Nel's New Day

July 1, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Three – Misogyny, Health Bill, Russia + Falling Numbers

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:08 PM
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Much of the media this past week about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) focused on his misogyny and his attempts to pass a health bill that he himself called “mean.” But he managed to continue offending world leaders. During a visit from South Korean President Moon Jae-In,  DDT lambasted the newly-elected official for the U.S. trade deficit. One year ago, South Koreans had 88 percent confidence in President Obama to do the right thing. This year, that number as dropped to 17 percent confidence in DDT.  In whining about the current U.S./Korea Free Trade Agreement, DDT blamed President Obama, but George W. Bush signed the document in 2007. DDT also failed to realize that he was off on his reference to “you know who wanted it,” most congressional Republicans wanted it.

DDT also implied that a trade deficit with a country has to be a bad deal that he will fix. He said, “I actually said to my people, find a country where we actually do well. So far, we haven’t found that country. It’s just losses with everybody and we’re going to turn that around.” His “people” didn’t look very hard; the U.S. has a trade surplus with over 100 nations. DDT also asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel about negotiating a trade deal eleven times. It wasn’t until her eleventh repetition that the U.S. negotiates with the European Union, not Germany, that he stopped asking.

DDT’s actions are unifying much of the world by destroying the country’s international standing. A recent Pew Research Center survey in 37 nations shows that the median in confidence has dropped to 22 percent, less than one-third of the 64 percent median of President Obama’s ability to direct the U.S. role in the world. Only two countries—Russia and Israel—express more confidence in DDT than the former president. Part of the lack of confidence comes from his policies. Over three-fourths oppose his wall along the U.S./Mexico border, and 71 percent are against his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Over half disagree with his travel ban, his withdrawal from free trade agreements, and his negative approach to the Iran nuclear deal.

One issue decreasing credibility in DDT came from last Monday’s White House announcement from sometimes Press Secretary Sean Spicer:

“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children. The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack. As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”

With a “normal” president, the public might assume that they are being warned because intelligence identified a chemical-weapons attack. BuzzFeed, however, reported that the Pentagon didn’t know anything about Spicer’s statement. NBC reported that defense, military, and intelligence officials were “caught off guard by the White House statement.” Another “normal” action would be a press briefing. There was none. DDT’s ensuing tweets only promoted Fox network and then attacked Morning Joe hosts. Defense Secretary James Mattis tried to cover two days after Spicer’s statement by saying “he believes Syria has backed down.”

DDT’s foreign policy according to Kevin Drum:

“Trump has been suckered by China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. He has pissed off Mexico, Canada, Germany, France, Britain, Australia, and most of our other traditional allies. Nobody knows what his policy toward Israel is. Or his policy in Afghanistan. Or his policy in Syria. Or his trade policy toward anyone. Or whether he ever bothers talking with his Secretary of State.”

And that was before he DDT talked to South Korea.

Polls also show that DDT’s approval rating also continues to drop.  CBS News shows him at 36 percent, DDT’s lowest approval for that source since he was inaugurated; 57 percent disapprove. The loss comes from Republicans: the 72 percent GOP approval is eleven points down since April. Other presidents have seen approval ratings from their own parties this low but not five months into their first terms.

Russia continues to dominate the news:

At least 10 White House officials and former Trump associates have retained private counsel, including VP Mike Pence, DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former campaign advisers Michael Caputo, Boris Epshteyn, and Roger Stone.

Marc Kasowitz, one of DDT’s personal lawyers, may have a conflict of interest with his client because of his firm’s involvement in a real estate sale for Kushner. The property’s loan with Deutsche Bank, part of a Russian money laundering scandal, might be part of Robert Mueller’s investigation in things related to Russia and DDT. Kasowitz is already involved with Russia because of his client OJSC Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank.

Former GOP operative Peter W. Smith asked hackers to get him Hillary Clinton campaign emails before the election and said he had talked about the situation with Michael Flynn, than DDT’s adviser. The conservative Wall Street Journal said that Smith viewed Flynn and his consulting company as “allies in their quest.” Smith died in mid-May, and Flynn isn’t talking—yet. But U.S. intelligence agents have corroborated some of this information. Smith also was connected with Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George, in the Paula Jones case that led to the impeachment of President Clinton.

