Nel's New Day

September 29, 2018

DDT: Week 88 – His Very, Very Bad Time

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had another really bad week. It started with members of the UN General Assembly openly laughing at his opening statements on Monday and ended with the failure of his Supreme Court nominee to get the confirmation after a crying, hysterical, weak, bullying Brett Kavanaugh performed badly at the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. In addition, a federal judge ruled that 200 congressional Democrats can sue for violating the U.S. Constitution because of illegally doing business with foreign governments while he is in office. Attorneys general of Washington, D.C. and Maryland had a similar lawsuit also accusing him of violating the constitution’s emoluments clause. And Robert Mueller continues the investigation of the Russian scandal.

(Photo By Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)

Thursday, the ten-hour hearing with accuser Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh was a dismaying visual of what Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called a representation of “we the ruling party” instead of “we the people.” DDT spoke the truth when he said that Kavanaugh’s performance, full of white man’s rage, was “incredible”—because the word means “unbelievable … unconvincing … implausible … highly unlikely.” He also said that it was “something we haven’t seen before,” another accurate statement because the hearing was a low point in U.S. history. Despite smears against Democrats by Republicans and temper tantrums, most notably by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a plea from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) led to a one-week hiatus before the floor vote despite the fury of some GOP senators while the FBI investigates the evidence against Kavanaugh. [GOP Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT) and Chuck Grassley (IA) flank Kavanaugh.] Alexandra Petri has an excellent column on the Kavanaugh situation.

UN representatives laughed at DDT when he bragged about already having accomplished more than nearly every other U.S. president.  During his campaign, DDT called President Obama “a laughing stock to the entire World.” The rest of his speech, focusing on U.S. sovereignty, sounded like a subdued version of his campaign rallies, something not well received by that audience. He said that the U.S. will not “tell you how to live and work and worship” so long as “you respect our sovereignty in return” but attacked several countries.

DDT praised India for reducing poverty, Israel for “vibrant democracy,” North Korea for “courage,” Poland for “standing up” for freedom, and Saudi Arabia for its “bold reforms.” He celebrated Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-supported war on Yemen where over 60,000 people have died in only two years, many of them civilians dying in war crimes. Attacks focused on China for unfair trade practices, Germany for its pipeline deal with Russia, and Venezuela for socialism. He also called on the world to isolate Iran, hours after Europe, Russia, and China agreed to a payment deal to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran. DDT also endorsed a strict dependence on fossil fuels.

Some of DDT’s vitriol—and lies—were saved for the International Criminal Court, a concern to DDT because of the investigation into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Israeli crimes in Gaza. National security advisor John Bolton has been outspoken in his criticisms of the ICC, perhaps because he could be tried for duping the U.S. into the 2003 preemptive war on Iraq that has brought disaster to both countries for the past 15 years. French President Emmanuel Macron said that his country will not enter into any trade deals with countries that have not signed onto the Paris climate agreement. Since every nation signed, the United States is unique in asserting that it is pulling out of the agreement, something that it cannot formally do until November 4, 2020.

WaPo listed 14 of DDT’s lies in his speech, including his inflation of success in legislative acts, economy improvement, jobs creation, tax cuts, building a wall (which he hasn’t), military expenditure. He falsified the trade deficit, North Korea’s secret nuclear production, Iran’s military spending, U.S. foreign aid, China joining the WTO, and rising oil prices that came from DDT’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord and new sanctions, not OPEC and OPEC nations. Dana Milbank wrote that between his lies and his outrageous claims, DDT “spoke as though he had accepted a dare to see how much of the world he could offend in the span of a 35-minute address.” DDT “dissed” “90 percent of the world’s population.”

During the U.N. Security Council meeting, DDT first claimed that China “has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election” before he bragged a few hours later about the great respect he receives from Chinese officials:

“Mr. Pillsbury, the leading authority on China, was saying that China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain.”

Conservative author Michael Pillsbury frequently appears on Fox network. DDT added that the Chinese “are doing studies on Donald Trump.”  China’s state-run media characterizes DDT as a clownish buffoon with many reasons to ridicule him. DDT made no mention of Russia’s interference in the election.

DDT failed to meet his self-imposed deadline to persuade Canada to join his new trade deal with Mexico. Both GOP lawmakers, including Sen. John Cornyn (TX), and businesses are critical of his failure. The deadline was set to allow current Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to sign it on his final day in office, November 30, for fear that the new president will not sign the deal. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shows no interest in accepting DDT’s terms with Mexico, including the increased percentage of vehicles qualifying for duty-free treatment to 75 percent from 62.5 percent and require that much of the vehicle being made by workers with a wage of at least $16 an hour. After the signing, the International Trade Commission has 105 days to evaluate its likely consequences. Congress must approve the new trade deal, and Republicans are very skeptical of a two-country arrangement.

