Nel's New Day

July 18, 2017

U.S. House Produces Mixed Results

Most media attention on Congress has targeted the Senate, but the House keeps chugging along. The 2018 budget plan goes to committee tomorrow with a partial repeal of Dodd-Frank in order to stop protecting consumers plus a reduction of $203 billion for financial industry regulations, federal employee benefits, the safety net, etc. to pay for tax cuts and military. Defense spending would increase over the next decade as nondefense discretionary declines to $424 billion from $554 billion. Like senators, representative factions are split between far more cuts to the safety net and opposition to the proposed ones.

Unlike Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) assumption of a four-percent growth, the House Budget Committee expects a 2.6 percent annual average. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecasts a 1.9 percent growth in the economy for the next decade.  The House budget plan also assumes that their repeal of the Affordable Care Act will pass.

Last week the House Appropriations Committee passed a $20 billion spending bill to fund federal agencies, including $1.6 billion to build DDT’s wall against Mexico. The bill includes a measure preventing the IRS from enforcing the 63-year-old law preventing churches from backing political candidates. Another provision in the bill is taking control of funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from the Federal Reserve.

Congress—meaning both chambers—must pass a budget by October 1 to avoid another embarrassing and expensive government shutdown similar to the one in 2013. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), House Freedom Caucus chair, said that his members won’t vote for any budget without constructing the wall. They also claim that they won’t vote for the budget bill because they haven’t seen it. Ryan needs the Caucus because they comprise 31 of the 240 Republicans in the House; passing a bill requires 218 votes. Representatives from districts along the Mexico border are largely opposed to a wall between Mexico and the United States.

The House is still largely ignoring a Senate bill, passed 98-2, that imposes greater sanctions on Russia and limits DDT’s ability to lift them. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that the bill should have originated in the House after DDT lobbied the House to weaken the bill. Special interests in energy are now opposing the bill. Despite the Democratic support for the bill in the senate, Ryan is blaming Democrats for the slowdown.

The House did manage to pass two anti-immigration bills. The first cuts off some federal grants from cities that do not go beyond federal law in cooperating with immigration authorities, and the other creates tougher sentences for criminals illegally entering the U.S. several times.  The second bill was based on a woman killed by a man who had been deported to Mexico five times; DDT had used her as a symbol during his campaign. The Senate will probably not survive the Senate, especially the first one opposed by law enforcement groups. The National Fraternal Order of Police wrote House leaders that “withholding needed assistance to law enforcement agencies—which have no policymaking role—also hurts public safety efforts.”

Even GOP representative couldn’t swallow the massive cuts to the UN peacekeeping budget that its ambassador Nikki Haley touted on behalf of DDT. Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) pointed out “our leadership is irreplaceable.” Appropriations Committee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) said the cuts are not “sustainable or advisable” if the U.S. wants to maintain its status as a global leader.

The House did give DDT a bloated defense budget of $696 billion, more than his requested $603 billion. To survive, the budget needs to cut a deal to increase or repeal the sequestration caps that the GOP supported in 2013. A proposal to end the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force remained in the budget, but an amendment passed to require an administration strategy to defeat ISIS and an assessment of whether the 2001 AUMF is adequate to accomplish the strategy.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) lost her amendment to bar the Pentagon from paying for grender transition services when 24 Republicans joined Democrats to kill the measure. Twenty-seven GOP House representatives, including Oregon’s Greg Walden, joined the Democrats to oppose lawmakers who tried expand DDT’s religious profiling and Islamophobic policies. The failed amendment would have required the Secretary of Defense to “conduct strategic assessments of the use of violent or unorthodox Islamic religious doctrine to support extremist or terrorist messaging.”

Another loss for the GOP came from 46 Republicans voting against with their caucus to defeat an amendment to the Pentagon’s budget to eradicate language about climate change’s threat. The defense policy calls climate change a “direct threat” to national security and requires analysis about its affect on the military. The House voted 185-234 to keep this language by voting down the amendment. Justification for the language in the Defense Department included the rising sea levels threatening military installations and disasters of drought and floods that exacerbate instability and increase extremist insurrections and war. Defense Secretary James Mattis has already stated that climate change is “a real-time issue, not some distant what-if” and “impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today.”

One House member who may find himself embroiled in the DDT/Russia collusion is Oversight Committee Chair Trey Gowdy (SC). His super PAC accepted a great deal of money at the same time that the House Intelligence Committee began his investigation into the collusion. Gowdy defended himself by saying that “it’s not unusual for Russians to contact campaigns.” Yes, it is, and how does Gowdy know about these contacts? He also faces an ethics complaint about the possibility of bribes for his actions connected to Hillary Clinton’s debunked Benghazi investigation.

Gowdy has demanded that every DDT official disclose all communications with Russia before they come “out on the front page of the newspaper.” He wouldn’t admit that there is a problem with Russian collusion, but he wants the distraction to stop. Yet he admitted that “four or five statutes [could be] impacted” and “trusts” special investigator Robert Mueller “to sort all that out.” Mueller has 16 attorneys in his team of 25 people looking into Russian interference.

Things between the House and the White House may grow even more tense, if possible. Devil’s Bargain, a new book from Bloomberg’s Joshua Green, states that white supremacist Steve Bannon, back in WH favor, called Ryan “a limpd**k mother**ker.” Green wrote that the comment from DDT’s chief strategist came from the suggestion of Ryan as a DDT alternative is the RNC were contested. Breitbart.com, Bannon’s former website, launched critical pieces about Ryan. Can this be the first of “kiss and tell” books about DDT—without the kiss?

Ryan has expressed dismay at the senate failure to pass a healthcare bill after the House found 217 votes for Trumpcare months ago. He said that the House will move forward on tax “reform” (aka cuts for the wealthy). Passing the House health care bill has been profitable from some U.S. representative who bought stock in health insurance companies. As the bill moved forward in late March, GOP congressional members invested, i.e., Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), $30,000 and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), $50,000-$100,000.

Shortly after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pulled the vote on its second bill for Trumpcare, he declared that the Senate would vote for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and then replace it later. That plan didn’t work either. Senators who opposed the harshness of the Trumpcare bill are already voicing their opposition. And one possible GOP vote—Sen. John McCain—is still in Arizona. Plus McConnell will need 60, not 50, votes because a repeal won’t fall under the reconciliation process. Yet McConnell plans to move ahead with a vote next week

Ryan was surprised when some women representatives objected to the enforcement of a dress code preventing sleeveless tops and open-toed shoe. Rep. Jackie Spiers (D-CA) initiated “Sleeveless Friday,” a day when the temperature in Washington, D.C. was 97 degrees. Twenty-five women gathered for a photo op on the steps of Congress. Three-fourths of the women in the House are Democrats, but the protest crossed party lines.

Some people may complain about the women making a big deal of a small thing. At this time, however, the Republicans in the House are making a small thing of a big deal—DDT’s conflicts of interest, lack of tax returns, violent and threatening tweets, Russian connections, etc.

April 15, 2017

DDT: Week Twelve – Successes, Failures

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 9:11 PM
Tags: , , , ,

DDT: Week Twelve Successes, Failures

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) made a few inroads last week in his goal of destroying life for people in the United States:

Elimination of Planned Parenthood: DDT privately signed the congressional revocation of a President Obama order. States may now deny Title X family planning funds to pay Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers although no federal money can be used for abortions. The congressional vote in favor of this overturn was so narrow that VP was called in to break a tie in the Senate.