DDT’s former campaign consultant Paul Manafort has filed as a foreign agent three years after he was paid $17.1 million by the political party for Ukraine’s leader, who fled to Russia in 2014. Manafort is being investigated by the government for the alleged misuse of Ukrainian government funds. He has a history of working for strong-arm leaders throughout the world.  http://www.newsweek.com/russia-investigation-paul-manafort-michael-flynn-foreign-agents-629609

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Mike Rogers expressed frustration during a closed-session briefing on Capital Hill about DDT’s failure to be convinced that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Rogers also said that DDT lacks focus about Russia’s cyber attempts.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions may be the next person on the hot seat about Russia. Despite his recusal from all things Russian, he had an eight-minute interview about the subject on Fox and Friends. Some of his statements may be taken as an attempt to undermine special investigator Robert Mueller. In March, Sessions’ chief of staff, Jody Hunt, said that the recusal included any media inquiries about Russia.  The comments were curious because a March 2 memo from Sessions’ chief of staff. Fortunately, Sessions has a personal lawyer.

Conservative pundits must have decided that DDT was actually in collusion with the Russians because they now claim that collusion is not a crime. Greg Jarrett made the most blunt statement: “You can collude all you want with a foreign government in an election.” About collusion, Fox’s Bret Hume asked his audience, “Can anyone identify the crime?” Ten expert lawyers cited over a dozen federal statutes that can be used to charge collaborators with Russian intelligence to influence a U.S. election. Dan Friedman wrote:

“Laws against abetting or conspiring to commit computer fraud or identity theft and against soliciting campaign aid from foreign nationals offer two potential areas under which prosecutors could seek indictments, the lawyers say. Prosecutors also could use broader federal statutes related to honest services fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to bring charges against anyone who colluded, according to the attorneys.”

DDT may be personally involved in a crime because he called on Russia “to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” His supporters claim that this was a joke, but with DDT, one never knows. His statement could be construed as aiding and abetting computer fraud.

Some GOP legislators have joined DDT in using President Obama as a scapegoat for the entire Russian hacking problem. During a Senate hearing, Republicans said that the former president knew about the hacking and should have stopped it. Tom Cotton (AK) said, “[President Obama] stood idly by in the 2016 election.” The “idly by” came from Republicans. Two months before the election, the Obama White House briefed top congressional members about Russian activities and asked for bipartisan support so that he didn’t appear to be using the intelligence for electoral ends. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused. Republicans argued against making the information public with the position that releasing the information would help Russia in eliminating confidence in the system. McConnell also said that he didn’t’ believe the intelligence supporting the Russian involvement.

Meanwhile Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, central to many of the Russian meetings, will be hosted at his going-away party on July 11 on his way back to Russia after a decade in the U.S.

April 28, 2017

DDT: Week Fourteen, More Failures

The quarterly GDP report just came out, and the average 0.7 percent increase is bad news for news for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) who bragged that his leadership would move the gross domestic product skyhigh. Instead the GDP for his first quarter is the worst in three years. Why do people vote for Republicans? In a statement of how DDT is struggling, he said, “I thought it would be easier.” This is DDT’s classic statement as he reflects on his first 100 days. “I loved my previous life. I had so many things going.” Many other people wish he were back in his previous life too after his string of failures.

Alienation of South Korea: After picking a fight with North Korea, DDT attacked South Korea by threatening to terminate the U.S. trade agreement with South Korea because the five-year-old accord was “a horrible deal” that has left America “destroyed.” To make things worse, he told South Korea that they should pay the $1 billion for the U.S. missile-defense system, Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (Thaad), to be installed in South Korea as protection against a North Korean attack.

Flynn’s Failure: When Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser for 24 days, started the chant of “Lock her up” about candidate Clinton last summer, he said that he’d be in prison if he did one-tenth of the things that she had done. Maybe he will be incarcerated. The investigation into Flynn has already shown that he likely took money from Russia without notification to the U.S. after the Pentagon warned him against doing it and that his work for Turkey has a Russian connection. Meanwhile, DDT is trying to cover for Flynn’s illegal activities by refusing to release any information about him. Now the Pentagon has joined the investigation into Flynn, and DDT’s AG Jess Sessions has recused himself from the whole problem. Maybe if FBI James Comey had been more worried about real treason and not Hillary Clinton’s emails?

