Nel's New Day

December 22, 2017

DDT: Week Forty-eight – A Tax Bill for the Wealthy, Another Spending Bill Continuation

Thanks to help from Democrats, the government won’t shut down for at least four weeks, and the new tax bill, signed today by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). won’t cut $125 billion in programs such as Medicare. The DOJ also can’t use federal funds to interfere with these medical programs. Missing from the bill was any reference to DACA Dreamers, young immigrants who are being deported at 122 each day because of congressional refusal to address DDT’s executive order, and the $81 billion disaster bill, lost in the shuffle. The military got a few billion, but long-term problems weren’t addressed. The stopgap spending bill, expiring on January 19, 2018, also renews CHIP, insurance for nine million children in poverty.

This week, DDT also released the 55-page security strategy, written from a hawkish “America First” rhetoric. DDT lumps Russia and China together, diminishing the chance to cooperate with China when North Korea is a grave threat. No mention, however, was made of Russia meddling in the U.S. election. Climate change was identified as an economic problem, not a security threat. Calling for incessant competition, DDT risks all agreements with foreign countries.

DDT is rapidly moving forward with his “Make America Alone” program in his altercation with the United Nations. At the request of Arab and Muslim countries, the 193 members of the UN General Assembly met in a rare emergency session for a vote on a resolution condemning the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Before the vote, DDT threatened to pull foreign aid from any nation voting for the resolution, and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley reiterated the threatening speech immediately before the vote. Eight countries voted to support the U.S. while 128 voted against DDT. Earlier all 14 nations in the UN Security Council—including Russia, China, France, UK, and Japan—voted against DDT.

Russia:

FBI senior officials warned both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign that Russians may try to spy on or infiltrate their operations and urged them to contact authorities if anything suspicious took place. Therefore, DDT was lying when he said he knew nothing about it.

Investigator Robert Mueller also knows that White House Counsel Don McGahn knew national security advisor Michael Flynn broke the law as early as January and warned DDT about Flynn’s possible violations of lying to federal investigators and the Logan Act that prevents private citizens from negotiating with foreign government.

Ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and others have expressed serious concerns that GOP committee members are racing to finish their Russia investigation by the end of the year and, therefore, intentionally are over-scheduling interviews, ignoring leads, and skipping important details.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, declared in a speech on the Senate floor, “In the United States of America, no one is above the law, not even the president.” He called the attacks on Robert Mueller irresponsible partisanship and warned that firing Mueller could amount to a constitutional crisis. “Interfering with his investigation by issuing pardons of essential witnesses, is unacceptable, and would have immediate and significant consequences,” Warner stated.

Negative media about Mueller thrived on texts from a former team member, Peter Strzok, that criticized DDT. The DOJ, however, has not explained why only 350 of 10,000 text messages were leaked—or what was in the other 9,650 texts.

To further discredit Mueller, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), banned from leading an investigation into DDT’s collusion with Russia, has secretly formed a coalition of House Republicans to build a case with classified information that senior members of the DOJ and FBI mishandled the contents of a dossier describing ties between DDT and Russia. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has called for FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe to be fired. During the past few weeks, the GOP panicky attacks about the investigation grow as  revelations about discoveries of collusion emerge.

AG Jeff Sessions has ordered prosecutors to investigate his totally debunked accusation that Hillary Clinton obtained a large donation to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for selling 20 percent of U.S. He swore under oath that he could recuse himself from any issues regarding Russia, Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton Foundation. Lying under oath is a felony, subject to up to five years in prison, and Sessions voted in 1999 to remove a president from office for allegedly violating that law.

Appointments:

Matthew Peterson, the Trump judicial nominee who couldn’t answer basic legal questions during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, has withdrawn his nomination.

All DDT’s unconfirmed nominees cannot be held over after this year without a unanimous consent on each from the Senate. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) has notified the White House that he will not approve Kathleen Hartnett White’s nomination to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) into 2018.  DDT could retain the woman called “apologist for polluters” as senior advisor because the confirmation does not require confirmation.

K.T. McFarland, former deputy national security advisor, may not be confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore after she told senators that she didn’t know anything about Michael Flynn’s contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition. Court documents show that she is lying.

In a 10-13 vote, the Senate Banking Committee rejected Scott Garrett, DDT’s nominee to lead the Export-Import Bank. The former New Jersey representative had pushed to disband the Ex-Im Bank which lends money to foreign buyers to promote U.S. exports.

