Nel's New Day

January 24, 2018

Bogus DHS Immigration Report Supports White Supremacy

In his campaign against non-white immigration, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is responsible for “an analysis conducted by DHS” concluding that 73% of terrorists were “foreign-born. The report actually came from AG Jeff Sessions’ office that assembled the statistics and led the briefing. DHS career analysts told DOJ that they did not have the data because DHS does not correlate international terrorism data by citizenship or country of origin, that the data DOJ wanted doesn’t exist. DOJ cobbled together fragments for propaganda  to frighten people into supporting DDT’s non-immigration policy. It was issued just before the vote on the spending bill with the intent of funding for the border wall and eliminating legislation for diversity. Republicans refused to help Dreamers, and GOP leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and DDT now call them “lawless,” “illegals,” and “non-citizens.”

The report was also released the same week that DDT’s Muslim ban went on appeal to the Supreme Court. All examples in the report are Muslims although there was no evidence of the severity of conduct or basis of the threat. Five were deliberately selected for coming to the U.S. through family connections, which DDT calls “chain migration.” During the time of the report, however, almost 11 million people came with family relationships. Other examples were the child of someone who won the immigration lottery, a program with almost 750,000 people, and a refugee, one of almost a million.

The claim that the report concentrates on gender-based crimes by foreign nationals is false because the DOJ said that they have no idea how many of the 1.3 non-fatal domestic violence victimizations were “perpetrated by foreign nationals.” Husbands, boyfriends, or former partners kill over 3,000 women each year, another 1,000 of their children, and hundreds more people nearby or involved in the murders. Yet Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants people to concentrate on crimes committed by immigrants.

The stated intent of the document is “protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.” AG Jeff Sessions added to the purpose of the report to oppose any immigration from non-white countries:

“This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality – our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety.”

A huge problem with DDT’s report is its lack of to domestic terrorism, i.e., Dylann Roof’s mass shooting at a black church in Charleston (SC).  Over the past 10 years (2007-2016), domestic extremists of all kinds have killed at least 372 people in the United States. Of those deaths, approximately 74% were at the hands of right-wing extremists, about 24% of the victims were killed by domestic Islamic extremists, and the remainder were killed by left-wing extremists. Yet, as in the case of a white supremacist killing a woman with a car in the Charlottesville (VA) protests, the Department of Justice stated that the U.S. has no criminal law against domestic terrorism. Of 155 people killed in the United States since 1/1/02, 34 were by foreign-born terrorists, and 121 by domestic terrorists. Thus native-born people committed 78 percent of all murders in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, leaving only 22 percent of the murders by foreign-born terrorists. The chance of being murdered by a foreign-born terrorist is about one in 145 million per year; the annual chance of being murdered in a non-terrorist homicide is one in 19,325—about 1,641 times greater.

Yet there are far more problems in the report’s “scientific research”:

It includes people extradited into the United States for prosecution with those who voluntarily moved to the U.S. Sessions describes people involuntarily brought here as “immigrants” just as HUD Secretary Ben Carson referred to slaves brought to America as “immigrants.”

It identifies 549 convictions for terrorism and terrorism-related charges, but the number is for 15 years, an annual average of 35.6. Of those only 26.8 were foreign or foreign born while annual nation-wide murders number over 15,000, totaling 325,000 for the same time as the convictions. The number of convictions by the end of 2015 is 627, a larger number for a year earlier.

It states that “DHS and DOJ do not yet have complete, final information” about the full list of 549 people convicted of the same charges in the same paragraph describing eight people of 402 foreign-born people it claimed were convicted of international terrorism-charges in U.S. federal courts from 9/11/01 and 12/31/16. There is no explanation of the charges levied against these people. Immigration policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh found only 154 cases of foreign-born terrorists convicted of planning or committing a terrorist attack in the U.S. between 1975 and 2015. The supposed analysis also goes through only 2016; natural-born citizens are becoming an increasing percentage of those who are ISIS trained.

It fails to distinguish between terrorism convictions and the fuzzy category of “terrorism-related charges,” people who prosecutors thought would have a connection to terrorism but never charged with a terrorism defense. The Justice Department significantly overstated its “terrorism-related” convictions in 2013, according to the AG. Earlier DOJ numbers show that of 40 convictions (less than three per year) were connected to planned terrorist attacks on the U.S.; 70 percent were for material support which includes donating a small amount of money to someone overseas and translating a document. The U.S. statutes have no definition of “terrorism-related” as a crime but the term is also used for offenses such as fraud or illegal immigration. Half of terrorism prosecutions involve FBI sting operations which encourage people with no criminal history to participate in terrorism. In fact, the report concentrates on “terrorism-related convictions” that includes numerous convictions that have nothing to do with terrorism. In one case, three Middle-Eastern grocers were convicted of stealing boxes of Kellogg’s cereal and ended up on the list of “terrorism-related” cases after a source erroneously said that the men had tried to buy a rocket-propelled grenade.

It demonstrates the DDT administration’s focus on “nationalism” (aka racism) through distinguishing not only between citizens and non-citizens but also between people born in the U.S. and those who were naturalized. The report even tried to identify “the citizenship status of the parents” of those who were born in the U.S., placing more emphasis on ancestry and crime. DDT has long done this, as in the time that he called an Indiana-born federal judge for the lawsuit against DDT’s Trump University as a prejudiced “Mexican.”

It fails to differentiate between encounters and individuals and uses meaningless encounter numbers. The 2,554 encounters with people on the terrorist watch list could be multiple encounters with the same people. Many people on the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database aren’t even terrorists; they can be people in Congress. The FBI fails to update its TSDB. The report has no record of how many of the people on TSDB committed a terrorist attack or were arrested for a terrorism offense. “Encounters” are not necessarily convictions.

It admits that DHS lacks information about “individual radicalization”: “DHS and DOJ lack unclassified, aggregated statistical information pertaining to the timing of individual radicalization.”

A television commercial released in conjunction with the shutdown vote and approved by DDT stated, “Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.” Marc Short, the White House’s legislative affairs director, claimed that the ad came from an “outside group” and not anyone in the White House, but he was caught by Chuck Todd’s question, “Donald J. Trump for President is an outside group?” Short defended the ad because “it’s helpful to continue to raise awareness of the crisis we have.” Short characterized all immigration as a “problem” and a “threat” posed to the United States.

Using the rationale exposed in this ad, Republicans who stand in the way of gun safety will be complicit in every murder committed with a gun.

The GOP’s growing white nationalism (aka racism) has made domestic terrorism far worse since DDT’s campaign and election. White supremacist attacks are growing more frequent, and more young people are involved. A boy who killed two students at his New Mexico school followed the “alt-right,” and a 17-year-old neo-Nazi from Virginia allegedly killed his girlfriend’s parents. A 26-year-old white man who had supported the right-wing protest in Charlottesville (VA) attempted an attack on an Amtrak train in rural Nebraska.

The year 2017 was the fifth-deadliest year for extremist violence since 1970. Concerns have been expressed that the alt-right feels unsuccessful in a lasting political movement and therefore commits random acts of violence.

DDT has breathed life back into white supremacy and energized them with his support. The bogus “DHS report” is just one example of his giving governmental validity to hatred of all non-white people.

July 2, 2017

DDT Moves BFF from Russia to Saudi Arabia

Weeks ago, several Middle East countries led by Saudi Arabia opened diplomatic war against the tiny country of Qatar. Saudis said that they oppose Qatar’s terrorism, but they have other reasons. Qatar’s wealth from natural gas creates independence from Saudi’s dictates. The exports can also be shipped by sea instead of through pipelines like Saudi oil. Because natural gas comes from the Persian Gulf, Qatar keeps friendly connections with Iran.