The Wall: Press Secretary Sean Spicer is trying to cover for DDT’s backing off from his main promise by saying that it was a priority and not a demand, but DDT tweeted that the drug problem will never be solved without a wall. Yet 56 percent responses to a poll agree that DDT hasn’t accomplished much, and 47 percent of the blame goes to DDT. The GOP gets 25 percent blame and Democrats only seven percent. At the same time, the majority of people—a number that is growing—oppose building the wall, and an increasing number want money put into infrastructure instead. Texans oppose the wall as much as Mexico on the possibility of making Mexico so instable that it becomes another Venezuela as well as flooding and sewage in the Rio Grande River.

Tax Increases: DDT may have hoped that his shiny new tax plan would distract from his other problems, but it’s going downhill fast. Presenter and Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin knows that it gives cuts to the wealthy but can’t guarantee that “no one in the middle class is gonna pay more.” At least DDT will get a big cut with his own plan. A 65-year study by the Congressional Research Office found no correlation between cutting taxes and economic growth.

Latest Executive Order Overturned: Judge William Orrick, of the federal Northern District for California, has blocked DDT’s threat to cut off funds to sanctuary cities if they refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked an executive order by Donald Trump which threatened to cut off funds to sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. The injunction retains the right to identify sanctuary cities and withhold certain grants but cannot alter the way federal funds are spent because that power lies within the congressional, not the presidential, branch of government. The Justice Department said that the order applies only to the failure in sharing citizenship information as required by law and three federal grants that require compliance as a pre-condition. Orrick said that this defense is worthless because law already permits it, leaving no purpose for the executive order. He also said that DDT’s rhetoric and surrogate statements, including those from the AG, contradicted the interpretation that the Justice Department tried to place on it. Orrick said:

“The President has called it ‘a weapon’ to use against jurisdictions that disagree with his preferred policies of immigration enforcement, and his press secretary has reiterated that the President intends to ensure that ‘counties and other institutions that remain sanctuary cites don’t get federal government funding in compliance with the executive order.'”

Press Secretary Sean Spicer had said that the administration stood behind its threats to eliminate law enforcement funding to those cities. The federal government is now trying to decide on a definition of “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

Massive Donor Errors for Inauguration: Inauguration Donor Fraud?: Follow the rubles. A crowdsourced data project at HuffPost found massive mistakes in DDT’s final campaign report with the was filled with mistakes—missing addresses, vacant lots used for addresses, anonymous or fake names, etc.—showing that even basic checks on accuracy were made.

Failure of Conservative Press Control: Unhappy with the sometimes factual reporting in the mainstream press, DDT has been wooing the far-right outlets and frequently failing. After they didn’t support his healthcare plan, he called them to the White House last Monday to tell them—gently, for him—to shape up. It wasn’t a success: they’re still complaining about the lack of attention that DDT has given them despite his favoritism. They’re also upset that they were told to leave their phones outside the room and not to report on what was said until 30 minutes into the meeting. The result was bad press from conservatives about DDT’s communications team. 

Empty Rooms: Cite Priebus: The Senate has confirmed 26 of DDT’s picks for his Cabinet and other top posts, but he’s nominated only 37 people for 530 other vacant senior-level jobs requiring Senate confirmation.

Disappearance of Zombie Healthcare Bill—Again: Once again, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) couldn’t get the votes for the revised healthcare bill. The ultra-conservatives loved it because it takes insurance from more people, but the more centrist GOP members balked. One embarrassment for the GOP is that the failed bill exempted members of Congress and their staff: they can keep all their benefits. Once this fact came to light, GOP representatives talked about changing their minds about piece of the bill.

No Budget: The House passed a one-week extension on passing the budget to keep the government functioning for another seven days. The reason may be to prevent a shutdown on DDT’s 100th day tomorrow. The GOP House follows the pattern of teenagers who do no school work and then ask for an extension. And the action saves DDT the embarrassment of a government shutdown on his 100th day.

The United States has become so racist—including some law enforcement officials—that Sanya Gragg has published a book on the “talk” with black children: what they should do to stay ALIVE. Momma, Did You Hear The News?, a picture book for small children, gives this directions if they are confronted by the police, even if they’re just innocently walking down the street.