“Trump Effect”:  A 2017 study of middle schools in Virginia found that both teasing and bullying was significantly higher in schools located where a majority of people voted for DDT. No differences were noted in 2013 and 2015. Details here.

The Brett Kavanaugh stories covered the media stories about DOJ Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein possibly being fired because of a NYT story that he had suggested taping DDT, contradicted by people at the meeting who said he was being sarcastic. House Republicans wanted to talk to Rosenstein this coming week, but the House, worried about mid-term elections in early November, is in recess until November 13. Before they left, they kept the government open—without money for DDT’s wall—but failed to agree on the farm bill. Permanently authorized and funded programs such as food stamps aren’t affected but 39 other programs had now lapsed.

DDT’s new plan to reduce the number of legal immigrants is to kill them through starvation and lack of health care. A proposed rule will consider public benefits like food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing vouchers as “heavily weighted negative factors” in green card applications. The government will give people the choice to die or be deported. Despite claims of a good economy, wages stay low, with one-third of the work force—40 million people—earning less than $12 per hour with no benefits. The rule doesn’t require congressional approval and can go into effect after a 60-day public review period.

Hurricane Florence damaged over 51,000 homes, 11,000 of them by sea level rise. Seas have risen by at least six inches since 1970. The projected 15-inch sea rise by 2050 will double the impact with the same storm surge. At the same time, climate change is making all storms much stronger and wetter. Projected costs by Florence for the National Flood Insurance Program can be as much as $1.2 billion to make a total of $2.8 to $5 billion insurance losses. Seventy percent of the homes hit by Florence were not insured. FEMA flood maps are out of date, encouraging people to re-build or repair in vulnerable places.

Two weeks after Florence hit, thousands of residents still could not get power from coal-fired utilities while solar installations were running the day after the storm.

South Carolina native Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show, is raising money for organizations working with hurricane victims, specifically the Foundation for the Carolinas, The One SC Fun, the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund, and World Central Kitchen with a new children’s book featuring DDT’s comments about the disaster, including his comment to a survivor about the boat shipwrecked on his property:

“At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.”

Whose Boat Is This Boat? Comments That Don’t Help in the Aftermath of a Hurricane by Donald Trump (accidentally), featuring an image of the boat on the cover, comes out November 6.  [visual]

DDT’s administration reported that the world will be seven degrees hotter in the next 80 years and parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater. DDT is not concerned about climate change: the EPA is dissolving its Office of the Science Advisor who works to ensure that the highest quality science is integrated into the agency’s policies and decisions.

The government lost another 1,488 immigrant children in addition to the 1,475 migrant children separated from families and subsequently lost. DHS said that the government is no longer responsible after they place the children with sponsors. According to recently released memos, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also lied to Congress and the public when she said that the government had no policy of separating families at the border.

DDT started his five-city campaign rally tour in West Virginia where the poverty level increased 12 percent to almost 20 percent. There, he told the crowd that Kim Jong-Un wrote him “beautiful letters” and “we fell in love.”

June 17, 2018

Father’s Day ‘Celebration,’ Separating Children from Parents

An undocumented Honduran women was handcuffed after she protested against federal agents tearing her baby away while she was breastfeeding. That baby was one of 2,000 children removed from people crossing the border since AG Jeff Sessions declared his “zero tolerance” policy, even if immigrants legally entered asking for asylum. Conservatives continually claim that families should be expected to be separated because they are “breaking the law.” Crossing  the border for the first time is a misdemeanor—as are traffic violations, disturbing the peace, petty thefts, and other legal violations that do not lead to prison.

Today is Father’s Day, celebrating fatherhood and the influence of fathers in society. AG Jeff Sessions, a father of three and self-identified Christian, uses a biblical verse to defend his policy of tearing all children from their parents at the border, even if families seek asylum. He quotes Romans 13, “that God has ordained the government for his purposes.” John Fea, professor of American history at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, said:

“There are two dominant places in American history when Romans 13 is invoked. One is during the American Revolution [when] it was invoked by loyalists, those who opposed the American Revolution. [The other] is in the 1840s and 1850s, when Romans 13 is invoked by defenders of the South or defenders of slavery to ward off abolitionists who believed that slavery is wrong.”