In the past, Qatar had close relations with the United States after Saudi Arabia told U.S. forces to leave its country in 2003. The U.S. military base heading operations against ISIS moved to Qatar and houses 11,000 troops at this time. Some of Qatar’s wealth goes to the media service Al Jazeera, which is not always kind about Middle East governments as well as supporting grassroots efforts to overturn autocracies during the Arab Spring. But the power structure in the Middle East is shifting.

After only two years leading Saudi Arabia, King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz has named his son as his replacement  instead of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulazizto. The transfer to Mohammed bin Salman, 31, was peaceful perhaps because he demanded that the Israelis send 18 fighter jets in case of any measures by bin Nayef. Bin Salman has headed up the country’s military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, and U.S. officials expressed concern over his reckless gambles last year with the economy and the Yemen conflicts. His leadership may seriously affect gas prices because he support’s OPEC’s desire to prop up oil prices through limiting worldwide oil production.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had banked on his friendship with Russia to make money, but widespread publicity has caused serious problems with this close relationship. His fawning over Saudi Arabia during his May trip indicates that he may have transferred his allegiance to another country that can provide him great financial gains.

Foreign agents for Russia are disappearing from DDT’s circle, but he started to add at least one with Saudi connections. Richard Hohlt, who earned $430,000 thus far this year as a registered foreign agent lobbying for Saudi Arabia, is DDT’s nominee for the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. The donor to DDT’s campaign would make recommendations for prestigious White House fellowships. “I will issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT! #DrainTheSwamp,” DDT tweeted last October.  DDT has turned to stocking the swamp.

DDT has shifted his position toward Saudi Arabia in several ways. During his campaign he claimed that the Saudis were behind the 9/11 attacks, and after he was inaugurated, he complained about the U.S. losing a “tremendous amount of money” defending the kingdom.  The U.S. has long known about Saudi Arabia’s terrorism. According to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009, “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” In September 2014, she wrote that “Qatar and Saudi Arabia… are providing clandestine financial and logistical support to ISIL [Daesh] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

The adulation that DDT received during his stay in Saudi Arabia flipped his attitude. He needed a reason for his 180-degree turnabout so he is claiming that the U.S. “can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology.” Another DDT tweet read, “Perhaps it will be the beginning of the end of the horror of terrorism.” His position is terrifying other Gulf States that fear the same ostracism as Qatar. Saudi’s goal is to isolate Iran. Bin Salman said, “We will not wait until the battle is in Saudi Arabia, but we will work so the battle is there in Iran.” He claims that Saudi Arabia is fighting the Houthis because of Iran although the group has almost no support from Iranians.

The Saudi war in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians because of their targeting hospitals, marketplaces, civilian neighborhoods, and even a funeral for bombing. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) has said that these actions “look like war crimes.” Washington has provided the Saudis with cluster munitions, aircraft, and aerial refueling services as well as intelligence on targets. The destruction has blocked aid groups from providing food, medicine, and other essential supplies to civilians suffering from a cholera outbreak and a massive famine. The result is a strengthened al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from its increased influence in Yemen.

The Obama administration supported Saudi Arabia to persuade the leaders that the U.S. had not moved over to Iran but backed off after Congress and humanitarian groups opposed the Saudi targeting of Yemen civilians. In December 2016, the U.S. suspended a sale of laser-guided bombs and other munitions to the Saudi military.

The new administration has lifted this suspension despite 47 votes collected from a Senate coalition led by Al Franken (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rand Paul (R-KY). Defense Secretary James Mattis has advocated far more support for Saudi attacks with intelligence sharing and possible U.S. troops. Mattis had declared that Iran is “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.” DDT has promised $110 billion worth of arms to the Saudis, about the same as during both President Obama’s terms. That includes over 100,000 bombs like those used on Yemen.

For Saudi Arabia, DDT is the ideal U.S. president if they can overlook his rejection of Muslims and non-white people. He prefers dictatorships to human rights, prizes loyalty above all else (except money), is controlled by fanatically anti-Iran generals, and shows himself to be highly susceptible to flattery. DDT’s missile strikes in Syria put him on the side of Saudi Arabia instead of Syria and prolongs the civil war that the Assad regime will most likely win.

While DDT was making a speech in Saudi Arabia telling people that he is not there “to tell other peoples how to live, what to do or who to be,” Iran’s reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, was re-elected on a platform of combatting extremism and expanding individual freedoms. On the other hand, the Saudis spend tens of millions of dollars to place its violent, extremist version of Islam throughout the world, including the European Union. The Saudi extremist version of Islam, Wahhabi, has been responsible for 96 percent of terrorist casualties since 2001, and Saudis were 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks. Dissent in Saudi Arabia is punishable by beheading—and that includes the press. Saudi Arabia lacks election and imprisons critics,and women are second-class citizens in many ways.

DDT pledged a foreign policy to stay out of the Middle East because past U.S. “foreign interventions unleashed ISIS in Syria, Iraq and Libya.” (For once, he was right!) In a conflict between Shiites and Sunnis, the Islam world is choosing sides with Russia leading Syria, and Iran. Saudi Arabia expects the United States to lead up the opposition to DDT’s former BFF, Russia. Now the U.S. is taking actions far more hawkish than voters feared from candidate Hillary Clinton. This path will divide Syria into religious/ethnic separations and be in the midst of a global war against Russia.  The U.S. shot down a Syrian army plane, the first such attack in 18 years, and sent more military member to southeast Syria. Despite a claim of staying within a “deconfliction zone,” the troops are over 100 miles from its supposed base. Another 3,000 to 5,000 new troops are destined for Afghanistan. DDT has abdicated his responsibly as commander-in-chief to “Mad Dog” Mattis who got his name from razing Fallujah in Iraq. Other general—National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford—are aiding and abetting.

The generals and DDT are hoping that Congress doesn’t notice that the executive branch cannot constitutionally declare war, but the House has taken a step toward restricting DDT. For years, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has introduced an amendment to the 2018 military spending bill in the Appropriations Committee to require congressional debate and approval for U.S. military action in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other world countries. Lee’s measure would repeal the 2001 authorization for the president to take action in situations connected to 9/11, a law that presidents have liberally used—over actions in almost 20 countries around the world and deployments in at least ten. President Obama kept asking Congress to create new legislation for his attacks, but the Republicans ignored him.

Every year Lee failed—until now. The House GOP leadership is resisting, but the committee vote was unanimous in favor of Lee’s amendment. Lee persisted—and achieved a victory.

June 6, 2017

War in Middle East: DDT’s Path to Popularity?

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 11:51 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Many world leaders fear that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants a war to increase his popularity. What if it is true? Less than two weeks ago, he came home for a nine-day trip that included a visit to Saudi Arabia, and a senior official declared, “Donald Trump united the entire Muslim world in a way that it really hasn’t been in many years.” The unity doesn’t exist—especially since yesterday’s rift in the Middle East when Saudi Arabia led eight countries to isolate Qatar over its supposed support for terrorism.

One theory for Saudi Arabia’s action is DDT’s empowerment of Saudi with warmth for them and an excessive criticism of Iran. DDT worsened the situation by seeming to take credit for the problems in the Middle East through his tweets. He began with this one:

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!”

DDT added praise for Saudi Arabia’s actions in isolating Qatar:

“They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

The tweets were his usual early morning, knee-jerk reaction with no involvement with his administrative officials.

