Nel's New Day

February 2, 2020

DDT: Week 158 – Beyond Impeachment

For 18 years, the U.S. has been bombing Afghanistan. The increase to 15,000 in the past two years came after former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis changed the rules of engagement so that coalition forces could open fire on the enemy without close contact. The bombings have also spiked the number of civilian deaths—more in the first half of 2019 than insurgents.

More civilians will be killed because of DDT’s decision this past week to allow landmines anywhere and rescind President Obama’s 2014 order to limit these weapons to the Korean Peninsula, a policy closer to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Over 160 nations ratified this treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention. The U.S. is one of 32 UN member states not ratifying the treaty. The majority of 130,000 people killed by landmines between 1999 and 2018 were civilians. Once again, DDT ignored Congress in making this decision. The U.S. has not used landmines since the first Gulf War in 1991. Experts, including U.S. defense officials, say that anti-personnel landmines are not helpful in war.

DDT can also kill more people with his new “low-yield” nuclear warhead, the W76-2, on a submarine patrolling the Atlantic Ocean. With a yield of five kilotons, the warhead has one-third the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima (Japan) in 1945 that instantly killed 80,000 people and tens of thousands of people after that from radiation.

Six more countries have been added to the seven already on the travel ban with the reason that conditions, especially terrorism, should keep citizens from moving to the U.S. The U.S. government, however, sells weapons to five of the six countries, everything from handguns and automatic weapons to light attack aircraft. Nigeria is one country buying millions of dollars in weapons since DDT moved into the Oval Office—weapons frequently lost to Boko Haram. The Arms Sales Risk Index of 0-to-100 has gone from 41 during George W. Bush’s terms to 69 under DDT. In his travel bans, DDT focuses on countries with sizeable Muslim populations, not on those with terrorism. The bans for Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria are only for permanent residency, not for visitors. 

DDT’s win in the Supreme Court this week is a loss for the U.S. economy when conservative justices approved DDT’s proceeding with his public charge rule. His order to deny immigration if an official predicts a person might use specific benefits for 12 months with a future 36-month period reduces legal immigration to the U.S. by hundreds of thousands and drastically reduces the labor force. Economists predict that the U.S. would not have the majority of economic growth between 2011 and 2016 following the recession without the contributions of immigrants. Morgan Stanley’s chief global strategist Ruchir Sharma said, “In the past decade, population growth, including immigration, has accounted for roughly half of the potential economic growth rate in the United States.” The law already prevents immigrants from receiving major federal public benefits during their first five years in the country, but the rule satisfies Stephen Miller’s obsession to block ethnic minorities from the United States. The public charge rule stays in effect while lawsuits work through lower courts.

The State Department has issued new rules to stop “birth tourism” in which wealthy women, many from China and Russia, visit the U.S. to give birth to U.S. citizens who can then sponsor their family members for U.S. visas. As they grow up, these babies can have other advantages such as advantages in scholarships. The scale of births, 33,000 annually, is small and block pregnant women who have legitimate reasons to study or work in the U.S. or come with their spouses. Restrictions would also block pregnant women from visiting families and needed medical treatment. https://www.thedailybeast.com/russians-flock-to-trump-properties-to-give-birth-to-us-citizens  Ironically, DDT has made money off “birth tourism” because pregnant women have rented his Florida condos at huge costs to Russians and paid to go to his nearby International Beach Resort.

Agricultural Department secretary Sonny Perdue, DDT’s appointment, says that farm workers are overpaid because a law requires their wages match the prevailing rate in the farm areas to keep from undermining wages of nearby workers. Perdue’s goals are to increase temporary immigration with no path to citizenship and cut their wages. Although wages for farm workers have slightly increased, they are still less than 40 percent below those of other non-supervisory U.S. workers–$24,620 annual average wage in 2018. A federal survey reported that “farm workers’ mean and median personal incomes the previous year were in the range of $17,500 to $19,999.” Perdue is also championing the removal of 700,000 people from any food assistance by reducing food stamps and pushed the rollback of healthier public school lunches. Over 20 million children need the National School Lunch Program for almost half their daily calories and 40 percent of their vegetable intake.

DDT also has a plan to segregate public housing by using esoteric changes in low-income housing. The change is so clever that 1968 Fair Housing Act violations would be hard to prove. The complex explanation is here

When he signed a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, DDT hoped that his trade deals would overcome the bad publicity from his impeachment trial. Despite signing “phase one” of his China deal, he failed. Since his 25 percent tariff on foreign steel and the 10 percent tariff on aluminum, the imports of these products have declined while products made from these metals “significantly increased.” His solution is to expand tariffs on products made of steel and aluminum on February 8 with the hopes that the flailing manufacturing in the U.S. will recover. Every time his tariffs fail, he raises them somewhere else.

Emails show that DDT’s appointees are making money for big business logging in forests through claims that climate pollution comes from California wildfires instead of fossil fuels. James Reilly, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, wrote scientists, asking them to “gin up” emissions figures and give him ones for a “decent sound bite” and make “a good story.” Scientists said that at the best, Reilly cherry picked data and at worst exploited a disaster by manipulating data. Numbers from the interior department significantly overestimate greenhouse gases from the fires, and logging wouldn’t prevent or lessen wildfires. Instead logging could stop the ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide.  

DDT announced that he plans more and higher tariffs on European products after while people already complain about increases in wine from earlier tariffs. At the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland) DDT insisted on talking to leaders about his trade “deals” although the conference was about climate change and cooperation. Gone is the 70-year connection between the United States and Europe to promote democracy and capitalism; DDT is now creating conflicts about climate change, trade, taxation, privacy, Iran, and defense funding as he threatens European leaders with tariffs. He’s using the same shakedown tactics with Europe that he does with China.

The UN determined that an internet account belonging to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman collected a huge amount of data from the cell phone of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos after he was sent an infected video. The 2018 hack occurred before MBS’ torture and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Kamal Khashoggi but after Bezos’ newspaper ran an article critical about MBS’ regime and its “new ways of repression.” The video sent to Bezos, purported to be a promo on Saudi’s economic success, contained malicious code.

The release of information about the hacking came just before the showing of The Dissident, a Sundance documentary about Saudi Arabia and the killing of Khashoggi. The movie ends with a critique of U.S. companies still working with Saudi Arabia, empowering Khashoggi murderer. 

AG Bill Barr has sworn in the 18 members of DDT’s commission on policing to study how to “make American law enforcement the most trusted and effective guardians of our communities.” Like DDT’s “voter suppression” commission almost three years ago, the commission skews toward highly conservative goals, this time expanding police forces, modernizing training, and countering criticism and “reform.” Seventeen of the 18 members belong to law enforcement or are prosecutors and judges. The 18th one has a background in police enforcement. Almost all the members are white males. From largely small and southern departments, they represent philosophies of criminalizing small crimes, using tasers, attacking protesters, opposing marijuana legislation, using false forensic science, fighting voting rights of people convicted of nonviolent felonies, battling police oversight boards, and covering up killings by police officers—in short, Barr’s ideology of authoritarianism. These “social ills” will be the commission’s focus. Barr said:

“The group should specifically evaluate how under-enforcement of the criminal law in certain jurisdictions affects public safety; perception of law enforcement and the laws they enforce; police resources and morale; and rule of law.”

Facebook came closer to merging with the Fox network when it hired Jennifer Williams, former developer of DDT’s favorite program Fox & Friends, to build the FB “news video component.” Williams has pushed such conspiracy theories as President Obama being educated at a “madrassa,” Ebola concerns, and the familiar—and non-existent—war on Christmas. Before he hired Williams, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the news would be curated by humans instead of algorithms. He has enabled right-wing propaganda and filled key positions with GOP operatives. Perhaps a new name for FB such as “FakeBook.”

 

 

January 4, 2020

Bad Year’s End for DDT

Why did Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) attack Iran when Iraqis perpetrated the killing of the U.S. mercenary and the attacks against the U.S. embassy in Iraq? DDT was told he looked weak after he called off an airstrike following the unproved report that Iran had downed a U.S. surveillance drone. According to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), DDT killed Qassem Soleimani to look stronger than President Obama after lack of military action following the 2012 deaths of four people at the Benghazi diplomatic outpost. 

Nothing changed before DDT decided to kill Soleimani; the DOD had to make up excuses after the decision—just as they did with by freezing military aid to Ukraine. DDT’s major reason may be wooing evangelicals after Christianity Today called him “immoral.” All his actions this year will be based on his drive to be re-elected. As always, however, the main reason can be to distract from other negative news about him, such as these somewhat unreported bits from last week.

A whistleblower with access to documents from Deutsche Bank and Russia’s state-owned VTB bank claims that Russia underwrote DDT’s $2 billion loans from Deutsche Bank as well as being the proposed lender on DDT’s desired but uncompleted Trump Tower Moscow. The reason behind DDT’s huge loans from Deutsche Bank has been a mystery, especially because they occurred soon after his bankruptcy and high losses from several New Jersey casinos and his gigantic fine for money laundering in the resulting bankruptcies.

The documents supposedly came from a Deutsche Bank official who killed himself, one of two suicides connected to Deutsche Bank. In investigating Putin’s control over DDT, Congress should be able to obtain information. Judges at the district level and two ensuing appeals all ruled that Congress should receive the records, but the Supreme Court will hear arguments in March about whether Deutsche must comply with the congressional subpoena. SCOTUS usually doesn’t hear cases with no conflict at the lower level and ones between the two branches of government. 

