most of the people in the U.S. while he waited days to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8, the same model responsible for killing 157 people on an Ethiopian airline and another 189 people in Indonesia’s Java Sea. Then he promised violence if Democrats continue investigations into his financial and political affairs and moved on to be called the “symbol of renewed white supremacy and common purpose” by the terrorist who killed 49 people and wounded dozens of others in two New Zealand mosques. Despite the defection of 12 GOP senators who voted against his national emergency wall building order, DDT vetoed the bill.

Under DDT, the U.S. has a new policy on human rights. In the introduction to “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018,” State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo wrote:

“The policy of this administration is to engage with other governments, regardless of their record, if doing so will further U.S. interests.”

This official document clarifies any doubt about whether DDT bases his policies on making money. The report ignores women’s rights and refers to the Palestinian land of the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights as “Israeli-controlled” instead of Israeli-occupied.  As a continuation of his opposition to human rights, Pompeo and DDT are revoking or denying visas for all International Criminal Court (ICC) personnel who try to investigate or prosecute U.S. officials or key allies, including Israelis, for potential war crimes tied to U.S. war in Afghanistan.

DDT waited 11 hours to make a brief statement about the Islamophobic killings in New Zealand after eleven hours and failed to mention Muslims, but he had time to send a supportive email about anti-Muslim, racist Breitbart.com. He referred to “sacred places” and said that the U.S. will be there for New Zealand “one hundred percent” before he launched into terrorizing U.S. people about the “invasion” at the southern border of the United States, using the same inflammatory word as the New Zealand killer when he referred to non-European peoples. DDT then announced a March 28 MAGA rally which will undoubtedly spew more hate.

The New Zealand killer was able to stream his horrific acts live on Facebook for 17 minutes until he was finally shut down, and Sky New Zealand was forced to pull Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp from its channel until Sky News Australia stopped broadcasting these scenes. Facebook has more problems after its massive failure last week and streaming of mass shootings as federal prosecutors began a criminal investigation into its proposed deals on top of 150 others, many with huge companies. Deals allowed Microsoft Bing to map friends of all Facebook users without their consent and permitted Amazon to get names and contact information through their friends. The FTC, SEC, and DOJ securities fraud unit are also scrutinizing Facebook owner, Mark Zuckerberg. In addition, two top Facebook executives, the companies #3 and the head of WhatsApp, left because they disagreed with Zuckerberg about a single private platform with FB, Instagram, WhatsApp, and FB Messenger. Other long-time high-level employees started leaving.

DDT’s supporters disagree that he is the “symbol … of white supremacy,” but his statement that white nationalism isn’t a growing problem negates any idea that he might be concerned about reality. Again, he and his officials such as Kellyanne Conway attribute the Islamophobic murders to just “one crazed person,” and DDT said white supremacist actions comes from “a small group of people.” Data supported by the FBI shows that white supremacists and other far-right extremists have killed far more people in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001, than any other category of domestic extremist. White nationalist hate groups grew 50 percent between 2017 and 2018.

Major DDT-era white supremacist terrorist attacks and plots include a white nationalist U.S. Coast Guard officer’s plot to murder hundreds of prominent Democrats, the series of mail bombs from a white supremacist to key Democrats, the slaughter of 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, an older black couple randomly killed in a Kentucky supermarket, and the murder of Heather Heyer at the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville (VA). The New Zealand killer’s 74-page “The Great Manifesto” follows the white supremacy protesters in Charlottesville. The weaker the gun laws, the more mass shootings; therefore the New Zealand killer had to go from his home in Australia to commit this carnage. New Zealand has promised to pass gun safety laws; the U.S. cries “horrible” after some mass shootings and moves on with no action.

DDT’s stall in grounding the 787 Max 8 and 9 jets caused controversy, partly because of the close relationship between the federal government and Boeing. FAA’s acting director Daniel Elwell, who postponed the grounding, worked for Boeing’s trade association, and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is a former executive for that company. Boeing gave $1 million to DDT’s inaugural committee. Political pressure from Boeing include a lobbying call to DDT the day before the crash. Dozens of other countries took action far sooner than the U.S. George Conway, husband of DDT official Kellyanne Conway, said that DDT’s inaction was a further indication of the U.S. becoming a “banana republic.”

Ethiopian officials have such little trust in the U.S. that they sent the black box to France to get more information about the crash. Boeing failed to sufficiently train pilots on the computer system of the new model by convincing the FAA that the planes were similar to older models. U.S. airlines reported that they still don’t have training flight simulators for this specific model although airlines in other countries have them available.

DDT’s 35-day government shutdown may have played a part in killing the 157 people on the Ethiopian plane. After the October disaster on the same model, Boeing began a software fix for the plane, but the shutdown delayed agreement on how extensive the technical and engineering software enhancement of sensors should be. Thousands of aviation inspectors were furloughed for almost four weeks. FAA has said that the update delay was not a problem because its experts and Boeing saw no imminent safety threat. Rachel Maddow reported on other difficulties with this plane model and others that did not result in crashes but had the same problem with automated systems pulling the nose down when the plane should be ascending after takeoff.

Last Sunday’s news shows universally ignored DDT’s scandal about his friend Li “Cindy” Yang, former owner of a massage parlor involved in a sex trafficking ring, who has sold DDT access to Chinese business executive and Chinese government officials. Yang has connections with two groups directly tied to the Chinese Communist Party. Mainstream TV failed to report on the issue although their nightly newscasts in 1998 and 199 devoted 2,528 minutes to Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky as well as more coverage of his other scandals.

In a court filing, New York’s AG Letitia James asked a judge to order DDT’s Trump Foundation to pay $2.8 million in restitution and a $5.6 million penalty for his making the so-called charity into part of his campaign. DDT has already shut down and distributed its $1.7 million to nonprofits. He would be lucky not to be indicted for these illegal activities. When DDT tells supporters on his campaign trail, “I really need you to vote for me,” his plea has more than one meaning.

Other Bits:

In addition to 12 Republican senators joining Democrats in a resolution to overturn DDT’s wall-building emergency executive order, six GOP senators voted in favor of a War Powers resolution to eliminate U.S. military support for the assault on Yemen in a coalition led by Saudi Arabia. More about that in a few days.

In another ongoing war issue, DDT is pulling U.S. diplomats from Venezuela, indicating an escalation on his attacks against the country. The New York Times has exposed U.S. government lies about the country’s president responsibility for burning trucks carrying supplies for humanitarian aid. Any official U.S. reports about the fires disappeared with the revelation that anti-Maduro protesters threw a molotov cocktail that hit one of the trucks.

Paul Manafort got off easy with the first sentencing and moderately with the second—total 7.5 years—but New York has charged him with 16 state felony charges. DDT can’t pardon state convictions.

A New York court is permitting a civil defamation suit against DDT by Summer Zervos, citing a 1997 Supreme Court ruling against Bill Clinton. Right now, the president is not above the law.

Since DDT’s inauguration, fines over $5,000 from the federal consumer agencies have dropped 37 percent. Mick Mulvaney’s Consumer Financial Protection Agency was the worst in not prosecuting crimes. “Tough on crime” doesn’t apply to consumer protection.

In a 23-minute video, Rachel Maddow reports on how DHS tracks the menses of unaccompanied minor immigrant girls under their control to keep them from having abortions. DHS, however, can’t provide numbers about separations, numbers of children in detention, illnesses, or deaths.

After a strong February, President Donald Trump’s job approval rating has dipped four percentage points, to 39%, matching his rating from December at the start of the 35-day partial government shutdown.