The action: Eight countries have severed diplomatic ties with the tiny country of Qatar, about the size of Connecticut with a population of under 2.3 million with only 12 percent of them natives and the others workers, most of them from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Philippines. Five countries—Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen—started the dispute, and Libya, Mauritius, and the Maldives joined in. Countries have stopped flights in and out of Doha, the Qatari capital, and Saudi Arabia eliminated all land, sea and air links with Qatar. The country’s diplomats have been told to leave foreign posts from some of the countries as well as Qatari citizens.

The reason: Qatar is criticized for its reputed support of the Muslim brotherhood, a nearly 100-year-old Islamist group that Saudi Arabia and UAE consider a terrorist organization. Then Saudi Arabia became incensed with Qatar-owned Al Jazeera’s news story supporting Israel and Iran; both Saudi and UAE blocked access to the television network as well as other Qatari newspaper websites. According to U.S. intelligence, the news story was fake news from Russian hackers, but Qatar’s opponents didn’t believe the information. Then Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to congratulate him on his reelection. Qatar News Agency’s website is still offline because of hacking attempts. Qatar and Iran share the biggest natural gas field in the world, and Saudi Arabia sees this as a problem to them as well as Iran’s nuclear program and its growing influence in the Middle East. The Saudis have accused Qatari officials of meeting with the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Problems for Qatar: Almost all food in Qatar comes from Saudi Arabia which has stopped shipping to the nation, and trucks carrying food may be stranded on the Saudi side of the border. A major global airlines, Qatar Airlines must now detour around airspace above Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE at highly increased fuel costs, flight times, and ticket prices. That creates a hardship for families that live in Dubai and commute to Doha, a 45-minute flight before the barricade. Qatar is also scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup, and the recent action keeps supplies, workers, and possibly soccer fans from easily going in and out of the country.

Problems for Qatari neighbors—and the U.S.: The country has over a $300 billion sovereign wealth fund founded in 2005 to increase money from its natural resources. As the world largest LNG exporter with pipelines in the Gulf, Qatar could cut off supplies. The Al Udeid Ari Base, the principal U.S. regional center responsible for daily air missions and air operations coordination against ISIS is located on Qatar. The country also houses the forward headquarters of the United States Central Command, which manages all U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East. About 11,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed there.

Demands: Saudi Arabia has not been specific about what they expect from Qatar although they have stated that they expect a stop to terrorism. They could also demand the closure of Al Jazeera, the television network that launched English-language programming.

Pentagon is trying to stop the damage: spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters that the U.S. is “grateful to the Qataris for the longstanding support for our presence and their enduring commitment to regional security.” Yes, Qatar supports groups considered terrorist organizations, such as Hamas. But so does Saudi Arabia. And the U.S. military bases in Qatar also allows it to be an intermediary between this country and theirs. For example, Qatar was instrumental in dealing with the Taliban to release U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Knowing that the U.S. needs to be good terms with all countries in the region, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked for the countries “to sit down together and address these differences” because “it is important that the [Gulf Cooperation Council] remain unified.”

DDT’s tweet is another of his 180-degree turns. He had never accused of Qatar promoting radical ideology before, and in fact he has praised Qatar. During his visit in Saudia Arabia, DDT said that U.S. relations with Qatar were “extremely good.” During that speech to the Saudis, DDT also said, “Qatar, which hosts the U.S. Central Command, is a crucial strategic partner.” On that trip DDT also met separately with the emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (left), on May 21 and discussed the “the purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment.” He told reporters, “We are friends, we’ve been friends for a long time now, haven’t we?” As for the sales to Qatar, DDT said, “That means jobs, and it also means frankly great security back here, which we want.”

DDT has 270,000 reasons for supporting Saudi Arabia: that’s the number of dollars that the Saudis have paid for stays at DDT’s Washington, D.C. hotel for lodging, catering, and parking. The group paying DDT is the organization lobbying against the law that permits victims of terrorist attacks to sue foreign government, meaning that Saudi Arabia could be financially responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Part of the Saudi lobbying campaign is recruiting U.S. veterans and sending them on luxury trips to Washington. DDT’s hotel is a very nice place for them to stay.

Leaders in the Western world consider the Saudi regime a danger to public security because of its dissemination of Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Sunni Islamism practiced in Saudi Arabia that has been identified by the European parliament as a driver of global terrorism. Saudi claimed that the restrictions against Qatar were caused by the nation’s support of terrorism. After George W. Bush’s war in Iraq put Shia Muslims in control, open polarization between Sunni and Shia Muslims have increasingly polarized the entire Middle East as Saudi Arabian Sunni fundamentalists exacerbate their battle against Iranian Shiites.

The current problem is said to be the worst in the region since the Gulf Cooperation Council was formed 36 years ago. Although Qatar, like Saudi Arabia, is predominantly Shia, the country has tried to stay neutral between the Saudi-Iran conflict. Sunnis want the nation to take sides with them. Qatar has also been blamed for the 2011 Arab Spring overturning regimes in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. The dispute is the most serious to hit the region since the formation of the Gulf Co-operation Council 36 years ago.

When George W. Bush blew up the Middle East in the early 21st century, he knew little about its politics and culture. DDT knows less. But maybe he thinks that he can match Bush’s popularity if he just blows up the world.

May 21, 2017

Sunday Speeches: DDT Pandering; GOP Spin

The grand introduction to a nine-day tour by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was today’s pandering speech to over 50 Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia, a speech written by Islamophobic Stephen Miller. Miller knew that DDT had to walk a fine line between not offending his racist U.S. base and the audience of 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, including 3.3 million in the U.S. alone. Gone was the term “radical Islamic terrorism” which he used as a litmus test for conservatives, damning all people who refused to say this expression. Only once did he slip in “Islamic terrorism” among the 32 times that he referred to terrorism in the 34-minute speech. The teleprompter read “Islamist,” but DDT may be accustomed to his own term which refers to the religion rather than a political movement.

Saudi Arabia was the safest place to give the speech because DDT is in sync with the authoritarian regime there. In his desire to feel royal, DDT is comfortable with their ostentatious wealth, lack of concern for rule, and a disregard for democracy. He had also just favored them with the $110 billion arms sale that President Obama had delayed on the basis of human rights and how the weapons would be used as well as the proposed Qatar purchase by Qatar of “a lot of beautiful military equipment,” as DDT describes them. DDT brought them other multi-billion dollar deals such as $6 billion for Lockheed for 150 Black Hawk helicopters and $15 billion for General Electric.

The speech also avoided other such alien concepts to the Middle East as democracy, gender equality, and political reform—again matching DDT’s approach toward ruling. Even better for Saudi support, he blamed Iran instead of ISIS “fueling sectarian violence”; he spoke about the “despair” of the Iranians on the day after they freely elected a liberal reform president and demanded that the largest Shiite country in the Middle East be more isolated. According to DDT, Iran is to blame for “so much instability,” and Shiite Hezbolla and Yemienis were equally condemned.

DDT claimed his purpose was not to “lecture” before he launched into ponderous and repetitious demands of “drive them out” like an Old Testament prophet declaiming that the Muslims are totally responsible in this “battle between good and evil.” Nowhere did he mention that his hosts are responsible for the Wahhabi Salafit extremists who murder “innocent people.” DDT also praised Saudi Arabia for its “strong action against the Houthi militants in Yemen,” an action using U.S.-made cluster bombs in crowded cities indiscriminately killing people and exacerbating a massive humanitarian crisis.