DDT also had a chummy talk with Vladimir Putin last weekend when they talked about “mutual interests.” Russians have taken over the third U.S. base in northern Syria since DDT abandoned the area.

Making impeachment worse for DDT, a judge ordered the release of almost 300 pages of emails about DDT’s freezing the military aid to Ukraine.  “Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold,” Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), told Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller in an Aug. 30 email, only available in redacted form until now. A news source has seen unredacted copies from June through October that show how defense and budget officials frantically tried to cover for DDT’s illegal hold. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s senior adviser, Robert Blair, started the process on June 19 when he called acting head of OMB Russell Vought and told him, “We need to hold it up.” DDT rewarded Blair for not testifying about his part in the extortion of Ukraine by promoting him to a new position where Blair, with no experience, plays a prominent role in 5G work. After three months of blocking the funding release, After his order to freeze the funds, Duffey amazed McCusker by falsely blaming the Pentagon for not releasing the money. 

In late August, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo, and then national security adviser John Bolton failed to persuade DDT to release the aid. OMB’s lawyers worked on an argument permitting DDT to override the congressional law—that he had signed—to send the funding to Ukraine. Mark Sandy, who controlled the release of the money from the Office of Management and Budget, maintained that freezing the funds would violate the Impoundment Control Act protecting Congressional spending power, but Duffey told Sandy to say that the freeze was temporary. Orders to block the Pentagon spending were sent every few days for weeks.  

These revelations are even more awkward as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leads some Republicans in a coverup by refusing to call any witnesses for the impeachment trial including Bolton, Mulvaney, Duffey, and Blair. 

Weeks ago, DDT wanted a big show for his impeachment trial in the Senate; now he suggests that it be called off before it starts. His tweet supported a plan from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to move for a complete dismissal of the trial. This idea, showing the weakness of DDT’s position, follows his attempt to pick a lawyer for the trial. DDT was said to choose either personal lawyer Jay Sekulow or over White House counsel Alan Dershowitz Pat Cipollone because the former have more “television experience.” Dershowitz is fighting an Epstein-related rape allegation, which might make him DDT’s pick. DDT’s personal lawyer, also fighting an indictment, has volunteered for the job. Other TV hucksters who DDT wanted are the loudest screamers from the House, meaning Doug Collins (GA) and Jim Jordan (OH). Devin Nunes (CA) probably lacks the necessary volume and has been quieter after his connection with indicted Lev Parnas in the Ukrainian scheme has been made public. DDT doesn’t get to pick the House members at his trial. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is infuriating DDT with her delay, and his fury may land on Cipollone because he wants a fast quiet trial.

Parnas, an associate of DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, may provide more information for the impeachment after a U.S. district judge ruled he can share information with the House Intelligence Committee that the FBI had seized.

More trouble for both DDT and Giuliani comes from the public knowledge about Giuliani’s part in trying to depose Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in another part of Giuliani’s being assigned a leading part in foreign diplomacy with no official position. His communication with Maduro in late 2018 opposed the government’s policy to take up a harder line against the Venezuelan government and connected him with a client in the region, a wealthy energy executive investigated for money-laundering. Parnas is also connected to Giuliani’s deal-making.

DDT bragged about how he could get North Korea to denuclearize, but his strategy not only failed but also overturned 30 year of U.S. strategy to contain NK’s nuclear program. Nineteen month after DDT ignored lower-level diplomatic talks, negotiations are gone, and Kim Jong-Un is chortling about his “new strategic weapon,” possibly a long-range ballistic missile. Kim denies DDT’s claim that they will soon meet although DDT keeps talking about his “very good relationship” with NK’s leader. President Obama warned DDT that NK would be his most serious foreign policy challenge—before DDT’s massive blunders in the Middle East—but DDT raised NK to a major global stature. Lawmakers and analysts see the U.S. in a worse position with UK than two years ago: Kim develops his nuclear weapons while DDT stopped joint military exercises with South Korea and weakened international sanctions. Like everyone else dealing with DDT, Kim saw DDT as a patsy and played on his weaknesses.

DDT’s tariffs are failing despite all his bragging. He lies about tariffs’ generating government revenue and boosting U.S. manufacturers. Instead, manufacturing has shrunk for the fifth straight month, dropping to the lowest level in over a decade during the recession. At 47.2, December’s index is slightly above 46.3 in June 2009 and far below the expected 49. A federal study reports that “the 2018 tariffs are associated with relative reductions in manufacturing employment and relative increases in producer prices.” The economy also grew more slowly in 2019 than in 2018, and both years are below growth in 2015 when DDT declared his candidacy with complaints about the terrible economy. The year 2019 may also be the worst for job growth in the past decade. If DDT had not messed with the economy, it would have been in better shape.

Homelessness is increasing since DDT’s inauguration after shrinking while Barack Obama was president.  Last week, HUD reported a 2.7 percent increase, the third consecutive year the number spiked.

Polls supporting the impeachment of DDT indicate that people may be less entrenched in their views. Over half of those surveyed think that DDT should be removed from office, up from 42 percent immediately after the House voted for impeachment. Other results:

57 percent: DDT has committed an impeachable offense.

57 percent: The Senate should hear from new witnesses to learn about DDT’s conduct.

86 percent: Senators should be impartial jurors.

In an Economist/YouGov poll that was published this week, only 38 percent of respondents want DDT to run for president this year, and 51 percent wish he weren’t running. Only 33 percent have a positive view of the GOP, and only 40 percent said they would vote for DDT or for Republicans.

And the world opposes DDT’s assassination of Soleimani while people increasingly think it wasn’t a good idea.

December 9, 2019

DDT’s Corruption: At Home, Abroad

Yesterday, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) excitedly tweeted about the upcoming release of a report about an investigation into the origins of an FBI investigation into members of DDT’s 2016 campaign. “I.G. report out tomorrow. That will be the big story!” DDT wrote.

Monday, after almost two years of investigating, DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz completed and released its 434-page report about the FBI’s opening investigations into George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Carter Page had an “authorized purpose.” It was a bust for DDT when Horowitz concluded:

“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations.”

The report criticized aspects of the FBI’s handling of the investigation but did not conclude that the bureau’s applications to monitor Page should have been rejected. Horowitz found that a tip from the Australian government was sufficient “to predicate the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.” Disappointed, Fox & Friends canceled an interview with former FBI director James Comey after the report’s release.

With no evidence, AG William P. Barr disagreed with a report key conclusion, stating the FBI started its investigation “on the thinnest of suspicions … insufficient to justify the steps taken.” Assigned by Barr to find supporting information for Barr’s opinion, U.S. attorney for Connecticut, John Durham, said he does “not agree with some of the report’s conclusions,” an unethical move because he has not finished his investigation. Four days ago, Durham said he found no evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies planted spies in DDT’s campaign. Durham and Barr visited foreign leaders to find support for their position that the FBI should not have opened its investigation into connections between DDT’s campaign and Russia.  

In another attempt to protect DDT, Barr’s DOJ argued on Monday that the emoluments clause doesn’t block DDT from accepting payments from foreign governments although the clause states that “no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” The lawyer claimed that Congress should have banned these emoluments—despite the U.S. Constitution. Judge David S. Tatel, one of three judges presiding over the hearing, told the DOJ lawyer that Congress doesn’t have information about DDT’s emoluments because DDT refuses to release his tax returns.

Monday, a Washington Post story about the 18+ year war with Afghanistan also rose to the top of the media that described research from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a federal agency with the goal of eliminating corruption and inefficiency in the U.S. war effort. Hundreds of confidential interviews and 2,000 pages of documents describe obfuscation about a war that cost $1 trillion and killed over 2,300 military members as well as tens of thousands of Afghan civilians. The article explains that U.S. officials altered statistics to “present the best picture possible” in the war, which began on October 7, 2001, through vague aims and inflated successes. Following administrations ignored the Afghan officials’ corruption and theft of U.S. aid. Sixty-two people interviewed were identified; the other 366 were treated as whistleblowers and informants.

Documents include previously classified memos dictated by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld between 2001 and 2006. Rumsfeld released some memos in 2011, and others of the remaining secret 59,000 pages came out in 2017 after a FOIA lawsuit. The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan began with retaliation against al-Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. and deteriorated into loss of direction about the identity of enemy groups that the U.S. never decided. U.S. troops couldn’t identify between friends and enemies.

From 2009 to 2012, lawmakers and military commanders thought that excessive money for civil works would improve security, money that aid workers compared to pouring gas on a dying campfire to keep the fire burning. One USAID executive said the 90 percent of expenditures was overkill. A contractor was told to give out $3 million daily in an area about the size of a U.S. county, leading to corruption. The war cost between $934 billion and $978 billion doesn’t include money required by agencies like the CIA and VA medical care. Afghan commanders pocketed money for tens of thousands of “ghost soldiers.” No one believed that Afghan army and police could protect themselves from the Taliban. Over 60,000 members of Afghan security forces have been killed.

The media also shows the failures of DDT the “Dealmaker” around the world:

Israel/Palestine: DDT said peace was easy before he said that no one could broker peace between the two countries if Jared Kushner couldn’t. Peace became even more impossible after DDT gave Palestinian land to Israel.  

North Korea: DDT threatening Kim Jong-Un and, after smearing the UN for years, called a UN meeting about the country’s weapons escalation. Kim stated NK conducted a “very important test” at a formerly dismantled rocket launch site, and a NK official called DDT “an erratic old man.” North Korea’s envoy to the UN vowed that “denuclearization” is off the table.