January 17, 2019

Shutdown ‘Crushed’ DDT; Barr Follows GOP Line

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:41 PM
Tags: , , ,

Day 17 of the government shutdown: “We are getting crushed,” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. He wasn’t talking about the shutdown; he was complaining about the polls. A majority of people in the United States continues to blame DDT for the shutdown. In December, DDT said he would take credit for the shutdown, and now people agree. Nate Silver, usually the cheeriest of analysts about DDT’s polls, presents polls demonstrating how the shutdown is dragging down DDT’s approval.

DDT loves polls that favor him so much that he had former fixer Michael Cohen arrange to “rig online polls in his boss’s favor” before the 2016 elections. John Gauger, CIO of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and owner of Redfinch Solutions, failed to get DDT into the top 100 business leaders in a CNBC online poll in 2014 but moved DDT into the top five potential GOP candidates in 2015 on the Drudge Report. Gauger claims that he wasn’t paid the promised $50,000 although Cohen gave him a Walmart bag with $12,000 to $13,000 in cash plus a boxing glove Cohen claimed had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter. Cohen claims that his poll rigging was done “at the direction of and for the sole benefit of” DDT. When DDT claims that polls are rigged, he has proof.

In a 222-195 vote, House Republicans failed to pass a bill proposed a bill to pay furloughed workers—for doing nothing—but keep the government shutdown. Yesterday, the House passed its sixth bill for a continuing resolution to reopen the government. Congress did pass a bill into law to pay federal employees, both those working without pay and those furloughed, after the shutdown, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to address opening the government by claiming that to the Senate floor because he won’t present any bills that cannot pass. Today, however, McConnell presented an anti-abortion bill that has zero chance of passing Congress at this time. The measure makes the Hyde Amendment permanent, prohibits abortion in federal health facilities including veterans’ hospitals, and bans subsidized health plans from providing abortion coverage.

Pandering to parts of his base, DDT brought back furloughed workers—with no pay—to process IRS refunds, inspect foods, and expedite farm loans. He is also staffing refuges for hunters, paying more State Department employees, and helping a friend by providing paid workers to process forms for mortgages. Acting AG Matt Whitaker also gave a political speech to the Heritage Foundation in conflict with shutdown guidelines.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) asked DDT to postpone his State of the Union address scheduled for January 29, citing security concerns for protecting the Congress, members of the executive branch, and U.S. Supreme Court justices gathered in one place. DDT cannot deliver his speech to the large audience without Pelosi’s invitation. She suggested that he give the speech in the Oval Office or submit it to Congress in writing. DDT needs Pelosi’s invitation to come to the House. cannot deliver his speech to the House without Pelosi’s invitation. DDT is now asking McConnell if he can go to the Senate.

In retaliation, DDT announced that he postponed Pelosi’s seven-day classified trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan by denying military transport because of the shutdown lack of security. A small contingent of House members were on the way to the airport when DDT told Pelosi could use commercial flights for the highly secret journey that he called a “public relations event.” Melania Trump left on military transport for a vacation at Mar-a-Lago soon after Pelosi’s business trip was canceled. The trip was for six days, and Pelosi was not planning to go to Egypt. Her stop in Brussels was to reassure top NATO commanders about the U.S. staying with the alliance. In Afghanistan, Pelosi planned to visit with members of the military as DDT and GOP House members did after the shutdown as well as to get national security and intelligence briefings. Pelosi is third in line for the presidency.

Barr confirmation:

While DDT sits and fumes, his nomination for DOJ AG, Bill Barr faced two days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. These are some of his responses:

Barr said that he would like to pursue an investigation into the conservative conspiracy theory that a Russian energy nuclear agency donated to the Clinton Foundation to get Hillary Clinton’s approval for is purchase of a uranium mining company. The situation has been thoroughly investigated and debunked.

Asked if he has concerns about how DDT undermines society’s institutions, Barr defended DDT’s repeated use of the term “witch hunt” about Robert Mueller’s investigation and said, “We have to remember that the president is the one who has denied that there’s any collusion and has been steadfast in that. Presumably he knows facts [we don’t]. . . .”

DDT has the power to pardon a family member, according to Barr.

Barr sees “no reason” to change policy not to indict a sitting president.

About birthright citizenship, Bar said that he couldn’t give an answer about whether the 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship. The amendment states “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” DDT has promised to end birthright citizenship through an executive order.

When asked about what the DOJ should know about senior officials who have business relationships with foreign interests and governments, specifically DDT, Barr talked about how members of Congress didn’t need background checks and concluded that “business [relationships] with a foreign interest is not ordinarily a counter-intelligence concern.”

At the end of detailed and specific questioning about whether he would go against ethics officials’ recusal advice, Barr said he would ignore the advice if he disagreed because of a “different judgment of the facts.” He criticized former AG Jeff Sessions because he “locked himself into” following recusal advice from ethics officials at the Justice Department.

Barr said that Mueller’s report didn’t need to be public, but he would issue his own summary of its findings—through his own filter.

According to Barr, there should be a federal law that “prohibits marijuana everywhere.” He also defended his past push for “more incarceration.”

Asked if the DOJ will jail reporters for “doing their jobs,” Barr said he can “conceive of situations” in which a journalist could be held in contempt if a news organization “knows they are putting out stuff that will hurt the country.”

Barr wants a “barrier system” on the border and connected it to the drugs that actually come through the ports of entry. In declaring that, he used the dehumanizing language of “illegal aliens.” He claimed that so-called “sanctuary cities” encourage criminals to come to the U.S., wants to process asylum seekers without letting them into the country, and supports DDT’s “wall or nothing” shutdown. While AG for George H.W. Bush, Barr’s aggressive “law and order” agenda on both immigration and street crime surprised even Republicans. DDT’s immigration actions are patterned after those of Barr in the early 1990s. Barr has a history of supporting the violation of human rights: discriminatory profiling; secret military trials; unchecked security power; bans on asylum seekers; and separation of parents from children.

DDT’s Muslim ban was about national security, according to Barr; therefore, he supports using non-Christian religious beliefs for discrimination.

Barr was “shocked” by the text messages of former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, private conversation that criticized DDT but did not conspire against him or use their positions against DDT. With no indication that Bruce Ohr orchestrated the Christopher Steele dossier, Barr said he was bothered by Ohr’s “connection,” an echo of DDT’s comments.

Asked about DDT rescinding guidelines protecting transgender students from school discrimination, Barr said he didn’t understand the question. Barr also believes that the law doesn’t ban discrimination against LGBTQ people.

In perhaps his most gobsmacking response, Barr said, “I can’t tell you what the Emoluments Clause means.” Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution:

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of Amy kind whatever from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

It means that DDT can’t legally take money from foreign officials—as he’s been doing because they pay him to stay in his hotel. The governments of DC and Maryland have standing to sue DDT for violating the clause with proof because a manager of DDT’s New York hotel claims that it had a turnaround from the Saudi Arabia’s government business. The shutdown has put court cases on hold. Maybe Barr will learn about the Emoluments Clause by the end of the shutdown.

Bill Barr was the DOJ AG who pardoned all the conspirators of the Iran-Contra Scandal, getting President George H.W. Bush out of legal problems, opposes Mueller’s investigation, and believes that the president is above the law. Barr thinks that the president can use military force without congressional authorization. He opposes Roe v Wade and net neutrality. Senate Republicans will confirm him in a heartbeat.

January 14, 2019

H.R. 1:  Imagine If the Swamp Really Got Drained

Day 24 of the government shutdown: A record-breaking snowfall has shut down Washington while Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) left on a trip to New Orleans to speak at the National Farm Bureau Federation. He told them he liked farmers and that everything would be fine with the shutdown before he launched into a gory description of a woman attack at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Fox network cut away from the speech after DDT began talking about how undocumented immigrants appear at court hearings are “not smart.” Demonstrators outside the convention center chanted “lock him up.” Earlier DDT tweeted that his speech was in Nashville (TN). [Left: The Korean War Memorial, Kevin Ambrose]

In a Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of people opposes the wall (54 percent) and blames DDT and the GOP for the shutdown (53 percent). The new CNN poll is higher—56 percent opposing a wall and 55 percent blaming the GOP. Opposition to the declaration of a national emergency to build a wall is at 66 percent, but only 24 percent believes DDT’s description of a “crisis” at the Mexico border.