Follow the Money: DDT is making money off bombing Syria and ruining the health of people, especially children. Each of the 59 missiles fired at Syria to make DDT look better costs over $1 million to replace, and DDT has stock in Raytheon, the company that makes the missiles. Last week, Secretary of EPA Scott Pruitt allowed the continued use of the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos, described in here. It’s popular on golf courses, but there is no proof that DDT ordered Pruitt to continue its use of chlorpyrifos to please his golf course management.

DDT Staffers: No longer loyal to him, DDT’s staffers become irrelevant. DDT no longer knew who Carter Page and Paul Manafort are after their investigations for Russian involvement. On the same day that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort left the campaign, he received $13 million in loans from two DDT companies, one led by a Ukranian-born billionaire and the other by a DDT economic adviser. About Steve Bannon, his former top staffer, DDT said, “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late.” About the growing friction among White House staffers, DDT said, “Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will.” DDT also lied when he said he didn’t know Bannon until he joined the presidential campaign; they’ve known each other for six years.

Department of Homeland Security Failure: The government demanded that Twitter release the identity of an anonymous user, Twitter sued the DHS, and DHS dropped its demand. DHS wanted to know who was tweeting inside ICE information through @alt_uscis, an account created by current and former Citizenship and Immigration Services employees. Twitter lawyers cited the right to Free Speech, claiming that “identifying the user “would chill the expression of particularly valuable political speech.’” A Freedom of Information Act request has been filed for records about who ordered the DHS demand.

Easter Egg Roll: The lack of organization at the White House even affected the traditional Easter celebration, now scheduled for April 17, the day after Easter: they forgot to order the eggs until a company reminded them. Of the 40,000 ordered (about half those ordered for 2016), the White House will sell 22,000. Tickets weren’t sent out to the usual school children, members of Congress, and the military. And they forgot about entertainment. At the last minute, PBS Kids and the Children’s Television Workshop, programs that DDT’s budget defunds, were asked to send children’s characters. Last year’s audience was 37,000, but only 20,000 are expected this year. Prepare yourself for photos of this year’s attendance complete with competitive arguments about this president had the largest number coming to the event.

After attending the past two dozen Easter Egg Rolls at the White House, Maryland educator Natalie Rebetsky bought 1,000 wood eggs (above) with the message “Protect Our Children’s Future 2017″ and sold them for $15 on her GoFundMe page. All profits went to PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts.

DDT has also canceled the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast. President Obama began the tradition in 2010 by inviting Christian leaders for a service in the East Room to participate in singing, prayers, and a sermon. The president then talked about Easter’s significance to him. The White House did hold a Passover seder last Monday night, but DDT wasn’t there. His Jewish daughter, Ivanka, and her Jewish husband also skipped the event that President Obama started in 2009. The former president hosted the seder every year, and, in 2012, added a video message to Jews throughout the world wishing them Chag Sameach (Happy Festival).

Remarkable story of the week: DDT bombed Syria as a favor to his daughter, Ivanka, according to her brother Eric.

No one is sure why DDT takes the actions he does, but they are frightening. At this time, he’s on the verge of causing World War III with his threats toward North Korea. As two bullies—DDT and Kim Jong Un—play a game of who’s strongest, Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, is urging both of them to back off from a catastrophe:

“We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not to let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage. If a war occurs, the result is a situation in which everybody loses and there can be no winner. It is not the one who espouses harsher rhetoric or raises a bigger fist that will win.”

Saturday, North Korea celebrated the Day of the Sun on the 105th anniversary of the country’s founder’s birth, by displaying new long-range missiles that could someday threaten continental America while a U.S. aircraft carrier group headed to the region. This morning North Korea defied DDT’s threats of “military options” by firing an unidentified ballistic missile that exploded almost immediately after launch. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that DDT was aware of the test but has no comment, leaving DDT uncharacteristically quiet.

Seoul and Tokyo are at the most at risk if North Korea retaliates to U.S. preemptive actions if North Korea uses a missile with sarin nerve gas. Meanwhile, Russia is moving S400 anti-aircraft missiles to Vladivostok, just eight miles from North Korea, in a massive military mobilization.

After dodging the draft, DDT wants to be a respected part of the military—one reason that he chose many current and past military members for his Cabinet and other senior officials. Having failed at his first attempt to lead  the botched raid in Yemen, he abandoned the responsibilities of a commander-in-chief:

“What I do is I authorize my military. We have given them total authorization and that’s what they’re doing and, frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successful lately.”

As the U.S. approaches a military junta, DDT’s military has doubled the deployment of forces in Syria in the past month and may send more. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers were sent to Mosul with more in Kuwait, and “military advisers” move closer to the front lines. To avoid asking Congress for permission to wage war, as required by the Constitution, he expanded the areas for conducting military operations without constraints or oversights. Almost three months ago, he gave Mattis permission to declare large areas of Yemen active areas of hostilities, removing the need from the military for any permission for strikes. The result is a much higher level of “acceptable collateral damage” (dead civilians). DDT’s military has executed 70 airstrikes in Yemen, double those in all of 2016. DDT gave the same authorization for Somalia and may also follow that up in Libya. To top off these decisions, DDT gave the Pentagon permission to conceal any information about “forces in or out of Iraq and Syria.”

As DDT inspired the press to talk about 86 Syrian people supposedly killed by a chemical attack from their president, Bashar Assad, he killed 1,472 civilians in his Syria and Iraq during just March. During March a year ago, 196 civilians were killed. DDT’s strikes included those on a school and a mosque in Syria along with a building in west Mosul with the three to five civilian fatalities each day indicating a change in the way the U.S. conducts strikes putting civilians much more at risk.

The result from the increased number of civilian casualties from these U.S. strikes is increased failure in the counterterrorism campaign. Because the U.S. is far more cavalier about who it kills, civilians in the Middle East are afraid of U.S. planes, and jhadi recruitment has a more successful technique. Cuts in the State Department have left little diplomatic efforts. DDT is left with only his bravado and military, a policy guaranteed to make the situation far worse.

Now DDT is also threatening North Korea. In talking about DDT’s threats to North Korea, Wang Yi said:

“The United States and South Korea and North Korea are engaging in tit for tat, with swords drawn and bows bent, and there have been storm clouds gathering. If they let war break out on the peninsula, they must shoulder that historical culpability and pay the corresponding price for this.”

DDT loves the military might of the United States—and wants to increase it by at least ten percent. His promise during the campaign was to “bomb the shit out of ISIS.” A war in North Korean is DDT’s way for him to dodge all the bad publicity of budgets, personal finances, loss of safety regulations, etc. He will have created his own 9/11 and Iraq War.

April 7, 2017

DDT: Week Eleven’s Failures

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:51 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

The biggest feature of the past week was Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) attack on Syria to protect all those “innocent babies” who aren’t good enough to seek refuge in the United States. Less than four years ago, DDT wrote, “The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria, fix U.S.A.” Evidently DDT changed his mind after watching Fox television. When President Obama wanted to attack Syria, Republicans agreed with the former DD: in 2013 183 Republicans opposed bombing the Syria, and only 12 Republicans wanted to bomb Syria. “Innocent babies” were killed in 2013 too.

Foreign Policy by Mixed Message: Just days before Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, killed almost 100 people in what may have been a chemical attack, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that U.S. policy would not remove the tyrant from power. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley echoed the message that there was no reason for the U.S. to attempt regime change in Syria, and DDT supported President Bashar al-Assad because he “is killing ISIS.” After the attack, Haley blamed Assad’s main ally, Russia, and VP Mike Pence said that “all options are on the table,” a common statement from the White House. DDT blamed President Obama. The most logical blame, however, may have come from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who was sure that the Assad regime was “encouraged to know that the United States is withdrawing” from the conflict.