Sessions appealed to “church friends” to support him. They aren’t. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, said:

“Overwhelmingly, Scripture causes families to be kept together. Overwhelmingly Scripture causes us to defend families. As Evangelicals, we have a doctrine to be a pro-family-values people, you know. The Bible calls us to be pro-family, and I personally find it deeply lamentable that we are separating children from their parents at the border or anywhere.”

The Vatican tweeted a quote from Deuteronomy 10:18-19:

“The Bible teaches that God ‘loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.’”

The leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops strongly condemned DDT’s immigration policies as immoral. One bishop suggested that Catholics who help carry out the Justice Department’s policies should be denied Communions because they violate their faith.

Even white evangelicals, who defended Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) for his other transgressions including pride in grabbing p**sy, are appalled at his immigration policy. Far-right Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, called the policy “disgraceful” and said that he doesn’t “support that one bit.” (He did try to exonerate DDT by blaming politicians during the past three decades “that have allowed this to escalate.” The conservative evangelical Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution maintaining “the priority of family unity,” securing the border “and providing a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants living in the country.” The resolution also stated “that any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

VP Mike Pence, who spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention, was not universally welcomed because of his support for separating families. North Carolina Pastor J.D. Greear called for an “identity is in the gospel” in the first controversy since conservative evangelicals’ objections to Richard Nixon.

Over two dozen of the largest religious groups in the U.S. ask DDT to eliminate its policy separating all children from parents at the border.

Facts about the current separation of children and parents:

  • Border Patrol agents lie to families about reasons for and length of separation. Parents are told that children are taken briefly for questioning or baths. Then women are told that they will “never see their children again.”
  • First-time border crossers probably won’t do prison time and are released after a few weeks in jail awaiting trial. At the trial, parents are told that pleading guilty gives them the best chance of seeing their children.
  • Children separated from their parents are classified “unaccompanied alien children,” a designation for those under 18 years old with no adult relative arriving with them. This classification puts them in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement and kept for days or weeks while ORR looks for a relative in the U.S. or releases them to labor traffickers. The DOJ does not attempt to reunite families and has no system to bring families together.
  • With 11,000 children being held, ORR facilities were 95 percent full by June 7. The government is adding tent cities in 100+ degrees for more unaccompanied children.
  • DOJ claims that the zero-tolerance, child-removal policy is working, but it has no evidence to support the statement.

MVM, one of the private contractors making tens of millions off the illegal housing of children separated from their parents has a record of abusing minorities and possessing unauthorized weapons and explosives. Another contractor, General Dynamics, makes billions of dollars off taxpayers despite its $280.3 million in penalties for 23 misconduct cases since 1995.

Federal courts have ruled that using family separation for “deterrence” is illegal, but the DOJ ignores these rulings. The ACLU sued to force the government to reunited families after parents have been sentenced. The judge refused to throw out the government’s request to not hear the case, stating that allegations, if true, are unconstitutional by violating family integrity, part of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of “liberty” without due process of law.

According to medical research, the separation of children from their parents causes “toxic stress” that disrupts brain development and results in developmental delays in motor function and speech, worse in younger children. The separated children are more likely to have life-long health problems, depression, and multiple behavioral changes. The fear of families in the U.S. being separated leads to refusal to get health care or help for legal issues. Friends of children in immigrant families are beginning to suffer from similar syndromes. About 4,600 mental-health professionals and 90 organizations have asked DDT to halt the separation policy.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren explained the reason for a Senate bill called Keep Families Together:

“Kids locked up like animals in cages made of fencing and wire. Others huddled together on cold metal benches and cement floor. Meanwhile, their parents are held in detention centers hundreds of miles away in a different state – with little to no way of communicating.”

Sessions went beyond tearing children from their parents when he overturned a DOJ Board of Immigration Appeals decision accepting victims of gangs and domestic abuse for asylum who fear persecution in their homelands. The Board is the highest authority, but the AG can assign himself cases and set precedents that end up in federal appeals courts. He says his goal is to reduce the backlog of 700,000 court cases. More families will be shredded because he refuses to help women and children victims of domestic violence.

DDT, father of five children by three different women, claims to “hate” the policy that he and his attorney general generated. Aware of the policy’s unpopularity, he now tries to blame Democrats (false) for a law (false). The separation, however, has been part of his plan since he was inaugurated. White House senior policy advisor and white supremacy supporter Stephen Miller convinced DDT that the policy would be successful in its “deterrence.” Chief of staff John Kelly, mentor to DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, is a full-throated supporter of separating children from their parents. With a few exceptions, the GOP has joined DDT in holding the children hostage to get tens of billions of dollars to build DDT’s “wall” and to drastically reduce the number of legal immigrants to the United States. (More lies here.)  House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tweeted how happy he is to be a father with a video wishing everyone a “happy” Father’s Day. Over 90 percent of the responses addressed the GOP separation of children and families.

