Nel's New Day

July 2, 2020

Could Russia Be DDT’s Waterloo?

When the world learned that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ignored information about Russians putting bounties on the heads of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, he hoped the firestorm would disappear in a few days. Instead, it has been on the media as much as the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. for the past five days and seems to be getting worse. Each one of those days has brought out more information.

Tonight, the New York Times reported about Rahmatullah Azizi, the chief go-between who took money from the Russians to give it to Taliban-connected fighters. About six months ago, security agencies arrested dozens of his relatives and associates, but Azizi had sneaked back to Russia, leaving about a half million dollars in one of his homes in Kabul. The dead body of a U.S. military member is worth $100,000.

Azizi’s role has been confirmed in a dozen interviews with U.S. and Afghan officials, neighbors and friends, and business associates of the other middlemen. He began as a drug smuggler in his 20s, moving his product into Iran. When he returned to Afghanistan, U.S.-led coalition forces gave him contracts to build roads in Kunduz before he moved on to a connection with Russia. One of his friends said he went from “not even having a blanket” to having security escorts and owning several expensive houses and cars. Other evidence against Azizi came from large financial transfers from Russia’s GRU to Taliban-connected militants.

For years, both U.S. and Afghan officials have believed that Russia was undermining the U.S. in Afghanistan and aiding the Taliban through covert operations. Only recently, however, did the U.S. confirm that the Russians were paying bounties on members of U.S. military out of its overseas assassination arm of the Russian military intelligence, Unit 29155 called GRU that helped DDT get elected.  A couple of their activities since DDT moved into the White House are the hacking of Democratic Party email accounts in 2016 and the nerve agent attack in Salisbury (England) in 2018.

Intelligence reports that the Russia has tired of prolonged U.S. presence and switched allegiance to the Taliban but tried to look as if it supported the U.S. until Afghanistan picked its power source. U.S. discovery of the bounty money in 2019 was at the same time as negotiations with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Today’s reporting also reveals that the bounty information was in the written February 27, 2020, President’s Daily Brief (PDB), much to the frustration of White House officials who insisted that DDT was never told. The officials shifted to insistence that the information was uncertain, but intelligence agencies don’t put anything into daily briefings until it has been thoroughly vetted. DDT has changed his own story almost daily in the past five days, perhaps settling on never having heard of it while going back to his favorite word, “hoax.”  

The day before DDT ignored the PDB about Russia paying the Taliban to kill U.S. troops, he had a press briefing to assure the people of the United States that COVID-19 would disappear within the week. [Four months and four days later, the U.S. has 2,779,953 confirmed cases and 130,798 deaths from the disease. The number of new cases hit a high of 51,097 yesterday.] VP Mike Pence, assigned at the virus press briefing to solve the problem, spent February 27, 2020 at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and met with Trumper media, including Sean Hannity and Eric Bollins (Sinclair TV host).

DDT’s schedule for February 27, 2020, lists a 45-minute meeting with lead actors of a low-budget conservative play about what he calls the Deep State. Phelim McAleer, the playwright of FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers slamming fired FBI agent Peter Strzok and fired FBI lawyer Lisa Page who had discussed DDT’s campaign in 2016, said that the meeting last three times as long as scheduled. “He loves it, he loves the play,” McAleer said about the play’s concept. A video of the play was presented to CPAC the next day.

The other responsibility on DDT’s schedule for February 27, 2020, was meeting with his vlogger fans Diamond & Silk (left) along with about 20 other Black supporter including Candace Owens, Isaiah Washington, and Alveda King. They all gave him lavish praise and huddled around him for a prayer. He bragged about his criminal reform which benefits white-collar criminals and called the 25 confirmed COVID-19 cases a “miracle” from the U.S. “incredible achievement” in defeating the disease. He wanted credit for his handling and said, “If we were doing a bad job, we should also be criticized. But we have done an incredible job.” [FYI: He’s doing a bad job and keeps lying about his accomplishments or ignores the pandemic.]

Otherwise, he was rattled by the plummeting of the stock market from the COVID-19 crisis and the slow movement of the peace agreement with the Taliban. An intelligence briefing was scheduled for 2:30 pm, his preferred time so he can tweet in the morning, and a reception for African American History Month was at the White House that evening. He added a few people to his new coronavirus task force throughout the day and muddied up the leadership. Two days after DDT’s PDB included info on Russia’s paying the Taliban to kill U.S. troops, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan.  

Six months ago, former Republican Max Boot wrote a piece explaining how DDT acts as a Russian asset:

  • His long financial history with Russia.
  • Russian interference to help elect DDT president.
  • DDT’s encouragement for Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails on July 27, 2016.
  • His attempt to cover up the 101 contacts between his campaign and Russia-connected operatives.
  • The number of DDT’s campaigners—Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Michael Flynn—close to Russia.
  • Manafort’s admission he offered his Russian-connected business partner with polling data, useful for Russians using social media to interfere in the presidential campaign on DDT’s part.
  • Roger Stone’s advance knowledge about Russians hacking Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails.
  • DDT’s firing FBI Director James Comey to stop the investigation of the “Russia thing” and bragged about it to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister in the Oval Office while revealing top-secret information to them.
  • DDT’s firing AG Jeff Sessions because he did end the special counsel investigation after Comey was fired.
  • DDT’s constant refusal to acknowledge Russia interfered in the U.S. election or mobilize an effort to stop future interference because he accepts Vladimir Putin’s denial in doing it.
  • DDT’s attacks on and undermining of the DOJ, the FBI, the European, and NATO to support Russia.
  • His support of populist, pro-Russian leaders in Europe; i.e., Viktor Orban (Hungary) and Marine Le Pen (France).
  • DDT’s praise and worship of Putin, “a strong leader,” while denigrating almost everyone else from celebrities to leaders of allied nations.
  • DDT’s hiding his conversation with Putin, even taking notes from his interpreter and telling her not to tell anyone about the meeting.
  • DDT’s defense of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan.
  • His repetition of pro-Russian talking points.
  • His pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, presenting the country to Russia and Putin’s ally Iran.
  • DDT’s refusal to respond to the Russian attack on Ukrainian ships in international waters to encourage greater Russian aggression.
  • DDT’s sowing chaos in the U.S. government with a partial government shutdown and multiple “acting” appointments in key posts to meet the Russian goal of undermining the United States.

Former national security adviser Susan Rice added to the ways DDT supports Russia and Vladimir Putin.

Russia has escalated its aggression toward the U.S. in the past few weeks—new cyberattacks on U.S. employees working from home, Russian jets testing U.S. air defenses off the Alaska coast, etc. Yet DDT’s administration has no strategy for deterring Russia behavior. Pompeo is still claiming Crimea will never be Russian territory although Russia annexed that part of Ukraine six years ago. In his new book, however, John Bolton wrote DDT “repeatedly objected to criticizing Russia and pressed us not to be so critical of Russia publicly.” DDT’s only strategy with Russia is to be “friends.”

For once, Republican lawmakers have not come out en masse to support DDT’s denial. Maybe some of them found a sale on spines. But Republicans still refuse to support a bill requiring presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign election help. One excuse—not reason—might be the ignorance of Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee: GOP members refuse to attend.