China: Next week, more tariffs on $160 billion worth of Chinese goods go into effect unless DDT changes his mind. Every few days, DDT claims a trade deal is “close,” pushing the stock market up, before he immediately reverses his position, and the stock market plummets. According to DDT, trade wars are “good, and easy to win.” China expressed frustration because it believes that the U.S. is infringing on its sovereign affairs and ordered all foreign computer equipment and software—such as HP, Dell and Microsoft—be removed from government offices and public institutions within three years.

Hong Kong: Protesters are still marching for democracy which puts DDT in the middle between the marchers and the Chinese. 

Middle East: DDT is covering for a Saudi gunman who killed three people while he was in training at a naval base in Pensacola (FL). Some of DDT’s base consider the attack terrorism and want to call off the training program that allowed the killer into the U.S. DDT sounded like a PR representative in his defense of Saudi Arabia after the shooting. Former Republican Max Boot wrote:   

“President Trump has long held a double standard when it comes to terrorist attacks: When the perpetrator is a white supremacist, he offers anodyne expressions of sympathy for the victims (often ‘thoughts and prayers’), while typically failing to label the attack an act of terrorism. When the perpetrator is a Muslim, however, he is vitriolic in his denunciations and his calls for a massive response, such as stopping all Muslims from entering the United States. After a car plowed into pedestrians in London on Aug. 14, 2018, for example, he tweeted: ‘Another terrorist attack in London… These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!’

“It turns out that Trump actually has a triple standard, because he treats attacks by Saudis differently than those from other Muslim nations. On Friday, a Saudi air force officer studying at the Naval Air Station Pensacola shot dead three Americans and wounded eight others. Instead of expressing outrage or vowing vengeance, or even waiting for all the facts to come in, Trump sounded as if he were auditioning for the job of press secretary at the Saudi Embassy. He conveyed King Salman’s ‘sincere condolences’ and his (highly questionable) assurances ‘that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people.’ Trump then told reporters that the king ‘will take care of the families and loved ones of the victims.’”

“… This is, of course, only the latest example of Trump’s suspicious partiality to Saudi Arabia — the site of his first trip abroad as president. Trump has taken Saudi Arabia’s side as it has blockaded Qatar, the home of a large U.S. military base; caused a humanitarian tragedy with its bombing of Yemen; and even murdered and dismembered Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Congress was so outraged by Saudi atrocities — both against Yemen and Khashoggi — that it passed legislation to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Trump vetoed the bills. And even while abandoning the Kurds who fought with U.S. troops to defeat the Islamic State, Trump has sent thousands of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, a deployment that in the past has inflamed jihadist sentiment.

Boot continues by citing DDT’s love of money he claims to get from Saudi Arabia–$110 billion in weapons sales that was actually $14.5 billion. That’s for the U.S., but the Saudis “buy apartments from me,” according to DDT. “They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.” Revenue at the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan suffered “two years of decline” before increasing 13 percent in the first three months of 2018 from “a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince [Mohammed bin Salman] of Saudi Arabia.” As Boot concludes, DDT’s “police is ‘Me First,’ not ‘America First.’”

And Republicans defend DDT’s extortion, bribery, and quid pro quo in Ukraine by swearing that he wants to wipe out corruption.

December 6, 2019

DDT: Week 150 – U.S.-Caused Volatility Here, In the World

AG Bill Barr, fixer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), is struggling to fix DDT’s problems. First, Barr’s own inspector general, DOJ IG Michael Horowitz, disagrees with Barr’s coverup for the FBI investigation into Russian election interference, and Barr can’t change the report. Barr claims that U.S. intelligence agents were “spies,” but Horowitz’s probe shows no political animus in their investigation. Barr’s handpicked investigator, Connecticut’s U.S. Attorney John Durham, can’t find any evidence to back up conspiracy theories that the initiation of  the intelligence probe into Russian election tampering was just a set-up.

Barr has avoided any probe into DDT’s “persuasion” of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to re-examine Hunter Biden’s involvement in Ukraine, likely because he’s afraid that he will find bribery on the part of DDT. For that reason, the House Intelligence Committee did the investigation that should have been the DOJ’s job.

Barr also wants to use DDT’s quid pro quo style—blackmail—by threatening “communities” with loss of police enforcement if they don’t show “respect” to law enforcement. This speech in which he announced this philosophy followed ones that blamed U.S. problems on secularists and accused “the left” of “undermining the rule of law.” Barr has already attacked DAs pushing for police accountability and wants “zero tolerance for resisting police.” Journalist Adam Serwer tweeted that the AG seemed to say that “the attorney general of the united states believes police are not sworn officers of the law, civil servants bound by an oath, but a gang running a protection racket.”  

Seeing trouble ahead after the Ukraine debacle, DDT quietly released $105 million in military assistance for Lebanon after he froze the funds for month. The aid had congressional approval and overwhelming support from the Pentagon, State Department, and National Security Council. DDT failed to explain why he was withholding funding since September that would help counter Iran’s influence in Lebanon.  

A court has forced the release of a few more formerly-redacted snippets from Robert Mueller’s report with these revelations:

DDT’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said that DDT’s family lawyers told him not to tell FBI agents about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, leading to some of Cohen’s lies to Congress. Lawyers from the Joint Defense Agreement representing DDT’s family, Cohen, and Jared Kushner told him to omit his statement about contact with Russian officials.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein assumed that either he or then-AG Jeff Sessions would be responsible for firing former FBI director James Comey and called him into the office, only to discover that DDT had fired Comey via email. When the media reported that firing Comey was his idea, Rosenstein said he was “angry, ashamed, horrified, and embarrassed.” He also refused to participate in a press conference about the firing because the DOJ “cannot participate in putting out a false story.”

For those who slept through the last three years, Washington Post has published The Mueller Report Illustrated in a book and six-part digital series.  

The stock market went crazy against this week after DDT said he plans to put tariffs on steel and aluminum for Brazil and Argentina to expand his trade war and destroy agreements with the countries. He claims that reinstating tariffs will benefit U.S. farmers, but he had not imposed them in the first place. Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, called the “Trump of South America,” thought he had a close relationship with DDT, but DDT turned on him after China began buying pork, soybeans, and other agricultural goods from Brazil because DDT attacked China with tariffs. DDT is also threatening other parts of the world with tariffs including Mexico, Europe, and Vietnam. The only way that DDT can place tariffs is through threatened national security, and several countries are suing the U.S. in the World Trade Organization. Recently, a federal court, the U.S. Court of International Trade, ruled that DDT couldn’t raise tariffs on steel exports from Turkey because the 180-day deadline for the decision had expired. DDT’s tariffs have upset U.S. manufacturers of cars, machinery, food packaging, and other products because of increased prices for metal.

DDT’s threatened France with up to 100 percent tariffs on about $2.4 billion in French products such as sparkling wine, cheeses, handbags, and makeup—all in the name of national security and all items that DDT doesn’t buy. The tariffs are in retaliation to French taxes on 30 companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon with at last $830 million in global revenue and digital sales of $26 million in France. France said that the average tax rate for digital companies in EU is 9.5 percent, compared with 23.2 percent for other companies.

Another reason for the craziness of the stock market came from DDT’s conflicting tweets about his trade war with China. The Dow dropped when he said that he’d wait to settle the tariff problem until after the 2020 election and then rose the next day after he said he changed his mind. In addition to ire about the tariff situation, China reacted negatively to the congressional resolution supporting Hong Kong’s democracy that passed with only one no vote in the 535- member Congress and reluctantly signed by DDT. China retaliated by suspending visits by U.S. military vessels to Hong Kong and sanctioning U.S. nongovernmental organizations accused of encouraging violence in Hong Kong. The passage of a proposed bill calling for tougher reaction to China’s treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority, China warned, could damage a trade deal to soften the trade war. The bill, passed in the House with only one no vote, condemns the human rights violations and calls for “an end to arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment of these communities inside and outside China.” With excellent prospects in the Senate, the proposed law could put sanctions on China for violations.  

Although Republicans claim that Democrats are doing nothing during the impeachment inquiry, the House passed a measuring backing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by 226 to 188. Five Republicans voted in favor of the measure, and four Democrats opposed it. The legislature stated that the solution is vital to “both ensure the state of Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic state and fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own.” The House also voted, 228 to 187, to restore voting protection rights after the Supreme Court removed them in 2013. Only one Republican voted in favor of the bill, a vast difference from the 2006 vote of 390-33 to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already announced his opposition to voting rights.

DDT is considering doubling the number of the military in the Middle East by sending another 14,000 service members along with dozens of ships, according to the Wall Street Journal. Department of Defense Press Secretary Alyssa Farah said the report was “wrong” before Defense Secretary Mark Esper admitted that the deployment was under consideration.

While DDT rails against ISIS and terrorists, a Saudi Arabian Air Force pilot who was training in the U.S. killed three people at Pensacola Naval Air Station and wounded more before being killed himself. People also forget that 15 of the 19 terrorists in the 9/11 attack were Saudis, and George W. Bush slipped wealthy Saudis out of the U.S. during a freeze on air travel. DDT himself ignored the Saudi crown prince’s torturing and dismembering a U.S. journalist.

More grist for impeachment came from somewhere in Ukraine where DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani connected DDT’s bogus investigation into the Bidens to the July 25 telephone call between DDT and Zelensky. With no evidence, Giuliani tweeted that “no military aid [was] withheld,” although it was frozen for months until Zelensky caved, and that “the conversation about corruption in Ukraine was based on compelling evidence of criminal conduct by then VP Biden, in 2016.”  