Those who claim that DDT is not a racist should note how he made his case for wall with his tweet touting Pat Buchanan’s recent column:

“The more multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual America becomes—the less it looks like Ronald Reagan’s America—the more dependably Democratic it will become. The Democratic Party is hostile to white men, because the smaller the share of the U.S. population that white men become, the sooner that Democrats inherit the national estate.”

Nothing says GOP like the color white.

My favorite shutdown story of the week: Today Kate Brown, elected twice for Oregon governor, was sworn in. Three days ago, she tweeted the story of how her husband, Dan Little, recently cleaned up a bathroom at the Mt. Hood National Forest Sno-Park southeast of Portland. This photo shows what the public does to public spaces if there is no staff to clean up after them. Little cleaned up the bathroom, hauled off the trash, and then sent a bill of $28 for “Trash Removal” to DDT. Like other national parks, Sno-Park is still open with the public leaving trash and human waste everywhere. The story is an example of how people care about their surroundings even if others don’t mind making them into a pigsty.

Instead of working to open the federal government, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scheduled a third week trying to give states the right to discriminate against companies that boycott Israel. McConnell is sticking to his program of not putting forward any bills that DDT doesn’t like.

DDT may be backing off on his suggestion of declaring a “national emergency” to get his wall. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) always echoes DDT’s approach. A few days ago, he said “Build a wall!” Last Sunday, he went to the “last option” statement. The House conservative Freedom Caucus also opposes the emergency excuse because of legal standoffs and the strategy leading to tactics for Medicare for all or other progressive “emergency” ideas. Meanwhile DDT sat in the White House last weekend and waited for Democrats to come to him and give him his wall while legislators in both parties went home for the weekend. The House has already approved four funding bills to reopen parts of the government.

Two more weeks of the shutdown will cost the U.S. economy more than building the DDT’s vanity wall. If the government shutdown lasts another two weeks, the total cost to the U.S. economy would exceed the price of building the proposed border wall. In this estimate, S&P Global Ratings included lost productivity by furloughed workers and dropping sales for government contractors. No paychecks for 800,000 federal workers or IRS tax refunds equals at last $2 billion per week, according to Wells Fargo analysts. The 16-day shutdown in 2013 cut 0.4 percent from the fourth quarter GDP that year.

During DDT’s campaign, people believed his lie that he wants to help the working people. The shutdown is another example of how he has no concern for the plight for the workers; he’s ruining federal workers in the same way that he has spent decades cheating the people who worked for his business by refusing to pay for their work. He claims that he needs to keep his promise to get the wall—skipping the part of the promise about Mexico paying for the wall—but he has broken his promise to coal miners who have lost health protections, safety, wages, and even their jobs, just to mention a few ways that he has cheated his base.

Although Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) accuses the Democrats of inaction, the House has already passed four bills to open the government and fund several of the agencies. In addition, the House added these new rules to its operations: a ban on members serving on corporate boards, a requirement that members take ethics training every year, and a ban on employment discrimination against LGBTQ staffers and jobseekers. In the first few days, the House also created For the People Act, H.R.1, the number given to the bill considered the most important of the session. Provisions of this bill are intended to overcome the travesties of GOP actions in the 21st century–i.e., to “drain the swamp.” DDT’s and the GOP behavior has given an extensive list of ideas for reform. Following are some of the bill’s provisions:

Voting Rights

Access:

  • Removes barriers to the ballot box such as difficult registration systems and limited voting hours.
  • Creates nationwide automatic voter registration.
  • Restores voting fights to people who complete felony sentences.
  • Expands voting by mail.
  • Mandates a minimum of two weeks for early voting with locations accessible by public transportation.
  • Eliminate postage for absentee ballots.
  • Guarantees that ballots cast in the wrong precinct but within the home county will be counted.
  • Requires all provisional ballots to be counted.
  • Prevents states from imposing restrictions on voting by mail.
  • Creates options for same-day and online registration.
  • Designate colleges and universities as registration agencies.
  • Make Election Day a holiday for federal workers.

Integrity:

  • Affirms congressional right to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which granted the Justice Department veto power over jurisdictions with histories of voting discrimination.
  • Confirms the federal government’s power to protect Native American voting.
  • Prohibits voter roll purges by overturning a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that put the onus on voters instead of government to keep registrations up to date.
  • Ends partisan gerrymandering by requiring a nonpartisan redistricting commission in every state.

Security:

  • Eliminates involvement in elections by foreign countries.
  • Pays for modernized voting systems.
  • Supports voting system security including paper ballots.
  • Increases oversight over election vendors.

Campaign Finance

Disclosure:

  • Requires super PACs and other organizations involved in political activity to disclose donors giving more than $10,000.
  • Mandates that large digital platforms maintain a public archive of all political ads and prevent foreigners from directly or indirectly buying ads.
  • Requires government contractors and presidential inaugural committees to disclose their political spending.

Empowerment:

  • Creates a multiple matching system for small donations.
  • Reaffirms congressional authority of regulation of money in politics.
  • Asserts that Citizens United was wrongly decided by the Supreme Court and Congress has authority to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures.

Oversight: 

  • Bans the use of shell companies that funnel foreign money into U.S. campaigns and campaign contributions from corporations with significant foreign ownership.
  • Calls for the IRS to create new rules for non-profit political spending.
  • Defines a “coordinated” expense among political allies.

Enforce existing laws:

  • Tightens rules on super PACs.
  • Restructures the Federal Election Commission to break gridlock and enhance its enforcement mechanisms.
  • Repeals Senate riders that prevent government agencies from requiring commonsense disclosure of political spending.

Ethics and Accountability

Fortification of Ethics Law:

  • Expands conflict of interest law and divestment requirements.
  • Prevents members of Congress from serving on corporate boards
  • Requires presidential candidates to disclose ten years of tax returns.

Greater Ethics Enforcement:

  • Overhauls the Office of Government Ethics.
  • Provides sufficient resources to watchdogs to enforce the law.
  • Creates a code of ethics for the Supreme Court to govern conflicts of interest and recusals.
  • Requires that ethics waivers be publicly disclosed.
  • Governs possible conflicts of interest from previously received political contributions.
  • Gives the director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) final approval over executive branch recusals, exemptions, or waivers from ethics laws or regulations.
  • Allows the OGE to investigate violations of ethics laws and author to provide remedies.
  • Limits the President’s ability to remove the director of OGE only for cause.

Foreign lobbying:

  • Closes registration loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents.
  • Gives the OGE authority to levy civil fines for offenders.

Reading through this wish list of reforms, people will claim that Republicans will never agree—and they are right. The GOP of the 21st century knows that they cannot elect their candidates if everyone votes. That’s the reason that they violate ethics, codes of conduct, conflicts of interest, fair voting practices, transparent donations—in short, cheat to get their own way. Republicans no longer believe in democracy; they just want to get their own way. [Caveat: if the GOP embrace these ideas, I will profusely apologize.]

December 31, 2018

Shutdown, Cracks in Democracy on Last Day of 2018

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 5:05 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Day Ten of Government Shutdown: Not satisfied with taking paychecks from 800,000 federal workers, almost half of them required to keep working, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has signed an executive order to freeze pay for about two million public employees in the coming year. He canceled a scheduled 2.1 percent pay raise that would almost keep wages up with rising inflation. After signing $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, DDT decided that he didn’t want a deficit. Many “furloughed” workers—including janitors, security guards, and cafeteria workers in federal buildings won’t be paid after they were told not to come to work because companies can’t bill the government for services that shut down. Congress could override DDT’s order with a two-thirds veto-proof vote in both chambers.