DDT spent Father’s Day playing golf on one of his courses. He tweeted nothing about celebrating Father’s Day or his children.

Stephen Colbert made an impassioned plea on The Late Show, asking viewers to call their congressional representatives for Father’s Day and ask them to stop the deliberate cruelty of Sessions and DDT. He said:

“I sincerely believe that it doesn’t matter who you voted for—if we let this happen in our name, we are a feckless country.”

Protest marches are spreading across the nation against the separation of children from parents. In Suffolk County (NY), DDT’s poster children for the brutality of gang murders to justify crackdowns, people are wearing yellow bracelets to support migrant families. In red Augusta County (VA) a rally drew protesters and supporting honks from drivers going by. Los Angeles demonstrators blocked traffic.

On Father’s Day, ICE planned to deport Nelson Omar Rosales Santos, in end stage renal failure and waiting for a kidney transplant, but a petition gave him a six-months stay. With a family friend donor, medical insurance, and a surgeon, Santos has three U.S. citizen children and a U.S. citizen wife who successfully petitioned for him to stay in the U.S. He has lived in Stamford (CT) for 30 years. A new petition asks that he be guaranteed a least one-year recuperation in the U.S. after surgery so that it will be permitted.

June 9, 2018

Russian, Chinese Involvements Expand

While Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gives a few tweets and alienates our former allies, a member of the Congress is trying to slow down meddling by foreign nations in U.S. elections. Until DDT, notifying the FBI seems like a natural response for any candidates if foreign nations contact them about helping their campaign. DDT’s campaign members, however, didn’t bother to mention their frequent contacts with Russians to federal law enforcement, even after major party presidential nominees “were urged to alert the FBI about any suspicious overtures to their campaigns.” Therefore Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) is promoting the Duty to Report Act which would “explicitly require candidates and campaigns to notify the FBI if anyone representing a foreign power offers dirt on that candidate’s opponents.” He writes:

“[T]he legislation would make it a crime for candidates, their immediate family, or people involved with their campaign to fail to notify the FBI if any of them are told about, are offered, or receive in an unsolicited way nonpublic, materially significant information about another person running for the same office, when they know or recklessly disregard that the source is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power.”

The bill has 16 co-sponsors—all Democrats. Republicans may still be trying not to offend the man who signs their bills and names their far-right appointments.

Robert Muller continues his investigation, filing new charges against Paul Manafort for conspiracy against the U.S., laundering money, false statements, and conspiracy to obstruct justice in his attempt to coach witness testimony.  A judge decides on June 15 whether Manafort goes to jail after he was caught contacting witnesses in violation of his release before his trial and tried to control their testimony. This highly detailed article following Manafort’s involvement in the Russian takeover of Ukraine uses a variety of documents to explain the threads and indicates that any DDT pardon for Manafort won’t cover state-level activities that can be prosecuted.

An obstruction of justice indictment for coaching witnesses against Konstantin Kilimnik, overseer to Manafort’s Kiev office who has been repeatedly linked to Russian intelligence services, makes 20 Mueller indictments in the past year’s investigation. Kilimnik is currently missing, presumably in Russia after Ukraine allowed him to move there. A timeline of Mueller’s first 388 days.

Mueller also asked witnesses in the investigation to give him their personal phones so that his team can read encrypted texts, conversations with DDT’s associates. They received Manafort’s encrypted messages last month. On his popular Fox program, Sean Hannity recommends breaking the law: he told Mueller witnesses to protect themselves by destroying their cellphones. A response to this illegal advice:

“18§1512 Whoever corruptly persuades another person or attempts to do so with intent to alter, destroy, mutilate or conceal an object with intent to impair the object’s  integrity or availability for use in official proceeding shall be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years.”

A new link in the Russian scandal has appeared through the connection between former GOP Rep. Curt Weldon (PA), who lost his election in 2006 after a number of ethics charges against him, and the $500,000 payment by Columbus Nova to DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Weldon’s decade-long ties to former Ukrainian Parliament member Andrii Artemenko, interviewed twice in the Mueller investigation, led to possible funding of a peace plan lifting sanctions on Russia by Viktor Vekselberg, co-founder of the Renova Group, a U.S./Russian venture company that lists Columbus Nova as part of its structure. Weldon has strongly supported Russia, stating that “the U.S. is much worse in many ways.” In January 2017 after DDT’s inauguration, Cohen met with Artemenko and Felix Sater, Cohen’s friend and DDT’s former business partner, and agreed to deliver the peace plan, approved by Vladimir Putin’s aides, to Michael Flynn, then DDT’s national security adviser. The full story.