Murdering Tyrant Welcomed to White House: Only innocent babies should be saved in DDT’s world. Earlier this week he welcomed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, his favorite Middle East strongman, to the White House. Egypt is holding 40,000 to 60,000 political prisoners, including thousands of secular liberal democrats. His security forces were responsible for 1,400 extrajudicial killings in 2016 alone and 912 disappearances between August 2015 and August 2016. Evidently Fox hasn’t shown any footage of this horror because DDT calls the perpetrator a “fantastic guy.”

U.S. Slaughter of Civilians in “Slow and Brutal” Death: If Fox had broadcast the aftermath of the 300+ civilians who were killed by one U.S. attack in Mosul, he might reconsider his military approach. The U.S. military denied having killed these people in U.S. airstrikes 22 days ago after U.S.-backed authorities told people to stay in the area of the strikes until this past week. Emergency workers are still pulling bodies out of the devastation. On DDT’s watch, U.S. have killed about 1,500 civilians in Iraq and Syria during the past month, but visuals of the horrific U.S. airstrikes are largely non-existent in the mainstream media—especially the ones that DDT watches every morning.

(Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

War for the U.S.? Even before DDT’s attack on Syria, North Korea’s ballistic missile on Tuesday flew 40 miles before falling into the East Sea. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea.” Two days before Tillerson’s statement, DDT said, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will” and added that he could do it without China’s help. One report tonight indicated that the National Security Counsel may have given DDT the option of assassinating Kim Jong-un.

No Resolution with China: Chinese President Xi Jinping left DDT’s luxurious resort Mar-a-Lago today after a day of meetings and dinner last night while DDT flexed his bombing muscles in Syria. Although DDT said they “made tremendous progress,” they agreed to take 100 days for a plan regarding economic differences. He also failed to pressure China into forcing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.  Xi described the meeting as “unique.”

DDT’s SCOTUS Win through Changing Rules:  All the news about bombings and missiles gave short shrift to the elimination of the filibuster for Supreme Court justice, allowing Republicans to give lying plagiarist 49-year-old Neil Gorsuch power over people in the United States for up to the next 40 years. In addition to having one of his rulings unanimously overturned by a usually split Supreme Court, Gorsuch plagiarized chunks of his 2006 book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, by copying other authors without citations. Six different experts on academic integrity evaluated his actions from mere sloppiness to a clear impropriety. One authority, Syracuse University professor Rebecca Moore Howard, said, “Each of the individual incidents constitutes a violation of academic ethics.” In ads for his confirmation, Gorsuch said he ruled “in favor” of disabled students when he did exactly the opposite. Four years ago, GOP senators blocked almost all President Obama’s nominees with no specific objections to any of them and were shocked when the Democrats fought back.  Now they take the high road in employing the same strategy in spite of the nominee being lacking in humanity and ethical jurisprudence. The usually split current Supreme Court unanimously overturned one of this decisions during his hearings. Three Democrats voted in favor of Gorsuch, all three up for election this coming year in red states.

More Lawsuits for DDT: U.S. District Judge David J. Hale has agreed with plaintiffs that DDT’s campaign call for his supporters to “get ‘em out of here” incited his audience to physically attack people. The three protesters are suing DDT for incitement, vicarious liability, negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness. Hale described DDT’s demand as “particularly reckless” and “implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action.” He denied DDT’s claim that free speech protects him. Lawyers for Trump and his campaign tried to excuse themselves because they had no duty to the plaintiffs who assumed risk of injury by attending the rally. The judge responded that the law requires every person to use care to prevent foreseeable injury. The case has been referred to a federal magistrate, Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl, for preliminary litigation, discovery and settlement efforts. In addition, four environmentalist groups and ten state attorneys general are suing DDT for its suspension of six energy efficiency standards for product such as ceiling fans, walking-in coolers, and freezers. DDT’s order will cost consumers up to $23 billion in higher energy bills while increasing greenhouse gas emissions. And the Supreme Court has refused to stop a case in the 6th Circuit Court about President Obama’s Clean Water Rule to protect small waterways such as streams and wetlands from pollution while DDT ponders whether to repeal the rule.

Police Reform: A federal judge refused to delay a hearing on a proposed agreement to overhaul the Baltimore Police Department, calling the Trump administration’s request a “burden and inconvenience.”

Health Care: The last week marked another failure for Trumpcare despite efforts by VP Mike Pence. A week ago, DDT blamed the Republican conservatives for its failure. The next day he switched to saying that he would work to get them to vote for it. On Sunday DDT tweeted that “talks on Repealing and Replacing ObamaCare are, and have been, going on, and will continue.” By Monday, Pence was trying to make deals with the Freedom Caucus, offering a deal to drop the standard minimum benefits and the rule requiring insurance companies to charge the same premium for people of the same age which would make the pre-existing conditions requirement useless. In a meeting with the more moderate GOP wing on Tuesday who were not impressed with the earlier offer to conservatives. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that the House is at only the “concept stage” with no plans for a vote. Congress left town today for two weeks and won’t return until the week that the government will shut down without its action. The current Affordable Care Act has a 55-percent approval rate while DDT’s approval rate has dropped to 34 percent. His approval among Republicans has dropped 14 points in just the last two weeks. In addition, he’s lost the majority support of men and plurality of white voters. One of his latest tactics is to attach the health care plan to one for infrastructure, but that plan is such a con that he might fail in doing this also.

In an amazing move this week, DDT took his pet white supremacist Steve Bannon off the National Security Council and replaced him with qualified officials. According to the Wall Street Journal, DDT’s security adviser, H.R. McMaster, made the decision, but many reasons are swirling, including the completion Bannon’s appointment to “babysit” now-fired Michael Flynn. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is the replacement, assigned to lead a task force on government efficiency, the same goal as Bannon’s “Strategic Initiatives Group.”  Bannon blames the Obama administration, including former adviser Susan Rice, for his downfall in another part of DDT’s “War on Obama.”  The White House claims that Bannon’s group never existed although Sebastian Gorka, high-level DDT staffer, had talked about being a member, and journalists had seen a door posted with the sign of the group. Bannon blames the Obama administration, including former adviser Susan Rice, for his downfall in another part of DDT’s “War on Obama.”  After his demotion from presidency, Bannon went so far as to tell people that he might quit.  He may not have the chance because another rumor is that both Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus may be fired. http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/327909-white-house-frustrated-by-palace-intrigue

On Air Force One, DDT told reporters, “We’ve had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency.” It’s only been eleven.

So much intrigue, so little space. More tomorrow!

February 25, 2017

DDT: Lies, Lies, Lies

cpac-ballroomConservatives celebrated at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his minions this year—a change from last year when he wasn’t even wanted at the conference. DDT’s speech could have been the one he wanted to give last year as he quoted Hillary Clinton’s term “deplorable” and encouraged the crowd to shout “Lock her up!” Another last election message was the conspiracy against Bernie Sanders with “super-delegates.” Numbers also plagued him when he claimed that they would not read about CPAC “lines that go back six blocks.” The speech is probably for his 2020 run, but the lies are the same. Even the ballroom at CPAC was not full for DDT’s speech.

Other false claims from DDT: “Obamacare covers very few people,” and “[the wall is] way, way, way ahead of schedule.” The Affordable Care Act reduced the number of uninsured by 20 million people, and there is no schedule for the wall that may never be built.” The rate of people in the United States who lack health insurance has hit a record low with only 8.6 percent of people, about 27.3 million, being uninsured. That’s 20.4 million fewer people than when the program started in 2010, and the number would be lower if the Supreme Court had maintained the states’ mandatory Medicaid expansion. Red states showed the greatest decline in the number of uninsured, and those without Medicaid expansion had the highest percentage of uninsured with Texas and Mississippi at the top.