DDT’s threat to close down the southern border if he doesn’t get his wall soon could cost the U.S. commerce a billion dollars every day, a spike in car prices, and problems with factories. Another casualty would be foods that come to the U.S. from Mexico while the weather keeps agricultural production in the United States. Arizona, Michigan, Texas, and Utah—all DDT states—each sent over one-fourth of their exports to Mexico las year. Workers in both Mexico and U.S. comprise a majority of the almost one-million legal border crossings each day. A six-hour closure between San Diego and Tijuana last Thanksgiving cost the local economy $5.3 billion.

The longest government shutdown in history began in 1995 when House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) led the Republicans to cut Medicare. President Bill Clinton refused. After 21 days, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KA) led his GOP members to pass the appropriations bills without Gingrich’s cuts to Medicare, and the House voted the same way. Todd Purdum writes that Gingrich later admitted that part of the reason he closed the government in November 1995 before the December 16 shutdown was that Clinton had pub in a rear cabin on Air Force One while returning from Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral in Jerusalem and made him exit by the rear stairs. Gingrich knew that Clinton wouldn’t sign a bill that increased Medicare premiums and cut environmental regulations. “It’s petty,” Gingrich said, “but I think it’s human.” Clinton’s stance on both shutdowns helped him win the 1996 election, but Gingrich got his revenge by working with Monica Lewinsky to force Clinton into an impeachment. The question is what consequences will come out of the current White House tantrum leading to the 2018-19 shutdown.

Lest anyone think that DDT is not “working” on the last day of 2018, he is still angrily tweeting. One claim calls out former chief of staff John Kelly in his statement that the “wall” doesn’t have to be concrete. He wrote, “An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media.” Like a king, DDT is waiting at the White House for the Democrats, excoriated in his tweets, to come begging to give him funding for his wall. In one tweet, he blamed Democrats for the death of two Guatemalan children in ICE custody this month, writing that the wall would have stopped it. He also tweeted to Democrats that he was sitting in his office waiting for them to come and give him his wall although a reporter found no Marine posted outside the door of the office.

Republicans take pride in their cruelty toward people in the United States with the statement that “Elections have consequences.” When Democrats and progressive ballot measures succeeded in the midterms, however, the GOP in several states refused to take the consequences of the party’s failures. Instead, they spent the last few weeks of the term during the lame-duck session by destroying the will of the people through democracy.

Despite gerrymandering and voter suppression, Michigan and Wisconsin became the poster states with dozens of bills to overturn policies won by majority vote and restrict elected Democratic officials. Many of the new laws reversed increases in the minimum wage and expansion of voting rights.

Michigan passed over 400 bills in less than two months, many of them signed by outgoing GOP Rick Snyder. He did veto four bills that exceeded legislative powers. The legislature may have blocked the use of growing cannabis for personal use, changing the way to appoint the non-partisan commission, and requiring voters to register at a county clerk’s office rather than the polls which removes the approval for same-day voter registration by a majority of the state’s population. Earlier the legislature had blocked a ballot measure on raising the minimum wage and paying sick time by enacting the proposals and then immediately removing these provisions with a simple majority after the midterm election. The legislative action on sick leave exempts almost 40 percent of Michigan workers. To block future ballot measures, legislators made the process of collecting signatures far more difficult and costly. Other lame-duck laws give a $115 million corporate tax cut and mandates that doctors prescribe abortion pills in person.

Other Michigan laws restrict powers of incoming Democrats—Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, AG Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson—all of whom replaced Republicans. Limitations include the governor’s authority in blocking a pipeline across the Strait of Mackinac, the AG from withdrawing from a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act without legislative permission, and the secretary of state in increasing voter access.

More Michigan laws passed after the election of Democrats:

  • State agencies must prove “clear and convincing” need to impose strong state regulations than federal ones.
  • A $1.3 billion online sales tax revenue was diverted from schools to roads and other priorities.
  • A grading system of A through F is mandated for public schools.
  • Federal toxicity values instead of those established by states must be used for cleaning up hazardous substances.
  •  A measure requiring permits for degrading wetlands made key concessions to developers.
  • Municipalities not already imposing licensing requirements on specific occupations cannot pass ordinance to do so.
  • States agencies may not use drones to surveil facilities subject to licensing or other government requirements.
  • The hunting age for deer, bear, and elk on public lands was reduced to ten years old.

The busy Michigan legislators will probably be crushed by some of Gov. Rick Snyder’s vetoes. A major veto was on the bill that would have permitted legislators to interfere in court cases. In neighboring Wisconsin, losing Gov. Scott Walker signed every lame-duck bill given him, many of them ones that copied those in Michigan. Wisconsin must remain in lawsuits opposed to the ACA, and the new governor cannot dissolve Walker’s misnamed Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) which gives loans and incentives to businesses connected with Walker and other Republicans. The legislature now has oversight instead of the governor. Other laws require Medicaid recipients to have drug-testing requirements that have not worked in other states and limits early voting to two weeks. Permits granted to the hugely expensive project that acquired large subsidies from Wisconsin taxpayers, Foxconn, have been moved from the GOP AG to the GOP legislature.

Walker’s power grabs caused even his staunch GOP supporters to say that his actions will “destroy” his legacy, already one that destroys the formerly progressive state. Despite its promises, Republicans failed to protect affordable insurance on pre-existing conditions as the ruling from a judge in Texas endangers the future of this health care that people overwhelming desire.

In one day, Wisconsin’s GOP senators approved 82 Walker government appointees a month before he left office, including two members to the state’s public university board. One of the positions had been empty for over a year. Thirty of the appointments had no public hearing, and some had failed to file a statement of economic interest. Eight years ago, Walker urged outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle not to “finalize any permanent civil service personnel” during his last two months in office, writing about “common practice for political appointees to use this time to ‘bump down’ into permanent civil service positions.” He added:

“I believe these appointees should be required to go through the same application process as any other civil servants and my Administration will review any new permanent hires during the next two months so they can be considered for termination during the probationary period.”

Walker also recently gave the outgoing attorney general a seat on a court in Waukesha County ― a position that doesn’t require state Senate approval.

Residents in both Michigan and Wisconsin resent handouts to large corporations, especially Walker’s $4.5 billion in state and local subsidies to Foxconn. The state is not scheduled to break even on the deal until 2043. Snyder’s Michigan “mega-deals” with incentives over $50 million” drain education, healthcare, transportation, and parks. The deals claim to create jobs, but the 29 big deals that cost taxpayers $7.1 billion include General Motors, Ford Motor Co., and Chrysler. Incentives average $465,000 per job, and advantages may not appear for years.

Florida’s new GOP governor-elect Ron DeSantis plans to stall any enactment of the state’s successful ballot measure, passed by an almost 65-percent vote, to return voting rights to felons completing their sentences. Legislative language could also restrict the law’s intent. A lawsuit could run into problems because DeSantis will replace three liberal-leaning justices immediately after he is sworn in, leaving the court with a six-to-one conservative majority.

Pennsylvania tried to unseat a legally elected state legislator, Ohio introduced legislation to stop people from amending the state constitution because a popular vote restricted gerrymandering, Missouri tried to block a stop to election fraud by popular vote, Georgia purged voters from registration rolls with no excuse, and North Carolina can’t seat a U.S. representative because he bought absentee ballots that would then be used to pad his vote. The Republicans grow more and more desperate because they know they cannot win elections with illegal election fraud and drawing districts that always favor the GOP.

Happy New Year!