Military veterans have been loyal to DDT for almost four years despite his selling them out, over and over. Allowing Russians to pay the Taliban to kill U.S. troops may be a bridge too far for them. The fractures started with DDT’s threats to militarize states in the midst of protests become wide fissures after the public learned that DDT’s administration has ignored widespread assassinations of their comrades in active duty under the leadership of their commander in chief. The loss of their votes in November will hurt him as much as his loss of white suburban women.

June 30, 2020

Bittersweet News from SCOTUS, Bad for DDT

Before the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the sometimes “moderate” justice kept women’s rights on life support. His resignation left Chief Justice John Roberts in that position, one he fulfilled today in the 5-4 decision that struck down a Louisiana law created to strike down all except one clinic in the state that performs abortions. The gist of the law was the state mandate requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, almost identical to a case about Texas law SCOTUS overturned just four years ago. In that decision, a 5-4 court determined the unconstitutional law served no benefits to patients but significantly burdened their access to abortion.

Brett Kavanagh, who promised Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) he is pro-Roe v. Wade to get Kennedy’s position, showed he is no Kennedy: he and Justice Neil Gorsuch joined ideologues Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas against women’ reproductive rights. Roberts voted against the majority four years in his desire to keep the Texas law, and he wrote his own opinion to prove he’s still a conservative—just wanted to preserve stare decisis, deference to precedent, and not overturn a former SCOTUS ruling. Because Roberts is the swing vote for this case, opposition to abortions will be the key to future cases, permitting restriction just short of their illegality. He sets a high hurdle to keeping right: benefit is irrelevant, and decision is based on a substantial obstacle.   

Slate’s court reporter Mark Joseph Stern questions the extent of the victory of constitutional rights for pro-choice. In his analysis of the high court’s opinion, Stern maintains Roberts “marks a retreat” from the earlier case declaring the Texas law unconstitutional. Under the new ruling, a woman could be forced to wait a week for an abortion and visit the clinic hundreds of miles away three times to see anti-abortion documentaries—no medical benefit to the patient while imposing burdens. Yet the court could determine this requirement doesn’t meet the level of “a substantial obstacle.” Next year, Roberts could find a way to overturn Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) which prevents laws banning abortion before viability. As Stern wrote, “A chill wind still blows.”

Roberts is not wedded to precedence. He voted with the majority in Citizens United (2010) to overturn long-held principles of campaign finance and in Janus (2018) used the same rationale of free speech to overturn a unanimous 1977 decision allowing public sector labor unions to collect fees against the wishes of employees.

A chill wind also blows for Collins, whose vote is a major reason Kavanaugh is casting far-right votes on SCOTUS. He already voted to deport Dreamers and allow employers to fire LGBTQ people on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Collins said she believed Kavanaugh when he promised not to overturn Roe v. Wade and guaranteed he would respect precedence, “essential to maintaining public confidence. And she’s up for reelection in under five months.

While people cheered for today’s pro-choice rights decision, most of them ignored a disastrous decision in Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, allowing a president to fire the director of the supposedly independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without cause. Again Roberts was the swing vote, this time a conservative 5-4 vote putting other independent agencies at risk. The opinion didn’t go as far as to declaring the entire agency unconstitutional which the plaintiff under CFPB investigation had requested. The law creating the agency specified the presidentially-nominated director, who must be Senate-confirmed, could be fired only “for cause,” specifying “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.” Other agencies with the “for cause” firing limitation include the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission. They may suffer the same fate in loss of independence.

The current CFPB director, financial sector defender Kathleen Kraninger, will likely stay for the next few months because agency investigations have drastically slowed down since the occupation of the Oval Office by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). She may disappear with a Democratic president, however, a loss for Wall Street’s corruption. Between its inception in 2010 and 2016, the CFPB returned $12 billion to defrauded consumers. 

In the dissent by four justices, Elena Kagan wrote the five conservatives failed to respect the high court’s role in allowing the other two government branches, Congress and executive, the decision in structuring the executive branch. She also pointed out the vote removes “independence from political pressure.” Another part of the dissent told originalist justices the constitution has nothing about separation of powers and the president’s removal authority.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who originally envisioned the agency, was more positive, cheering about a conservative SCOTUS recognizing the constitutionality of the agency “and the law that created it.”

In addition to issuing decisions today, the Supreme Court turned down two cases. One, a challenge to AG Bill Barr’s return to the federal death penalty, opens up the possibility of executions next month for the first time since 2003. It also refused to hear a case about waivers of federal laws for border wall construction that kills wildlife and destroys the environment. Lower courts have ruled the waivers don’t violate the separation of powers.

Other big news today pointed out possible cracks in DDT’s Teflon. The discovery that intelligence told DDT about Russians paying the Taliban to kill U.S. troops has taken the U.S. by storm. The New York Times initially reported the information on Friday, and within three days, DDT’s stories keep changing. A few facts:

Intelligence knew as far back as January—when DDT was negotiating a peace agreement with the Taliban—and briefed DDT.

The bounty has been linked to deaths of U.S. military members.

In March, DDT learned about the intelligence reports but failed to respond.

In the past few months, DDT has had several friendly phone calls with Vladimir Putin, including five hidden ones in early April after the briefing.

DDT called Putin and Russia friends of the U.S., sent humanitarian aid to Russia, and pushed the other six members of the G7 summit to taken Russia back.

On Saturday, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed DDT knows nothing. Little did McEnany know, her defense of DDT depicted him as ignorant, uncaring, negligent, lazy, and incompetent. And a liar like DDT. Part of her faulty defense was for his tweeting a video advocating “white power” staying up for three hours while DDT was unavailable on the golf course. (The White House claims DDT couldn’t hear the cries for “white power.”)

This timeline shows Russian support for the Taliban, U.S. clashes with Russian mercenaries, “destabilizing [Russian] activity in Afghanistan, three U.S. Marines killed by Taliban, and discovery of $500,000 in a Taliban outpost confirming U.S. intelligence suspicions about Russia paying bounties.

Since the reporting, DDT has said, in this order: (1) he never got any briefings; (2) he hadn’t been briefed because it was bogus; and (3) he was briefed but the intelligence wasn’t credible. According to respected political columnist David Ignatius, Pentagon officials were “pounding on the door” to get DDT to do something about the Russians’ damage.

People are left to decide which of the three is right: (1) DDT knew about the Russian’s paying the Taliban to kill U.S. troops and did nothing; (2) intelligence couldn’t tell DDT because they were afraid of him or what he would tell people; or (3) DDT didn’t bother to read vital national security information. Each of the three decisions shows a completely incompetent leader of the free world. In an effort to save his skin, DDT provided Republicans a briefing about the situation today but made Democrats wait until tomorrow. The briefing should have been for both parties at the same time, but DDT wants the GOP to have a one-day advance to prepare a defense for him.

Seven years ago, DDT tweeted: 

Ignorance is inexcusable; it’s the surest way to fail. No acceptable reason exists for not being well informed.”

Yesterday he tweeted:

“Nobody briefed or told me … about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians…. Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us…..”