Tomorrow is the deadline for open 2020 Medicare enrollment, and its new website may lead users to spend more money for prescriptions by hiding out-of-pocket costs. With the lowest premium at the top, the “helper” doesn’t include expenses such as copays that could cost thousands of dollars more. In one case, paying a premium of $25.80, almost twice the monthly cost of the cheapest premium, could save $5,800 a year. 

People who want to check out the costs should go to the initial search results and then look for the drop-down menu on the right of the screen. Select the feature allowing you to re-sort plans by “lowest drug + premium cost.”

That’s the tip of the news iceberg. More catch-up tomorrow!

 

September 7, 2019

More Investigations by and for DDT

Investigations into the abuses of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) using government funds for his own private piggy back does not end with the Pentagon supporting his Scottish Turnberry resort. VP Mike Pence added to DDT’s coffers during Pence’s European trip. While VP Mike Pence attended meetings in Dublin (Ireland), he stayed at DDT’s golf course, Doonbeg, requiring four extra flights in Air Force 2, four extra motorcade trips, and security. Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, said that the government “negotiated room rates” for DDT’s resort. DDT “suggested” (code for ordered) the stay at the golf course including Pence’s wife, sister, and mother. Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short said “suggested” and then denied he said it until the next day when he reversed the reversal, the same day that DDT said he did not “suggest” anything. Although Pence claims to be “personally paying all family expenses,” taxpayers covered expenses for staff, security, and transports for them.

Pence claimed that he wanted to stay close to his ancestral home, but the visit there was rather bleak. Only one couple finally showed up, a huge difference from the crowds in Ireland for President Obama. 

 

Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deer tried—and failed—to cover up for Pence’s homophobia:

 

“For all of you who still think our @VP is anti-gay, I point you to his and the @SecondLady’s schedule tomorrow where they will join Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar and his partner Dr. Matthew Barrett for lunch in Ireland.”

Pence also faced LGBTQ support for LGBTQ people at his next stop, Iceland, where he was greeted with row of rainbow flags from the technology company Advania across from his meeting with President Gudni Johannesson in the capital, Reykjavik. Johannesson and Iceland’s first lady, Eliza Reid, wore rainbow bracelets during the meeting.

Two House committees are investigating Pence’s stay at DDT’s golf resort and DDT’s suggestion that the 2020 G7 summit meet at his Doral resort in Miami. Representatives requested documents from DDT, Pence, and other officials about violations of the Emoluments Clause. The State Department enriched DDT by allowing seven foreign governments to rent luxury condos in New York’s Trump Tower in 2017 with no congressional consent from lawmakers as required by the constitution.

Pro-pollution DDT is is bad for businesses that cross him. The DOJ is accusing four automobile companies of antitrust violations because they plan to conform with California’s fuel efficiency standards. The EPA and Transportation Department also notified California that the deal “appears to be inconsistent with federal law.”

CEOs understand that DDT is causing them serious problems. In an August survey of CEOs, 62 percent said the trade war with its flipflops on tariffs is “highly detrimental” to outlook and strategy, and 72 percent believe that cutting interest rates won’t sustain the economic cycle. The 3.9 percent rate of investment DDT has fallen from President Obama’s 5.7 percent after the nation’s economy started to recover in 2010.

History shows that no one wins in a trade war. When President George W. Bush raised steel tariffs in 2002, the GDP declined by $30.4 million, and about 200,000 jobs disappeared, 13,000 in raw steel-making. The cost to taxpayers was $400,000 for every steel-industry job saved. The World Trade Organization also ruled that the Bush tariffs were illegal

With DDT, the U.S. trade deficit for the first half of 2019 is bigger than in the last two years.

Farmers may suffer more than businesses. Bob Kuylen, the vice president of the 50,000-member North Dakota Farmers Union, said that farmers “lost pretty much all of our markets since Trump took over” leaving farmers “land-rich and cash-poor.” He added that bonuses for his high-protein wheat crops have dropped 95 percent.

In more DDT corruption, the private company of DDT’s campaign manager Brad Parscale has received almost $1 million from a PAC supporting DDT and Pence. Law prohibits PACS from coordinating with candidates’ campaigns.

DDT may have defrauded the IRS by not paying taxes on a tax-avoidance $50-million dollar loan that he owes to one of his own companies. He says it’s a wash; IRS law states that a firm owed money and has no outstand debt is worth at least as much as it is owed.

To give DDT $3.6 billion for his wall, the Pentagon “deferred” 127 projects in 23 states, 19 countries, and three U.S. territories, including $400 million for military installations in Puerto Rico. Another $770 million of the money disappeared from projects in allied European nations to help deter a possible attack from Russia, and another one is for cybersecurity. The Pentagon plans to get Congress to replace the $3.6 billion for a wall that Congress voted down. Either the projects weren’t important in the first place, of the military thought they could blackmail Congress. 

Congressional members are losing status with their constituents because of the lost revenue after Pentagon projects were deferred. North Carolina is unhappy after losing $80 million dollars, and its GOP senator Thom Tillis voted to remove FEMA funds for detention centers. The biggest loser, Tillis is up for re-election next year. He’s also in trouble after DDT lied about signing an emergency declaration “at the request of Senator Thom Tillis.” Federal law allows only governors to make these requests, but DDT couldn’t bear to give a Democrat credit for anything.  

GOP Sen. Martha McSally, also up for re-election after being appointed last year, downplayed Arizona’s loss by saying the state loses only $30,000. Later she had to explain that the loss is $30 million. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) simply blamed the Democrats.

Seventy percent of residents in the 200-household living community for older adults, River Bend Resort and Golf Club in Brownsville (TX), found that DDT’s wall puts them on Mexico’s side of DDT’s 30-foot-tall barrier.

DDT wants to raise mortgage costs and the deficit by ending government control of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that handle half the nation’s mortgages. Part of the strategy in stopping an even worse recession from the unraveling housing market in 2008 was to have government control of those companies. People are already struggling to find affordable homes, and the U.S. will lose revenue from the companies’ profits while Wall Street gets richer. After paying less than $200 billion to rescue Freddie and Fannie, the government received $300 billion in dividends from them. Neither company has capital to be sustainable for several years, and taxpayers would be forced to bail them out again in “exigent circumstances,” according to the 53-page proposal. Shares in the companies drastically fell last week.

DDT brought out his 85th mandate to destroy the planet by rolling back George W. Bush’s energy-efficient requirements for LED bulbs. Continued use of incandescent bulbs cost people more money. Eliminating inefficient bulbs nationwide would save electricity equivalent to the output from at least 25 large power plants, equivalent to powering all homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Since 2010, energy consumption in U.S. homes dropped by 6 percent.

Only three incumbent presidents—Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush—faced primary challengers, and all three lost the general elections for a second term. With GOP politicians planning to run against DDT, Republicans have a solution: cancel 2020 presidential primaries and caucuses, already almost done in four states. One of the states is South Carolina, where Mark Sanford is considering an intent to run against DDT. DDT is right about the rigging of the election—at least for the GOP.

More NRA scandals: Former NRA president Marion Hammer obtained loans of over $250,000 at an interest rate down to two percent from the NRA’s Florida affiliate where she is the only employee. This affiliate reported a $28,389 shortfall when it gave Hammer a $200,000 loan. Most of Unified Sportsmen of Florida gets almost all its budget from the NRA. The IRS can impose tax penalties if the organization benefits a private shareholder or person.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who incited people to defend themselves from immigrants before the El Paso shooting, cannot understand how the killer at Midland-Odessa last week could obtain a gun without a background check. The shooter bought the gun in a private sale which, under state law, has no background checks.

“The economy is great,” says DDT, but new jobs slowed in August to 130,000, 34,000 of them government jobs included 25,000 short-term positions for the 2020 U.S. census. Reductions of June and July jobs numbers by 20,000 brought the 2019 monthly average down to 143,000, 25 percent below the 192,000 in 2018. President Obama’s monthly job growth averages were 251,000 per month in 2014, 227,000 in 2015 and 193,000 in 2016. The stock market went up but only because of DDT’s promise of trade talks with China in October. U.S. business investment and growth in trade-sensitive sectors slumped after fewer foreign sales, rising costs of imported goods, and the uncertain global outlook. People’s views of the economy are partisan, but they’re all going down—and independents are much closer to those of Democrats than Republicans. And the election is less than 14 months away.

August 16, 2019

DDT: Week 134 – New Rules Ruin More Lives

Only 14 percent of Republicans approved of President Obama’s executive orders. GOP approval of autocratic orders and rules escalated to 43 percent since DDT was inaugurated. He These rules are from the past week while he is on vacation at his resort in Bedminster (NJ).

The brand-new acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, is living up to the hopes of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). In defending new extreme financial restrictions on immigration, Cuccinelli said that only immigrants who can “stand on their own two feet” are welcome in the United States. In explaining the Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty, he said that the poem referred to European immigrants who came from “class-based societies,” not from poverty. DDT’s new rule will turn down many green card and visa applicants with low incomes of little education who may have used Medicaid, food stamps, or housing vouchers. In a CNN op-ed, Cuccinelli wrote that “self-sufficiency has been a core tenet of the American dream.”

Thirteen states filed a lawsuit against DDT’s rule to deny visas and permanent residency to poor migrants who don’t meet high enough income standards or receive any public assistance. Washington state AG Bob Ferguson said that the rule to take effect October 15 violates the Immigration and Nationality Act by redefining “public charge” in a way unconnected to its original meaning and congressional intent.