  • A – Always use your manners
  • L – Listen and comply
  • I – In control of your emotions
  • V – Visible hands always
  • E – Explain everything

Something else that white children don’t have to face.

Much more about DDT’s last week, but tomorrow is his 100th day—and lots more for another post.

Meanwhile, cheers for recently retired GOP Judge GOP Judge Doug McCullough, who resigned from the North Carolina Appeals Court a month before his date of mandatory retirement to allow the Democrat governor to replace him. McCullough is disgusted with the legislature’s blatant attempt to strip the new governor of any appointment abilities, going so far as to pass a bill to reduce the court from 15 to 12 so that newly elected Roy Cooper cannot fill any vacancies. An attempt to override Cooper’s veto leaves the governor with a small window of opportunity. Cooper’s new appointment, Judge John Arrowood, is the first openly gay member of the North Carolina court of appeals. McCullough is a man with ethics.

April 21, 2017

DDT: Week Thirteen on the Foreign Front

Right before Earth Day tomorrow, the planet won a victory when the Treasury Department refused to grant ExxonMobil a waiver for a joint drilling deal in the Black Sea with Russia’s state oil company. Current U.S. sanctions against Russia after its annexation of Crimea require waivers. President Obama opposed the same plan in 2015 after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson created it as Exxon’s CEO. In the words of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), “Are you crazy?” My cynic bone wonders what the current administration is planning that is worse that the waiver to the sanctions.

Thus far, DDT’s only victory in over 90 days was getting Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court although it required breaking Senate rules. Gorsuch made his first public decision—to kill a man. In its rush to kill eight inmates on death row for 24-26 years before state drugs expired, Arkansas decided to kill them in eleven days. Judicial stays kept these men alive for a few days, but Gorsuch joined the conservative block on the high court to kill at least one of them. Ledell Lee, the first man executed, had fetal alcohol syndrome disorder with significant brain damage and intellectual disability. He has always claimed that he is innocent and that one of his lawyers was drunk and another was mentally ill. The state refused to allow him to take a DNA test to compare evidence collected at the scene of the crime. The judge in the case was having an affair with the prosecutor and later married her. None of the blood at the crime scene belonged to Lee, and forensic evidence of hairs has been discredited. It’s not surprising for Gorsuch to kill the Arkansas inmate because he had ruled in Colorado that a man should lose his job if he chose to save his life.

In the Company of Tyrants: Even conservatives are outraged that DDT called to congratulate Turkish President ­Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his new, almost dictatorial powers by winning a referendum after possible election tampering. Erdogan’s authoritarian rule has destroyed any separation of church and state in an Islamic regime and arrested any critics as well as a roundup of journalists. After last summer’s attempted coup, Erdogan had already detained, suspended, or dismissed almost 200,000 people including state officials and teachers. The new referendum would replace the parliamentary system with a presidential one and abolish the prime minister. Erdogan, who could stay in power until 2029, could intervene in the judiciary, control the nominees for parliament’s nominees, directly appoint top government officials, and declare a state of emergency with no justification. DDT’s congratulatory statement not only contradicts the official message from the U.S. State Department but also was made before the vote is final. It is still being contested. Reasons given for DDT’s congratulations include ignorance, carelessness, or an agreement with Erdogan’s ideology. Or it could simply be because he has business interests in Turkey: in the past, he said that he had a “conflict of interest” in the country (tower on right). If the referendum wins the “yes” votes, Turkey will become a total dictatorship.

Question of Chemical Attacks in Syria: DDT may hope that problems in North Korea keep people from wondering if his April 7 preemptive strikes on Syria—his first open act of war—was based on false information. Although the deaths of people on April 4 have not been contested, questions about the type of gas and the perpetrators remain because of no independent, international investigation. Two longtime experts in war studies and missile systems maintain that DDT’s intelligence report about Syria’s role is “false” and “fraudulent” as well as a “coverup.” They purport that the intelligence report about an air attack is not substantiated by evidence and that the official report did not use the methodologies that it claimed: the information released by the White House is political, not scientific. In 2013, President Obama was given incorrect information that Syria perpetrated an attack but did not retaliate because intelligence did not support that information. Instead, DDT, like George W. Bush, made preemptive strikes against a country that didn’t attack the United States, without accurate information. Support for the experts’ information is that there is no plan for an investigation—just a move forward to inflame North Korea into military action. The world has become a far more dangerous place in DDT’s less than 100 days.