“We are adopting a principled realism, rooted in common values and shared interests,” DDT told his audience, indicating that these “common values” can include misogyny, murder by beheading, and dictatorships in the name of oil and gas. He said, “Our friends will never question our support, and our enemies will never doubt our determination.” But the generality didn’t define “friends,” which could include Russia, Iran’s supporter, and the warring militias in the Middle East. DDT said:

“We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes – not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. And, wherever possible, we will seek gradual reforms – not sudden intervention.”

Translations for this statement could  include that the U.S. can reverse its positions at a minute’s notice based on a knee-jerk reaction to an occurrence but that the U.S. will not oppose crimes against humanity unless it will be of some financial benefit.

DDT’s speech is being declared “presidential,” the common description for words he didn’t prepare that were carefully read with no off-script comments.

Yet former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams pointed out a major flaw, “an understanding of what produces extremism”:

 “The president’s approach would work if terrorists were coming from outer space, and our task were solely to organize against them militarily. That is no doubt part of the task—but not all of it, because they are coming from within the societies whose leaders he was addressing. He offered no explanation of what was producing this phenomenon…. Trump had no theory and therefore could not suggest what might be done to prevent more extremists from rising.”

While DDT was in Saudi Arabia trying to overcome the ghastly scandals of May, his faithful were spinning his actions on the Sunday talk shows.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that DDT talked about firing former FBI director James Comey with the Russian officials to prove he wasn’t distracted by any problems in Washington. As usual, Tillerson pressed his talking point that U.S. and Russian relations were “at a low point.”

National security adviser H.R. McMaster explained DDT’s meetings with the Russians as a desire to “find areas of cooperation.” Asked about DDT’s statements about Comey, McMaster said:

“Well, I don’t remember exactly what the president said. And the notes that there apparently have I do not think are a direct transcript.”

DDT reportedly called Comey “crazy” and “a real nut job” as well as firing Comey relieving “great pressure because of Russia.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) disagreed with DDT that Comey is a “nut job.” On Face the Nation, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said:

“This is a horrible thing for a president to say. Former Director Comey is no way, shape, or form a ‘nut job.’”

Even Republican members of Congress didn’t defend DDT’s statements. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that the investigating committees on Russia’s meddling need to have “the notes.” He added:

“The White House would benefit from some systems in place that perhaps avoids some of the unnecessary friction points that come up on a daily basis…. People got what they voted for.”

Asked about DDT’s speech, Rubio said that he differed with him on DDT’s approach to human rights issues:

“I think it’s in our national security interest to advocate for democracy and freedom and human rights. We just have a disagreement on the right way to approach it.”

“The White House would benefit from some systems in place that perhaps avoids some of the unnecessary friction points that come up on a daily basis,” Rubio said.

With the possibility of again running for president, Rubio may have felt the need to soft-pedal his response, but Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was not shackled by any such requirement when he told Fox’s Chris Wallace that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey “had no business in the Oval Office” and cited Russia’s invasion into Crimea:

“Mr. Lavrov is the stooge of a thug and a murderer, who used Russian precision weapons to strike hospitals in Aleppo, who has committed human rights issues all over the place.”

McCain called himself “almost speechless” about the report that DDT told Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he fired Comey  to take “off” some of the pressure about Russia. Almost, but not completely. McCain said, “I don’t know why someone would say something like that,” he told Wallace.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in his interview today that the House Intelligence Committee investigation is examining possibly Russian collusion with DDT and his campaign. House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said that the scandal surrounding Russia goes far beyond DDT.

DDT may be back on U.S. soil sooner than expected. His staffers say that he is “exhausted” after less than two days of travel into his nine-day trip and  is already canceling some of his performances. This from the man who said that Hillary Clinton “lacks stamina” after her constant travel around the world while she was Secretary of State. Maybe he’ll be too tired to tweet.

 

March 1, 2017

DDT’s Speech: Lies, Contradictions

Donald J. Trump President Donald Trump address Joint Session of Congress, Washington DC - 28 Feb 2017 Donald J. Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC, USA, 28. Traditionally the first address to a joint session of Congress by a newly-elected president is not referred to as a State of the Union. (Rex Features via AP Images)

(Rex Features via AP Images)

The performer, the grifter, the liar, the manipulator elected president of the United States proved last night that he’s become better at reading from a teleprompter and has a better speech writer than during his campaign. Supporters of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) are proudly commenting on his “change” although they still admit that he’s better only if one judges him against his own past and not against others. Some even raved about his speech, his first to a joint meeting of Congress. Slate’s Jacob Weisberg’s tweet was on target about praise from the media:

“Enemies of the people giving Trump positive reviews for not sounding like a ranting dictator.”

Tom Perez, new DNC chair, described it well when he said that the speech was “Steve Bannon on steroids with a smile.” The only change was stylistic after DDT finished trying to soften the audience by condemning the anti-Semitic threats and violence, followed by his first mention of two Indian immigrants shot in a Kansas bar a week ago. Earlier in the day, however, he had suggested that the Jewish people were making the calls themselves to make his supporters look bad. Another of his conspiracy theories is that President Obama is setting up protesters to make him look bad. DDT—always the victim. He spoke of support for blacks the same week that his Justice Department determined that it will support suppression of the vote by minorities in Texas.

Despite a few cheery words of hope and optimism sprinkled throughout the speech, DDT consistently talked about the horrors of the United States at this time. The only way that he can maintain his dictatorship is to convince his audience that life now in the United States is hell and that they need all his actions to make life better.

DDT’s claim that over 43 million people now lives in poverty ignores the fastest drop in almost 50 years. His repeated misrepresentation of 94 million people “out of the labor force” ignores the unemployment rate of 4.6 percent, only seven percent of the mythical number of 94 million that includes all the people who don’t want jobs—students, disabled, stay-at-home parents, retirees, etc. as well as the over two million people in prison. Using this demographic is dangerous for DDT’s statistics because trends will increase the number by the time that he’s up for re-election.

The attack on undocumented immigrants launched into “America First” rhetoric while DDT bragged about the deportation of “bad ones”—barely a step up from his references to “bad dudes” or, worse, “bad hombres.” His announcement of a new office to support victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants brought a groan, at this time the only “victims” of interest to DDT. Before the speech, DDT has suggested that he considered providing legal status to undocumented immigrants who had not committed serious crimes, but the white supremacist who wrote his speech ignored this idea.

DDT used his common theme, the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in another nine years, as another part of his anti-immigrant message. What brought America together, in the words of DDT’s speech writer, was “that America must put its own citizens first, because only then can we truly make America great again.” DDT asserted that only immigrants who come with money will be legally allowed into the country. The fewer, richer immigrants “will be very, very happy, indeed,” according to DDT.

DDT falsely cited a 2016 report, stating that the U.S. immigration system “costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.” The report found exactly the opposite, that immigration helps the economy and has little impact on the employment status and wages of native-born workers. Economists agree that DDT’s new deportation rules would cost the economy trillions of dollars. He is also wrong about what immigrants can enter the country. Immigration law has clearly stated for over a century that people coming into the U.S. cannot be impoverished and that those who are public charges will be deported.

H.R. McMaster, the new National Security Advisor, warned against using the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” but DDT defiantly emphasized the words when he said that he would be signing a new Muslim ban. In addition, he repeated the lie that “the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.” A 2015 report found 50 Islam-inspired deaths—not all by people from “outside the country”—and the man who killed 50 people in Orlando last summer was born in the United States. “Right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities.” White supremacists are influencing DDT to investigate any right-wing extremist terrorism.

“One of the highest [tax] rates in the world”? Nowhere near. The U.S. is one of the top ten tax friendliest countries in the world and not even in the top 30 worst ones.