While families—including small children—swam in the Rio Grande River at Juarez, border patrol agents fired rubber bullets at them. Rubber bullets, although defined as “non-lethal,” can cause serious injury and harm, especially when randomly shot into a crowd. Israel’s 2000 study revealed that inaccuracy in aim can lead to “substantial mortality, morbidity, and disability,” in particular if people are hit in such vulnerable areas as the head or neck. Matthew Bowen, the border patrol agent who deliberately hit a Guatemalan migrant with his truck, almost running him over, and referred to immigrants as “subhuman” and “mindless murdering savages” was allowed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor charge. Supposedly he will resign from the Border Patrol.

In an early Christmas present to big business, DDT bulldozed the Endangered Species Act in completing rollbacks to 46-year-old law to pave the way for business development. Hundreds of species, including the wolverines and monarch butterflies, could be gone if DDT succeeds in his goal. Gone, too, will be much of the habitat for threatened wildlife. DDT may be declaring revenge on the bald eagle that was saved by the 46-year-old law. 

The Labor Department has announced a new rule for private contractors allowing the government to more easily fire LGBTQ people and unmarried women who become pregnant—all with the excuse of “religious belief”—because these categories of people are not protected classes. DDT also has asked the Supreme Court ? in a case that it will hear in October. Another rule proposed this week excludes permission for hospitals, health care providers, and insurance companies that receive federal funding to refuse service to LGBT people and people living with HIV. DDT has also asked the Supreme Court to legalize firing workers for being transgender in a case to be heard in October.

DDT also has a new rule allowing states the ability for force drug tests on people receiving unemployment benefits. Required blood tests in other areas such as food stamps have already proved a failure, and the ACLU pointed out that the Fourth Amendment blocks unreasonable government searches.

DDT’s executive orders are always poison, and this one could destroy free speech in the nation. He believes that any criticism of himself is too much progressive speech so he plans an order to give federal agencies the ability to select the acceptability of internet information. According to a draft, the rule asks the FCC for new regulations about how and when the law protects social media websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms. These new policies would be considered in investigations or lawsuits against companies. DDT has consistently complained that conservative content on social media has been suppressed, ignoring the reasons such as misinformation and calls for violence. His censorship rule would eliminate the rights of private companies and allow the party in power to control speech on the internet.

The DOJ has started to decertify the union representing 440 U.S. immigration judges by filing a petition with the Federal Labor Relations authority defining judges as “management.” Judges are not happy about DOJ’s move. Judge Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, stated:

“We are trial court judges who make decisions on the basis of case specific facts and the nation’s immigration laws. We do not set policies, and we don’t manage staff.” 

In ridiculing the concept of immigrations as management, Tabaddor said, “We don’t even have the authority to order pencils.”

The Department of Agriculture, possibly violating the law by moving its research agency far away from Washington, DC, now avoids the “latest available science” to help farmers by concealing its study on negative affects of climate change on nutritional value of rice. The results show damage of higher CO2 concentration on levels of protein, iron, and zinc levels. After the feds suppressed research from Lewis Ziska, the 25-year veteran of the department left for a job at Columbia University while morale at the EPA has drastically dropped.  

Massive numbers of bankruptcies and foreclosures from DDT’s policies and lack of concern for climate change has caused concern among farmers. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had an answer for them at a Farmfest in Minnesota when he told a joke about what to call two farmers in a basement: “A whine cellar.” After he was booed, DDT tweeted the falsehood, “Farmers getting more than China would be spending.” DDT’s brief postponement of tariffs won’t help the farmers. Most of DDT’s welfare for farmers has gone to the wealthy, and net farm income dropped in the last five years from $123.4 billion to $63 billion. DDT promised to help them, but farm income is still shrinking. In the Nigerian language, the word MAGA, acronym for “make America great again,” is defined as a pawn in a scheme, a sucker or fraud victim. DDT has suckered in investors and millions of supporters. China refuses to play DDT’s games.

DDT’s trade war was partly to bring jobs back to the U.S., his promise during his campaign. In the first two years after DDT’s inauguration, companies announced the return of only 145,000 factory jobs, and only 30,000 are from his tariffs. Trade policies moved factories to low-cost Asian countries such as Vietnam. Reacting to a backlash toward the new draconian tariffs with China, DDT changed the deadline for “some” tariffs on Chinese imports—about 60 percent of those threatened— from September 1 to December 15. The investors followed his newest promise with their typical sheeple purchase: a day earlier, the Dow Jones dropped almost 400 points after Goldman Sachs told its clients that the trade war would continue until after the 2020 election. The day of the promise, the Dow regained almost all its losses but fell 800 points the next day. Once again, MAGA.

In July, Chinese imports of U.S. goods fell 19 percent from a year earlier while their exports to the U.S. declined 6.5 percent. China has delayed customs clearance for U.S. goods and licenses in finance and other fields. At the same time, other global areas have benefited from more Chinese exports to them after DDT’s tariffs. DDT lost his agreement with China by saying that he would keep the tariffs even if China returned to buying soybeans and other exports from the U.S. The U.S. trade deficit with China has fallen, but the U.S. overall trade deficit increased as U.S. exports remained flat and imports grew. Chief economist Mark M. Zandi for Moody’s Analytics warned that DDT’s trade war is doing economy damage, especially in manufacturing that is “pretty close to recession.”

Aides to DDT say he is “rattled.”  Anxious about the economy because he needs positive views for a re-election, DDT consulted business leaders and financial executives—and the news was not all good for him. The Dow Jones rose over 300 points today, but it is still down almost 300 points for the week after wild fluctuations of over 1000 points. It was a one-day reprieve: the next day the Dow dropped 800 points after the bond market announced the possibility of a recession. DDT is screaming for the Federal Reserve to save him, but is he taking advantage of selling short? At least, DDT may have learned to say the phrase “inverted yield curve.”

The US budget deficit also widened to $867 billion for the first 10 months of the fiscal year, an increase of 27% over this time last year. 

This week, DDT took credit for a major manufacturing complex in western Pennsylvania that was announced in 2012, the year that President Obama campaigned for his successful second term. DDT’s speech was filled with slurs about Democratic presidential candidates. 

DDT’s tax cuts have provided almost no benefit for economic growth, business investment, and worker pay. Half of surveyed corporate chief financial officers expect the economy to shrink by the second quarter of 2020, and two-thirds expect a recession by the end of 2020. Deficits have soared back to the levels of the crisis at the end of George W. Bush’s regime, and only five percent of growth from tax cuts have offset the losses. The interest cut last month was an attempt to counteract the slump in manufacturing and investment. The highly touted salary increase from the tax cuts averaged $28 per worker. That’s the picture of what DDT calls “the strongest economy in the world.”

August 6, 2019

Indicators Show Slowing Economy

Stock markets finished yesterday with the worst drop this year as Asian markets also badly slipped. As investors look for places to hide, gold prices jumped, and Japanese yen and Swiss franc advanced. They retreated to the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond with a 1.725 percent return while the volatility index temporarily leaped to 30 percent. During the last two weeks, the Dow Jones, down for five consecutive points, fell over six percent since its high on July 15. All 30 Dow stocks and all 11 market sectors went down yesterday, and tech-heavy Nasdaq plummeted 3.47 percent for the fifth worst session ever.

“The losers are anybody with big exposure to China,” said Ivan Feinseth, chief investment officer at Tigress Financial Partners. After Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said he would levy more tariffs on almost all Chinese goods, China responded by allowing the yuan to slump below to its lowest exchange rate in 11 years on Monday to level the playfield. Chinese rationale is that a weakened currency will offset DDT’s new ten-percent tariffs on all the other Chinese goods already at 25 percent by making the goods more affordable to the world and U.S. exports more expensive for the Chinese. DDT is blaming China and the Federal Reserve for what he calls “currency manipulation.” Last month, DDT tried to manipulate the currency: he asked his aides to find a way to weaken the U.S. dollar to boost the economy ahead of the 2020 election. He also asked about this issue when interviewing Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller for the Federal Reserve Board in another attempt to control the supposedly independent agency.

DDT blames economic problems on the Feds’ not cutting the interest rate, but the Dow Jones dropped almost 300 points after he announced new tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports—taxing everything that people in the U.S. buy from China. New tariffs bring additional annual purchasing costs for the average U.S. family to about $1,000. His tariff announcement polished off two days of trade talks between the two countries. https://time.com/5642373/china-countermeasures-trump-tariffs/  China promised “countermeasures” because DDT violated the agreement with President Xi Jinping, and the global stock markets turned red. DDT’s trade adviser Peter Navarro, who Jared Kushner found on Amazon.com, said, “We love tariffs. Tariffs are a wonderful thing.”

Farmers, frustrated by their severe losses after DDT’s trade war are turning against him. They’ve already received $16 billion, but DDT is promising them more welfare. His growing unpopularity, however, may come from the fact that over half of DDT’s welfare to farmers after the tariff debacle went to ten percent of recipients: 82 farming operations each received over $500,000 through last April from the $8.5 billion in payments. DeLine Farm Partnership of Charleston (MO) already got $2.8 million. The top one percent of farmers received an average of $188,000 compared to the average of under $5,000 for the bottom 80 percent. Anyone can receive payments if they make “management decisions” even if they don’t live or work on a farm, and thousands of them live in the nation’s biggest cities. A searchable database covered only direct payments to farmers and not other programs, including commodity purchases and export promotion assistance, that was part of the $12 billion payoff after DDT’s tariff program.