December 28, 2018

DDT: Week 101 – Watch China’s Growing Influence in Middle East

Day Seven of Government Shutdown: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may think that his shutdown isn’t successful because he’s now threatening to close the U.S. southern border and stop aid to several Latin American countries without his wall. Having canceled plans for any holiday vacation to Mar-a-Lago, DDT is sitting in Washington, D.C. with nothing to do except tweet. The U.S. has already announced a collaboration with Mexico, providing $10.6 billion to slow migration from South American countries.

  • The shutdown moves toward more debacles:
  • The possible cancellation of a global weather conference with over 4,000 attendees that wastes research and contracts.
  • Closure of all Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo on January 2.
  • “Furlough” of EPA employees.
  • Lack of payments, farm loans, and disaster assistance for farmers.
  • Suspension of FTC investigations and litigation, including those against Facebook.

Fortunately for Mar-a-Lago, taxpayers are still paying for DDT’s holiday bash, even though he didn’t attend, starting with $54,020 for tents on December 19. Individuals paid DDT’s private business $1,000 per person.

Some startling news has received almost no attention in the Western media amidst the shutdown hubbub. DDT, self-proclaimed great negotiator, planned to scare Pakistan’s military into cooperation by suspending billions of dollars of security aid to Pakistan. Instead, China is buying Pakistan-built military jets, weaponry, and other hardware, a move that can deepen the two countries’ cooperation in space that China wants to militarize. It can also encourage other countries to buy military equipment from Pakistan instead of the U.S. Only Pakistan has access to China’s satellite navigation system allowing better guidance for missiles, ships, and aircraft. The countries also plan to link a port in coastal Gwadar across 2,000 miles to western China, allowing Chinese goods to have a much shorter and less expensive shipping route and avoid territorial waters of U.S. allies in Asia. China may also militarize Gwadar and other seaports being built in places such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Malaysia, giving China great geopolitical influence in both commerce and military action.

The first Chinese ship, the cargo ship Zhen Xing Sung, reached Gwadar’s port this week loaded with seafood. Its owner, the China Overseas Shipping Co (Cosco), has a 40-year lease of the port and will export to Central Asia and the Middle East.

DDT became so angry with former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ resignation letter—once the media explained to him what it meant—that he had his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney immediately fire Mattis instead of allowing for a transition period until late February. Mattis’ deputy, Patrick Shanahan, is the temporary replacement until the Senate has time to confirm him. Shanahan worked for the U.S.’s most profitable defense contractors Boeing for thirty years, quitting as senior vice president of supply chain and operations to join the Pentagon. Former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) expressed concern when Shanahan was selected as Deputy Secretary of Defense and said, “I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the henhouse.” Shanahan promised to recuse himself from any financial interests related to Boeing.

One reason for Shanahan’s selection as Defense Secretary may be his enthusiasm about DDT’s Space Patrol control outer space, an idea that has been soundly ridiculed. DDT may find Shanahan useful because he has neither military nor foreign policy experience. Shanahan finds the position useful because Boeing has been successful in winning competitive contracts since he joined the Pentagon. The Air Force wants F-35 stealth fighters from Lockheed, but the Pentagon is requesting F-15X fighters from Boeing, thanks to Shanahan’s involvement in funding.

DDT is facing not only investigations but also liens against his properties. A third lien, this one from AES Electrical, brings the total to over $5 million against his Washington hotel after the company assigned 45 workers to 12-hour shifts for almost 50 consecutive days to get it open when he wanted. The hotel opened on time, and DDT stopped paying AES. Plumbing firm Joseph J. Magnolia Inc. and Northern Virginia company A&D Construction also filed $2.98 million and $79,700. DDT claims that he’s worth $10 billion, but he has a long-time reputation of stiffing his workers at all levels.

Elected politicians are causing a “collapse in pay for the bottom 90 percent” of the labor market since 1979 by giving power to employers through weakening unions, damaging minimum wage, and prioritizing low inflation over full employment. The bottom 90 percent of wage earners lost $1.53 trillion in income–$10,800 for every U.S. household—in 2015 alone. As a result of these policies, productivity has rapidly slowed since the 1970s, growing half as fast between 1973 and 2017 as it did from 1948 to 1973.

As DDT rails against Jerome Powell, the man he picked as chair of the Federal Reserve, the media is reminding people that he fired the former chair, Janet Yellen, because she is “too short.” Janet L. Yellen was considered the most qualified Federal Reserve chair perhaps ever, but DDT he broke a long-standing bipartisan tradition of retaining the Fed chair if they wanted to stay and were good at the job. Yellen fit both these criteria.

DDT is helping drug companies make more money from opioids by recommending that people with prescription for opioids also get prescriptions for an antidote. The health care costs will run over $1 billion. The recommendation came from DDT-appointed Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir. A two-dose kit of Naloxone nasal spray costs about $125. An automatic injector runs $4,000 per kit.

EPA has approved the Monsanto’s pesticide dicamba, an airborne chemical that can kill crops for miles away. Corn and other grass crops can tolerate the weed killer, but it kills soybeans, tomatoes, and other broadleaf plants. In 2017 and 2018, dicamba damaged almost 5 million acres of soybeans in 24 states, primarily in Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Illinois, except for Monsanto’s genetically engineered soybeans. Dicamba drift has killed millions of dollars in pecan and peach trees plus destroying bees because they cannot survive on plants damaged from dicamba.

A new proposed EPA rule purports that a little pollution is good for people in order to erase regulations on toxic chemicals. Today, the EPA proposed a reversal of the clean-up of toxic mercury pollution from coal-fired plants. Mercury causes brain damage, learning disabilities, and other birth defects in children, and the pollutants enter the food chain.

After 17 people were shot and killed in a Parkland (FL) school last spring, DDT put Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in charge of an all-white committee to solve the gun problem. Her first solution was to use federal funds to buy guns for schools, but she moved back from that move because of the backlash. In her next step, she admitted to Congress that her commission on gun violence would not study the role of guns in school shootings. Ten months after the tragedy, DeVos will use the “school safety commission” to discriminate against blacks and other minority students, permitting schools to use race in punishing them because of her claim that are the cause for an increase in school violence. The racial difference is already dire: black girls are suspended six times more than white girls, and black boys are suspended three times more than white boys. The commission was created because of killing by a white teenager, and most mass shootings at schools are by white males.

Almost 40,000 people died in shootings across the United States in 2017 during DDT’s first year after his inauguration, the highest number in 20 years. The U.S. now has 12 deaths per 100,000 people from guns compared to 0.2 per 100,000 people in Japan, 0.3 in the UK and 0.9 in Germany.

Last week, a second Guatemalan child died on Christmas Eve in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and DHS Secretary clings to her story that parents are at fault. Yet on December 23 to 25, ICE officials dumped 600 hundred asylum seekers in the cold outside a Greyhound bus terminal in El Paso where they had no housing or food and local shelters were not warned. Many of them were ill. The only other time that this has occurred was the week before the 2018 midterm elections.

Gallup poll’s most admired man for 2018 is Barack Obama, and the winning women is Michelle Obama. Barack tops the list for the 11th year in a row, one place short of tying Dwight Eisenhower for the record. Michelle has broken Hillary Clinton’s 17 year run. DDT came in second to Barack, and Melania Trump is fourth after Oprah Winfrey and Clinton.

Katherine Walker, the TV producer who oversaw the first five seasons of The Apprentice, said that workers “struggled to make Trump seem coherent.” She added that he frequently commented on women’s bodies in a derogatory fashion. Walker believes—like many of us—that DDT would not have been elected president if not for that show. A piece in the New Yorker describes how Mark Burnett, former executive producer of the show, gave DDT the appearance of a tycoon. Voters bought the image, not the real person.