Brittany Kaiser, a data director with DDT’s campaign’s data firm Cambridge Analytica, met personally with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange in February 2017 “to discuss the U.S. election.” CA had offered in July 2016 to help Assange index and distribute the 33,000 emails stolen from Hillary Clinton, and Kaiser had said that she funneled money to WikiLeaks, calling the organization her “favorite charity.”

Recent information shows Ivanka Trump tried to arrange a meeting between her father and Vladimir Putin through Russian Olympian Dmitry Klokov by introducing him to DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen during the presidential campaign. The purpose was to close a business deal to make millions for DDT, a presidential candidate, and his family. Cohen turned down a meeting, saying that the Trump Organization already had an agreement in place.

Carl Cameron, former Fox political correspondent who covered DDT’s campaign, talked about how the Russians orchestrated its cyberattack on Hillary Clinton in 2016 through Roger Stone’s connections with Guccifer 2.0, a Russian military intelligence officer, and other Russian groups to elect DDT with viralizing memes and fake news on social media. Much of this information has already been made public, but Joe Romm’s article puts everything together—thus far.

After Michael Cohen’s lawyers claimed client privilege for the seized documents, a judge assigned a special master to evaluate whether this was accurate. She found 162 items out of 300,000 that should not be available to prosecutors on that basis. The deadline for reviewing all the items is June 15. After that time, documents that are not privileged can be turned over to prosecutors. If DDT wants to challenge any of the unprivileged documents, he will need to do it publicly.

DDT has dropped the term “Spygate,” perhaps because last week House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) that there was no evidence to support DDT’s claim that the FBI put a spy in his campaign. He followed that statement by saying that DDT shouldn’t pardon himself. The conservatives got upset, and he tried to make up for his honesty by adding the next day that there is no evidence of “collusion between the Trump campaign and President Trump and Russia.” Some Republicans are consistently calling on him to step down as speaker because he isn’t running for re-election.

DDT seems to have turned on China with his tariffs but not before daughter Ivanka received 13 new trademarks from China in the past three months plus provisional approval for another eight trademarks. At this time, she has at least 25 trademarks pending review and 36 active marks with the eight provisional ones. Most of Ivanka Trump’s U.S. imports come from China. His loosening sanctions on ZTE, the telecommunications company spying on the U.S., came the day after the Chinese-owned company hired Bryan Lanza, former DDT adviser, as a lobbyist. ZTE’s reward was for DDT to tweet, “Too many jobs in China lost.”

China successfully hacked highly classified information about undersea warfare from a Naval Undersea Warfare Center contractor in Rhode Island. The information tells China what distance is necessary to detect their submarines.

During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s third state visit to China this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping award him the country’s first friendship medal and promised everlasting friendship between the two countries.

In the U.S. this week, DDT had to fill his celebration of Super Bowl winners with Washington staffers after he disinvited Super Bowl winners, Philadelphia Eagles. He was upset because several of them declined to come to the White House, but he claimed the reason for disinviting them was that they didn’t stand for the national anthem. Fox tried to pass off footage of Eagles praying as “kneeling.” No Eagles knelt during the protests to injustice, and Chris Wallace had to apologize on behalf of the network because he is he executive producer of the Shannon Bream “news” show.

Comedian Stephen Colbert compared the false news on Fox to five black and Latino teenagers wrongfully convicted of a 1989 rape:

“So Donald Trump is blaming a group of black guys for something they didn’t do. They’ll have to rename the Eagles the Central Park 53.”

DDT took out large newspaper ads calling for their execution but never apologized after their sentences were vacated because of DNA evidence and a confession from a serial rapist and murderer. Last year, DDT disinvited Golden State Warriors after star player Stephen Curry said he probably would not attend.

DDT “misrepresentations” continue with false jobs claims. Earlier this year, he bragged about job totals that were the worst in seven years. Now he tweeted:

“In many ways this is the greatest economy in the HISTORY of America and the best time EVER to look for a job! … Best Economy & Jobs EVER”

The 2.97 million jobs during his first 16 months were exceeded by President Obama’s 3.45 million jobs in the preceding 16 months. The 1.047 million jobs created in January to May 2018 tied for third in the past seven years. DDT’s GDP growth fell short not only of his promises but also across much of President Obama’s two terms.