Throwing red meat to his CPAC base, DDT defined his enemies: “radical Islamic terrorists”; immigrants who he described as “the gang members, the drug dealers, and the criminal aliens”; and, of course, the “dishonest media.” Also the Constitution as he whined about the “Fiii-rrrst Amendment!” After he talked about keeping “the bad ones” out, he excluded several media outlets from his Friday briefing session.

DDT’s new National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, negated the use of the term “racial Islamic terrorists.” Speaking to his staff, he said that the label was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic.”

 With so much news flooding the air waves about DDT, this one may have slipped through the cracks. One week before Michael Flynn left his position as National Security Advisor on February 13, 2017, he received a proposal for the way that DDT could lift sanctions against Russia. DDT’s personal Mafia-linked lawyer Michael D. Cohen, business associate plus convicted felon and government informant Felix Salter who helped DDT scout deals in Russia, and Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Artemenko are pushing the plan of releasing evidence of corruption to allow Artemenko to take over the government and negotiate a long term Russian “lease” of Crimea.

The goal is to replace the current Ukrainian government with the Russia-tolerant faction allowing DDT to lift the sanctions against Russia’s military invasion and capture of Russia and give Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the $500 billion deal for Exxon Mobil. Flynn has disappeared, but the plan surely remains, most likely with a payoff for DDT. And it’s on paper. Artemenko is currently under treason investigation, and Cohen denied delivering any plan.

DDT’s assertion that his Muslim ban is to protect the country was soundly debunked by a report from his own Department of Homeland Security that concluded citizenship is an “unreliable” threat indicator and that people from the seven countries have rarely been implicated in U.S.-based terrorism. People from the dangerous seven countries identified by DDT, the same ones where he doesn’t do personal profit-making business—Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Libya—are “rarely implicated in U.S.-based terrorism,” according to the report.

Although terror groups in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen pose a threat of attacks in the United States, the other four countries are “regionally focused.” Of the 82 people “who died in the pursuit of or were convicted of any terrorism-related federal offense,” over half were U.S.-born citizens. Eight of them convicted or died in pursuit of terrorism were from Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and Yemen. People are more likely to be killed by guns, trains, a railway vehicle, their own clothes melting or lighting on fire, lightning, falling furniture–the list goes on and on about the dangers of life outside terrorism. Of the 3,252,493 refugees admitted to the United States from 1975 to the end of 2015, 20 were terrorists, 0.00062 percent of the total.  Only three of them were successful in their attacks, killing a total of three people.

At the same time DHS released its report refuting DDT’s claim about Muslims and terrorism, Secretary John Kelly released a memo creating a new DDT-ordered federal office to work with victims of undocumented immigrants. He wrote that “criminal aliens routinely victimize Americans and other legal residents.” Once again, the government is “misrepresenting,” a polite word for lying. Undocumented immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes and U.S. citizens and are less likely to be criminals in some cases.

The Secure Communities (S-COMM) immigration enforcement program failed to reduce crime. A study of 159 cities shows no correlation between crime rates and levels of immigration, and other research showed that levels of recent immigration had a negative affect on homicide rates and no affect on property crime rates. Another study found that immigrant influx was correlated with decreases in homicide and robbery rates.

The only people who need to be afraid are those with brown skin who might be accused of being Hispanic or Muslim. For example, Muhammad Ali Jr., son of one of the greatest boxers and civil rights activists in the nation, was detained two hours on February 7 at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (FL) airport on his return from Jamaica. He had gone there with his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, who gave a speech about black history. He was asked twice about his religion and “where he got his name,” a common question for Muslims. Agents released Ali’s mother when she showed him a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but Ali had no picture of himself and his father who died last year. DDT’s Muslim ban was overturned three days prior to Ali’s detention, but agents reportedly did not respect the court’s judgment.

NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre is using the DDT system of lying. Before Election Day, he told gun lovers that they had to vote for NRA Republicans because every one of his predictions about Obama taking guns and sabotaging the Second Amendment had come true. The reverse was actually true as federal gun safety laws and those in most states were weakened. At CPAC, LaPierre ranted about how the “Anarchists, Marxists, communists, and the left of—the rest of the left-wing socialist parade” are coming for the guns.

Anti-Trump protesters “spit in the face of Gold Star families,” a revision of history when progressives defended these families and DDT excoriated them unless they were white. LaPierre said these leftists want “to tear down our system.” At the same time, White House and white supremacist Steve Bannon declared that “deconstruction [aka destruction] of the administration” is its goal. The crowning claim from LaPierre was that progressive activists get paid $1,500 a week, $78,000 a year. Watch for the letters of your newspaper because these lies are sure to appear there.

“I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning, my offices were open to the public. Ron Barber—at my side that Saturday, who was shot multiple times, then elected to Congress in my stead—held town halls. It’s what the people deserve in a representative.”

gabby-giffordsThat was the response from Gabby Giffords to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) who used her as an excuse for not facing his constituents. Gohmert won his last election by more than 49 points, and his district is one of the reddest in the country—but he’s afraid of “the threat of violence at town hall meetings.” And he used the 2011 shooting at former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) where she was severely injured and six people were killed. With her customary bravery, Giffords responded:

“To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage. Face your constituents. Hold town halls. [During my congressional career] listening to my constituents was the most basic and core tenet of the job I was hired to do.”

Giffords’ husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly said that Gohmert shouldn’t “hide behind” his wife to avoid town halls:

“If he doesn’t want to do town halls, he should just say he doesn’t want to face his constituents. He shouldn’t hide behind Gabby.”

Town hall complaints from tens of thousands of people included the repeal of health care, Scott Pruitt’s confirmation to head the EPA, and legislators refusal to investigate DDT’s links to Russia. Many crowds chanted, “Do your job!” Terrified of this response, a vast majority of GOP legislators simply avoided their constituents in any way they could.

Gohmert also repeated lies that “paid” groups were disrupting the Republican town halls. No town hall meetings this year have been violent, even if some members of Congress have called the police instead of facing a group of people. There’s no evidence of paid protesters, and progressive activists haven’t “threatened public safety.” It was the violent Tea Party members who protested Barack Obama’s election and gathered with their guns to threaten and spit on legislators who supported the ACA.

If Gohmert—and his GOP colleagues—are so terrified of vilence from guns, it’s time for them to enact gun safety laws. And it’s time for “these people” to stop lying.

