Nel's New Day

May 6, 2019

Back to the Swinging Doors of DDT’s Administration

People keep moving in an out of the administration:

Stephen Moore is the latest person to be fired before hired. Once a recommendation by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) alongside Herman Cain for the Federal Reserve Board, he lasted longer than Cain. DDT said that he had pulled his name, but two hours earlier Moore had claimed that DDT was “full speed ahead” and that Moore is “all in.” The same thing happened to Cain who was positive that he was the nominee until DDT’s tweet told a different story. For the past month, Moore complained about a “sleaze” campaign that cited his writings from years ago. Yet the day before DDT dumped him, he talked about higher wages for women than for the “breadwinner” causing the “family instability.” Moore has much more going against him currently than his lack of experience, ignorance, racism, and misogyny. His leadership of the Koch-backed ALEC proved his austerity and anti-labor positions promoting income inequality, stagnant incomes, and suppressed wages.Ten years ago, Moore said, “I’m not even a big believer in democracy.”

Like Nixon, DDT is trying to politicize the Federal Reserve Board to lower interest rates and get re-elected. Nixon got his wish in a booming economy, but his scheme led to double-digit inflation.

Oil lobbyist David Bernhardt lasted four days without being investigated after he was confirmed as Interior Department Secretary from Senate Republicans. This coming week, both his investigator and the agency’s top lawyer face Senate confirmation hearings for their posts. The lawyer, who formerly advised the Koch brothers, advised both Bernhardt and his predecessor, Ryan Zinke, regarding legal and ethical issues as well as serving as chief public records officer. This connection erases any separation between politics and Freedom of Information in an agency that works hard to hide their actions. The lawyer said his “job is to protect the Secretary.”

Bernhardt is being investigating for involvement in policies affecting former clients. The Department admitted that Bernhardt’s staff deliberately failed to record his controversial meetings with representatives of fossil fuel, timber and water interests on his public calendar by citing “internal protocol.” They also confirmed he used a personal itinerary overwritten by his scheduling staff after denying that it happened for several months. Many entries were simply described as “internal” or “external.” An agency officer told Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chair of the Oversight Committee, that Bernhardt’s calendar was “deleted at the end of the day.” These practices also violate federal record laws. Later a Department spokeswoman said these practices didn’t exist.

The investigation in the Interior Department includes a total of six of DDT’s appointees who may have conflicts of interest by engaging with former employers or clients about the business of the Department. These include Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech, White House liaison Lori Mashburn, three top staffers at the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, and the department’s former energy policy adviser. The Assistant Secretary kept interacting with his former employer, a conservative think tank, after he joined the Interior Department to discuss pending lawsuits that were settled in his former employer’s interests. Another investigation concerned a former lobbyist for the NRA who participated in issues about his former clients after he joined the Department. He also got recreational shooting opened up in the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

Mark Morgan is DDT’s pick for the head of ICE. He supports DDT’s wall on the southern border and denied that children were held in “cages.” Earlier this year, DDT has named Ronald Vitiello for the position but dropped him, saying that “we’re going in a tougher direction.” Matthew Albence, currently acting ICE director, had said that immigration detention is like “summer camp.” A former senior official said, “Matt never met an undocumented immigrant that he wouldn’t deport.”

Morgan is a good match for Kevin McAleenan, new acting DHS secretary, who promoted family separation to “protect families and children,” even separating legal asylum seekers at legal ports of entry. Last December, McAleenan broke the law by failing to notify Congress with 24 hours of the deaths of two children. Then he forced migrant families to sleep underneath an El Paso bridge in dangerous, unhealthy conditions. McAleenan was in charge of firing tear gas at asylum-seekers. His agents were also well known for ethnic profiling, illegal searches, seizure of religious items, and sometimes, murder and rape.

Julie Kirchner, former leader for the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform, is DDT’s consideration to head U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services if DDT fires Francis Cissna in Stephen Miller’s purge of the federal government. Founded by a white supremacist, FAIR has been labeled a hate group. Currently Kirchner investigates individuals’ complaints against maladministration, especially that of public authorities for USCIS. If confirmed for the head of the agency, she would control the adjudication of applications for asylum, green cards, citizenship, and renewals for protective programs like DACA and TPS.