Because DDT cares only about the election, he’s terrified about voters’ reactions. This TV ad reflects the reaction from VoteVets.

DDT’s problems with COVID-19 aren’t over either. Its new mutations make contagion easier and correlates with far greater cases in younger people. World infections topped 10 million over the weekend (today 10,412,433) with deaths over a half million (508,228). New infections in the U.S. are still soaring—44,734 for June 29—with the total up to 2,681,811 and 128,783 deaths. Federal officials such as HHS Secretary Alex Azar went on Sunday news shows to talk about the virus’s catastrophe while saying it isn’t their problem to fix. And DDT ignores the disease.

March 14, 2020

DDT: Week 164 – Beyond Covid-19

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has spent the week avoiding assistance for people and helping his friends. At Friday’s press conference, he raised crude prices by five percent by declaring that he would buy over $2.6 billion of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that saves huge U.S. oil companies from the Saudi-Russia oil war. Yet he opposed paid sick leave in order to lose over $807 billion in revenue for Social Security and Medicare—and almost half of that revenue from businesses that employ more than 10 workers. That’s more than President Obama’s $700 billion stimulus to save the U.S. in 2009, and the government got much of that back, sometimes with interest.  

The wealthiest people will benefit if DDT succeeds in suspending payroll taxes until “after the November election.” The top 5 percent of workers making over $140,000 a year will save close to $3 billion a month if only the 1.45 percent charge for Medicare. The top 211 workers who average $95.7 million a year will each reap an additional $115,700 per month—almost $1 million for the time that this 1.45 percent is suspended, according to what DDT wants. Households in the bottom 20 percent will get about two percent of the benefit.

DDT is also back to attacking militia in Iraq after 30 rockets fired on a base killed one British service member and two U.S. service members. The Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley blamed “Shia militia groups”; DDT told DOD Secretary Mark Esper to do anything he wanted; and Esper fired back the next day. The U.S. came close to war after it killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani over two months, but DDT backed down a full war. The Iraqi military said the U.S. airstrikes killed three Iraqi soldiers, two police officers, and a civilian as well as damaging an airport. Plans to staff missile-defense batteries will require hundreds of new troops in Iraq. The day after DDT’s airstrikes, the House passed a resolution to bar DDT from starting a war with Iran without congressional approval. DDT threatens to veto the measure.

The Pentagon may be backing down on giving a $10 billion contract on a cloud computing contract to Microsoft instead of Amazon. A judge said that Jeff Bezos’ lawsuit is “likely to succeed” perhaps because DDT had told the Pentagon not to give the contract to Bezos. The Pentagon disagreed but said it wanted 120 days to look over the technical aspects.

Almost 80 attacks, including those by the U.S., occurred in Afghanistan during the first 9 days of DDT’s “peace deal” with the Taliban. But DDT is moving hundreds of troops out of the country, reducing the number from 13,000 to 8,600—the same number as when he was inaugurated. The U.S. has information that the Taliban doesn’t intend to live up to its part in the agreement. Last week, DDT said the Taliban could “possibly” overrun the Afghan government and seize power after the troop withdrawal. State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo said the deal wouldn’t go forward if the Taliban doesn’t live up to their agreement, but DDT is calling the shots.

Known for his corruption and grift, DDT has been accused of what the New York Times called the “largest tax fraud case in the history of New York City government.” Five former city employees and a former Trump organization employee testified a connection between DDT’s business to a real estate housing scam. Six people reported the bribing of tax assessors to lower DDT’s property taxes.

Almost a month ago, U.S. intelligence officials warned members of Congress that Russia is interfering in U.S. elections to help DDT. Immediately, DDT replaced high-level intelligence officials with his partisan loyalists who delivered a different message. DDT’s new intelligence leaders told lawmakers that Russia isn’t supporting any candidates in contradiction to past knowledge. New acting intelligence director Rick Grenell, head of 17 agencies, didn’t show up for the briefing because he thought he wasn’t prepared :to address sensitive subjects that tend to upset the president.” Before the briefing, Kashyap Patel, now an employee in Grenell’s office and formerly Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) aide who was moved into the White House, gave intelligence officials limits on information to congressional member about foreign influence operations in “an inappropriate politicization.” Patel wrote a memo accusing law enforcement officials of abusing their power to help Republicans in their attempt to discredit the Russia investigation.

Grenell has imposed a hiring freeze and ordered a review of his personnel and mission. Intelligence officials view his actions as a preliminary to ousting intelligence officers who politically disagree with DDT. The question is why Grenell would create a large-scale reorganization when DDT has already nominated Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) for permanent director.

South Korea reported that North Korea launched multiple weapons twice in less than a week on March 2 and 8 with Kim Jong-un inspecting a large military exercise the second time. The firing was directed northeast from the east coast with projectiles falling into the water between North Korea and Japan. Some flew as far as 124 miles. Another military exercise was on February 28.

The Senate is in charge of an investigation into whether Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao abused her position to help her husband Mitch McConnell’s Senate campaign by sending millions of federal dollars to Kentucky—and McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, controls the decision of who does the investigation. DDT replaced the retiring Transportation Inspector General with an acting IG.

DOJ must release secret grand jury evidence to congressional Democrats according to a district judge and two judges on a three-judge panel from an appeals court. The ruling can be appealed the full court and/or the Supreme Court. Judge Judith Rogers, appointed by Bill Clinton, wrote that grand jury records are court records, not DOJ records, which have been released to Congress during impeachment investigations five times. A George W. Bush appointee agreed, and DDT’s appointee dissented. The DOJ is reviewing the decision and thought that earlier decisions were wrong.

U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman wrote an article for the Harvard Law Review explaining how the Roberts [Supreme] Court is destroying democracy:

“The Roberts Court has contributed to ensuring that the political system in the United States pays little attention to ordinary Americans and responds only to the wishes of a relatively small number of powerful corporations and individuals.”

In “The Roberts Court’s Assault on Democracy,” Adelman uses examples such as gutting the Voting Rights Act, upholding strict ID laws to make voting more difficult, approved purging thousands from voting rolls, and abdicated its responsibility to end partisan gerrymandering. He continued by writing that the Roberts Court enforces enormous income inequality by giving economic and political power to corporations and wealthy people.  

Chief Justice John Roberts proved Adelman’s point when he agreed with the conservative members to overturn lower court rulings regarding enforcing DDT’s executive order to keep immigrant asylum-seekers in Mexico to be robbed, raped, and killed while waiting months for hearings. The same court permitted DDT’s “wealth test” to deny residency or admission to the U.S. for immigrants.

A volunteer for a pro-DDT organization has been charged with 10 felony counts for submitting false voter registration information, and the Florida county sheriff believes that other workers may also be committing the same crime on the 119 forms. Problems were wrong registrations, changes in party affiliations without the voters’ knowledge, forged signatures, or fake personal information.