Ships Far from North Korea: One piece of DDT’s saber-rattling in northeast Asia was to declare that he had ordered an “armada” (actually six ships) close to North Korea. Two weeks later the media discovered that the ships “steaming,” in Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s words, toward North Korea were headed in the opposite direction several thousand miles away after the Navy released photographs and the location of the Carl Vinson in the Sundra Strait, 3,500 miles away. The White House blamed the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for the mistake although U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster mistakenly told Fox that the ships were rerouted from Singapore to the Korean peninsula as a “prudent” show of force. That’s DDT’s military’s second bad mistake this month: the earlier one referred to the biggest non-nuclear weapon that it used on Afghanistan as “the type of weapon for the type of target” and how it sent a message.

South Korea’s “Concern” with DDT: The egregious “mistake” about the ships’ location upset South Koreans who felt “bewildered, cheated and manipulated by the United States, their country’s most important ally,” according to the New York Times. AP went farther with words such as “unpredictable,” “unhinged,” and “dangerous.” DDT also angered South Koreans by his assertion that the Korean Peninsula “used to be a part of China.” Invaded by its neighbor and forced to pay tribute, Koreans state that the idea that they were once Chinese subjects is highly insulting. DDT is alienating one country almost every every week–South Korea, Great Britain, Mexico, Sweden, Germany, Australia, and China plus Canada after DDT scolded the nation for what the dairy industry did to our workers.” The addition of Colombia brings the total to nine.

Secret Meeting at Mar-a-Lago: Last weekend, DDT interrupted his golf games to meet undercover with former Columbian presidents Álvaro Uribe and Andrés Pastrana, former presidents of Colombia to undermine the current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to end Latin America’s longest armed conflict. The White House also lied about the meeting: it claimed just a brief “hello” because the two men were at the resort, but Pastrana thanked DDT for the “cordial and very frank conversation” about Colombia’s challenges. DDT also ignored any diplomatic coordination with the State Department. Columbia reported that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), an opponent of the peace plans, set up the meeting with the three men.

State Department v. Tillerson: During his campaign, DDT called the Iran Deal “the worst deal ever negotiated” and promised to rip it up on day one. This week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the deal a failure, warned this week that Iran’s nuclear weapons could be as bad as North Korea, and accused the country of causing “alarming and ongoing provocations.” At the same time, he wrote House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) that Iran was upholding its commitments, and the State Department released the same positive information. In response to Tillerson’s criticism of Iran, its foreign minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, faulted the U.S. for trying to distract from its “abysmal” human rights record, which includes DDT’s Muslim ban, and the U.S. support of Israel, which Zarif claimed has an “illegal” nuclear arsenal. Tillerson made his comments about Iran as a disruptive force on the same day that he praised Saudi Arabia that is trying to reinstate Yemen’s ousted president by killing thousands of civilians in airstrikes.

Raising Prices: DDT signed his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order while in Wisconsin. Part of it changes rules for the H-1B visa program which keeps some highly skilled workers from coming to the U.S. and may send companies that employ them out of the country. At the same time, he saved the visa program for lower-paid workers, like his own because, as he said in the past, “it’s very, very hard to get people.” DDT wants to do away with the waivers in these mandates—except ones that let him buy all the products for his business more cheaply from foreign countries. DDT’s order has no weight unless Congress passes a law to support it or changes past laws, for example the Trade Agreements Act of 1979 that treats products made in foreign countries as domestic if the countries, almost 60 at this time, have a trade agreement with the United States. There are no plans to carry out his order, which would cause prices to skyrocket. China steel, for example, is 70 percent cheaper than what is made in the U.S., and a DDT order from last month raised steel prices 19 percent.

Obsession of Gold: Known for wasting taxpayer money in the United States, DDT is moving the selfishness to Britain on his upcoming visit in October. Despite the cost and the lack of security, he demands that he ride to a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II in a golden coach—just like Mexican President Peña Nieto, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It’s the “ugly American” made more hideous than ever.

Tomorrow covers DDT’s damage in domestic issues.

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