March 11, 2017

DDT: Week Seven – Russia, Other Lies

 

Drawn to bright shiny things, the media moved from the lies told by VP Mike Pence and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to the firing of 46 U.S. attorneys general. But let’s move back to Pence and DDT.

Pence and DDT Lie:  The people who need “extreme vetting” are not immigrants—they are DDT and his minions. Nobody checks them for their ties to mobs, Russian oligarchs, their shady investment fraud, or even their jobs like Michael Flynn’s lobbying for Turkey while DDT is also paying him. Although Flynn was not registered as a foreign agent, he and his company were paid $530,000 during DDT’s campaign to influence U.S. policy on behalf of Turkey. DDT’s people, including VP Mike Pence, were shocked to hear about it this week. And DDT’s people, including Pence, were lying. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent Pence a letter on November 18 asking for more information about possible conflicts of Flynn’s lobbying work:

“Recent news reports have revealed that Lt. Gen. Flynn was receiving classified briefings during the presidential campaign while his consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, Inc., was being paid to lobby the U.S. Government on behalf of a foreign government’s interests.”

Before Flynn took the position of National Security Adviser, his lawyer told the DDT transition team that he was a paid lobbyist for Turkey, and Mike Pence was head of the team. Yet he said that he had not heard anything about Flynn’s actions for Turkey until this week. DDT said he fired Flynn because he misled Pence about his work for Turkey, but DDT lied because Pence knew about it when Flynn was fired. Flynn’s attorneys also told DDT’s legal counsel team about his employee registering as a foreign agent before the inauguration and again in the early days of DDT’s term. DDT also lied when he said that he didn’t meet with the Russian ambassador during his campaign.

Either DDT knew and didn’t tell, leaving him inappropriate to be president, or DDT didn’t know, leaving him inappropriate to be president because he should have known. Throughout DDT’s campaign, both Flynn and DDT accused Hillary Clinton of pay-to-play controversies with federal governments. Flynn delighted in the RNC crowd screaming “Lock her up!” He said, “If I did a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today.” He did.

Legal challenges against DDT’s travel ban mount: The Muslim.ban 2.0 is out, and four states—Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington—joined Hawaii, the first state to sue the president because of the executive order’s blatant discrimination and severe damage to tourism. Oregon added that the order will injure its residents, employers, agencies, educational institutions, and health care system. The order can also be challenged because of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 which bars discrimination on the basis of “a person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.”

GOP health care problems rise: A major part of this week’s news has been the desperate move by the GOP to pass its version of healthcare intended to make the wealthy wealthier, release insurance companies from control, and take insurance away from the poor. In the past, I’ve called it “GOPcare,” but it’s acquired the name of TrumpCare, much to DDT’s distress. It’s the first time that he hasn’t wanted his name on something: he’s even applying for trademarks in China to have his name on condoms and escort services. The final plan is pretty much as expected, but there are a few extra perks. For example, it would give tax breaks to any insurance CEO making over $500,000, something that the Secretary of the Health and Human Services, Tom Price, didn’t know until he was asked about it. The marathon hearing before the passage of the bill in committee lacked any witnesses and is opposed not only by Democrats, AARP, and AMA but also by some GOP members and the insurance industry.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) announcement that healthy people pay for sick people indicates that he hasn’t grasped the concept of all insurance: premiums from people who don’t need the benefits pay for the disasters of the others who pay premiums. Every person arguing against the Affordable Care Act use generalities such as “death spiral” and “disaster” with no specifics is problems. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), whose health insurance is paid by the government, claims that other people should be responsible for their own health. His novel approach was the assertion that people should not buy $700 iPhones to find thousands of dollars for health care. Chaffetz gets a government-issued cellphone, and his donors pay for his monthly cellphone charges.

TrumpCare passed the committee vote without anyone knowing the estimate economic cost or the number of people who would lose insurance. In the past, Republicans asked first about any bill’s price tag, but they don’t care about this one. In charge because DDT took Price out of the loop, DDT’s budget chief, Mike Mulvaney, said that “insurance is not really the end goal here.” Republicans don’t care how much taxpayers will be on the hook or how much people will lose. They don’t consider how many jobs will be lost or how disastrous their changes will be to the economy. Republicans don’t care that health experts from the all sides agree that TrumpCare won’t work. Some of them even say that the bill could unravel the individual insurance market.