A new algorithm from the Census Bureau will badly skew populations of minority communities and rural areas while claiming to protect privacy. Mistakes up to 25 percent for population and 100 percent for specific groups can badly distort districting and funding. “Differential privacy” means that population, voting age population, race, and ethnicity are reported as enumerated only at the state level. For example, the number of girls 15 to 19 in Emporia (VA) were decreased from factual 185 to 30, raising the teen pregnancy rate from ten percent to 66 percent. It found 716 people on the Hawaiian island of Molokai when the 2010 population was 90. Native American reservations with fewer than 5,000 residents saw a decline of 34 percent with the new system. Growing Alaskan villages appeared to shrink. While some cities lost population, one had a 253 percent increase.

A blind man failed his citizenship test because he couldn’t read a sentence in English. He and his doctor had asked for a Braille version, but immigrations officials gave him a large print version instead because they didn’t have any Braille.

DDT’s weekly frivolous libel lawsuit against the media is directed at CNN after ones against the New York Times and the Washington Post. This one references an opinion piece about DDT’s claim that he’s would accept opposition research from foreign governments. Larry Noble’s conclusion to his piece:

“The Trump campaign assessed the potential risks and benefits of again seeking Russia’s help in 2020 and has decided to leave that option on the table.”

DDT’s argument is that “the “Defamatory Article has forced” his campaign for pay for “corrective advertisements.” DDT’s campaign waited nine months to push for a retraction and apology before the lawsuit.  

DDT is so furious with DDT-supporter and former AG Jeff Sessions that DDT endorsed Sessions’ opponent for the Alabama Senate primary, a former Auburn University football coach.

Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein, 67, received 23 years in prison for his sexual assaults. He compared the #MeToo movement to McCarthyism.

DDT didn’t know people died of the flu. His grandfather died of the flu epidemic in 1918.

Gallup shows that people like the Affordable Care Act more than they like DDT with a 52 percent approval of the ACA. DDT’s approval rating is barely above 42 percent. 

March 6, 2020

DDT: Week 163 – Corrupt Purge, ‘Loyalty’

In a Friday afternoon news dump, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) fired Mick Mulvaney as both acting chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney is off to Northern Ireland to be special envoy, a vacant position since 2017. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), super-conservative founder of the Freedom Caucus, becomes DDT’s fourth chief of staff. DDT’s relationship with Mulvaney has been increasingly cool, turning to icy after Mulvaney told a British audience that the U.S. needed immigrants to improve its economy.

Since the GOP thought DDT had learned his lesson in the impeachment trial, he’s increased his purging and loyalty fixations. Earlier this week, he pulled Elaine McCusker’s nomination for Pentagon comptroller because she emailed concerns about budget officials delaying the congressionally-appropriated funding to Ukraine.

In an angry tweet, DDT explained his reason for firing Jeff Sessions as AG after Sessions’ attempt for U.S. senator from Alabama led to a runoff at the end of March:

“This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt. Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office, and the Mueller Scam begins!”

Michael Ellis is DDT’s choice for senior director of intelligence on the National Security Council (NSC) for giving Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) bogus information about President Obama’s wiretaps on DDT during his 2016 campaign. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), later said the claim was “all created by Devin Nunes.” Ellis’ cohort in the scam, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was appointed to national security adviser for United States AG.

DDT’s loyalty test on the application for political requirement asks an explanation of what part of Trump’s campaign message “most appealed” to them and why. In addition, applicants are asked if they have “ever appeared in the media to comment on ‘Candidate Trump, President Trump or other personnel or policies of the Trump administration.’ ” The new questionnaire requires a description of the applicants “political evolution” and a list of “thinkers, authors, books, or political leaders” who have “influenced you and led you to your current beliefs.” It asks, “What political commentator, thinker or politician best reflects your views?” and to list any political campaigns they have “ever worked on or volunteered for” and why. DDT’s name appears five times on the questionnaire.

A federal judge ruled that Ken Cuccinelli’s appointment as acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. If higher courts support the decision, policies made under him are void, including the one permitting asylum-seekers much less time to consult with legal counsel before their initial “credible fear” interview. DDT tried to bypass the law in appointing the right-wing immigration hard-liner by appointing Cuccinelli to a lower office and then elevating him over the “first assistant” in the agency. Cuccinelli failed the requirement of working for the agency in a senior position for at least 90 of 365 days before the vacancy.

Increasingly frustrated by the covid-19 crisis, DDT said that he wants to leave the cruise ship, where at least 21 people have tested positive for the virus, off the California coast so that his numbers of infected people and those dying of the virus will look better. He also called Washington state governor Jay Inslee a “snake” for criticizing DDT’s response to the outbreak. Inslee said DDT should stick to science and tell the truth. DDT also said that the virus could benefit the economy because people would stay in the U.S. instead of traveling out of the country.

While Republicans and DDT denigrate “Democratic socialism,” he gave farmers $28 billion—most of them wealthy—because of his trade war, and the GOP wants to give them more. Now DDT proposes deferring taxes for big businesses hurt by covid-19: cruise, airline, hotel, and other travel industries accounting for 2.9 percent of the economy in 2018. Airlines alone could lose up to $113 billion. In the U.S., DDT could benefit from his hotels in D.C., Chicago, and Las Vegas; the Mar-a-Lago Club; a vineyard in Northern Virginia; and 11 golf courses.

In 2016, DDT ran on not cutting Medicare and Social Security; in 2020, he’s running on cutting these programs. The GOP also has a bill called Lower Costs, More Cures Act. Instead of lowering prices, it allows seniors to pay in monthly installments and tells people what procedures and drugs cost with no reduction in prices. Republicans ignored the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, already passed in the House, that lowers drug and other health prices for everyone.

Mark Zuckerberg has named Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller a factchecker for Facebook; one of the articles banned as “false information” was “Trump rallies his base to treat coronavirus as a ‘hoax.’” The lie is the spin that DDT only referred to Dems’ politicization of covid-19 as a “hoax.” DDT said, “This is their new hoax” and used the speech to minimize covid-19’s threat. The Searle Freedom Trust, funder of organizations of right-wing causes such as climate disinformation, funds FB’s factchecker. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) slammed Facebook, it removed DDT’s campaign ads that asked users to fill out an “Official 2020 Congressional District Census.” The confusing fake ad was intended to reduce census participation.

In its first 2020 weapons test, North Korea has launched two unidentified projectiles from its east coast toward the Sea of Japan.

House Republicans who saw the classified agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lied about its contents. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) tweeted that the documents “do not include in them the things that @SecPompeo said they would.” She commented that the secret documents do not have a verification with the Taliban and contains no renunciation of al-Qaeda.

Four days after the “peace” agreement, the U.S. military attacked the Taliban in a drone strike because of continued Taliban attacks on Afghans. Three days earlier, the Afghan government said it would not release the 5,000 Taliban prisoners as DDT’s agreement promised. The violence between Taliban and the Afghans started two days later, killing five Afghan policemen. Immediately before the airstrike, DDT talked to a Taliban leader who promised DDT he also wanted no violence. DDT said his relationship with the leader as “very good.”

DDT’s claims the rights to his own opinions—no matter how vicious and false—but he’s suing to deny newspapers the right to have opinions about him. He has sued two different newspaper within the last week. The first lawsuit, against the New York Times, objected to an op-ed about DDT possibly colluding with Russia in 2016. His second lawsuit, one against the Washington Post, complained about two opinion pieces from last June warning DDT could encourage election meddling in 2020. Lawyers asserted that the Post knew the material was false and published it to intentionally hurt DDT’s campaign.