DDT had promised farmers that China would buy more U.S. farm products, but he has now admits that agreement never existed. There never was a record of Chinese purchases of U.S. soybeans, meaning far more losses on this year’s crop as well as the ones in reserve that survived last spring’s flood. Farmers face record foreclosures, and former DDT economic adviser said that DDT’s tariffs do more harm to the U.S. than China, who now buys its soybeans from Russia.

Following DDT’s 25 percent tariff on metal imports last year, US Steel idled two furnaces and lost $5.5—70 percent—of its market value. Last March, GM closed its Lordstown (OH) car plant after union workers gave up an annual $118 million to save the plant 18 months earlier. Negative ripples through Ohio’s economy included the closure of Falcon Transport.

Today, the Dow gained back about 20 percent of the 1,500 points it lost since last Tuesday, but it’s still lower than DDT’s initiation of his trade war in early 2018. Economic problems disprove DDT’s arrogant and ignorant claim 17 months ago that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” All DDT’s advisers except China-hating Peter Navarro opposed the tariffs, and China is determined to project strength by not backing down. Late last week, DDT the bully said “it would be fine with me … and save a lot of money” if China doesn’t trade with the U.S., but he’s failing.

DDT’s goal to postpone a possible recession until after the 2020 election may not succeed. As the Treasury notes dropped to 1.7 percent, Bloomberg published its concern under the headline, “Yield Curve Blares Loudest U.S. Recession Warning Since 2007.” The temporary drop of 32 basis points less than three-month bills led to the biggest yield-curve inversion since the introduction to the 2008 crisis. In good times, the bond’s yield of interest after full term is bigger in longer terms. An inversion means that a three-month yield can be higher than a ten-year yield. This situation is not a cause of a recession; it can be a predictor of nervous investors and devastation of the economy.

The Republicans constantly tout current economy as the best it’s ever been, but DDT insists on interest rate cuts, a practice reserved for economic emergencies, and got a .25 percent reduction in the interest rate—the first one in the real 2008 emergency. Near-zero interest rates are an emergency measure, but the Federal Reserve may cut rates because they’re afraid that they’ll be a target during the 2020 campaign if the economy starts to suffer—as many economists predict. Anti-Fed sentiment could then cause its elimination. Cutting rates is a safe position for the Feds. Even so, DDT sulked about how small the cut was last Wednesday, and the Dow Jones market dropped by 333 points on the same day. Fed Chair Jerome Powell did not promise “a long series of rate cuts, and DDT blames him for not stimulating the economy after DDT caused problems with his trade war. DDT wants an artificial boost in the economy for his campaign next year. After that he doesn’t care.

Last week, DDT said he was waiting for a trade deal until after the 2020 election, but a few days later he tweeted he would be tougher with China if they waited and that he might never agree to any deal. Economists agree that DDT’s trade war is dragging down growth; it stops business investing and drives up costs, removing any advantage from tax cuts.

DDT will keep getting his prime interest cuts to benefit his personal loans. Trade wars weaken the economy, the Feds will cut the interest to help the economy, DDT will step up the trade war, and it all goes in a circle. The steep and steady decline in U.S. share of international travel from the trade war is expected to last until at least 2022.

Congress has passed a two-year budget bill that raises the debt ceiling for at least two years, which DDT claims “gets us past the Election. Go for it Republicans, there is always plenty of time to CUT.” That comes from the man who has increased the national debt by $2 trillion—20 percent—in his first two years. During President Obama’s two terms, Republicans constantly complained about expenditures, but they returned to former VP Dick Cheney’s position during GOP control that “deficits don’t matter.” In the Senate vote of 67-28 for the bill, 23 Republicans and five Democrats voted “no.” The House vote for the DDT-supported bill was 284-149 with one independent, 16 Democrats, and 132 Republicans voting against it. Now members of Congress can leave town for several weeks, knowing that they are saddling their children and grandchildren with more debt. In the new law, the gap between revenue and expenditures remains about $1 trillion a year.

People shouldn’t give a sigh of relief that a shutdown isn’t eminent. Because Congress is gone until September, it will have only two weeks to pass 12 government funding bills or a continuing resolution (CR) to extend the time limit. The House has passed 10 of these bills, but GOP senators may oppose them. The first markup is due on September 12 for the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the12 bills may have thousands of pages for argument. And DDT’s wall may come back into play.

The 164,000 extra jobs in July looked good, but revised figures for May and June came out with 41,000 fewer jobs, lowering the total number of the year. Plus industries dropped the workweek from 34.4 to 34.3, back to September 2017 which made the number of new jobs almost zero. GDP also fell to 2.1 percent in the second 2019 quarter from 3.1 percent in the first. The prediction for the third quarter is 1.9 percent annualized rate–far below DDT’s rediction of 3 percent to four percent. 

Far-right Steve Bannon falsely claimed that the large number of people to be killed in the El Paso Walmart proved how great DDT’s economy is. Connecting a mass shooting to the economy is evil, and Bannon is wrong. People were shopping back-to-school items. After this, the threat of mass shootings may move them online for purchases.

 

 

July 6, 2019

DDT: Week 128 – Attacks on Immigrants, Science

After last week’s July 4 private party on public Washington land, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has headed for three days of golf at his New Jersey resort and letting his lawyers in the DOJ figure out how to get a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The DOJ and Commerce Secretary obeyed the Supreme Court ruling against the question until DDT tweeted the reverse and sent them back to court. A Friday deadline for lawyers to report to a judge led them to say that they were continuing to fight the Supreme Court decision despite an earlier claim that July 1 was the deadline to start printing census forms.

The DOJ asked for “abeyance” until it found a “new final agency action” and said it will let the court know when they find a “new rationale.” The judge didn’t agree: putting the word “new” in quotation marks, he said that discovery would immediately begin because the lawyers had earlier argued that time was of the essence. Both discovery and the loss of time are blows to the DOJ because they were hoping, as in the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of DDT’s travel ban, that a “new” final decision would consider only the final version and overlook DDT’s earlier statements. Since the government lost its case in the Supreme Court, new evidence shows that Republicans deliberately planned the question to keep Latinx from voting. The ACLU has filed a petition with New York to stop DDT from delaying the census form printing or adding the question to the forms. 

To get the citizenship question on the Census, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied under oath that the DOJ needed citizenship data for the Voting Rights Act, and the government swore in court filings to the same false claim. New discovery will likely use DDT’s new excuse for the citizenship question that highlights the DOJ’s and Wilbur Ross’ lies:

“Number one, you need it for Congress—you need it for Congress for districting. You need it for appropriations—where are the funds going? How many people are there? Are they citizens? Are they not citizens? You need it for many reasons.

“Well you need it for many reasons. No. 1, you need it for Congress, you need it for Congress, for districting, you need it for appropriations, where are the funds going. How many people are there? Are they citizens, are they not citizens?”

The U.S. Constitution requires a decennial census to create districts based on the number of people, not the number of citizens, and allocates funds on human beings. The government has followed this constitutional requirement for 243 years.

Law professor Rick Hazen summarized the DOJ argument for the court:

“Forget if we had discriminatory racial intent before in adding a question, DOJ argues, because any new decision would be fresh and pure. And because of this purity, there’s no need to look whether the government had discriminatory intent to start with. Presto! Nothing to see here court, please move on.”

The Maryland court ruling on the issue won’t forget, especially with new discovery. Plaintiffs require written objections from the government in 20 days with a maximum of five depositions from DOJ and Commerce Department officials. Witness testimony should be on Sept. 3 & 4. A unanimous ruling from the Supreme Court, almost as rare as unicorns, should have warned the government that it may have difficulty with overturning the decision, even with new excuses. And the DOJ urgency for a resolution has disappeared.

Not satisfied with cruelty to immigrants, DDT plans a way to get rid of 80 percent of scientists in a little-known USDA agency that protects the U.S. farm industry. They study a huge diversity of influences from impacts of temperature changes on crop yields to GMOs. DDT is sending almost all of them to Kansas City on July 15 with no reason and at a cost of $182 million. Those who don’t want to be transferred will be fired on September 30. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue claims that the savings is $20 million a year—five DDT weekend vacations.

The 76 scientists remaining in D.C. won’t work on projects “unpalatable” to DDT; i.e., dealing with the climate crisis. Even in Kansas City, two of the Economic Research’s six “core” systems, research models for projects, will have no staff members. One evaluates effects of weather patterns and economics on agriculture systems such as land and water resources, and the other, already with only three staff members, projects crop yields, price fluctuations, and crop management. Other scientist attrition reduces the ability to establish guidelines for entitlement programs’ benefits and the efficacy of USDA’s conservation programs on water quality. Almost eradicated is honeybee research because the current government doesn’t understand that food disappears without pollination. Research on deadly pesticides will also be gone. With this elimination of staff, policy makers will no longer have economic analysis for decision-making. DDT doesn’t like any bad news, and that’s the responsibility of the ERS, like when it told George H.W. Bush that the biofuel program was a waste of time.

Eighteen months ago, the ERS told DDT that his tax reform would primarily benefit only wealthy farmers; now he sent them to Kansas City. A good piece on the issue from Rachel Maddow.

DDT wows his supporters by making claims that please them. When he later backs off, right-wing media never reveals his flipflops. A recent change is his rule allowing medical workers to refuse participation in abortions or other treatments such as sterilization, assisted suicide, and care for LGBTQ people based on any moral basis. The mandate was scheduled to start on July 22, but DHS put off a final ruling until November 22 after a California lawsuit.