Sexual Misconduct:

Alex Kozinski, a Reagan appointed judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, resigned after the initiation of a judicial investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct by 15 women.

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is putting the team up for sale after the NFL began an investigation of his sexually suggestive comments and inappropriate touching as well as racial slurs.

Florida state Sen. Jack Latvaia resigned from his candidacy for governor after reports of sexual harassment and demeaning, vulgar comments to female staffers.  He could also face charges for criminal bribery, unlawful compensation, or even extortion for trading legislative support for sex with a lobbyist.

Singer-songwriter Joy Villa has accused Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, of sexual misconduct.

DDT is wooing Jewish voters and practicing his pardoning by commuting the sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, convicted in 2009 for money laundering and finance fraud regarding his massive kosher slaughterhouse, Agriprocessors, in Postville (IA). In a 2008 raid, immigration officials arrested 389 illegal immigrants working there.

Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló ordered a recount of deaths caused by Hurricane Maria. The official count is 64, but 1,065 more people died than usual during September and October than in earlier years. One third of the island still lacks power, 93 days after the disaster. After the financially punitive action taken by Congress toward the island, Rosselló said he will encourage the 5.3 million Puerto Ricans living across the mainland to vote out House Republicans in 14 different states.

As with all disasters, DDT politicized this week’s tragic train wreck south of Seattle when the first train on the newly furbished track to save ten minutes from another route blew through a 30-mph zoned curve at 80 mph and crashed down on the freeway below. DDT wrote that it “shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!”

DDT’s arguments have several problems:

  • DDT wants the military budget expanded by more than ten percent.
  • DDT’s budget slashes federal aid to U.S. rail systems.
  • The route got $181 million from the 2010 budget stimulus.
  • The engineer failed to brake when the train was going almost three times the speed limit.
  • An infrastructure plan doesn’t exist.
  • DDT’s tax plan already puts the nation into $1.5 trillion more debt.
  • DDT’s only infrastructure plan is to make states and localities responsible and blame them if they don’t have the money for improvement.
  • The train lacked technology to slow or stop trains going too fast. Congress had mandated the Positive Train Control in 2008 with a deadline by 2015 but had postponed the requirement until 2018 because railroad companies complained about the requirement and refused to sufficiently fund the technology that could save lives.

A second federal judge has struck down DDT’s executive order allowing employers to deny birth control coverage in insurance, and a circuit court has supported three lower courts in mandating military recruitment of transgender people.

The first trial against protesters against DDT’s inauguration was a giant victory for the U.S. people: all six defendants were found not guilty of all charges while almost 200 others are still waiting prosecution. All had been circled by the police and arrested en masse. DOJ had admitted it had no evidence of the six defendants destroying property but accused them as part of a rioting conspiracy. The trial may have been protection for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department that violated city regulations on handling demonstrations.

In a June poll, 90 percent of respondents who said they trust Fox over other news networks viewed Trump favorably, but approval fell to 74 percent in October and decreased to 58 percent in December. Fox viewers who strongly approved of Trump’s job performance dropped from 55 percent in March to 32 percent in October.

DDT finally got his first major win in 334 days and personally came out at least $15 million ahead. Now the Republicans are looking for ways to get votes in 2018.

[Update: DDT’s first 334–not 303–days.]

September 10, 2012

Congress Returns–Briefly

The conventions are history, and Congress returns from its five-week vacation to go back into session today, at least for a few days. With almost 500 federal lawmakers up for re-election in 56 days, they’ll be gone in October to campaign, but they may disappear for part of September too.

Well-known for their procrastination and lack of commitment, Republicans need to get cracking on their six-month stopgap spending bill to keep the government functioning. House plans are to start today with a vote by Thursday. They can waste more time by discussing this again in another six months.

Federal farm programs are also due to expire on September 30, 2012, unless Congress does something about renewing them. The spending bill could include this extension, but food stamps are part of farm bill which might cause another stalemate. The Senate passed a five-year agriculture program last June, but as usual the House Republicans are dragging their collective feet especially with the disagreement about how much to cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Republicans may also let the farm bill expire so that they can blame the Democrats—as they do for everything—hoping to get more votes from farm states like Iowa.