At a rally in North Carolina, DDT suggested that Joe Biden is mentally unfit for the presidency and said, “They’re going to put him into a home, and other people are going to be running the country.” At the same rally, he called for the impeachment of Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg because they endorsed Joe Biden. Calling it a quid pro quo, he said, “They made a deal. Impeach them. They should be impeached.” Just a couple of his lesser lying insults.

DDT and the Republicans, positive that DDT could win against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), are now afraid enough of Joe Biden that a Senate committee has reinstated a search into Hunter Biden. After his father, Joe Biden, beat Sanders for most of the 15 Democratic primaries on Super Tuesday, all their competition dropped out except for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who has earned one delegate out of almost 1,500.

DDT told Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that he doesn’t want the surveillance extension, due for reupping by March 15, but AG Bill Barr disagrees, wanting the roving wire taps, lone wolf actors, and call data collection. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also wants the extension to pass; he could be caught between Barr and DDT. Paul, on the other hand, was the only Republican to vote against Barr’s confirmation.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos got a bipartisan protest when she cut funding for rural schools. Her revision for district reporting of students living in poverty caused major cuts for over 800 of the “poorest” and “most geographically isolated” schools. For 20 years, the department has used the percentage of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch; now they must use data from the census for meeting the requirement of 20 percent of students living below the poverty line. The department said that if Congress wants the former guideline, then it needs to pass a law. Southern schools would be hit hardest with eligible schools in Oklahoma dropped by one-half. In Maine, 100 of 149 schools qualifying for the program would lose funding.

DDT went back to hugging the flag again at CPAC.

March 1, 2020

DDT Goes to India, Woos Taliban

Last week before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came home to the worst decline in the stock market since 2008 and the possibility of an epidemic in the U.S., he spent two happy days with another authoritarian. Jealous of the 50,000 audience for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston, DDT was promised a much bigger crowd during his stay on a trip to India. At a rally, 100,000 attendees cheered DDT before over one-third of them walked out of the cricket stadium during his speech. Another third left during Modi’s speech. In Ahmedabad, a city of six million, Modi failed to come up with the 10 million along the motorcade path, but he did provide costumed musicians, dancers, and a marching band on camels. [Visual Trump India]

During press conferences, DDT avoided Modi’s international condemnation for revoking the statehood of Muslims and establishing a religious test for new migrants to make India a Hindu nation and drive out the 200 million Muslims. DDT was supposed to talk “about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom” but instead skipped the subject. While police used tear gas and smoke grenades to disperse crowds in New Delhi, DDT spoke of India as a place where different faiths “worship side by side in harmony.” He ignored both the violence and the anti-Islam law. 

DDT may have hoped that his visit to the state of Gujarat would help him get donations and votes from influential Indian-Americans, It’s also the place where Modi tacitly supported the killing of over 1,000 people in 2002 in sectarian violence, almost 80 percent of them Muslims killed by Hindu mobs. George W. Bush banned Modi from visiting the U.S. because of his actions until he became prime minister in 2014. Like today’s sectarian violence, police didn’t intervene and sometimes joined in that attacks. Last week, over 30 people were killed in protests. George W. Bush banned Modi from visiting the U.S. because of his actions until he became prime minister in 2014. Both DDT and Modi achieved political power through inciting hatred of Muslims. The Delhi riots bear a strong resemblance to the ethnic pogrom in Gujarat almost two decades ago.

Modi, hurt by a steep economic downturn, can’t fulfill campaign promises on job creation. DDT imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from India that raised penalties on agricultural goods and restrictions on U.S. medical devices. DDT retaliated by removing India from a decades-old preferential trade program.

Michael Fuchs wrote:

“The leaders of the world’s two biggest democracies are pursuing dangerous, nationalist visions at odds with their countries’ founding values.”

Both DDT and Modi achieved political power through inciting hatred of Muslims. The Delhi riots bear a strong resemblance to the ethnic pogrom in Gujarat almost two decades ago.

Yasmeen Serhan echoed Fuchs’ statement about democracies moving to autocracies

“As the leaders of the world’s two largest democracies, their shared disregard for norms, disdain for dissent (from the media and elsewhere), and dedication to strengthening their own executive power at the expense of state institutions designed to curb it have made them emblematic of the democratic deterioration that has been taking place in recent years.

“A mainstay of autocratic rule is the consolidation of executive power…. Trump’s bid to extend his presidential authority in the U.S. has steadily increased over time, from his attempts to defy Congress and the Constitution over his hardline immigration policies to his impeachment-spurring efforts to withhold congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine. In both cases, Trump’s rationale was largely the same: to invoke presidential privilege or, in autocratic speak, to declare himself constitutionally above the law. White House withholding press briefings and attacking news outlets and journalists perceived as critical.

“But perhaps the most common trait among burgeoning autocrats in recent years is the growing appeal to populist and nationalist sentiment. This has been most pronounced in India through Modi’s efforts to transform the country from a secular democracy into a theocratic, nationalist one that dominates its minorities. In the U.S., Trump has made his nativist rhetoric about immigration a hallmark of his administration.”

In praising Modi, DDT may have thought he was criticizing China, but he described his own approach to ruling the U.S.:

“There is all the difference in the world between a country that seeks to claim power through coercion, intimidation and aggression, and a country that seeks to grow by setting its people free, and unleashing them to chase their dreams, and that is India.”

Protests have come from the Indian 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which grants amnesty to non-Muslim immigrants from three nearby Muslim-majority countries—Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh—who came to India before 2015 in an expansion of the 1951 National Register of Citizens. Assam, which borders Bangladesh, has been registering “Indian” citizens since the 1951 census but now works to expel Muslims as “foreigners.” To stay in the country, Muslims, unlike those of any other religion, must provide proof that their families migrated to India before 1971, the year that Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan and created a refugee crisis. Generations of Indian Muslims born and raised in India must produce their grandparents’ legal documents, which in many cases no longer exist, or leave.

Under DDT, the U.S. stripped Latinx of citizenship even if they were born in the U.S. and have birth certificates. Officials demand documents such as baptismal records and ask questions such as “Do you remember when you were born?” Some had passports revoked, put in deportation proceedings, and barred from returning to the U.S. if they visited Mexico. The project began on the southern border but moved north to central states. DDT’s Muslim bans also draw parallels to Modi’s driving Muslims out of India.

AG Bill Barr created a new office to denaturalize citizens who committed any crimes. The new section replaces the one investigating cases about revoking citizenship for those convicted of terrorism, war crimes, human rights violations, and sex offenses. Under President Obama, the office focused on people who falsified applications and committed major crimes. Since 2008, 228 denaturalization cases have been filed, 40 percent of them since 2017. In three years, case referrals have increased 600 percent. Under DDT, the process may be used against people who make misstatements on the application.

Human rights lawyer Arjun Sethi called DDT and Modi the “worst kind of fascists.”

“Both Modi and Trump have criminalized minority communities, championed fake news and persecuted dissent, promoted supremacist ideologies, and played on the racism and anxiety of dominant communities.”