Kim Darroch, UK ambassador to the U.S., described DDT’s Iran policy as “incoherent” and the White House as “dysfunctional, clumsy, inept.” Leaked memos warned that DDT’s presidency can “crash and burn.” Describing DDT as “insecure” and “incompetent,” Durroch reported that the “vicious infighting and chaos” inside the White House is “mostly true.”

DDT promised he would bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, but the State Department is considering a waiver for China to import oil from Iran. Meanwhile DDT said he doesn’t want war with Iran, but he is frantically searching for excuses to attack the country.

The UN stated that the airstrike killing 53 people and injuring over 130 others in Libya constitutes a war crime; the U.S. is sorry about the deaths but claims that the strikes are collateral business as usual.  

After DDT claims he settled the Chinese tariffs—which he hasn’t—he’s threatening tariffs on European goods because of subsidies on aircraft manufacturing that he claims damages Boeing and the U.S. economy. Airbus received subsidies after Boeing received $19 billion from the U.S. government. The WTO ruled that Boeing is still getting illegal tax subsidies in Washington state. While Boeing fails to solve its massive 737 MAX problem, Airbus made a massive deal with China.

A new study reveals that Russian propaganda on social media helped DDT get elected in 2016. He won the election by 75,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania through a vast disinformation campaign. DDT has not commented.  

Anyone who doubts that the Fox network is acting as a government propaganda agent as in other autocratic countries needs to watch this similarity between its reporting and that of the state media in North Korea.

In an interview with Fox’s Tucker Carlson, DDT expressed shock at homelessness and declared it “a phenomena that began two years ago.” DDT said,  “We never had this in our lives before in this country.” The biggest problem is “liberal” cities, according to DDT who said that he has eliminated homelessness in Washington, D.C. so that foreign visitors won’t have to “be looking at that.”

DDT’s fury toward New York indicates that he may be in trouble after the state started investigating his financial affairs.

Underwater in most polls, DDT faces 51 percent disapproval in his handling of the economy. Despite an attempt to raise his popularity by going to North Korea, DDT’s approval dropped two points last month to 41 percent. Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research puts him at 38 percent approval. Back home after basking in the warmth of the world’s autocrats and dictators, DDT falsely denied that he lost all three debates with Hillary Clinton and claiming that he’s ahead in the polls because “you can add 10 [points] to whatever poll I have, okay?” 

The good news? June added 224,000 jobs. The bad news? May’s job number was revised down to 72,000, and the average monthly job addition for the second quarter of 2018 is 171,000—unless June’s numbers go down too. State and local government jobs outside education comprised 32,500 of June’s jobs—almost 15 percent. And wage growth is slowing. Amidst claims that this is the best economy, 40 percent of people in the U.S. struggle to pay their bills. The bottom half has less wealth today than 40 years ago, and their “wealth” equals that of three people in the United States.

June 23, 2019

DDT: Week 126 – Other Than Iran

In an authoritarian move, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ordered the DOJ to investigate the CIA because it looked into the 2016 Russian election interference. In democracies, investigations come from evidence of serious wrongdoing; in authoritarian regimes, powerful politicians investigate situations that displease them—like chants of “lock her up” for Hillary Clinton with no evidence of criminal behavior. Republicans, especially DDT, have good reason to block investigations into Russian interference: the Russians elected them. The GOP has no interest in protecting the U.S. from undermining Western democracies. DDT uses law—and sometimes lawbreaking—to protect his and his supporters’ law violations while using the law as a weapon to defeat opponents. DDT emulates his mentor Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by attacking people like James Comey, John Kerry and Joe Biden while keeping protecting people like Kellyanne Conway who break the law. Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, also admired by DDT, begins corruption investigations to discredit opponents immediately before elections.  DDT now has an AG fixer with few scruples, Bill Barr, to carry through his authoritarian policies.

DDT issued a rule for HRAs, a health reimbursement account (HRA) for employers to reimburse employees’ medical expenses not company insurance covered, causing people to change their doctors. Republicans used that problem of the Affordable Care Act to defeat Democrats in 2016. DDT has not only weakened the ACA but also forced people to change their doctors.

In a U.S.-led meeting in Bahrain, quietly announced on a weekend with only a White House website posting, Jared Kushner will present his proposal for spending $50 billion, provided by Gulf states and private investors, to supposedly economically help Palestinians. Over half goes to the West Bank and Gaza, largely illegally taken over by Israel, with the remainder to Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that a Palestinian state should be discussed before the economic issues. Israel and Palestine were not invited, but Israel plans to send a delegation. Saudi Arabia will attend with lukewarm responses, greater uncertainty, and no confirmation from the others. The Arab League announced that “whatever is rejected by the Palestinian or the Arab side is unacceptable.” Its solution is a Palestinian state based on June 4, 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital.”  Almost a year ago, DDT stopped foreign aid to Palestine. After DDT illegally gave the Syrian Golan Heights to Israel, Israel’s temporary prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu put DDT’s name on the place. 

Since DDT’s debacle about attacking Iran, his supporters are pushing for him to fire Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his advice to move toward war and put DDT into a corner.

According to the New York Times, the U.S. is “stepping up digital incursions [hacking?] into Russia’s electric power grid.” DDT may not have been briefed about the “implants,” software code that can be used for surveillance or attack inside the Russian grid, because officials can’t trust him to keep his mouth shut. After DDT learned about the information from the article, he called it “a virtual act of Treason” and “ALSO, NOT TRUE!” because the media is “THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE.” [Caps in DDT’s tweets.] Both treason and false?

DDT told agencies to get rid of at least one-third of its advisory committees, eliminating people in the top of their fields who provide important technical advice. Boards qualifying for these cuts include considerations of EPA’s regulation of cancer-linked chemicals PFAS and bans on studies that don’t make underlying data public. In another anti-science attempt, DDT tried to move USDA researchers to Kansas City which would causing them to resign. They’re fighting back.

Elected only a few months ago, DDT’s South American lookalike, Jair Bolsonaro, is facing mass disruption in Brazil from trade union strikes a week ago, hours before a showcase football tournament. The strike against Bolsonaro’s pension reform plans has negatively affected 63 cities’ transportation with demonstrations in another 20. At least 45 million people belong to the trade unions in a country of over 200 million. Bolsonaro’s popularity has plummeted since the election, and his family and associates have been accused of the corruption that he promised to clean up. 

As David Axe wrote, “America Is Stuck With a $400 Billion Stealth Fighter That Can’t Fight.” Lockheed Martin leveraged the Pentagon into billions of dollars of unnecessary costs for taxpayers in attempts to build the F-35 fighter plane, long surrounded with scandal. The Pentagon may reclassify dangerous deficiencies as acceptable to get the F-35 into the air. Another fiscal disaster for taxpayers is the Navy’s Littoral Combat ship. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) proved that asking questions helps when defense contractor TransDigm refunded $16.1 million in price-gouging overcharges after Khanna asked for an investigation.

India has joined DDT’s trade war by raising tariffs on U.S. imports such as apples, almonds, lentils, and some chemical compounds in response to U.S. increased tariffs on India’s aluminum and steel. Over 600 retailers, including Walmart and Costco, wrote DDT about the damage of his tariffs onthe economy with a request to remove these taxes on U.S. consumers. DDT can assign tariffs only with the excuse of national security, making his taxes on washing machines, vacuum cleaners, toys, televisions, and other household needs a mystery. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says that additional costs for people will be minimal; a study shows a family of four will pay an additional $2,000 for DDT’s 25-percent tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese goods. These taxes hit DDT’s voter base, the most economically vulnerable in the nation.

China is the biggest producers of bibles, and DDT is raising their tariff by 25 percent. Evangelicals are not happy.

The poor are benefitting from DDT’s trade wars driving farmers into bankruptcy. DDT’s bailout package spending $1.2 billion for agricultural products in farmers’ storehouses after plummeting market prices increases donations of fruit, vegetables, dairy, and meat to U.S. food banks. His second bailout will add additional millions of pounds of food to banks.

DDT’s new EPA pollution plan—to allow coal plants to pollute at will—will kill 1,400 people a year. Despite DDT’s lies about improving air quality, 2018 had 15 percent more days with dirty air than the average between 2013 and 2016. State AGs are joining environmental groups to sue the EPA about its decision to pollute the United States with the new coal plan.

Until two years ago, EPA Secretary Andrew Wheeler, replacement for the scandal-ridden Scott Pruitt, was lobbyist for Murray Energy, one of the nation’s biggest coal companies. He still is. DDT said at his campaign rally last Tuesday:

“We stared down the unholy alliance of lobbyists and donors and special interests, who made a living bleeding our country dry. That’s what we’ve done.”

DDT stared Wheeler and others down and hired them: new acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper was a Raytheon lobbyist until 2017 and replaced Boeing executive Pat Shanahan; Interior Secretary David Bernhardt lobbied for the energy industry; HHS Secretary Alex Azar oversaw lobbying for giant pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and worked with former drug industry lobbyist Joe Grogan who shaped DDT’s drug-pricing plan and went on to the Domestic Policy Council; and the rest of the Cabinet is filled with former executives and others highly connected to companies which they supposedly oversee.  

Two weeks away from July 4, Washington, D.C. can’t plan for DDT’s great event in town because he hasn’t told them what’s happening. He does plan a 10-block-long military parade.