Everyone might be better off if Congress does nothing about the farm bill. With no formal extension, food stamp and other nutrition programs continue, and most farmers will not be affected because the current farm bill covers 2012 crops no matter when they are harvested.

At the end of the week, the House Republicans will waste more time with a promised vote on the “No More Solyndras Act” bill which eliminates loan guarantees for solar and wind energy companies. The Senate probably won’t vote on it, but the House Republicans can look as if they’re doing something.

Meanwhile, the Senate may vote tomorrow about whether to debate a bill from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) to get jobs for veterans. It includes a veterans jobs corps to employ veterans as firefighters and police officers and in fields of conservation, recreation, and resource management projects on public lands. Republicans will push for an open amendment process for this bill to add everything including tax cuts. If they don’t get to do this, they may sulk and filibuster.

Some economists have warned of a recession without any Congressional action on a combination of the expiration of all Bush tax cuts and the impending across-the-board spending cuts. Again the two parties have opposing views. Republicans say they want everyone to have tax cuts, and Democrats want to renew them only for households netting less than $250,000 a year.

Another potential amendment could be replacing automatic defense spending cuts, known as sequestration, set to begin in 2013. Both parties agreed to these cuts last summer during the debacle of the debt ceiling crisis if a committee could not come to agreement regarding how to fix the deficit. Mitt Romney said yesterday that the Republicans were wrong to vote for this and blamed it all on the president. Romney’s VP pick, Paul Ryan, was one of those “wrong” voters although he’s tried to lie his way out of the situation. In an interview, Ryan said that he voted for the bill that did the cutting, but he did not vote for the cuts.

While disturbed about the defense cuts, military leaders, unlike Republicans, understand that the budget needs revenues as well as cuts. “I hope we can find a way to address the sequestration threat of Jan. 1,” Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said in Charlotte, N.C., where Democrats held their convention last week.  “It has to be done on a bipartisan basis … [and] it has to include revenues as well as spending cuts.”

Other pressing business for the lame-duck session include averting a 30-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare fees, passing the annual Pentagon policy bill, improving cyber security for the nation’s critical infrastructure, a Russia free-trade bill, and legislation to reform the Postal Service which may have to default on a $5.5 billion payment into its pension fund to cover people retiring 75 years from now.

Congress this year has managed to pass just 61 bills, the fewest number in more than 60 years. Last year, they passed 90 bills, down from 258 during the previous year. The average worker in the country has a median household income of about $50,000 compared to lawmakers’ salaries of $174,000 or more. At the same time, the average worker has 13 days of paid vacation; lawmakers have more than four months of recesses this year.

I’m waiting for the next anti-women bill from the Republicans. They’ve tried one each week during the 112th Congress.

Asides: On Meet the Press yesterday, Ann Romney said, “Mitt and I do recognize that we have not had a financial struggle in our lives. But I want people to believe in their hearts that we know what it is like to struggle.” This is a very different struggle from her description of it just two weeks ago in her speech at the GOP convention.

According to a study by Harvard economics professor David Cutler, the increased costs for seniors in the changes of Medicare would move as much as $16 to $26 billion to profits for insurance companies. Romney tried to discredit the study by saying that Cutler was once an advisor for President Obama.

The Associated Press FactCheck failed when it evaluated Joe Biden’s statement that 4.5 private-sector jobs have been created during the past 29 months. They agreed that this information was true but gave it a half-true because it omitted the time before that and didn’t include the 500,000+ jobs lost in the public sector. If fact checkers can’t based their opinions on facts, they should quit. Also small-government advocates complaining about unemployment should realize that they are getting what they ask for. Smaller government means less employment; the loss of public sector jobs during the current president is equivalent to the jobs that George W. Bush added during his eight years.

Ideally voting should be based on information, which makes the level of ignorance throughout the country truly frightening. A prime example of this comes a question in a recent Ohio poll about whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney deserves more credit for killing Osama bin Laden. (Some people may remember that Romney sneered at President Obama for his decision to find bin Laden, indicating that it was a waste of time.) Only 63 percent of possible voters gave the credit to the president; 6 percent thought Romney did it, and 31 percent didn’t know. The women were 2 percent more knowledgeable than men, and 86 percent of African-Americans knew it was the president compared to only 60 percent of Anglo-Americans. Only 38 percent of likely voters gave the president credit for killing Osama bin Laden, and the North Carolina percentage was lower at 29 percent. Frightening!

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