DDT’s visit to India also brought up his business ventures, the most in any country except the U.S. His India ventures include four luxury residential projects and an office tower branded with the Trump name under licensing deals. Since DDT’s last visit to India in 2014, one of DDT’s business has been accused of massive fraud, and the other faces a funding crunch. Both of them have close ties to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. 

The week concluded by the U.S. and the Taliban signing an agreement that would begin the complete withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops from Afghanistan over 14 months after over 18 years, the longest war on foreign soil. The text is here. Estimates of that war cost for the U.S. is almost $8 trillion by 2050. Secretary of State Pompeo said that the Afghans need to determine the future of their country, but no Afghans were at the table for the negotiation. It was entirely one-sided by the Taliban with the U.S. running the show.

According to the agreement, the Taliban will break off ties to terror groups, but nothing was said about human rights—oppression of females and harsh punishments exacted against anyone for petty offenses. The Taliban agreed that Afghan soil will not be used by terrorists to attack the United States or its allies, but it does not have control over areas outside Afghan hands. Several factions, including ISIS, control areas and could grow stronger without U.S. troops. Former national security adviser John Bolton wrote:

“Legitimizing Taliban sends the wrong signal to ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists, and to America’s enemies generally.”

The deal stipulates that the badly-split Afghan government must organize a negotiating team to begin talks with the Taliban by March 10. On the same day, before any talks, thousands of Taliban prisoners held by Afghans must be released in exchange for 1,000 Taliban-held members of the Afghan security forces. Twenty-two GOP lawmakers have issued a warning letter to Pompeo and DOD Secretary Mark Esper that the Taliban has “a history of extracting concessions in exchange for false assurances.” 

Under DDT, the U.S. signed an agreement with an officially listed terrorist group, the Haqqani Network, which has a campaign of suicide bombings. The Network’s leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is the Taliban’s deputy leader and military commander. A day before the signing ceremony, the Taliban’s multimedia chief described it as a historic landmark for proclaiming “the defeat of the arrogance of the White House in the face of the white turban.” Pompeo indicated that he doesn’t trust the Taliban to live up to the agreement; DDT said he wants to meet with them.

We have ten days to see any success. 

November 29, 2019

The Completion of Thanksgiving

For several weeks, the media has obsessed about Thanksgiving dinner—specifically how to get along with people gathering around the groaning board. Culture since the election of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has made this an all-consuming issue.

With his typical cruelty, DDT’s son Donald Trump Jr has this recommendation: “trigger a liberal” at Thankgiving dinner with the goal of encouraging fights among families at the family gathering. He tweeted, “Trigger a liberal thanksgiving” and offered an autographed copy of his book for winners who send him photos or videos of “something/someone triggered maybe with my book.” Jr is listed as author of Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us:

“This is the book that the leftist elites don’t want you to read — Donald Trump, Jr., exposes all the tricks that the left uses to smear conservatives and push them out of the public square, from…”

Triggered became a best seller after the RNC and the Trump Organizations spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase copies of the book that promotes lies through conspiracy theories and encourages Jr’s social media followers to engage in bad behavior. Conservatives, however, may be more “triggered” by a discussion of the facts and their lack of defense for their beloved leader.

On Thanksgiving Day, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) unexpectedly visited troops in Afghanistan after pardoning three war criminals who were blamed of their crimes by their Navy Seal colleagues. Once again DDT created chaos by announcing peace talks with the Taliban, after dumping the idea just two months ago after a period of negotiations, and demanding a cease-fire that negotiators had already rejected and that the U.S. has no leverage to enact. DDT claimed that the Taliban wants a ceasefire, but he also claimed that Turkey wouldn’t kill the Kurds. The Taliban negotiating team was surprised at DDT’s statements. A member said, “Our positions remain the same.” With DDT removing troops from Afghanistan, the U.S. has even less leverage than earlier.

Since he was inaugurated almost three years ago, DDT had previously made no trips to Afghanistan and only one to a war zone, a secretive trip to Iraq almost a year ago. That time, plane spotters saw Air Force One crossing Britain; this time, he took a military plane with only five people, including Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). DDT ate with Barrasso and a commander based at Bagram.

DDT demonstrated his obsession with impeachment during the traditional ceremony of pardoning a turkey. The two fowl, Bread and Butter, will not reside on a table but instead safely live out their natural lives because of the selection. DDT’s statement:

“Thankfully, Bread and Butter have been specially raised by the Jacksons to remain calm under any condition, which will be very important because they’ve already received subpoenas to appear in Adam Schiff’s basement on Thursday. It seems the Democrats are accusing me of being too soft on turkey, but Bread and Butter — I should note that, unlike previous witnesses, you and I have actually met.”

DDT added that the news media would find the pardon “very popular” because “turkeys are closely related to vultures.”

Although both turkeys were saved, only Butter received a “pardon.” One joke was that Butter received the pardon because Bread got more votes.

Although the DDT base may have found humor in the comments about impeachment, satirist Andy Borowitz gave another perspective about the pardon in his humor column, “Trump Refuses to Pardon White House Turkey After Accusing It of Working for Soros”:

“In a startling break with Thanksgiving tradition, Donald J. Trump refused to pardon the White House turkey after claiming that it was working as a secret operative of the billionaire George Soros.

“A group of fourth graders from Bethesda, Maryland, who had gathered on the White House lawn for the annual turkey-pardoning ceremony appeared unprepared for the anti-Soros outburst that Trump unleashed on the Thanksgiving bird.

“’That turkey was sent by Soros to spy on me,’ Trump said, angrily turning on the fowl. ‘A lot of people are saying this.’

“While the oblivious turkey pecked desultorily at the ground, an increasingly enraged Trump spewed a stream of conspiracy theories linking the feathered animal to global élites, election fraud in Florida, and Jim Acosta.

“Trump attempted to lead the fourth-grade class in a chant of ‘Lock It Up,’ apparently directed at the Thanksgiving delicacy, but the students slowly backed away from him in silence.

“Tracy Klugian, one of the children who witnessed Trump’s meltdown, said that he found it ‘sad.’

“’I get that he’s upset about Mueller and the midterms, but he shouldn’t take it out on a turkey,’ he said.”

Background on the turkey pardon: residents of the White House typically ate the donated turkeys until 1989 with the exception of Abraham Lincoln giving the turkey in 1863 to his son Tad and President Kennedy’s refusal to eat the turkey in 1961. Richard Nixon freed the turkey but gave no pardon. George H.W. Bush began the official presidential turkey pardon tradition. The pardon got attention in 2007 when the turkey found back during the ceremony of H.W.’s son, W.

As my vegetarian friend said, maybe next year’s turkey could be named “Tofu.”

And now the conservative Christians can launch into their mythical persecution and their fantasy of the “war on Christmas.” If you get together with conservatives at the winter holiday dinner, here are some talking points. Just change the title.