DDT’s declared that he will bring jobs back from overseas by doing away with trade treaties, yet only 13.4 percent, about 750,000 jobs, have been lost to trade. The rest of them have been lost to automation or other factors “attributable to productivity growth.” Of the 70,000 jobs he bragged about creating, 68,800 were planned before the election, and 700 were the result of President Obama’s policies. In addition, some of these, such as the Intel jobs in Arizona came after the company had fired a larger number of people in Oregon.

While Republicans vigorously applauded at every sentence, especially his support of their GOPcare health plan, DDT made costly promises that must have made them shudder:

“Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and railways, gleaming across our very, very beautiful land.”

He also promised “massive tax relief for the middle class,” the return of “millions of jobs,” “a better health-care system for all Americans,” and lower corporate taxes. In fact, DDT’s tax plan raises taxes on single parents while disproportionately benefiting the richest Americans.

The most embarrassing part of the speech was the introduction of Carryn Owens, the widow of the Navy Seal who was killed in DDT’s first counterterrorism attack that he casually authorized over a dinner with GOP leaders such as white supremacist Steve Bannon. While she sat crying in the gallery for what seemed to be an infinity, he talked about the raid’s success (a lie) and then ad-libbed, “And Ryan is looking down right now. You know that. And he’s very happy, because I think he just broke a record.” It was vintage DDT—lying and bragging about acclamation for a grieving widow. Two parts of the failed raid were not mentioned: the Seal’s father refused to meet with DDT when his son was returned and demanded an investigation; and the commandos knew they had lost the element of surprise but were still ordered to complete the compromised mission. In addition, DDT may have claimed at the speech that the raid was a success, but earlier in the day he blamed the generals earlier for its failure.

Missing from the speech was any mention of climate issues although DDT promised to “promote clean air and clear water.” That was a few hours after he signed an executive order to eradicate the Clean Water Rule, affecting waterways that 117 million people in the U.S. rely on for drinking water.

Steve Benen described the substance-free speech as “a sugar high than political sustenance.” Like a campaign speech, it promised voters everything with no explanation of how he would deliver. The purpose for a speech to Congress is to give it direction, badly needed help in the severely divided GOP that is fighting over such issues as health care, tax code, military, infrastructure, and “the wall.” DDT confirmed his campaigning goal with a letter on his website designed to raise money for 2020 by stating that last night was the FEC deadline for the quarter and that he would be given a list of donor names. Every action that DDT takes for as long as he lasts as president will be to either gain votes or make money for himself.

51-lies-in-61-minutesDDT lied at least 51 times during his 61-minute address—too many lies to clarify in such a short space. Suffice it to say, he continues to lie at least three-fourths of the time. When he isn’t lying, he’s changing his position. He cannot be trusted in any way.

Attention for DDT’s speech may be ephemeral since tonight’s disclosure that U.S. Attorney General failed to disclose during his confirmation hearings that he talked with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. twice last year while he was a U.S. senator from Alabama and “surrogate” for DDT’s campaign. DDT’s desired pivot from last night’s speech has made a far right turn back to his possible connection to Russia and Vladimir Putin.

February 25, 2017

DDT: Lies, Lies, Lies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

December 11, 2015

Gun Violence, Good for the Weapons Industry

Killings are great for the bottom line of weapons manufacturers, and representatives from major defense contractors made that clear this week at a conference in West Palm Beach. Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President Bruce Tanner praised the “indirect” benefits from a war in Syria, and part of his speech was widely shared on the Internet. According to Tanner, Middle East strife and conflict in Syria and Turkey will cause “an intangible lift because of the dynamics of that environment and our products in theater.” Wilson Jones, the president of the defense manufacturer Oshkosh, concurred about increased sales, and  Raytheon Chief Executive Tom Kennedy talked about the “significant uptick.” Another speaker at the conference predicted that ISIS’s active armed profile would lead to more marketing opportunities for US defense firms.

Another reason that contractors celebrated was the $607 billion budget from Congress for the Department of Defense. “Our programs are well supported [in the budget]. We think we did fare very well,” Tanner concluded. Very well, indeed, as did stock holders with weapons manufacturers.

U.S. dealers also profit from terrorism by selling weapons to the terrorists. For example, a M29 semi-automatic pistol has been traced to the Florida gun dealer Century Arms. They bought it from Zastava Arms, a Serbian arms manufacturer, that imports heavy weapons to U.S. dealers. Loopholes in U.S. lax gun laws allow gun dealers to import high-powered rifles “stripped of their military features” so that they can be sold as “sporting rifles.”  After arriving in the U.S., rifles can be modified back into assault rifles. Having restored the full killing power of the guns, dealers distribute them to civilians.

Century Arms is a primary importer of the WASR-10, a Romanian modified version of the AK-47 bought legally and smuggled into Mexico where drug cartels use them to spread terror and death. The dealer’s history goes back to its implication in the 1980s Iran Contra scandal when they “supplied rockets, grenades and other weapons to Nicaraguan rebels.”

With 31 percent of global arms exports from 2010 to 2014, the United States is number one in exporting hundreds of billions of dollars worth of military weaponry and equipment. At home, gun sales surged after the San Bernardino as NRA followers repeated the myth of a “good guy with a gun.” NRA collects money for each and every gun sold in the United States, and gun sales are breaking records. Gun production has more than doubled since President Obama was first elected as gun manufacturers and dealers kept spreading the falsehood that he would take away the guns.

Sales from just one company, Smith & Wesson, rose 15.2% to $124.9 million in the past three months and were up 32.1 percent since the same time period last year. Net income was $14.2 million, almost three times the $5.2 million that the company made during the same time period last year. The company’s stock climbed 125 percent in the past 12 months despite an ongoing SEC investigation into the company’s alleged corruption practices.

In response to this travesty, the New York Times published its December 5 editorial, “The Gun Epidemic,” on the front page above the fold for the first time since 1920. That editorial denounced the “cowardice and imbecility” of Warren Harding’s nomination. From the NYT editorial:

“It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday.”

Another NYT editorial this week attacked the gun industry’s “war profiteering”:

“Across recent decades, gun manufacturers, facing a decline in general gun ownership as demographics shifted and sports hunting faded, have cynically created a domestic market for barely altered rifles and pistols developed for the military. These are weapons designed for the rapid spray-shooting of multiple enemy soldiers in wartime, not homeland civilians living in peace.”

The term “military grade” is one that the NRA and gun “enthusiasts” criticize as a meaningless statement about guns meant for warfare. They try to use descriptions of stocks and barrel length to claim ignorance on the part of gun control advocates. Yet the gun industry itself markets these firearms as weapons of war.

“’As Close as You Can Get Without Enlisting,’ reads one tag line under a photo of a poised shooter aiming the civilian version of a military rifle. An ad for a semiautomatic shotgun promises security whether in ‘Iraq, Afghanistan, Your Livingroom.’ An ad for an armor-piercing handgun shows an embattled infantryman above the line: ‘Built For Them … Built For You.’”

New York Times bulletsPeople concerned about the lax U.S. gun laws question why civilians need to own guns “designed to pierce concrete bunkers and armored personnel carriers.” The guns flooding the U.S. are most useful for mass shootings. Not since the tobacco industry lied about the lethal effects of its product have corporations sold a product with the complete understanding of how many deaths would result from their product. The only answer to the necessity for “military grade” gun ownership is always “freedom” and “protection from tyranny,” but a more credible response would be the feeling of control over lesser individuals.

Showing the level of maturity in someone who most likely calls himself a “responsible gun owner,” Erick Erickson, conservative talk radio host and editor of RedState.com, shot holes in a copy of the New York Times. He also invited others to post photos of bullet holes in the editorial. Is it possible that he believes he can destroy an idea by shooting the paper that it’s printed on?