 

 

February 16, 2017

Trump Surrounds Himself with White Supremacists

It’s the 21st century, and white supremacists are controlling the White House. After World War II, the nation was “great” because the United States had defeated Nazism during World War II. Less than a century ago, neo-Nazis are a key component in leading the country.

steve-bannonSteve Bannon, de facto president, has received a great deal of press, including posts in this blog. Readers of Breitbart.com learned about the high “black crime” and the “Muslim hordes” beating down the gates of “Western civilization.” Readers also learned that women who use contraceptives are ugly, but that’s another story.

stephen-millerSenior advisor Stephen Miller made a huge name for himself on last Sunday’s talk shows by explaining that the supreme power of and last word in U.S. government is DDT—a position of czar. College roommate of Richard Spencer, a major white supremacist leader, Miller fiercely advocates for “ethno-nationalism,” a way of claiming the superiority of whites and the belief that U.S. culture needs to force out anyone not believing in the nation’s “Judeo-Christian values.” Miller communicated this on the talk shows in his falsehood that “millions” of “illegal aliens” voted against DDT. [Above photo by Jabin Botsford]

Miller was behind DDT’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, probably writing DDT’s speech that “complained darkly that Muslim communities within the United States were sheltering terrorists.” He wrote other strident speeches, including DDT’s declaration that “nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” In Miller’s view, immigration is one of the greatest “existential issues” in the nation, according to a former Miller colleague. Mostly behind the scenes until last Sunday, Miller is equally instrumental as Steve Bannon to DDT’s agenda of exclusion and white hegemony.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 09:  U.S. President Donald Trump (C) put his hand on the shoulder of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) after introducing him before Sessions's swearing in ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House February 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump also signed three executive orders immediately after the swearing in ceremony. Also pictured is U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L).  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Well-known racist, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the Third has just been anointed Attorney General after Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his minions blocked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) from reading a Coretta Scott King letter about Sessions’ racist behavior. As DDT’s lap dog, he will protect all the president’s illegal actions. Sessions is now the leading law enforcement official of the entire nation, charged with protecting civil rights for racial minorities and other vulnerable populations. We can look forward to Sessions’ protecting the Ku Klux Klan and other white populations.

gorkaSebastian Gorka, DDT’s deputy assistant and former “national security” editor for Breitbart.com, is rabidly Islamophobic and a promoter—perhaps creator—of the term “fake news” for anyone who criticizes DDT. He also strongly supported the omission of any reference to Jews in the Holocaust remembrance statement, possibly because he’s also anti-Semitic.

medalA medal he sports in photographs, the Order of Vitéz, belongs to a Hungarian group identified in the State Department as collaborator with the Nazis during World War II. [visual] The medal of the “vitézi rend,” established by virulently anti-Semitic Miklós Horthy in 1920, was used to “knight” military members and could be inherited. The medal could be inherited, in Gorka’s case most likely from his grandfather. As a Nazi Germany ally, Hungary passed anti-Semitic legislation in 1938 and sent 100,000 Jewish men to forced labor in 1941.

In 1944, Hungary first put 440,000 Jews into ghettos and then deported 425,000 of them to Auschwitz-Birkenau where three-fourths of them were gassed on arrival. The others died from disease, starvation, and other brutal treatment. By the end of the Holocaust, 75 percent of Hungarian Jews were dead. The “knightly order” was banned after the war, but right-wing émigrés kept the organization alive. Anti-Semites again brag about predecessors being a “vitéz.”

michael-antonDDT has added another white supremacist to his team on the National Security Council. Michael Anton, aka Publius Decius Mus, wrote “The Flight 93 Election” for racist Trump supporters, comparing Trump’s campaign to the hijacked plane on 9/11 that passengers took back by force. As a communications aide for the National Security Council in 2001, he participated in preparing the case for invading Iraq that included the myth that Saddam Hussein wanted uranium from Africa. Like DDT, Anton has later disavowed that he supported the Iraq War. [Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster]

Anton’s essay “Toward a Sensible, Coherent Trumpism” defended pre-world War II anti-Semitism:

“Diversity” is not ‘our strength’; it’s a source of weakness, tension and disunion. America is not a ‘nation of immigrants’; we are originally a nation of settlers, who later chose to admit immigrants, and later still not to, and who may justly open or close our doors solely at our own discretion, without deference to forced pieties.”

Even neoconservative Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, is critical, comparing Anton to the Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. Kristol wrote:

“The Bannon-Anton wing of the Trump White House has a penchant for semi-conspiratorial analyses and semi-kooky prescriptions. And for them, being responsible isn’t a virtue. Which is worrisome.”

As Heather Digby Parton wrote for Salon, DDT found his supporters among those who “see the Obama years as a conscious destruction of civil society through politically correct racial McCarthyism, confiscatory taxes, overbearing regulation, religious oppression, rampant crime and disarmament of the populace” that they learned “on Fox News, heard about from Rush Limbaugh and read about on Breitbart News for nearly a decade.”

DDT’s minions reported what was being pushed on these sources of lies, that Common Core is a disaster, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “traitorous,”  DDT looks down from his plan and sees the nation as a “war zone” with high crime where all blacks live in violent, squalid ghettos. DDT pictures the U.S. on the edge of social and economic collapse. And these falsehoods are pushed by the white supremacists who DDT has selected to surround him.

“White nationalism” means hostility to Muslims, racial stereotypes of Hispanics, and contempt for blacks. Bannon recently wrote, “In America and Europe, working people are reasserting their right to control their own destinies.” “Working” is dogwhistle for “white” in the same way that Bannon meant Jews and other minorities when he denigrated “cosmopolitan elites.”

Neither Miller nor Bannon supported Andrew Puzder, accusing him of not being strong enough on anti-immigration. After wife-abusing Steve Bannon got rid of wife-abusing Puzder, who withdrew his nomination for Labor Department secretary, conservative Alex Acosta has appeared as a nominee for that position. Acosta’s resume includes clerking for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, confirmation to the National Labor Board, and top federal prosecutor in Miami.

acostaIt was his position on the DOJ Civil Rights Division during George W. Bush’s first term that led to his problems. Acosta’s oversaw the official with hiring authority who allowed employment of only conservative lawyers opposed to civil rights, including police abuse and voting rights violations. A report found that “Acosta took no action to alert those in his chain of command.” As a DOJ official, Acosta participated in Bush’s efforts to win Ohio by telling a judge to side with GOP attorneys when Democrats tried to reinstate the purged names of 23,000 voters. Acosta’s action caused him to lose out in his application to be the law school head at the University of Florida. A question is how Bannon and Miller will cope with Acosta’s pro-Muslim testimony in a congressional hearing.

The last two years have seen a rise in anti-Muslim hate groups in the United States with an almost three-fold increase just last year from 34 to 101. “As the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump,” the overall number of domestic hate groups is now 917 in a “resurgence of white nationalism.” The report added that the new groups “were almost entirely focused on Trump and seemed to live off his candidacy.” The FBI reported a 67-percent surge of hate crimes against Muslims in 2015.

Today DDT again called himself  “the least racist [person you have seen in your entire life].” These are the people he chooses to “make America great again.”

February 7, 2017

Bannon Runs U.S. While Unhappy Trump Takes Heat

“Trump has skin thinner than his wife and an ego bigger than my ass,” Helen Philpot wrote on her insightful blog to her friend Margaret. At the same time, Donald Trump (DDT), who desperately needs accolades, suffers from popular culture’s ridicule and criticism. Comedians’ humor and magazine covers’ condemnation highlight the elevation of DDT’s chief strategist to de facto President of the United States.

In two memorable skits from Saturday Night Live last weekend, the one featuring Melissa McCarthy as Press Secretary Sean Spicer was a particular embarrassment to DDT because he hates weakness—and women, to DDT, are weak. Even worse for DDT, allies found the representation to be accurate. After McCarthy’s success, Rosie O’Donnell has offered to play Steve Bannon on SNL.

alec-baldwin-bannonAnother SNL skit last week portrayed Bannon as the Grim Reaper who pulls the strings for DDT’s actions. Playing DDT, Alec Baldwin alienates leaders of U.S. allies, and the Bannon character says, “It was just according to plan.” The Bannon figure moves to the president’s desk at the end of the skit while the DDT character becomes child-sized.

trevor-noahHarsher than SNL, Trevor Noah played “Who’s the Real President” on The Daily Show. His pick is, of course, Steve Bannon. Noah used the Bannon image on the Time cover as evidence that “even the ‘dishonest media’ recognizes that Bannon is the ‘real power behind the throne.’” Time titled Bannon as “The Great Manipulator.”

der-spiegelIn the past, DDT has (falsely) bragged about his appearances on the cover of Time. Thus far he hasn’t tweeted anything about his image on the cover of Der Spiegel with the words “America First.” The artwork shows how the United States is rising to the top—by beheading Lady Liberty.

der-spiegel-2-ny-daily-newsThis cover is a classier version of the New York Daily Post illustration in December 2015 after DDT first called for a complete ban on Muslims “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

 

cover-economistThe cover of The Economist, illustrated an unusually radical editorial:

 

“The bleak cadence of last month’s inauguration was still in the air when Donald Trump lobbed the first Molotov cocktail of policies and executive orders against the capital’s brilliant-white porticos. He has not stopped…. His grenade-chuckers-in-chief, Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller, have now carried that logic into government… The secrecy and confusion of the immigration ban are a sign not of failure, but of how his people shun the self-serving experts who habitually subvert the popular will. Trump’s politics of conflict extends, of course, to foreign policy, and that is where they see serious problems looming.

