Nel's New Day

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 8, 2018

DDT: Week 72 – The Dictator

Some people have taken offence at my use of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) , but the term now appears more frequently. From South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel editorial board:

“A dictator occupies the White House. That word should not be uttered lightly, but it defines with precision any head of state who, like Donald Trump, declares himself to be above the law.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer alluded to the “dictator” in DDT:

“[Trump] said he had the absolute power to pardon himself, and then a few minutes later he said that the special counsel is unconstitutional. He’s 0 for 2 on the Constitution. We do not have a dictatorship; the Founding Fathers did not want a king.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono (R-HA) said that DDT “thinks he is a dictator and king” and “afraid” of the Mueller investigation results.

DDT has proved his dictatorship by tweeting:

“I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”

And “… the appointment of the Special Councel [sic] is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!” [Congress passed a law allowing this ?

Sunday DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that DDT could shoot former FBI director James B. Comey in the Oval Office and not be indicted for any crime because he is the president. “In no case can [DDT] be subpoenaed or indicted.” In 1998, when Bill Clinton was president, Giuliani said that if the president is subpoenaed to testify, “he’s gotta do it. He has no choice.” The 1998 Giuliani also said:

“Under the criminal law, everyone should be treated the same. And I know there are some people that say the president should be treated stricter. … as far as the criminal law is concerned, the president is a citizen.”

About Giuliani’s comment that DDT can pardon himself, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said:

“If I were president of the United States and I had a lawyer that said I could pardon myself, I think I would hire a new lawyer.

Giuliani also trashed Stormy Daniels because she is a porn queen and sells her body. Megyn Kelly answered:

“Melania Trump is classy and gorgeous and I really admire her. But she has posed nude for GQ magazine back in 2000. And so to suggest that Trump would never respect, and that Giuliani wouldn’t respect, anybody who’s ever sold her body for sexual exploitation—I’m not comparing the two, posing nude is not the same as being a porn star. But, come on! Being an adult film star does not make you a liar.”

Not an elegant statement, but clear. And it’s not an attack on DDT’s wife; she did sell her body. DDT asked for the photographs, and the shoot was listed on his first White House website as one of her greatest achievements.

On Tuesday, DDT repeated his attacks on AG Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from any Russian issues and dumped on the DOJ Inspector General:

“What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey….”

DDT is pressuring Michael Horowitz to release negative information, but early reports about the investigation indicate no pattern of deception or intent to make personal use of classified information. Horowitz also concluded Comey should not have publicly re-opened the investigation into Clinton’s emails just ten days before the election. The report makes Rod Rosenstein’s cover story more accurate, but DDT has already negated that excuse for firing Comey by claiming that it was because of Russia. Thus the report provides more support for the belief that DDT’s election is illegitimate.

By Thursday, DDT accused President Obama of illegally transferring money to Iran and demanded an investigation. A two-year investigation by the Republican staff of a Senate panel released a report the day before DDT’s demands. It found no illegal action in arranging for Iran to obtain its own money in part of the Iran agreement. WaPo provided extensive details about the arrangement and gave DDT four Pinocchios for lying.

DDT claimed that Robert Mueller’s investigation has cost $17 million (equivalent to five weekends for DDT to play golf at Mar-a-Lago). Yet an examination shows that the costs were much less. In reporting costs, Mueller included DOJ employee costs that existed without the investigation that brings actual expenditures down to $7.7 million—a little above two weekends for DDT—compared to the $110.4 million paid to investigate Bill Clinton. No other investigator has added in costs for salary and benefit costs that would be paid anyway. The costs of investigating Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton $100 million—each!—without consideration for inflation or inhouse costs, and Congress is still investigating Hillary Clinton. DDT’s accusations that Mueller’s investigation costs up to $20 million and are exorbitant win him two Pinocchios for lying.

Unhappy about going to the G-7 summit in Canada, DDT left late for the Friday meeting and will skip the Saturday sessions to head to Singapore for his meeting with Kim Jong-Un. He’s in the midst of a contentious situation after putting tariffs on most of the allies, especially those represented at the summit, and he gave a full-throated support for the reinstatement of Russia, the country that meddled in U.S. elections, to the G-7 before he left for the summit. Russia was expelled from the G-8 in 2014 after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. At that time, the group became the G-7; DDT’s behavior may bring the group down to G-6. Putin is gloating about what he calls the U.S. “sanctions” on its allies, saying that it vastly decreases U.S. dominance in the world.

DDT has spent the week alienating allies, beginning with his response to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about how U.S. tariffs are for national security:

“Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?”

The British burned down the White House in 1812 when Canada wasn’t even a nation because the U.S. wanted tariff-free trade with Britain. Emmanuel Macron recommended a general rebuke at the summit to the U.S. and suggested that foreign leaders stop engaging with the U.S. until DDT is gone.

DDT’s trade wars have extended to North America, Europe, and large Asian countries. After Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met with China’s top economic official, Vice premier Liu He, China announced that its nation won’t be expanding imports from the U.S. if DDT follows through on his threat to tax billions of dollars of Chinese goods. Meanwhile China is glorying in the possibility that it will assume the past dominance that the United States has experienced. The World Bank warns that DDT’s trade wars can cause a decline as bad as or worse than the 2008 financial crisis, and congressional members are proposing a bill to block DDT’s tariff power. In its cover, The Economist indicated its concern about DDT’s foreign policy.

In his first 500 days, DDT has made only five international trips, the most recent one almost six months ago for a day at the World Economic Forum. VP Mike Pence was sent to meet with Latin American leaders in April, but Pence’s going to Canada was not an option after DDT and the GOP started worrying about Pence having more power than he does.

A DDT excuse about not wanting to face the allies he alienated at G-7 is getting ready for meeting Kim Jong-Un in Singapore. Reasons that this excuse is bogus:

  • DDT has done nothing to get ready to the meeting except its spectacle.
  • DDT has not convened any Cabinet-level meeting about the summit has been convened, indicating his reliance on improvisation at the meeting.
  • DDT has not presided over national security council officials for discussions.
  • DDT thinks he doesn’t need to prepare. DDT said, “I don’t think I have to prepare very much…. It’s about attitude.”

The meetings with Kim may not last long: DDT keeps saying that he’ll leave if he doesn’t immediately get what he wants from North Korea.

Melania Trump reappeared after 25 days and sat quietly next to DDT during his 16-minute FEMA briefing speech regarding hurricane preparedness: topics included his prowess at negotiating airplane deals, his popularity, his effective political endorsements, the GOP’s fortunes, Defense Department purchasing guidelines, dislike of magnetized launch equipment on aircraft carriers, love of coal, success in meeting with Kim Jong-Un,  praise for EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, and “the brand of the Coast Guard has been something incredible what’s happened.” About hurricanes, little, and deaths in Puerto Rico, nothing.

Democrats have the lead over Republicans in all demographic groups except white men who have not graduated from college (37 percent more supportive of the GOP than Democrats) and all whites (just three points separation). Republicans are losing among white college graduates by 24 points. In competitive House districts, almost entirely GOP held, voters will support a representative who promises to check DDT by 52 to 19 percent and one who opposed DDT more of the time by 55 to 28 percent. Voters have already flipped 42 GOP state seats to Democrats since DDT’s inauguration, including one in Missouri this past week. The GOP flipped seven seats from Democrats.

 

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