Making profits from gun violence has extended into the schools. These items for sale show the gun culture in a country that has almost no gun restrictions:blankets

  • Bulletproof blankets: The “Bodyguard™ blanket for school shooting is made of materials used by U.S. soldiers in battle.
  • backpacks
  • Bulletproof backpacks: Armored backpacks rose in sales after the massacre at Sandy Hook, and the number of manufactures has expanded since then.
  • Bulletproof classroom whiteboards: Schools are increasingly spending money on whiteboards that might give people hope.
  • Bulletproof clothing: Parents asked for “ballistic protection” because they are afraid of sending their children to school. The manufacturer is in Colombia but markets for the American market.
  • School shooting smartphone apps: This “panic button in the hands of every teacher and staff” alerts participating schools within a five-mile radius as well as “all participating law enforcement officers, on and off duty, who are in close proximity.”
  • Bulletproof baseball caps: Manufactures claim that the impact from a variety of calibers is “twice that of being hit in helmet with a hockey puck.”
  • School shooting-focused books: Goodreads lists 51 novels about school shootings, and nonfiction books include how-to guides.

For the parents, a bedside gun holster and a bulletproof Bible. (We might ask how safe any of these devices are–especially the “bedside gun holster.”)

bedside holster

No, this isn’t a parody, and no additional guns, including those in schools, won’t help. Only 3 percent of active shooter events were stopped by a civilian with a gun, according to a FBI analysis of these events between 2000 and 2013; unarmed civilians stopped over four times as many, about 13 percent. The higher the household gun ownership, the greater the number of homicides, according to studies. All weapons manufacturers and dealers are creating are more deaths.

July 17, 2015

Time to Protect People from Gun Violence

A couple of articles about guns caught my eye in yesterday morning’s newspaper. One was about a proposed sales tax on guns and ammunition in Seattle to pay for the costs of gun violence and research its prevention. The sales tax would follow one in Cook County (IL), and Seattle would be the second major U.S. city to help offset costs—more than $12 million paid by taxpayers for treating 253 gunshot victims at Harborview Medical Center in 2014.

The second article was about Texas gun owners afraid of Jade Helm 15, a routine military two-month exercise that started Wednesday in seven states with about 1,200 people from Texas to California. To extremists, however, it’s a ploy by the U.S. to take over Texas, one of the “united states.” (Personally, I don’t understand why they would think the U.S. wants Texas.) The New York Times reported an interview with a woman who owns a hair salon in Christoval (TX). About the “conspiracy-theory-type people,” she said, “All they’re worried about is their beer and their guns.” That may describe most of the extremists down there.

The state governor, Greg Abbott, ordered the Texas Guard to “monitor” the exercises after Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) checked on a possible takeover with Pentagon officials and a three-star Air Force general. As recently as mid-May, one-third of the Republicans believed that “the government is trying to take over Texas.” Abbott’s Texas Guard has help from Counter Jade Helm Operation, civilian watchdogs who plan to observe and report military activity every day as they search for suspicious activity. The director tried to explain that “we are not the radical extreme groups.”  I would still check them out to see if they’re wearing tin-foil hats.When the exercises peacefully end in September, conservatives will pat themselves on the back for having prevented President Obama’s dastardly martial law.

The big story about guns yesterday, however, was the murder of four Marines at two military facilities, a recruitment center and a Naval and Marine reserve center, in and near Chattanooga (TN) followed by the death of the shooter.  The right-wing bloggers are in full glory about the tragedy, blaming it on the facilities being designated as “gun free zone” and the shooter being an immigrant to the United States. Nothing was said on right-wing blogs, however, about yesterday’s news that a Colorado jury found James E. Holmes guilty of 165 counts of murder and attempted murder for the mass shooting in an Aurora movie theater almost exactly three years ago. Born in the United States, Holmes was a graduate student at the University of Colorado.

Killing the children in Newtown (CT) seems acceptable to many people in the United States—especially conservative members of Congress—and the deaths of nine people in a Charleston (SC) church inflamed a debate about the Confederate flag which the right-wing supports. The question is whether people will be upset enough about the death of four Marines to allow the “politicization” of change in gun laws.

The editorial board of the conservative USA Today stated, “The guilty verdicts in the James Holmes murder trial and a Tennessee shooting re-enforce the need to tighten gun laws in order to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of those who pose a danger to society.” It pointed out that the number of mass shootings is almost tripling, and laws need to do something about this increase. Without any congressional action, President Obama could tighten gun sense protection through executive orders:

Help prosecutors go after black-market gun sellers: Although it is a federal crime to “engage in the business” of selling firearms without a license, the definition is too fuzzy to shut down most unlicensed dealers who flood the black market with guns that go to criminals. Only 18 states, recently including Oregon, require private sellers to run background checks on handgun sales.

Require the FBI to inform local law enforcement when someone fails a background check: Telling local law enforcement about people trying to buy guns who aren’t allowed to do so could raise red flags about potential crimes. For example, a man trying to buy a gun after a woman takes out a restraining order against him is committing a crime. Passing along that information could save the woman’s life.

Penalize states that fail to report to NICS in a timely manner: Many states are “irresponsibly slow” in reporting people barred from buying guns to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Withholding grant funds to states failing to report in a timely fashion could encourage a faster response.

Differentiate between private gun sales and licensed dealer sales: The FBI does not ask whether a sale is private or through a licensed dealer when a seller calls NICS for a background check. Better information would determine the success of stopping sales to people not allowed to buy guns from private individuals.

Prohibit dealers who lose their licenses from selling off stock through private sales: In 2006, DOJ allowed gun dealers who lose their licenses for violating gun sale regulations to sell their stock privately without background checks. A revision of the rule requiring the leftover inventory to be sold to another licensed dealer would remove the advantage of people who have already proved that they have acted illegally and irresponsibly. For example, a Baltimore dealer with more than 900 infractions of federal regulations was allowed to sell the remaining 700 guns with no background checks.

A study from Harvard University has shown the importance of these changes—and even more stringent gun sense laws. More guns equal more crime, including more firearm robberies, firearm assaults, and homicides by firearms. The rate of all homicides is two times higher in states with the highest number of gun owners. The new study compliments a 2013 study that increased gun ownership corresponds to an overall increased rate of non stranger homicides. A 2014 Boston University study shows that the overall homicide rate increases 0.7 percent for every one percent increase in gun ownership.

States with the highest numbers of gun owners had 6.8 times more firearm assaults than states with the lowest numbers of gun owners. Firearm homicides were 2.8 times higher. Additionally, the rate of firearm robberies was found to increase, point by point, in correlation to an increase in gun ownership. The theory that people are safer by buying more guns is wrong. Increased gun ownership preceded the increased crime rate, indicating that increased gun ownership leads to more crime.

The new study is one of many that show a correlation in recent years between increased gun ownership and increased crime rates. Last year a Stanford University study revealed that relaxed gun laws led to an increase in crime, instead of a decrease, in spite of NRA predictions that the opposite would happen. NRA focuses on just one study, conducted before the organization succeeded in deregulating firearms in large parts o the United States and at the same time that the NRA convinced Congress to cut off any funding for more research on the impact of these lax gun laws. The study negates the theory expressed on a right-wing blog that “the U.S. is just experiencing a run of phenomenal bad luck.”