December 22, 2018

DDT: Week 100 – Not Very ‘Positive’

Day One of GOP/Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) government shutdown: Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) who fought to close down the government said that workers without paychecks is “actually part of what you do when you sign up for any public service position.” Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) said, “Who’s living that they’re not going to make it to the next paycheck?” He’s talking about 78 percent of fulltime workers.

The House Judiciary Committee, under the leadership of Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), demanded that the FBI vet over 3,400 pages of transcripts of investigation into the DOJ, including former FBI director James Comey, within two days, but the FBI said that the shutdown kept it from meeting that deadline. Materials cannot be released without an evaluation for classified, sensitive, or personally revealing information. Goodlatte, retiring this year, is single-handedly holding up a bill, unanimously passed in the Senate, to hopefully lower the incredibly high rate of violence against Native American women. He complained that states with high percentages of this population would receive grants for this purpose.

Failing to get an agreement on the CR today, the Senate adjourned and took their paychecks home for Christmas, leaving 800,000 government workers, over half of them still working, without pay.

Yesterday, DDT told reporters:

“We have had a very busy two or three days. It’s been very positive.”

Some of these “positive” events:

DDT’s pullout from Syria worsened—if possible—after Brett McGurk, U.S. envoy to the global coalition fighting ISIS, Brett McGurk, quit because he disagrees with DDT’s decision and statement about ISIS being defeated.

DDT’s shutdown of the government after conservative media goading and the chaos that he’s causing by pulling troops out of the Middle East with no plan made even stalwart Republican legislators at least raise eyebrows, especially after his Defense Secretary resigned in protest.

A senior Justice Department ethics official concluded that acting DOJ AG Matt Whitaker should recuse himself from overseeing Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian scandal, but Whitaker refuses to ask for an official ethics decision. The DOJ has notified Congress of Whitaker’s refusal.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified that she has no idea how many immigrants have died in custody under her watch. In a hearing about the death of a 7-year-old girl while in DHS custody, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said, “There have been at least 12 deaths under your watch,” Jayapal said. Nielsen also lied again that “we do not have a policy of separating families at the border,” and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) told Nielsen that his committee plans to do its job of “meaningful oversight,” beginning in January. Note that Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) tried to save Nielsen by comparing the situation to Robert Mueller separating Paul Manafort from “his two beautiful children”—who happen to be 30 years old.

Nielsen said later that asylum seekers will be kept in Mexico instead of allowed to enter the U.S. This decision may not hold up in court after two judgments the past week. The D.C. appeals court struck down DDT and DOJ policies that refused asylum to victims of domestic and gang violence, and Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices to block DDT’s attempts to turn asylum seekers from the border. The ruling supported the decision of U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, who DDT called an “Obama judge,” that DDT’s new rules were illegal.

Latest nominee for DOJ AG William Barr sent an unsolicited 20-page memo to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and Assistant AG Steven Engel last summer giving arguments against Robert Mueller’s right to investigate DDT for potential obstruction of justice and refuting the government’s ability to even question DDT. Barr also sent the memo to DDT before he was appointed.

In a tweet announcing the signing of the farm bill, DDT provided the clip of himself singing the Green Acres theme song at the 2005 Emmys, a performance not to be missed. When the final bill failed to punish some food stamps recipients who did not have jobs, DDT planned an executive order to eliminate legal waivers that would take food from almost 800,000 people, a decision that may be determined illegal.

Instead of going free for giving up information after lying to the FBI, former national security adviser Michael Flynn has another 90 days to tell more secrets after an irritated judge accused him of selling out his country for pushing Turkish interests in the U.S. during DDT’s campaign and blaming the FBI for his lies because they didn’t tell him it was a crime. Flynn’s business partner Bijan Kian has been charged as an illegal agent of Turkey and conspiracy in his efforts to get a Turkish cleric extradited from the U.S., an 80-year-old man who would certainly killed if he were sent to Turkey after living in the U.S. for almost 20 years. DDT said that he would “take a look” at the man’s extradition, obviously not concerned about killings after his indifference to the torture and dismemberment of longtime U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi royalty.

A conservative Texas judge ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, bad news for DDT and Republicans because 53 percent of people have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act. People voted Democrats into the House to keep their health care. Approval in a November KFF Health Tracking Poll:

  • 82 percent – Young adults stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26
  • 82 percent – Health insurance exchanges for small businesses and people to shop for insurance and compare prices and benefits
  • 81 percent – Financial insurance premium help to low- and moderate-income Americans who don’t get insurance through their jobs
  • 81 percent – Gradually closure of the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” so people will no longer be required to pay the full cost of their medications
  • 79 percent – No out-of-pocket costs for many preventive services
  • 77 percent – State expansion of existing Medicaid programs to cover more low-income, uninsured adults (now in three-fourths of the states)
  • 65 percent – No denial of coverage because of a person’s medical history

Republicans were in the majority in all of the above.

DDT’s sort-of lawyer Rudy Giuliani contradicted his boss by saying DDT knew that fixer Michael Cohen was negotiating with Russia for a Trump Tower in Moscow long after DDT said it had stopped ten months before his election, perhaps after June 2016, the date that Cohen gave. A letter of intent from DDT to move forward with his negotiations four months into his campaign has also emerged. Giuliani claimed that DDT knew nothing about it, but  DDT signed a letter of intent four months into his campaign for the project.

Documentation proves that DDT also broke his pledge to have no new business deals while he is in the Oval Office by acting as partner in the development of a proposed beachside resort in the Dominican Republic. Taxpayers provide the high costs of business trips for travel and security by DDT’s children in a business that opens up opportunities for more money laundering on the part of the Trump Organization.

DDT’s charitable foundation, called “a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests” by the New York AG, has been closed with any assets distributed under court supervision. The AG office is now pursuing a lawsuit to prevent DDT and his three oldest children from membership on boards of any other New York charities and force the payment of $2.8 million in restitution and penalties.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who made her first appearance since November to declare that the FBI “ambushed” Flynn, also attacked Comey on her official government Twitter account, an ethics issue. After his second six-hour House hearing, Comey, a Republican until 2016, exhorted Republicans:

“At some point someone has to stand up and face the fear of Fox News, fear of their base, fear of mean tweets, stand up for the values of this country and not slink away into retirement but stand up and speak the truth.”

Instead of the spending spree called the “Santa rally,” the Dow Jones’ seven-percent fall had its worst week since 2008—the year of George W. Bush’s recession—and dropped to the same number as 15 months ago. The Standard & Poor, down 11.4 percent thus far this month, is headed toward its worst December since 1931. DDT is blaming the Federal Reserve, but long time Republicans are blaming DDT. Crude oil plunged 11 percent during the past week for its worst weekly performance in three months.

DDT tweeted that he was negotiating with Democratic leaders about the shutdown for a bipartisan deal and announced a “large group” for a White House lunch but invited only GOP lawmakers and officials, primarily immigration hardliners. Conservatives keep repeating the wall as DDT’s promise but avoid the other promise that Mexico would fund the project.

This NBC/Wall Street Journal poll was taken before DDT’s “positive” busyness this past week:

  • 71 percent: DDT regularly makes “misleading” statements.
  • 62 percent: DDT has not been honest and truthful about Russia.
  • 60 percent: Lawmakers should make compromises to reach consensus on legislation.
  • 54 percent: Disapprove of the job that DDT is doing; negative feelings about DDT.
  • 50 percent: Mueller’s investigation has provided more doubts about DDT’s presidency.
  • 33 percent: The country is headed in the right direction.

Who should take the lead in country’s policies? Trump – 19 percent; GOP – 21 percent; Democrats – 48 percent.