Patrick Shanahan remains acting as Secretary of Defense as more and more bad news comes from and about his former employer and friend, Boeing. The latest is Boeing’s admission that warning lights were “optional” on the 737 Max commercial jetliners that killed hundreds of people in the last few months. Earlier Boeing tried to blame pilots for their lack of performance. Now the company claims that the lights had no impact on the planes’ safety. Only 20 percent of ordered planes had this upgrade to activate the warning sensor. Neither pilots nor the FAA safety inspectors and supervisors were told about the lack of this safety feature. DDT has suggested that Boeing can solve all its problems with the 737 Max 8 jets by renaming them.

Less than two weeks ago, an internal investigation cleared Shanahan of conflicts of interest although Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson expressed three concerns: his decision to accept the problematic KC-46 tanker, his meeting with Space X CEO Elon Musk, and possible inappropriate sharing of classified information from Boeing programs. Shanahan also incessantly praised the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Internal documents about the Dreamliner production as well as interviews with employees show the same kind of shoddy work on the 737 Max. A quality manager who pointed out problems was moved to other parts of the South Carolina plant where Boeing moved manufacturing despite a lack of comparable work force to that in the Seattle area. As a “right-to-work” state, South Carolina employees can be paid less than in Washington, and the state gave Boeing $1 billion. Fortunately, the Dreamliner has not had a crash yet although it was grounded for a time because of overheating batteries.

Last week, a Boeing 737 slid off a Florida runway into the St. Johns River.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is one of the subjects named by Sears in a lawsuit against its former CEO Edward Lampert, claiming that Mnuchin was part of the board members who helped Lampert and his hedge fund strip Sears of over $2 billion. Lampert and Mnuchin were roommates at Yale University and worked together at Goldman Sachs.

Jared Kushner has done his daddy-in-law proud with his extremely rare public appearance at the Times 100 Summit. He downplayed the Russian election interference from the Mueller report as “a couple of Facebook ads.” Kushner missed the part about the “expansive and expensive” Russian attack, as described by Steve Benen, including “public events, advertising, rallies, p.r. stunts, outreach to domestic allies, and an aggressive social-media component [that] reached as many as 126 million people.”

John Kelly, once DHS Secretary before becoming DDT’s chief of staff, has found a way to make money off his attitudes about immigrants and still avoid DDT. Kelly is now a board member of Caliburn International, the company owning the biggest detention centers for unaccompanied migrant youth. Caliburn received $222 million from taxpayers for a year, but their centers’ capacity has increased from 1,250 beds to 3,200 beds in just one detention center.

Scott Walker, loser as presidential candidate and Wisconsin’s most recent gubernatorial race, found a new job: he’s honorary chair of The Center for State-led National Debt Solutions—aka pusher for a constitutional balanced budget amendment. Ostensibly a Republican, Walker seems to be on the opposite side of congressional Republicans who are driving the national debt sky high. In every date, including Wisconsin, the infrastructure is collapsing while wealthy individuals and corporations received massive tax cuts.

Before he left Wisconsin, Walker put the state’s taxpayers on the hook for $4.1 billion to employ 13,000 people at Foxconn’s manufacturing plant. The deal was announced with DDT; a photo may show the only work DDT has done. Foxconn backed out of the manufacturing plant, and the number of employees dropped to 1,000 workers—about $4 million for each job. Manufacturing the product in China will “be more profitable” for Foxconn, according to one of its officials. Last year, the company hired 178 people, 82 fewer than needed for its first $10 million tax cut. On the campaign trail a week ago, DDT asked Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, to be more “optimistic and hopeful” about Foxconn. Without re-negotiation, which Foxconn hasn’t supported, Wisconsin taxpayers are totally screwed.

Thanks to Walker and his Republicans, almost 15 percent of Wisconsin’s dairy farms aren’t milking or have disappeared. Despite oversupply, Walker tried to beat California in milk production and dropped milk prices by over 25 percent. Other losses included less immigrant farm labor and DDT’s trade war.

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

 

 

April 9, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slate wrote:

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

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

Moore doesn’t reserve his public opinions to economics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others:

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

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

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

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

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