On a day-to-day basis, people with guns in the United States are the greatest threat to other people in the U.S.—greater than Russia, China, North Korea, and ISIS, the threats listed by General Joseph Dunford, President Obama’s nominee to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.Every day 30+ people are murdered with guns in the United States. The five youth killed each day by gun violence is 11 times more than any other “high income” nation. The 33,636 killed by gun violence in this country in 2013 is more than the number killed by terrorists in the last 14 years, including 9/11. Only 48 have been killed since then by terrorism. Of these deaths from gun violence, about 20,000 are from suicide—fatal 85 percent of the time in contrast to the 3-percent fatality rate from pills.

Republicans reluctant to link themselves with gun sense laws include the presidential candidates. For example, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has failed to say whether he will to sign a bill, passed three weeks ago, to reduce gun possession by domestic abusers. After the woman’s death that moved the bill out of committee, Christie created a commission the night before he announced his campaign for president to determine if any state gun laws “infringe on New Jerseyans’ constitutional rights” and require modification. Gun groups oppose laws that bar suspected domestic abusers, abusers under protective orders, or convicted stalkers from owning guns. The proposed law would attempt to ensure that the subject of a restraining order actually surrenders his or her guns.

Republicans responded to the woman’s death with a bill to expedite the gun permitting process for victims of domestic abuse. A California shows that the percentage of women who purchased a handgun before being killed jumped to 45 percent from the 20 percent of women shot to death by an intimate partner.Christie supported the state’s tough gun laws until he considered a run for president when he vetoed the .50 caliber rifle ban in 2013.

The United States has a special department to protect people from terrorism but no department to protect people from gun violence. It’s time for an agency to coordinate efforts to keep the people within the United States safe from the clear and present danger from guns.

May 31, 2015

The ‘Christian’ Approach to Religious Freedom

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 8:43 PM
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Last Friday night, 250 armed people congregated outside of the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix, to “protest” the existence of Muslims and hold another cartoon contest depicting the Prophet Muhammed (عليه السلام).” Jon Ritzheimer, the organizer of the event, said it was meant to be a peaceful protest, but his Facebook post asked people to come armed. These persecuted Christians, as conservatives call themselves, wore shirts that said “F**K Islam and shouted insults. Others yelled about the United States being a “Christian nation.” The Muslims refused to engage, and the event dwindled down after four hours. The question is whether the protesters would have been called “terrorists” if Muslims had behaved this way outside a Christian church. How can young people in the U.S. respect anyone if they have people like this for role models?

gunnuts

Conservative Christians who want freedom from caring for the poor are reinterpreting Matthew 25:40: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Historically, the verse champions the needs of the poor, but Glenn Beck’s website, The Blaze, claims that the “least of these” refers to those poor beleaguered Christians who struggle to share their faith. Denny Burk, professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College (Louisville, KY), explanation shows how the phrase applies to Indiana’s Memories Pizza:

“This text is not about poor people generally. It’s about Christians getting the door slammed in their face while sharing the gospel with a neighbor. It’s about the baker/florist/photographer who is being mistreated for bearing faithful witness to Christ. It’s about disciples of Jesus having their heads cut off by Islamic radicals.”

Conservative “least of these” Christians pushing for extremist, discriminatory,“religious freedom” laws and—in Louisiana—an executive order will be unhappy to discover that they have energized the Wiccans, atheists, and Satanists.

Michael Newdow, who lost his 2005 battle to remove “under god” from the Pledge of Allegiance, is arguing that his religious freedom is violated by carrying money with the statement “In God We Trust.” He compares it to forcing a Christian to carry something that says, “Jesus is a lie.” People who mock Newdow should look at their ridiculous argument that baking a wedding cake for a gay couple means that the baker is participating in the wedding. Newdow wrote, “There is obviously no compelling government interest in having ‘In god we trust’ on our money.”

Currently the question of whether atheism is a “religion” is being determined case by case across the country, but two recent cases have come out on the side of yes. Warren (MI) was fined $100,000 for excluding an atheist from the city’s nativity display, and Madison (WI) voted “to add non-religion as a protected class” under its equal opportunity ordinances, the ones targeted by “religious freedom” laws. President Obama included “atheists” in his Religious Freedom Day address in 2014.

The Satanists have declared that the Supreme Court ruling in Hobby Lobby allows pregnant women to sue Missouri for its 72-hour waiting period for abortions. The case comes from a Satanist who lives hours away from the nearest clinic and works for hourly wages, making two trips over three days apart “imposes an unwanted and substantial burden on my sincerely held religious beliefs.” The Satanic Temple has already stopped a Florida school from its Religious Freedom Day in January after its proposal to participate in the event.

Wiccans claim that the religious freedom laws would allow them to use marijuana and currently banned psychotropic drugs. Those following the Wiccan religion could also refuse blood, DNA, urine, and Breathalyzer tests. Dancing naked in the street for celebration would also have to be allowed. Religious freedom would also allow schoolchildren to wear pentangle symbols.

Kenneth Smith from Harpers Ferry (WV) has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of his daughter claiming that evolution is a religion. According to Smith, teaching about evolution violates the separation of church and state. The daughter plans to be a veterinarian, and Smith also claims that the school is jeopardizing her ability to get into a good college to get her degree because her grades are contingent on learning about evolution “that doesn’t exist and has no math to back it.” Smith has also written a book, The True Origin of Man, to represent “the truth of man’s origins confirmed by D.N.A. mathematical and scientific facts.” You can get it on amazon.com.

Blocking a legal marriage in Alabama shows how the conservatives’ desire for “religious freedom” is a sham. Last February, the Rev. Anne Susan DiPrizio, a Unitarian minister, was at the Autauga County Probate Office when a State Probate Judge Al Booth refused to marry a lesbian couple with a legal marriage license. Booth had halted compliance with the federal court’s marriage equality order the day before. DiPrizio offered to marry the women, and Booth ordered her out of the building. He called six sheriff’s deputies, who arrested her and charged her with disorderly conduct. Last week she pled guilty and received a 30-day suspended sentence, 6 months of probation, and a $250 fine.

The last week goes down in the chronicles of conservative Christianity as the defense of the Duggars. Last Sunday I wrote about how 27-year-old Josh, the oldest of 19 Kids and Counting, sexually molested five females, four of them his sisters when he was 14 years old. Many in the Christian community rose in defense of Josh:

Jessa Duggar’s father-in-law:  The Duggar parents should be “commended” for the way they handled the situation. (Josh’s father concealed the crime for over a year before going to the police and lying to them about what had happened.)

Carrie Hurd, wife of Heritage Covenant Church Pastor Patrick Hurd: Josh was just “playing doctor” and it was no big deal.

“Creationist Activist” Eric Hovind, son of creationist theme park creator Kent Hovind in prison for conspiracy and mail fraud:  “If evolution is true, then there is no absolute right and wrong. If evolution is true Josh should not have admitted his faults over a decade ago because what one evolved bag of molecules does to another bag of molecules just doesn’t really matter.”

Mike Huckabee, GOP presidential candidate: “Good people make mistakes” and “being a minor means that one’s judgment is not mature.”

Blaze Blogger Matt Walsh, Blaze blogger: “[Progressives] are moral opportunists. They are the actual hypocrites.”

A few Duggar revelations during the past week:

Fox News spent less than two minutes covering the Duggar story between May 21 and May 25, with some of that time devoted to criticizing other networks for pointing out Josh’s connections with prominent politicians. Fox network Megyn Kelly will interview Josh’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, on Wednesday, and air the piece on Friday, June 5.

At least 20 advertisers have pulled commercials from the program including General Mills, Payless, Crayola, Pizza Hut, Choice Hotels, ConAgra Foods, Behr Paint, ACE Hardware, H&R Block, CVS, Party City, Keurig, Walgreens, Sherwin Williams, Jimmy Dean, Pure Leaf, Allstate Insurance, Ricola, HauteLook, and King’s Hawaiian. Continuing advertisers include Minute Maid, Arm & Hammer, Listerine, Oscar Mayer, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Firehouse Subs, and Lowes.