The funniest news of the week: Funds raised by an online campaign We the People Will Fund the Wall—up to $14 million for 241,601 donors for 2/3 of a mile—will end up in the general fund for “general use” or “budget needs,” according to law. These funds are controlled by congressional appropriations. With this law, funds may be returned because GoFundMe prohibits “not using funds for their stated purpose.” Brian Kolfage, creator of the funding project has a background of sites with conspiracy theories. Another GoFundMe site has been introduced called “Ladders to Get over Trump’s Wall.”

If necessary, the money will be donated to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a Texas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.

February 17, 2018

DDT: Weeks 55/56 – From ‘Treason’ to ‘Trumpgust’

 One year ago yesterday, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gave his only press conference since inauguration. George W. Bush gave five during his first year, and Barack Obama gave eleven. Almost two years ago, DDT tweeted:

“Crooked Hillary Clinton has not given a press conference in more than seven months. Her record is so bad she is unable to answer tough questions!”

Instead of being accountable for directly lying to the people, he leaves the job to staff like Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. His rally speeches give him the chance to spread falsehoods with no questions from the media. Six days after his mildly “presidential” State of the Union address, DDT released his vitriolic anger in a speech to Ohio workers. At the rally, supposedly about the tax bill and the economy, he launched into a furious attack of Democrats as “treasonous” and “un-American” because they did not clap for him at his address the week before. [Treason, as defined in the Constitution, “shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”] Masha Gessen compared DDT’s fixation on applause to that in the Soviet Union.

“Whether I chose to applaud or not applaud is a First Amendment right that our forefathers wrote down and that generations before me have sacrificed many a life for,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “And I would just say the president’s out of line with that statement.” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in battle, tweeted that she didn’t swear an oath “to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.” Four of DDT’s draft deferments during the Vietnam War were for college and the fifth for bone spurs in his heels.

As he bragged about the stock market during the speech, the television screen showed the Dow Jones plummeting 1,177 for the day on top of the 666-point loss the Friday before. [Later DDT, who took credit for the stock market growth, said that it is now rigged against him.]

During his speech, DDT became almost incoherent with a reference to the GOP-drafted memo claiming FBI bias:

“Oh, but did we catch them in the act or what? You know what I’m — oh did we catch them in the act. They are very embarrassed. They never thought they were going to get caught. We caught ‘em! We caught ‘em. It’s so much fun. We’re like the great sleuth.”

DDT told the workers that they would get “thousands and thousands of dollars, and you’re getting it every year,” but a few fortunate ones are getting $1,000 bonuses, $.30 a day for the next ten years. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called that “crumbs,” compared to the tens and hundreds of thousands—and even millions—of dollars given to the wealthy and large corporations, but Sheffer CEO Jeff Norris said that “we consider [the bonus] fine dining.”

Unable to let go of his obsession about his former rival Hillary Clinton, DDT ranted about her destroying discarded smartphones with hammers while she was secretary of state five years ago. Guidelines mandate destruction of discarded technology for security reasons.

Earlier that day, DDT enthusiastically—and erroneously—tweeted that UK people were marching because “their [universal healthcare] system is going broke and not working.” The marches were in support of the National Health Service and calling for more funding.

Two days after his speech, DDT said in the midst of a bipartisan congressional near-agreement for a two-year spending bill, “I’d love to see a shutdown.” He got his wish because Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY decided to hold the Senate floor, but it was over in five hours. The bill that ended the shutdown is another “continuing resolution” until March 23, the deadline for Congress determining the specifics of the two-year spending plan.

The little boy in DDT has also demanded a military parade in Washington with costs for heavy tanks damaging streets and movement of equipment to that location while taking the military away from their responsibilities.  The parade will cost taxpayers between $10 million and $30 million. George H.W. Bush’s military parade is a precursor of DDT’s disaster. VP Mike Pence criticized North Korea’s military parade but praised one in the United States.

DDT’s latest infrastructure week was again a disaster, marred by talk about sexual misconduct, missing security clearances, and a horrific school shooting. He waited almost 400 days to announce that he expects states to assume over 80 percent of the costs, a reversal from the past when the federal government provided 80 percent of funding. The $200 billion budgeted for infrastructure for an effort that will cost trillions is offset by his removal of $281 billion from transportation—a loss of $81 billion.

Congress contributed to the disasters of the past week. With a vote of 225-192, the House removed business incentives for improving access for disabled people in the Disabilities “Reform” Act. Twelve Democrats supported the discrimination with 19 Republicans in opposition.

Despite a bipartisan compromise between party leaders, both congressional chambers failed to move forward with an immigration bill. The conservatives want nothing to do with helping DACA recipients, and DDT has refused to sign anything that doesn’t give him $25 for his wall.  Yesterday legislators went home for a week’s vacation, and the State Department closed one-third of its refugee settlement offices across 24 states.

After a year, the disposition of some inaugural funds shows one-fourth of the $107 million went to Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Melania Trump’s friend, who got almost $26 million entertainment, staffing, and a $1.62 for her consultation and executive production. Another $25 million went to event company Hargrove Inc. of Maryland.

(Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

VP Mike Pence embarrassed the United States at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The man who claims to be a Christian sat next to Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister, but refused to even acknowledge her. Pence, who spent taxpayer money to fly across the continent twice in one day to walk out of a sports event after athletes protested, refused to stand when the North Korea and South Korea athletes entered the stadium under their flag. Before the opening ceremonies, Pence kept claiming that the North was trying to “hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games” with its “propaganda,” and he stayed at a VIP reception for less than five minutes. DDT accused Democrats of being “treasonous” because they sat at his address like “death.” Pence looked like “death” at the Olympics and missed the chance to represent sportsmanship and unity that DDT says he wants at U.S. sports events.

DDT got a lot of political play for a border wall by claiming last year that a Border Patrol agent was killed by undocumented immigrants, but the FBI determined that Rogelio Martinez died of an accident after the agencies mobilized 37 field offices in an investigation.

FEMA chalked up another loss; the government agency gave Tribute Contracting LLC a $156 million contract to deliver 30 million meals to people in Puerto Rico. The Atlanta company provided 50,000 meals. It has at least five canceled government contracts, and the company, with only one employee, has no experience coordinating large-scale disaster relief. At least 20 percent of Puerto Rican residents still lack power five months after Hurricane Marie.

The Koch-backed organization National Federation of Independent Business is promoting flu across the nation. They are fighting a Maryland law, passed over the governor’s veto, and an ordinance up for vote in Austin (TX) allowing workers to earn paid sick leave. Flu infection rate decrease with sick days, and two-thirds of restaurants and cooks have served or cooked foot while ill. The organization complain about job-killing costs while they push a policy that is people-killing.

ICE has rescued “Amuricans” from another “bad hombre.” Syed Ahmed Jamal, 55, was taken away from his front yard in Lawrence (KS) without permission to say goodbye to his wife and three children.  Over 30 years ago, he came from Bangladesh on a student visa and earned graduate degrees in molecular biosciences and pharmaceutical engineering. He changed to an H-1B visa for highly skilled workers and then back to a student visa when he enrolled in a doctoral program. He was on a temporary work permit, teaching chemistry as an adjunct professor at Park University in Kansas City and conducting research at local hospitals, when he was arrested for deportation. “Amuricans” may think they are a bit safer today because this man is captured.

A 1946 law and its regulations allow ICE agents to search any vehicle within 100 air miles of a land or sea boundary. That covers almost two-thirds of the U.S. population—over 200 million people. Agents can have permanent and temporary checkpoints within that area.

Trumpgust” reveals that DDT’s “combover” is far more extensive than most people know.

The number of states where conservatives outnumber liberals declined in 2017 to the lowest in Gallup’s trend since 2008.