“A web of bilateralism and a jerry-rigged regionalism are palpably worse for America than the world Mr. Trump inherited. It is not too late for him to conclude how much worse, to ditch his bomb-throwers and switch course. The world should hope for that outcome. But it must prepare for trouble.”

MSNBC Joe Scarborough, known for his campaign support for DDT, broadcast a clip of the Alec Baldwin skit and the cover from Time on The Morning Joe Show. During his monologue, he asked if Bannon was “calling the shots.” An hour later, DDT tweeted:

“I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it.”

Not everyone. The day before the tweet, Madeleine Albright, secretary of State for Bill Clinton, told CNN that she assumed Bannon was “the person that’s pulling the strings.” Other pundits and politicians have suggested the same idea.

DDT’s ego is suffering from the belief that he is not in control and the fact that a mere member of his staff has taken the place on Time that he thinks should belong to him. A White House source said, “I assume President Trump was not pleased with the Time cover, because that is reserved for Donald Trump.” Trump-supporter and GOP strategist John Feehery said, “Any time you have staff members on the cover of Time magazine, that’s a problem.”

trump-bannon-big-boyBannon’s presidential duties include writing vague, confusing executive orders with no professional vetting, ones that DDT sometimes signs without reading them. A prime example is the one that put Bannon on the National Security Council while removing career military and intelligence people. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence are allowed to attend only when issues concern their “direct areas of responsibilities.” Crazy torturer Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor, stayed.

Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said, “This is a ‘Holy Crap’ moment.” One of these happened with Bannon’s involvement in the disastrous Yemen raid that killed a Navy Seal and many civilian women and children but leaving its target, Al Qaeda Leader Qassim Al-Rimi, still alive and taunting DDT.

Sen. Susan Collin (R-ME) said:

“What I’m concerned about is the president’s executive order reorganizing the NSC in a way that removes the director of national intelligence, the only person who can provide a comprehensive overview of intelligence on a policy issue, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the only one who has the comprehensive view of the military consequences of a particular policy from the principal’s committee.”

The danger of Steve Bannon as president goes far beyond his ignorance. His goal, according to past writings and speeches, is to put the United States in the midst of a global war using DDT as “a blunt instrument for us,” possibly the white supremacists. Bannon has been praised for his similarity to Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s favorite propagandist and his racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist, and Islamophobic voice.

Bannon’s friends have cited his aggression and obsession with war and aggression as he looks forward to social chaos, the purpose of his executive orders. His goal is to demolish the United States and recreate a Tea Party-led version of the Bolshevik Revolution. He has predicted that He predicts that “we’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict.” Despite Bannon’s hatred for Islam, that he calls the “most radical” religion in the world, the Middle East isn’t Bannon’s only warring focus; he also aims at “war in the South China Sea.” He also wants to depose Germany’s Angela Merkel to create a white supremacy in Europe.

In Bannon’s attack on the free press, he described the media as a “fifth column,” defined as a group that fights for a nation’s enemies. The position parallels the actions of dictators and tyrants who manipulate by “owning” information through “alternative facts” by scattering doubt and confusion about truth. Toward that end, Bannon persuades people that he opposes the “elites” who work in media. He said:

“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

Bannon found satisfaction in the turmoil and condemnation of the Muslim ban that raised huge protests and media attention. He sees the publicity as a PR win. It was Bannon’s decision “to include green card holders in the president’s temporary ban on travel from Muslim countries,” according to Raw Story’s David Edwards. Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox pointed out that Bannon responsible for “fuel(ing) Trump’s firefight with the media, discrediting and undermining the mainstream voices opposed to his anti-immigrant and anti-trade agenda.”

bannon-trumpJust as DDT refused to repudiate the Ku Klux Klan, he has refused to condemn Bannon’s Islamophobic remarks and sent a message to white supremacists the he’s on their side. DDT has been delighted to pass his presidential obligations to someone else because of his short attention span and no interest in public policy. His specialty is marketing shady real estate deals and making money off declaring bankruptcy. All he wants is to preen in front of hand-picked crowds that approve of his boorish behavior and make up information that has no reality in real life. Whenever he finds himself criticized, he angrily tweets and then leads the crowds into another diversion before he calls another country’s leader to alienate them.

A question is how long Bannon will last with constant derision of Bannon’s control. And how close to the sun will hubris take Bannon and DDT before they fall into the sea, just as Icarus did in Greek mythology.

January 29, 2017

Protesters Gather over Muslim Ban

Filed under: Donald Trump,Religion — trp2011 @ 8:44 PM
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protest-boston-copley-squareThe women’s march was only a week ago, and now thousands of protesters, such as the ones in Boston’s Copley Square above, have gathered in opposition to President Donald Trump’s (PDT) ban on Muslims coming into the United States. PDT’s order, written by white supremacist Steve Bannon, bars all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days and all Muslims from seven Middle East countries for 90 days. Although PDT staffer Reince Priebus denied on Meet the Press that the ban is also on legal U.S. residents who hold green cards, these people have also been retained. The order states that they will need a case-by-case waiver to enter the country. Especially notable about the order is that is poorly written and was not vetted by any legal members of the PDT administration.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, called the ban “a dark moment in U.S. history,” citing the need for suffering people to save their lives by seeking refuge. Cupich wrote:

“The world is watching as we abandon our commitments to American values. These actions give aid and comfort to those who would destroy our way of life. They lower our estimation in the eyes of the many peoples who want to know America as a defender of human rights and religious liberty, not a nation that targets religious populations and then shuts its doors on them.”

PDT has denied that his ban has anything to do with religion:

“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion.”

trumpYet PDT’s order clearly identifies that refugee claims are for “religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” All seven countries’ majority religion is Islam; thus the ban clearly favors Christian refugees and violates the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment prohibiting one religion over another. Equal protection is also covered in the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. PDT is following his campaign promise of calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” and his admission that he would pretend the ban would be a neutral immigration restriction. Another argument for overturning PDT’s ban is the violation of a federal law forbidding discrimination based on national origin in the immigration system.

Within the first 23 hours of the ban, at least 375 people were impacted before U.S. District Court judge Ann M. Donnelly of Brooklyn issued an emergency order last night, halting the deportations. The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of those banned, which Donnelly said is likely to succeed when a full trial is held in several weeks. Several other federal courts also issued similar stays. Rulings in four other cities are limited to those already at U.S. airports or in transit, not to the legality of PDT’s ban.

A federal judge ordered the DHS to allow an Iranian man holding a U.S. visa to return to California from Dubai where he was awaiting removal to Iran. Judge Dolly Gee found that PDT’s ban “violates the Establishment Clause, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and his rights to Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”

Yet many people are still in airport detention. After issuing the ban, PDT provided no guidance to airports or airlines about actions, other than confirming that the ban will not be lifted. Canadian Prime Minister has offered to take any refugees holding green cards who are banned in the U.S.