The Supreme Court has a week to announce whether DDT’s bogus citizenship can be added to the 2020 census, but attorneys filed information to the Maryland U.S. District Court that a GOP strategist, now deceased, pushed the idea through private email with the chief of staff to the director of the U.S. Census Bureau. The documents provide evidence refuting defendants’ assertion that no link between the Secretary and the strategist “can be shown.” The recently revealed information shows that the government intended to discriminate against immigrants, Latinos and Asian Americans.

A Ukrainian-Russian developer complained he was bilked out of $200,000 for buying what he thought were VIP tickets to DDT’s inauguration and filed a lawsuit. Foreign nationals, such as Pavel Fuks who discussed a Moscow real estate deal with DDT, cannot legally buy tickets from committees hosting events connected to U.S. presidential inaugurations although U.S. donors can invite foreigners to attend.

In DDT’s formal kick-off to his 2020 campaign, the current liar-in-chief of the U.S. promised to end cancer and HIV if elected for a second term. DDT’s speech opener, Donald Trump Jr., ridiculed former VP Joe Biden for saying that he wants to cure cancer.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claimed that the new Harriet Tubman $20 bill wouldn’t be released until 2028 because of production problems. But the currency, scheduled to be released next year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, was almost done before DDT blocked it. The 19th-century formerly enslaved abolitionist leader would replace Andrew Jackson, and DDT likes the slaveholder “Indian killer.” During his 2016 campaign, DDT called the use of Tubman as “pure political correctness.” 

Corporate tax revenue dropped 31 percent in 2018, twice what the GOP thought would happen. Treasury officials promised a spike in 2019, but the decline has increased by another nine percent because companies moved deductible expenses into 2017 for more impact. Republicans promised more bonuses with decreasing the taxes for big business by 40 percent, but last year’s wages dropped.

After DDT’s own polls didn’t look good for DDT, he lied about the data, told people to “mislead” the public about the results, and fired his pollsters.  

June 11, 2019

How to Create More Problems with Immigration

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) purged the Department of Homeland Security, many people blamed his aide, neo-Nazi Stephen Miller, for the firings. Even GOP senators were upset about Miller’s ascension in DDT Land: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) called Miller the “guy behind the curtain.” Miller was behind DDT’s executive order banning Muslims from the United States and the family separation policy at the southern border. He crafted DDT’s anti-immigrant speeches, and his ideas mesh well with DDT’s bigotry toward people of color in an excuse of “law and order.”

During Miller’s high school at Santa Monica High School and college days at Duke University, he spread his philosophy of “Americanism,” especially in his push for English-speaking first. In a column for the college newspaper, he argued that multiculturalism threatens U.S. identity. In Washington, D.C., he worked for congressional members, such as then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) before he became senior policy adviser for DDT’s presidential campaign. Richard Painter, a White House ethics lawyer during President George W. Bush’s administration, called Miller “the most notorious racist in the Trump White House.”

According to former DHS officials, Miller got rid of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen by leaking information about asylum seekers at the southern border to the Washington Examiner and then giving copies of the newspaper reports to DDT. Nielsen was joined in April DHS departures by Randolph Alles, director of the Secret Service, and the White House withdrawal of Ron Vitiello’s nomination for head of ICE. On June 1, Miller dumped Lee Cissna, Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) former staffer as head of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Pushing out Cissna irritates Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) because he, along with other establishment senators, hates DDT’s replacement, Ken Cuccinelli. Cissna is a knowledgeable immigration hawk; Cuccinelli has only loyalty to DDT. Under Cissna, his department created systems to delay approvals and increase denials for immigrants, participating in DDT’s attempt to get rid of DACA and sunset Temporary Protected Status designations for several countries. Cissna was in charge of cracking down on asylum-seekers that returned thousands of them to Mexico where they remain in danger.

DDT needs Republican senators, including McConnell, to get Cuccinelli confirmed, but the former Virginia AG has no experience in immigration law and regulation. He also leads the Senate Conservatives Fund with the goal of defeating incumbent Republicans in primaries. Two years ago, Cuccinelli signed a letter calling for McConnell to step down.

Cuccinelli does have experience in persecuting immigrants by restricting them access to public services, employment, and citizenship. In 2010, he supported the Arizona law permitting police to investigate the immigration status of any person stopped by law enforcement and issued a legal opinion expanding a policy to include any suspected undocumented immigrant in Virginia. In the state senate, Cuccinelli proposed a law allowing employers to fire employees who didn’t speak English in the workplace and deny them unemployment compensation. Another of his bills would permit businesses to sue competitors for economic damages if they believed the employers hired undocumented immigrants plus $500 “for each such illegal alien employed by the defendant.” In 2008, he encouraged Congress to call a constitutional convention for the purpose of amending the 14th Amendment of the constitution by excluding citizenship for children born to undocumented immigrants.

After trying to hide his anti-immigrant past during his lost run for governor, he appeared on conservative media advocating the militarization of the border and prevention of all immigrants from Central America. He also wrote an op-ed for the Washington Examiner to support the deployment of troops to the southern border.  

As AG, Cuccinelli crusaded against the Affordable Care Act and fought to keep Virginia’s sodomy law, struck down by the Supreme Court a decade earlier. Equating being gay with pedophilia, he started the website VAChildPredators and listed the names of everyoneone convicted of sodomy. Despite his claim to protect children, the anti-sodomy law was only for consensual oral or anal sex between adults—no matter what gender. The Supreme Court struck down his attempts.

In other attacks on LGBTQ people, he fought to keep same-gender couples from adopting and tried to eliminate nondiscrimination protections in colleges and universities. If he heads immigration and citizenship, he can continue to block children born overseas to same-gender parents from becoming citizens. His appointment will be the destruction of same-gender families and death sentences for LGBTQ asylum seekers.

Cucinelli also opposes all abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, and the mother’s health. To Cuccinelli, any information about sexuality—even in higher education—is symptomatic of the “moral depravity that has crept across this commonwealth and this country.” The Catholic Church creates a “culture of dependency on government, not God,” according to Cuccinelli, because they want to care for the poor, immigrants, and uninsured. He ridiculed a Catholic diocese newspaper for putting these issues in its voter guides.

A vehement climate change denier, Cuccinelli frequently tells audiences to exhale carbon dioxide together to “annoy the EPA.” He investigated former University of Virginia climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann for fraud because Mann sought government funding for climate change research. Much of Cuccinelli’s funding came from fossil fuel companies that he inappropriately helped in coalbed methane extraction rights, according to a state judge and Virginia’s inspector general. He followed the “birther” conspiracy about President Obama’s birth place falsely being in Kenya and then asserted that the president was re-elected through voter fraud. At the site of the Virginia Tech mass shooting where 32 people were killed, he bragged about his NRA “A” rating.

In addition to Cuccinelli being a truly awful nominee, his appointment may be illegal. The 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act requires that nominees to lead agencies must have had another federal government position in the executive branch, G-15 or above, for at least 90 days before the vacancy or in another Senate-confirmed role. DDT slipped Cuccinelli into a newly invented “principal deputy director” position to carry out his nefarious activities for at least two years as “acting” and not requiring confirmation.

Cuccinelli’s competitor, Kris Kobach, is even crazier than Cuccinelli. A few weeks ago, Kobach was a media joke for the demands he made for being “immigration czar”: access to a government jet 24 hours a day; an office in the West Wing; a staff of seven; walk-in privileges with DDT; Assistant to the President rank with commensurate high pay; security detail; face of DDT’s immigration policy; guaranteed weekends off for family time; orders that secretaries of DHS, Defense, Justice Ag, Interior, and Commerce immediately follow his directives without question; and the promise that he would be appointed DHS Secretary by November. Kobach wrote anti-immigration laws, used faulty computer software to suppress the vote, and acted as adviser to the even crazier former Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

To suppress the U.S. vote, Kobach led DDT’s “election” commission, disbanded in 2018. The same year, Kobach lost his run for Kansas governor to a female Democrat—in Kansas! Now he’s considering a run for U.S. senator after Pat Roberts plans to not run again. Republicans are so unhappy about the possibility that National Republicans said they will “make sure he doesn’t make it past the primary.”

DDT seems to be bringing undocumented immigrants to the southern border in far greater numbers than President Obama. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) holds DDT responsible. In April, he said:

“I called up all the folks I’ve been working with on this, what’s going on. They said, well, there’s a couple of small reasons and one big reason. The small reasons are the elections in Guatemala and better bus travel from southern Mexico to northern Mexico. But the big reason? As Trump rants about the border, so many people are saying, ‘I’m in this terrible situation; if I’m going to go, I’d better go now.’ It’s all Trump-generated.”

Numbers at the southern border have increased since then. DDT advertises his wall and announces elimination of aid to Central America to improve the political and economic conditions. In 2014, U.S. aid to El Salvador drove down violent crime in the country, and migration dropped. Since then, climate warming and rainfall decrease eradicates corn crops in Honduras and loss of agriculture in Guatemala. DDT’s rejection of climate change and its problems will mean more “climate refugees.” He also may be causing worsening economic conditions in Central America forcing refugees as a rallying point for his 2020 election. Illegal immigration fell for eight years under a Democratic president before it steadily rose after the Republicans took over all three branches of government.

In DHS’ and privatization’s latest failure, photos of airport passengers and other personal data including license plate information collected by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have been stolen in computer hacking. The surveillance facial-recognition program, sold by Amazon, has thus far been proved to be faulty, especially for women and people of color. The private firm Perceptics, most likely the target of the attack, is part of an initiative to verify identities of all travelers at the border. Just another evidence of encroaching authoritarianism in the United States.  

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