February 1, 2019

DDT: Week 106 – Mass Shootings, Corruption

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:25 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The shutdown is on hiatus, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gets to escape the White House this weekend for a retreat to Mar-a-Lago. DDT spent his week causing making Venezuelans people to suffer while gifting Vladimir Putin by lifting sanctions and encouraging him to make as many nuclear weapons as he wants by removing a treaty. Little noticed by the media, however, is the ongoing slaughter of people in the United States by young white men. Three 21-year-olds each murdered at least three people in three different mass shootings last week:

  • Five women killed in a Sebring (FL) SunTrust bank.
  • Three people shot in a Pennsylvania bar, two of them killed, and an elderly man shot dead in a home where the suspect crashed his car and killed himself.
  • A young woman killed with her brother and father before the murderer shot and killed his parents in their nearby Louisiana home.

Media focus on mass shootings now seems to come only from a location such as a school or religious institution and/or massive numbers of dead. Largely ignored in the first month of 2019 were 32 mass shootings—the shooting of at least four or more people. As the media writes about how ISIS radicalized its recruits, it skips over how young white men in the United States are radicalized and committing more and more mass shootings.

Back, however, to the actions of the nation’s tweeter-in-chief who promotes violence in the United States. Before DDT left for his weekend getaway, he gave an 85-minute interview to the New York Times, which he claims to hate, in which he said that he would proceed with “wall” without congressional negotiations because they were a “waste of time.” About House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), DDT said, “I’ve actually always gotten along with her, but now I don’t think I will any more.” He also denied that he worked on his Moscow skyscraper through his election, saying that former fixer Michael Cohen was lying. According to DDT, outgoing deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein, told his lawyers that DDT was not a target of special investigator Robert Mueller.

In a reversal from his temper tantrums how his intelligence leaders had contradicted him, DDT claimed that they told him that the media misinterpreted the testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee. “They said, ‘Sir, our testimony was totally mischaracterized,’” DDT said. “I’m happy with Dan Coats.”

In his intent to take over Venezuela, DDT looks to help from Brazil where 13 Brazilian investors, involved with DDT in a Rio de Janeiro hotel project until 2016, have been arrested and charged with diverting pension money into the scheme. DDT bailed just after his election and just before a criminal investigation into the funding process.

Three of DDT’s children—Ivanka, Eric, and Don, Jr.—are being sued for their endorsement of a fraudulent scam promoted on DDT’s reality show, The Apprentice. The Trumps received millions of dollars in secret payments from 2005 to at least 2015 from ACN persuading people to sell a “doomed” desktop video phone service. The video phone, which connected calls among only ACN customers, lost to Skype and smart phones.

Three House committee chairs have asked for documents surrounding Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s lifting sanctions from Russian companies, giving Vladimir Putin’s oligarchs millions of dollars to spend on election interference. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has also asked about Mnuchin’s possible conflicts of interest with his ties to the oligarchs because he refused to recuse himself from the sanctions discussions.

When Mnuchin took his current government position, he sold his shares in RatPac-Dune Entertainment for $25 million to Len Blavatnik and Oleg Deripaska. Blavatnik co-owns Sual Partners with another sanctioned oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, and Sual “is a major shareholder” of Rusal, one of Deripaska’s companies that benefited from Mnuchin’s lifting the sanctions. Blavatnik, who donated $1 million to DDT’s inaugural fund, formerly served on Rusal’s board. SUAL will own 22.5 percent of Rusal after the restructuring, and the rise in Rusal’s stock price with the lifting of the sanctions increased the value of SUAL Partners’ holding in the company by about $800 million. When questioned earlier about lifting the sanctions, Mnuchin testified in a House committee hearing that legislators should just “trust” DDT.

Part of the agreement to lift the Russian sanctions was for the Rusal to change its board of directors. Now one of DDT’s presidential transition team, Christopher Burnham, sits on Rusal’s board. Burnham is a former official at Deutsche Bank, the financial institution involved in money-laundering scandals with strong ties with DDT’s funding for his projects. The sanctions were quietly lifted last Sunday as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced her presidential candidacy to a crowd of over 20,000 in Oakland.

Russian oligarchs support U.S. Christian fundamentalists in their fight to make the United States a theocracy. As the keynote speaker for the 2014 National Organization for Marriage gala, Ben Carson mixed with such notables as Alexey Komov, fascist-supporter, anti-Semite, and key employee of sanctioned Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. In his speech, Carson said that Marxists were “using LGBT rights to destroy American unity and impose the ‘New World Order.’” The process of “Making America Christian” includes partnering with U.S. homeschool organizations and working closely with Christian movie reviewers. Malofeev funded eastern Ukrainian pro-Russian “separatists” who are believed to shoot down Malaysian Air Flight MH17 and kill all 283 passengers and 15 crew members.

Campaign groups connected to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY), instrumental in making sure the sanctions were lifted, received $7 million to elect Republicans, starting with $3.5 million to a PAC connected to McConnell. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also received hefty donations.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chair of the Armed Services Committee, received $1,000 in “unused campaign funds” from former Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) on the day that a McKeon associate met with an Inhofe staff on behalf of the Saudi Arabians. The Saudis paid McKeon $450,000 three days after they killed U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The House has also directed the Pentagon to complete a report on climate change that ommitted requested details such as specific cost estimates to protect or replace the ten most vulnerable bases from each of the military services. The Pentagon report already released expressed security concerns about climate change although it listed no Marine Corps installations. Four months before the release of the report, Hurricane Florence cost Camp Lejeune, the biggest Marine base on the East Coast, over $3 billion in damages. Also omitted was Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida where Hurricane Michael destroyed 95 percent of the buildings. Patrick Shanahan, former Boeing executive, became acting DOD Secretary after Jim Mattis left.

DDT is sending thousands more troops to the border with Mexico because of the “caravans” coming from the south, and he agrees with the majority of people that a physical barrier will not stop the migrants. Told that the border for much of Texas is the middle of the Rio Grande River, DDT agreed that people just had to “touch the land.” He was wrong when he said that criminals “are released into our country.”

A caravan of millions is actually crossing the Mexico border for health care—but it’s going south. In just Yuma (AZ), 6,000 people cross into Los Algodones every day for healthcare, especially dental care. In the U.S., 74 million people, one-fourth the population, have no dental insurance, and most people with that insurance are not covered beyond regular checkups and filings that have a cap of $1,500. Getting dental work in Mexico saves people between 67 percent and 80 percent. One reason for less cost is lack of student debt: dentists pay the government for tuition with one year of free service. [Below: U.S. cars heading into Tijuana.]

More people are going to need healthcare with DDT’s plans to weaken regulations for beryllium exposure, causing lung cancer and symptoms such as difficulty breathing/shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, joint pain, cough, and fever. The disease also leads to disability and death.

DDT may be watching too many Star Trek reruns on television. He offered NASA unlimited funding if they can put the U.S. flag on Mars by 2020. An astronaut surprised DDT by reminding him that DDT had already set the timeline for the 2030s. Unhappy with that revelation, DDT suggested that NASA drop all other priorities and focus on a trip to Mars, which is 200 times farther than the moon. Even private efforts for a Mars journey were set back last week after a storm flipped the test vehicle SpaceX in progress at Boca Chica (TX). In his new book Team of Vipers, Cliff Sims described a conversation in the White House when DDT was pushing for a trip to Mars in the coming year.