Jim Bob and Josh Duggar told Arkansas state trooper Joseph Hutchens that the abuse happened only once, through the girl’s clothing. Hutchens used that as the reason he only gave Josh a “stern talk.”

Josh sued the Arkansas Department of Human Services in 2007, nine months after a planned Oprah appearance led to an investigation into his crimes, to appeal the DHS decision from its investigation.

One of Josh’s victims was five years old or younger at the time of the molestation.

While campaigning for U.S. Senate, Josh’s father, Jim Bob, said, “Rape and incest represent heinous crimes and as such should be treated as capital crimes.” Knowing what he did about his son, he still said that Josh should be executed.

While TLC hasn’t said that it’s dropping 19 Kids and Counting, the Duggars’ adult and married daughters, Jessa and Jill, are talking about a spinoff series with their husbands Ben Seewald and Derick Dillard.

March 2, 2015

Send in the Clowns to CPAC

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference last week started with speaker Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) saying that the GOP needs to support and elect “principled, positive, and proven” conservative candidates instead of rewarding “the guy who can shout “freedom” the loudest.  In other words, stop sending in the clowns. Nobody took his advice.

Some CPAC messages: waterboarding works, the Muslim Brotherhood controls one-third of all mosques in the U.S., and the nation is currently experiencing Islam’s “third great jihad.”

tomi lahrenSouth Dakota TV host Tomi Lahren, 22, explained that women like Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren can be classified as male because they get attention through their words and wisdom. Then she said she wasn’t apologizing for being white and she’s rich because she grew up in South Dakota. She concluded, “Let’s look at the top three Democrats for 2016. You’ve got Hillary, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden? Old, rich, white, and if the pantsuit fits, male too?” She also doesn’t want the government near her body, so that would make her pro-choice if she thought about it. This may be a rising GOP star!

Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson said, “Bring your Bible to the Oval Office, and your woman, ’cause the hippies are coming to get you.” No one seems to know what he meant although the rest of the speech concerned the possibility of Republicans getting sexually transmitted diseases.

Heritage Foundation vice-president Jennifer Marshall said that the three legs of the conservative stool are marriage, small government and a stable economy because “the sexual revolution has made relationships between men and women much more challenging.” Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute followed up by saying that poverty can be erased “by having stable, two-parent households.” Poverty might be eradicated by just having “stable” households.

Donald Trump still questions the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate, and Rick Santorum gave a birtherism “joke”: “The president’s popularity is so bad around the world today that I heard this report from a source that the Kenyan government is actually developing proof that Barack Obama was born in America.” Both men were greeted with silence.

Trump also said he would be the best commander-in-chief because he has the best skills to negotiate with terrorists. Trying to follow the GOP mantra of non-negotiation, however, he said he would “hit [ISIL] really hard,” maybe with “some boots on the ground for a period of time until you get rid of the cancer.” Then he would put lots of sanctions on Iran despite Iran’s opposition to ISIL. As for the national debt, the man who has personally filed bankruptcy declared:

“I understand debt, I understand business better than anybody that’s ever run, in my opinion, for office. Nobody’s had the success, in a business sense that I’ve had. I know how to get rid of debt… and I would do it quickly.”

Governors don’t know enough about foreign affairs to be president, said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), trying to flaunt his personal knowledge. His strategy to defeat ISIL: defeat them “on the ground by a Sunni military force with air support from the United States.” Although a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he claims that the president doesn’t have a military strategy “because he doesn’t want to upset Iran.” ISIL and Iran are actually enemies, and Iran has already gone after ISIL targets. The president has already launched a military offensive against ISIL targets, as Rubio suggests. Rubio wants “a sustained air campaign,” increased  “efforts to equip and capacitate non-jihadists in Syria,” arming and supporting “forces in Iraq confronting it,” and work with “with nations in the region threatened by the Islamic State to participate in real efforts to defeat it”—everything that President Obama is already doing.

Triangulation in politics: exploiting public disapproval of both major parties by separating from both. Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) approach: GOP congressional leaders have sold out to Democrats on immigration, and people should support him because he’ll be farther right than all those Washington “politicians.” He wants everyone to stand up to the Republicans.

Sarah Palin inadvertently skewered leading GOP candidates for president when she said:

“It’s said that old men declare wars, and then they send the young ones to fight ‘em. So it’s the duty of he who sends them to actually make sure that we can win those wars. And it’s our duty to elect an honorable commander-in-chief who is willing to make the same sacrifices he sends others away to make.”

That lets out those who didn’t serve, some of whom actually dodged the draft: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and perhaps a few others.

The biggest reaction from the media, however, came from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s comparison of Wisconsin protesters and ISIL: “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.” Non-violent Wisconsin protesters didn’t hold hostages, behead people, or burn them alive; they just marched, chanted, held signs, and sang. Walker, however, equates U.S. citizens peacefully exercising their constitutional rights with violent terrorists killing people and blowing up the infrastructure.

joan walker

Walker’s spokesperson tried to cover for him by saying that he wasn’t comparing the protesters to ISIL, but Walker made the situation worse when he said, “That’s the closest thing I have in terms of handling a difficult situation, not that there’s any parallel between the two.” In other words, he admitted he has no experience with terrorism. Even Jim Geraghty wrote in the highly conservative National Review that “Walker doesn’t quite understand the complexity of the challenge from ISIS and its allied groups.”

Walker's protesters These are some of Walker’s ISIL look-alikes in Wisconsin. More images are available here.

tractorISIS

Walker’s CPAC comment followed his claim a week earlier that “the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime” was then-President Ronald Reagan’s move to break up the union for the air traffic controllers by firing about 11,000 of them during a 1981 strike. He explained that this event proved to countries throughout the world that “we weren’t to be messed with.” Walker, 47, missed two wars in Iraq, START treaties, Nixon in China, ending the Vietnam War, the Camp David Accords, negotiation of the Northern Ireland peace process, Osama bin Laden’s death, the Iranian hostage crisis, wars in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iran/Contra, and much more.  Foes around the world also didn’t stop “messing” with the United States after 11,000 people lost their jobs. Walker’s naïve statements show his approach toward foreign affairs.

http://www.alternet.org/world/guess-what-scott-walker-and-isis-have-common   Walker and ISIL militants have something in common: their hatred for unions. Walker may also not know that Reagan supported unions in other parts of the world.

Mark Salter, a top adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign added this comment to an article about Walker on Salter’s Facebook page:

“I want to like him but Scott Walker is kind of a dumb ass.”

Matt Taibbi called Scott Walker, “God’s Gift to the Democratic Party.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) came out the winner of the CPAC with over one-fourth of the votes. Koch-supported Walker got 21.4 percent among the 17 GOP contenders, and Cruz, with 11.5 percent, was third. Fourth and fifth were Ben Carson (11.4 percent) and Jeb Bush (8.3 percent). Some of his votes probably came from the people he bussed in from downtown Washington, D.C. The remainder of the wannabes got under 5 percent. Paul had a position that everyone can agree with: “It’s time for a new president.” That’s because of term limits for U.S. president. Of the 3,007 CPAC voters, 42 percent were students.

A report from Pew Research Center released last week shows that “majorities say the Democratic Party is open and tolerant, cares about the middle class and is not ‘too extreme.’ By contrast, most Americans see the G.O.P. lacking in tolerance and empathy for the middle class, and half view it as too extreme.”

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