Read the fine print in DDT promises: DDT justifies his Muslim ban and draconian immigrant orders because he’ll do everything he says he’ll do. He promised to use only U.S. steel in “all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired or expanded pipelines” inside the U.S. His fine print, however, stated “to the maximum extent possible.” Therefore the Keystone XL Pipeline won’t be built with U.S. steel. DDT made the excuse that the pipeline is already being constructed, but the real reason is that TransCanada will drop its $15-billion lawsuit against the U.S. with NAFTA that it suspended last week after DDT okayed the pipeline project. The company had alleged that the U.S. government failed to protect Canadian investor in accordance with international law.

DDT’s negotiations don’t work with Planned Parenthood: DDT told Planned Parenthood he would guarantee federal funding for their services if they stopped providing abortions. PP’s president, Cecile Richards, immediately said no. No federal funds pay for abortions at PP, and the offer sets a horrible precedent to threatening all hospitals with no federal funds if they provide any abortions. At this time, only 28 percent of people want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

DDT’s tweets calm down: Kept in the White House for the first weekend since the one immediately following his inauguration, DDT’s Twitter account still sent lies (“Obamacare imploding” and “great progress with health care”). Earlier in the week, he tweeted, “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield.” Actually, the George W. Bush administration sent 113 of them back. DDT did manage to get his ninth round of golf in this weekend since his inauguration, an average of one every five days.

DDT faces another lawsuit: D.C. restaurant Cork Winebar filed a lawsuit against Trump’s D.C. hotel claiming unfair competition because people are trying to curry favor with DDT. The owners are not seeking damages, only an order barring the DDT’s D.C. hotel from continuing to operate while President Trump still owns it.

Which one is bigger? Compulsive about comparing himself to President Obama, DDT insisted that the National Park Service produce photographs of his inauguration crowd size to prove that his was bigger than that of President Obama. In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from media outlets, these official photographs of the National Mall, one in 2009 and the other eight years later, show a huge difference between the 1.8 million for President Obama and the generous guess of 800,000 for his successor. At least DDT had more than the 300,000 people who turned out for George W. Bush’s first inauguration.

For a little cheer, check out Cocktails for Survival Over 50 drink recipes for DDT survival include drinks like “The Wall,” “The Bad Hombre,” “Trumple Thinskin,” and “The 400 Pound Hacker.” There’s also Putin’s Puppet, half a dozen Twitter Beefs (page 29), and a Pussy Grabber or two. Also available is a blog with a recipe for “The Sessions.”

Finish off with the best of Stephen Colbert’s humor from The Late Show when he gets help from construction experts to assess costs for his “big, “powerful,” “impenetrable,” “physical” and “beautiful” wall in order to meet DDT’s promises.

 

 

December 7, 2011

Corporations, Wealthy Work to Increase Political Control

Fortunately, I don’t live in Iowa—or New Hampshire—or any other state that will have primaries or caucuses early in 2012. Those are the states where people have to watch television advertising for and against Republican presidential candidates nonstop unless they have a way to block these ads or just don’t watch TV.

At least TV stations are making big bucks because corporations and super PACS are permitted unlimited spending in federal campaigns, thanks to George W. Bush’s Supreme Court. The activist approach of conservative Roberts court was made obvious in its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which overturned key provisions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, rules that kept corporations–and their lobbyists and front groups (as well as labor unions)–from spending unlimited amounts of cash on campaign advertising within 60 days of a general election or 30 days before a primary for federal office.

Former Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, explained the results of the ruling: “We’re now in a situation where a lobbyist can walk into my office…and say, ‘I’ve got five million dollars to spend, and I can spend it for you or against you. Which do you prefer?’” To give all this money to the conservatives, who will probably spend 90 percent of this advertising money and swing the elections toward the far right, the court used the concept of “corporate personhood.”

Grayson said, “One-hundred years of settled law meant that corporations cannot buy elections inAmerica, and they [Supreme Court] not only allowed corporations to buy those elections, but they made it a constitutional right.” Although the plaintiffs said nothing about the First Amendment, the court decided to use this as the basis for their decision. Justice John Paul Stevens noted that the conservative majority had “changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.”

Corporate personhood’s origin in English law was based on the approach that companies have to be considered “persons” in order to sue them. An inanimate object can’t be sued.

The nineteenth-century robber barons managed to get a few corrupt jurists to codify the idea that corporations enjoy the same constitutional rights as living, breathing people in the 1886 decision Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. The railroad used the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to avoid paying taxes because states had different tax rates.