PDT counselor Kellyanne Conway, promoter of PDT’s “alternative facts” on Meet the Press a week ago, hid on the Fox network today and still had a meltdown about the horrible press that prints information about the new president. Describing reporters, she said:

“We turn the other cheek. If you are part of team Trump, you walk around with these gaping, seeping wounds every single day…. I’m here every Sunday morning. I haven’t slept in a month.”

[Turn the other cheek? Gaping wounds? A comparison to Jesus?]

Conway was fortunate in her interview: Chris Wallace failed to point out that the ban most likely violates international treaties, federal statutes, and the U.S. Constitution. Yet she couldn’t even handle that situation.

Arguments from the PDT team are that the ban promotes safety at the cost of a small convenience. But bans on the basis of nationality or religion can be disastrous to national security. It can undermine efforts of security agencies and erode relationships necessary to fight terror.  Iran has already accused Congress of violating its agreement after lawmakers put new sanctions on the country last month. The ban will accelerate hostilities in a fragile relationship: Iran’s Foreign Ministry has called PDT’s order “an insult to the Islamic world, and especially to the great nation of Iran.” According to the statement:

“The decision of the Government of the United States incorporates certain requests that are illegal, illogical, and contrary to international law. The Islamic Republic of Iran will carefully examine and legally pursue any negligence or violation of the international obligations of the United States under bilateral and multilateral agreements and reserves the right to respond as necessary.”

A Bipartisan Policy Center report pointed out that the result can be reciprocal bans against U.S. citizens and commerce, costing the nation billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. The Iraqi parliament is already contemplating a block on visas for people from the U.S. who want to travel to the country.

Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich called the immigration “ham-handed” because it “sowed so much confusion” among international travelers and “sent a message that somehow the United States was looking sideways at Muslims.” He added, “In probably many Arab capitals today, people are like, ‘What is America doing?’ ”

Showing that public outcry can be effective, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly issued a blanket waiver to immigrants holding green cards or entitled to permanent residence in the U.S., allowing them to enter the country, despite President Trump’s new executive order. But the damage to the nation’s reputation is already done. There’s no going back. World War III, anyone?

November 14, 2016

Don’t Normalize Trump; He Really Is That Bad

“Oh, he really isn’t that bad.” That cry started after Donald Trump’s election for the White House with the hope that people would believe that he’s really a decent person despite his virulently racist, misogynist, bullying, pro-violent statements. Now Trump supporters are moving on to defend Steve Bannon, as Trump moves the right-wing fringe from the past into the mainstream of the executive branch, further normalizing racism and anti-Semitism. Most Republican politicians have avoided mentioning Bannon’s annointing, but Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) praised Trump’s choice. (Chris Matthews did say that Steve Bannon makes Rudy Giuliani look good.)

steve-bannonBannon called his outlet “the platform of the alt-right,” an online-based white nationalist movement with the goal of an all-white United States.  For example, his Breitbart.com published an article entitled “Hoist it high and proud: The Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage” after a white supremacist killed nine blacks at the historic Charleston (SC) black church. Another article called Bill Kristol, conservative columnist who opposed Trump, a “renegade Jew.” Other notable Bannon headlines include “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” and “Political Correctness Protects Muslim Rape Culture.”

“The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office,” John Weaver, advisor of Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 2016 presidential campaign, tweeted in response to the news. “Be very vigilant America.” Bannon is a good match for Trump in his treatment of women. After his former wife was beaten, Bannon was arrested and charged with domestic violence. Prosecutors had to drop the charges after she didn’t show up in court, possibly because Bannon threatened her and the children if she spoke against him. A court case also accused Bannon and his colleague of sexual harassment. More about Bannon here.

It’s been said that “personnel is policy,” and Bannon is a chief example of this as he has been named “equal” to former RNC director Reince Priebus, now Trump’s chief of staff. In fact, Bannon probably has more influence that Priebus, who is lucky to get the new job because the GOP had considered firing him from the national committee. Like Bannon and Trump, Priebus has no elected experience; Bannon’s only government experience is attacking it.

trump-obama

Trump will need to hire far more than these two people in his transition to the White House. Until talking with President Obama this week, Trump had no idea that he was responsible for hiring the 4,100 staffers in the West Wing. Over 1,000 of those new employees must be confirmed by the Senate and should be vetted for security clearances within two months. The 100 top officials—cabinet plus defense, homeland security, disaster and pandemic response officials—must be ready to start work on January 20 to keep the country safe. Desperate to keep some of the current staff members, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, asked them if they were willing to stay with the new administration. They weren’t. The State Department, preparing to turn everything over to Trump, have contacted him about the transition, but he hasn’t answered.

Conservative columnist Ross Douthat thinks that people have “a moral responsibility to serve”:

“For the next four years, the most important check on what we’ve seen of Trump’s worst impulses—his hair-trigger temper, his rampant insecurity, his personal cruelty—won’t come from Congress or the courts or the opposition party. It will come from the people charged with executing the basic responsibilities of government within his administration.

“This is particularly true in foreign policy, where presidential power has its fewest limits — where the chief executive can start wars with near-impunity, deal out death from the skies, rattle the global economy with an executive order, and decide with barely anyone else’s input to launch a nuclear weapon. In foreign policy, too, the choices that presidential appointees have to make on their own, in diplomatic and military contexts, can have life-or-death consequences very quickly. So to the extent that Trump’s approach to governance threatens world peace, that threat can be mitigated by appointees with experience and knowledge, and magnified if their posts are filled by hacks and sycophants instead.”

This Republican who writes that people should suffer abuse from Trump to keep him from making stupid mistakes, ignores the fact that Trump will not pay any attention to what public servants think is right.

Trump is also unaware of how time-consuming being a president will be. He indicated that he might spend most of the week in Washington—like members of Congress—but go to Trump Tower in Newport, his golf course in Bedminster (NJ), and his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago estate for part of every weeks.

The president-elect most likely ran as revenge against President Obama’s ridicule at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. One week ago, he didn’t think that he would win. The past five days have introduced him to the responsibilities of the president of the most powerful country in the world, and he won’t like those responsibilities. His choice is to do the job poorly, assign the jobs to white supremacists, or resign. The last choice would leave the United States in the hands of a quiet megalomaniac who wants to make the country a white theocracy.

Trump won’t resign as long as he’s making money for the Trump Organization. Conflict-of-interest laws for the executive branch mandate that all of them divest themselves of investments affected by their decisions in public office—except for the president and vice-president. Trump has refused to release his tax returns, and he’ll refuse to divulge his involvement in his business. His claim is that it will be a “blind trust” run by his children. A true blind trust is one in which assets are controlled by independent parties who have no communication with the owner. Trump also wants security clearance for Donald, Jr., Eric, and Ivanka, and he appointed all three of the younger Trumps to the transition team that picks key administrative officials. Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, claims that the president-elect has no interest in growing his fortune as president, and Trump promises not to use his presidency to enrich his business, but experience shows that his word is worthless.

Already Trump has lied about his personal involvement with Russia, and his past history shows how involvements with foreign countries have financially benefitted him. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, for instance, salvaged Trump during his corporate bankruptcies in the 1990s, even buying Trump’s yacht and bad hotel debt. Trump’s judicial appointments can also be connected to his business activities. His sole proprietor LLCs already cover the country as well as Panama, Cozumel, and Dubai, and the Trump University lawsuit is scheduled for later this month.