January 21, 2018

Evangelical Racism in America

[Note on government shutdown: a GOP talking point against the shutdown is that Democrats are holding the military hostage by refusing to pay them from the shutdown. VP Mike Pence lied to an audience of U.S. soldiers that the Democrats were at fault: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) immediately attempted to introduce a bill to pay all military-connected employees after the shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) shut her down.]

American evangelicals has a long history of racism:

  • New England Puritans waged war against indigenous people in the 1600s resulting in best-selling fiction about innocent white women forced to live in the forests with men who scalped their children.
  • Ulster Scots in the middle and southern British American colonies in the 1700s viewed the Creeks, Cherokees, and Shawnees the same as the savage Irish infidels they escaped.
  • American Founders considered themselves superior to non-white people in the American “nation,” the term from Latio natio, birth. Thomas Jefferson called black people a hostile nation.
  • Future president Andrew Jackson told volunteers in the War of 1812 that they were free to wipe out indigenous communities and runaway slaves south of the Tennessee River like Israelites waged holy war for “their” land west of the Jordan.
  • Whites believed they were endangered and had the right to vengeance in the 19th and 20th centuries: the KKK lynched black men who they accused of raping women in the 1890s, and the KKK of the 1920s attacked Jews and Catholics because of “racial purity.”
  • White nationalism was manifested in the mid-20th century with communism as the enemy.
  • Southern and western evangelical mega-churches became a political force during the 1970s and 1980s.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has ridden the wave of white supremacy since he was sued in 1973 for trying to keep black people out of his rentals. In 1989, he called for killing five men of color who were accused of raping a white woman in Central Park and continue to declare their guilt ten years after DNA proved them innocent in 2006. His white supremacist following increased in 2011 when he started the “birther” movement, claiming that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen. DDT has never personally retracted his accusation. Andrew Jackson was his model when he came to the White House, and his racist rants have increased. The religious right has now adopted DDT and his racist beliefs.

Evangelicals have defended both DDT’s sexual assaults on women and his “s**thold” statement. Robert Jeffress, one of DDT’s Evangelical Advisory Council, said:

“What a lot of people miss is, America is not a church where everyone should be welcomed regardless of race and background. I’m glad Trump understands the difference between a church and country. I support his views 100 percent.”

Samuel Rodriguez described DDT’s remarks “a distraction,” and Mark Burns justified DDT’s comments with 1 Timothy 5:8:

“A man that does not take care of his own home, his own home, their own people, is worse than an infidel. We have somehow forgotten that in America.”

In his inability to understand that the bible doesn’t make law for the U.S., Jeffress also said that DDT has the religious authority to kill the leader of North Korea:

“The Bible gives President Trump the moral authority to use whatever force necessary including assassination, or even war to take out an evildoer like Kim Jong-un.”

Steve Strang, founder of the Christian magazine Charisma, compared DDT to the Messiah while touting his new book, God and Donald Trump.

“Here he was, the promised Messiah, and these are the people who practice Jewish law better than anyone else and they just had a mindset against him and couldn’t see the truth. A lot of people get a mindset, they think a certain way politically … and they just think that way and they don’t think for themselves.”

According to Strang, people who don’t support DDT are like the “Pharisees in Jesus’s day” who conspired to sabotage Jesus. Dissenters will not be tolerated. Strang compared opposition to DDT with other “Christians throughout history who have twisted facts.”

Strang did get one strong dissent to him in an article reporting these beliefs. Ernst Loehl Sr. (Expeditor at Freelance Entrepreneur) shouted this in an email:

“SO JESUS WAS AN ADULTERER, LIAR, PERVERT AND SEXUAL PREDATOR by his own words ????? A THIEF, CHEAT, DISCRIMINATOR, AND A RACIST????? HAD FIVE CHILDREN BY THREE DIFFERENT WOMEN AND DIVORCED TWICE??? THAT’S THE COMPARISON YOUR ANALOGY PURPORTS TO SUPPORT !!!  … YOUR CONTENSION IS NOT ONLY DISGUSTING AND UNTRUE,, ITS EVIL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Televangelist Jim Bakker, convicted criminal for accounting fraud and accused of rape, exonerated DDT’s alleged sexual relationship with porn queen Stormy Daniels by saying that DDT was sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with her and the $130,000 that DDT secretly gave Daniels was “to help rescue her from the destructive adult film industry. What a man of God!”

The religious right may start trying to ban people of color in the judicial system just as they want to prevent LGBTQ judges. Mat Staver, head of the far-right legal group Liberty Counsel, has said gay judges cannot make fair rulings in LGBTQ rights and his “religious freedom.” He protested the nomination of Andrew McDonald as chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court who could be the first openly gay chief justice of any state court. McDonald has been on the court since 2013. Staver accused McDonald of being a sexual deviant by comparing him to Alex Kozinski, the 9th Circuit Court judge accused of sexual misconduct by six women. According to Staver, gay judges “identifies as someone based upon his sexual practices” but heterosexual judges don’t. It would be appropriate, however, to nominate a judge whose identity is wrapped up in religious beliefs such as Thomas Nielsen who defended Prop 8 in California that banned marriage equality.

One pastor lambasted DDT for his racist comments about Haiti and African countries when Vice President Mike Pence listened to him from the front row. Pence and his wife, Karen, attended the Metropolitan Baptist Church, an historic black church in Largo (MD) when Maurice Watson told the congregation that God led him to speak against DDT’s “dehumanizing” and “ugly” comments. Watson said that many of his congregants had come from those countries and added:

“Whoever made such a statement, whoever used such a visceral, disrespectful, dehumanizing adjective to characterize the nations of Africa, whoever said it, is wrong. And they ought to be held accountable.”

The congregation clapped, and Pence’s face turned red. The next day Pence failed to appear at a public Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony although his name was listed on the program. He had taken photos of himself laying a wreath at the King memorial in private the day before and tweeted something about “all men … created equal.” Comedian Samantha Bee of Full Frontal took him to task, referring to Pence flying across the country to walk out of a NFL game after players knelt in protest during the National Anthem:

“Three months ago, you walked out of an event in disgust because of a non-violent protest by black athletes.”

The pastor of Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach (FL) left the GOP because of its failure to denounce white supremacists and child molester Roy Moore. Former DDT supporter Reverend O’Neal Dozier said he can no longer tell black voters to support Republicans. He had hoped, like the “white people from the ’60s and ’70s,” DDT would “reverse his views concerning black people” but “saw after he was elected that he has not changed,” Dozier said. “He is always attacking people of color.” Calling DDT “the great divider in chief,” Dozier said, “He hates everybody except the white supremacists.” (Dozier still hates “homosexuality.”) Dozier’s letter to the South Florida Times.  

Evangelicals are becoming polarized like the rest of the country. Roger E. Olson, theology professor at Baylor University in Texas, asked his colleagues to stop enabling DDT’s language and actions.

“My fellow evangelicals who continue to support and even defend Trump in spite of everything he has said about the weak and vulnerable people of the world: It is time to admit you have been wrong and stop defending the indefensible.”

Olson pointed out that the poverty in the countries that DDT denigrated often comes from “European and American colonialism and exploitation.”

To further polarize the nation, DDT created an agency promoting health workers to deny services to people for any reason that they consider “moral” or “religious.” It’s an authoritarian method permitting the dehumanization of all groups of people except white Christian men—the same process used in other countries to eliminate all “undesirables.” DDT started the process immediately after his inauguration by almost entirely selecting far-right Christian white men for the judiciary and the executive departments and continued it with a “fake” report that demonizes immigrants. The new agency advancing discrimination furthers his purpose to “Make America White Again.”

We cannot forget the poem by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller protesting the Nazi movement and the inattention by other Germans that begins “They came for the …” and ends “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” We are in a time when the government has started coming for one segment before moving on to another. If we are not careful, there will be no one left “to speak for me”–or you.

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