The courts bought the argument, but historian Thom Hartmann found no mention about “corporate personhood” in the original verdict. This declaration comes from the headnote to the case—a commentary written by the clerk, which is not legally binding—in which the Court’s clerk wrote: “The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Over 100 years of Supreme Court decisions have been based on an incorrect headnote written by J.C. Bancroft David, a corrupt official, who had previously served as the president of a railroad, working “in collusion with another corrupt Supreme Court Justice, Stephen Field.” The railroad companies, according to Hartmann, had promised Field that they’d sponsor his run for the White House if he assisted them in their effort to gain constitutional rights.

Even after the ruling, Hartmann noted, the idea of corporate personhood remained relatively obscure until corporate lawyers dusted off the doctrine during the Reagan era and used it to help reshape the U.S. political economy. Nike, Sinclair Broadcasting, Dow Chemical, J.C. Penney, tobacco and asbestos companies—all these corporations used the amendment written to free the slaves for their own benefit to avoid surprise inspections, keep secret dangers of their products, and continue practice illegal discrimination. All these companies succeeded except for Nike.

Legal reporter Dahlia Lithwick condemned the court’s “systematic dismantling of existing legal protections for women, workers, the environment, minorities and the disenfranchised.” Those who care about spiraling inequality, she wrote on the Slate, “need look no further than last term at the high court to see what happens when—just for instance—one’s right to sue AT&T, one’s ability to being a class action against Wal-Mart, and one’s ability to hold an investment management fund responsible for its lies, are all eroded by a sweep of the court’s pen.”

Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), among others, are fighting back against this corrupt vision of corporate control by introducing and supporting a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling. Udall’s proposal would authorize Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal political campaigns, including independent expenditures, and allow states to regulate such spending at their level. It would also provide for implementation and enforcement of the amendment through legislation. Over 750,000 people have signed petitions to void the Supreme Court ruling.

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) also provided the following: “The SCOTUS made a mistake in the Citizens United ruling by equating money with political speech. We must redress this error before special interest money comes to dominate political campaigns and determine the outcome of American elections.

“On June 24, 2010, I joined with my colleagues in the House to pass HR 5175, the DISCLOSE Act, which aims to curb the ill effects of Citizens United in the near-term. Had the DISCLOSE Act passed in the Senate  it would have required corporations, unions, and other interests to adhere to campaign finance disclosure and expenditure requirements similar to those already in place for candidates standing for election to Congress. Although this bill would not have prevented an influx of money in federal elections, it would have made the sources of such money transparent to the public and prevented foreign intervention.

“In the 112th Congress, I have reintroduced a proposed amendment to the Constitution of theUnited States, H.J. Res 72, to address the long-term and fundamental problems presented by the Citizens United ruling. My proposed amendment would add a new and unfortunately necessary clause to the Constitution affirming that money can be a corrupting influence in a democracy and therefore excessive use of money to buy elections can be restricted under the Constitution of our great country.

“Money does not equal speech. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to ensure free and fair elections in Oregon and throughout the United States of America.”

At least one judge is determined to go farther than the Supreme Court in allowing corporations carte blanche. Although the Supreme Court ruling allowed unlimited independent expenditures in political campaigns from corporations and other organizations, it did not overturn the ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates campaigns. Judge James Cacheris of Virginia ruled that “Citizens United requires that corporations and individuals be afforded equal rights to political speech, unqualified.” The Department of Justice is appealing Cacheris’ ruling to the 4th Circuit Court.

Worse yet, Karl Rove has asked the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) if he can run coordinated political advertisements, featuring candidates the PAC is supporting. He justifies his request in this way: “While these advertisements would be fully coordinated with incumbent Members of Congress facing re-election in 2012, they would presumably not qualify as ‘coordinated communications.’”

After debating the question of whether super PAC ads featuring a member of Congress would violate the coordinate ban, which blocks certain interactions between independent groups and candidate committees, the FEC deadlocked at a 3-3 vote. The PAC’s lawyer, Thomas Josefiak, said, “Certainly they’re coordinated, but we’re using that in the lay sense. The question is, is it coordinated from a regulatory perspective?”

The topic was a source of discussion–and hilarity–on Stephen Colbert’s comedy show, The Colbert Report. Typical of Colbert’s tongue-in-cheek approach, he provides a solution to Rove’s request: “To avoid the appearance of collusion, the F.E.C. could rule that candidates can appear in Super PAC ads only against their will,” he wrote. “They’d have to be kidnapped, blindfolded, and thrown in a van before being forced to read a statement supporting their goals and then returned to their fundraisers in time for dessert.”

Commissioner Ellen Weintraub thanked Colbert for “shining a light on this little corner of government” as she brought up the hundreds of comments the commission had received on Rove’s request from viewers of his show.

The thin line between comedy skits and supposedly serious political discussions has dissolved.

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