Trump’s appointment of the new IRS commissioner will solve his tax audit problems, and his control of the Attorney General will also protect him. The appointment of the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission will protect his financial interests. Trump donated at least $35,000 to Alan Hevesi for his 2002 election as New York state comptroller, the same time as his successful $500 million lawsuit to reduce his property taxes. Of the 9,000 positions in the federal government, only 1,000 must be confirmed by the Senate. Trump can control gaming, environmental building codes, housing and urban development, etc.

If we’re lucky, Trump will spend his presidency making himself rich and not destroying the lives of most people in the U.S. And luckier yet, maybe the people who voted for him will get the message that change is not always positive. (Just trying to be positive while we work to keep the battleship from turning in the wrong direction.)

August 27, 2016

Trump: ‘Make American Hate Again’

 

The two presidential candidates dueled this past week about bigotry and hatred. Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton, and Clinton gave a speech composed greatly out of quotes from Donald Trump, his campaign leader, and his surrogates. Instead of lambasting the entire GOP, Clinton isolated him from the establishment party members by graphically describing his strong white-supremacist connections. With Breitbart’s former leader, Steve Bannon, moving over to be Trump’s new campaign CEO, the field of Trump’s offensive comments has vastly expanded—for example, Breitbart’s headline, “Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield.”

Other issues that Clinton brought up are Trump’s praise of Alex Jones who claimed that “the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there.” She evoked Trump’s long-term birtherism when he refused to accept that President Obama’s long form of his birth certificate was authentic. There was also the attack on a judge, calling him a “Mexican” when he was born in Illinois, and his connection between Ted Cruz’s father and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Clinton gave House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) a pass when she distanced him from Trump, and she cited anti-racist behavior of past Republicans, for example when George W. Bush went to a mosque the week after 9/11 and said that “[Muslims] love America just as much as I do.” She could have attacked other Republicans, for example Ronald Reagan’s comment about “strapping young bucks” buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. By making Trump a freaky aberration, however, she makes it easier for Republicans to reject him.

No media outlet even did a fact check on Clinton’s speech except for Breitbart.com, and their defense was filled with lies—for example, their belief that Trump wasn’t racist before his candidacy despite his history of keeping blacks out of his housing development in the 1970s. Everything she said in her speech was true because they were quotes and bringing together all this outrageousness required great skill. Trump’s response thus far is that it was the same old weak technique of Democrats. He also said that he’s never heard of “alt-right,” the white supremacists merged with his campaign. “We’re bringing love,” he said.

Conservative critics said that she shouldn’t have brought the white supremacists into the open, that it was better to leave them alone. Media and internet studies scholar Whitney Phillips wrote, “Sometimes silence isn’t enough, and in fact isn’t appropriate.” People who cross the ethical line continue to go farther and farther without messages that their oppressive aggression and bigotry cannot be tolerated.

After the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, Republicans—formerly Southern Democrats—developed the “Southern Strategy” to encourage racial resentments and anxieties as a method of gathering votes. Trump’s strategy puts this movement on steroids as he energizes white nationalists and supremacists and allowed them back into the mainstream of the conservative political party. Normalizing their behavior has resulted in the “Trump effect” that increases open bullying in schools, violence toward marginalized populations, and threatening the safety of everyone who opposes white supremacy.

The thundering response from GOP leaders to Clinton’s speech was silence. Asked about the lack of response, RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said that “Congress is in recess.” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and RNC Chair Reince Priebus all have at least one Twitter account, but nothing posted on any of these about Clinton’s speech or on the GOP.com website and blog.

GOP pundits are not as quiet about Trump. Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for George W. Bush, wrote:

 “Trump has hired and elevated some of the very worst people in American politics, known for their cruelty, radicalism, prejudice and corruption. In Trump’s view, leaders elevate themselves by belittling others. They yell and abuse and bully. And their most important quality is absolute loyalty to the great leader, the star of the show. … Trump, more than most, needs to surround himself with people who compensate for his alarming weaknesses. Instead, his choices demonstrate and amplify those weaknesses, becoming one more reason to utterly reject his leadership.”

Trump recently appointed Steven Bannon, former head of extreme right Breitbart.com, for the new campaign CEO. The media found serious problems with Bannon:

  • He was charged for an appalling act of domestic violence against his then-wife in 1996. The case was dismissed after she left town because Bannon threatened her if she stayed.
  • He may be guilty of voter fraud, a problem that the GOP and Trump attribute to minorities. Bannon is registered to vote in swing state Florida at an empty house emptied for demolition. Willfully submitting false information on a Florida voter registration is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. From the 1980s until 2014, Bannon was registered to vote in California from the 1980s until 2014 when he cancelled that registration and then registered in Miami. Residency in Florida is attractive because the state has no income tax. As recently as last week, Bannon was reportedly a resident of Laguna Beach Orange County, CA) where he owns a house although he hosted a talkshow live seven mornings a week from Washington, D.C. or New York City.
  • He may have exchanged money for favorable articles on Breitbart.com. The $2.4 million townhouse in Washington, D.C. that he describes as “his” is actually owned by Egyptian businessman, Mostafa E.-Gindy. Bannon refuses to disclose the financial ties between Gindy and Breitbart.
  • He refused to send his daughters to a private school because he “didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.” In a 2007 court filing, Bannon’s ex-wife Mary Louise Piccard reported that Bannon “said he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiney brats.'”

Also on Trump’s payroll is Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s daughter, Lauren. LePage is well-known for his extreme racist statements, but a recent expletive-filled voicemail threatened a state legislator. Earlier this week, he said that he keeps a binder of mugshots for all drug dealers arrested in Maine. He claims that 90 percent of them are black or Hispanic; Maine is 95 percent white. He then declared that people of color in Maine are “the enemy.” About LePage, conservative RedState wrote:

“Donald Trump collects idiots the way Velcro collects lint. That is who he hires…. He has attracted racists and bigots to his campaign in a way I would never have thought possible. He encourages them. He validates them. He inspires them.”

With Trump sinking in the polls, Republicans in Western states fear that he will sink the GOP in their region of increasing numbers of Hispanic, Asian, and younger voters. Trump is also unpopular with educated white professionals who have resettled in Denver, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City. Once the deep blue state of California was staunchly red; the same thing can happen in Colorado and Nevada. Trump is rapidly losing “friends” among Republicans. Sean D. Reyes, Utah’s attorney general, called Trump’s campaign to register discontent after Trump referred to people from the Philippines as “animals.” Reyes is part Filipino.

Arizona may have the biggest problem as Clinton has almost tied Trump, and senior senator John McCain faces a difficult election this year. Hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, whose sister is a close friend of Trump’s new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, is donating big money to defeat McCain. The incumbent will probably defeat his extremist right-wing opponent, Kelli Ward, in Tuesday’s primary, but Democratic Ann Fitzpatrick will give him a strong run in the general election. Although Arizona still has more Republicans than Democrats, the latter are registering people at a faster rate. Junior Sen. Jeff Flake, also a Republican, gave this advice: “Distance yourself from Donald Trump.” Even Alaska may not stay red for long: people of color will be 40 percent of voters by 2032.

Yesterday, Trump’s Arizona director said that the candidate had canceled an event this next week in downtown Phoenix, but two hours later, Trump tweeted that the event was on—and would be really big. Earlier this week Trump canceled a Las Vegas rally and called off other scheduled events, including in Colorado.

If John McCain wants to get the vote of people of color, he might want to quit lamenting that “one of the sad things in American politics today is that you can’t tell any ethnic jokes except Irish jokes.” Or at least keep his disappointment about not ridiculing people of color to himself.

AGR Daily News Service

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