The Senate passed nonbinding bipartisan legislation objecting to DDT’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Syria. Women in Afghanistan fear control by the Taliban who may subject females to forced marriages, domestic violence, inability to leave their homes without a male relative, and mandatory full-length burqas that cover their faces.

To keep DDT happy, his campaign team used Republicans to poll 10 GOP-leaning House districts that Democrats took in 2018 and supposedly found that a plurality of voters endorsed DDT’s wall. The purpose is to convince DDT that he has a good chance of being re-elected. Unfortunately for DDT’s peace of mind, 56 percent of people say they would “definitely not vote for him.” Majorities of independents (59 percent), women (64 percent), and suburbanites (56 percent) said they won’t support DDT for a second term. It is early to determine his chances, but another shutdown won’t be good for his reputation.

June 2, 2014

GOP’s Latest Issue: A Captive’s Release

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:22 PM
Tags: , , ,

Once again GOP members of Congress prove their belief that President Obama can do nothing right. After chewing him up on the problems of the Department of Veterans Affairs, they castigated him yesterday on the Sunday talk shows for his negotiating the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for sending five Taliban members from Guantanamo Bay prison to be imprisoned in Qatar.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): “Disturbing.” (ABC’s This Week)
  • Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI): “Dangerous.” (CNN’s State of the Union)
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “We need more information about the conditions of where they’re going to be and how.” (CBS’s Face The Nation)
  • Reps. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK): “[The exchange] may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans. Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk.”

Taking U.S. captives is not a new idea for the Taliban. They try to do it every day. It’s also odd that the right-wing is opposed to trades because they don’t mind when their model, Israel, does it. Israelis swapped 1,000 prisoners to get one back, but the captures of Israelis haven’t increased.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said that the president acted within his constitutional authority as commander-in-chief. “We didn’t negotiate with terrorists,” Hagel said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Sgt. Bergdahl is a prisoner of war, that’s a normal process in getting your prisoners back… We don’t let anyone out of Guantanamo, and I will not sign off on any detainee coming out of Guantanamo unless I am assured…that we can efficiently mitigate any risk to American security.”

On CNN, Rice said:

“Given the acute urgency of the health condition of Sgt. Bergdahl and given the president’s constitutional responsibilities, it was determined that it was necessary and appropriate not to adhere to the 30-day notification requirements because it would have potentially meant that the opportunity to get Sgt. Bergdahl would have been lost.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) summarized the GOP attacks on the president on Fox News Sunday:

“We save an American life on foreign soil, the president gets criticized. We lose American lives on foreign soil, the president gets criticized. Are you seeing a theme here? It’s politics.”

GOP congressional members can complain as much as they want, but they gave up their right to stop it in the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Prior to that time, Congress had to give permission for releasing prisoners from Guantanamo Bay prison. The new law requires that the Defense Secretary notify Congress when releasing prisoners. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel did, in fact, notify Congress of the U.S.’s exchange. He was smart to wait until the last minute to do this because GOP members of Congress have proved that they can’t keep their mouths shut about classified information.

Republicans claim that this country does not negotiate with terrorists. A bit of history negates any fact in that myth.

William Howard Taft negotiated with Filipinos before he was president. Theodore Roosevelt granted a general amnesty for Emilio Aguinaldo’s resistance fighters after the 1902 U.S. occupation. In South Vietnam, the U.S. negotiated with the Viet Cong who would be described as “terrorists.” The U.S. negotiated with them in 1973 for the release of captured U.S. soldiers. At that time the right-wing was angry about 1,300 U.S. soldiers who were never released. Forty years later, many of the Viet Cong “terrorists” are in government with cordial U.S. relations.

During the 1980s, GOP icon Ronald Reagan began his first term by negotiating the release of 52 U.S. hostages. After radical Shiites took U.S. hostages in Lebanon, Reagan took anti-aircraft munitions from Pentagon warehouses and shipped them to Tehran, sending the money that they received to right-wing death squads in Nicaragua. The State Department had listed Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini as a terrorist, and selling weapons to Iran was illegal. During Reagan’s regime, taxpayer moneys were secretly funneled to al-Quaeda because they fought the Soviet Union.

Following the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988, George H.W. Bush negotiated in secret to protect state secrets. The secrecy continued into the first term of George W. Bush when the U.S. and Britain negotiated with Libya over the Quaddafi regime’s nuclear weapons. Quaddafi gave up his weapons, and the U.S. wouldn’t demand a regime change.

Just months before 9/11/2001, Bush supported the Taliban by giving them $43 million despite Osama bin Laden’s terrorist operation that made two attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998. Although $43 million doesn’t go far in the United States, it was the main sponsor of the Taliban because that sum of money gave a huge advantage to the Taliban.

In 2007, Bush paid Sunni insurgent leaders in Iraq to stop bombing U.S. troops and join the fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq. The insurgents were well-known as terrorists by officials in 2005-2006. Throughout the Iraqi war, the U.S. secretly supported al-Qaeda operations in eastern Europe.

More about the U.S. history of negotiating with terrorists and rogue regimes is in Mitchell Reiss’ book, Negotiating with Evil, starting with the Founding Fathers’ making agreements with pirates. The author, who worked in the State Department under President George W. Bush and served as national security adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, wrote:

“[Negotiation with terrorists] may be new to certain individuals. Whether it’s new or not is not as important as whether it’s sound policy and promotes national security. That’s the ground where there’s a more legitimate debate.”

Another right-wing complaint is that the five Taliban officials now in Qatar are the worst of the worst. Yet the U.S. left big Afghan warlords of the 1990s to operate freely in their country. Gen. Rashid Dostam was a vice presidential candidate, and Abu Sayyaf serves in parliament. A current criteria of terrorism in the Middle East is whether the men are cooperating with the Karzai government.

People commonly refer to the Taliban as “terrorists,” but the group is not on the State Department’s official list of terrorist organizations. The men released to bring home Bergdahl have no history of plotting attacks against the United States.

Under GOP presidents, Republicans claim that negotiating with terrorists is a diplomatic solution to save U.S. lives. Under Democratic presidents, GOP regards the diplomatic solutions as negotiating with terrorists.

As Todd Robberson wrote in the Dallas News:

“Once you acknowledge (as we have) that you cannot win a war militarily, there are only two other ways to end it: surrender or negotiate with your enemy. The United States might be capable of winning the war in Afghanistan militarily, but the sacrifice and cost in civilian lives would be too unpalatable to contemplate. This was the conclusion reached by civilian and military leaders years ago.”

After he was captured in Afghanistan, Bergdahl was held for nearly five years by the Taliban after being captured in Afghanistan. He was the only remaining U.S. soldier captured during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. All the living captives have now come home.

The Republicans have a major problem. They abandoned opposition to the Affordable Care Act to create a special committee to investigate Benghazi. Attention for that was lost with the information about problems in the Department of Veterans Affairs, and focus changed to the exchange of Bowe Bergdahl for five Gitmo prisoners. Almost immediately the crisis moved to the new EPA standards. This week will likely produce another issue that they want to use against the president. By now GOP members look like dilettante butterflies.

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