Nel's New Day

December 1, 2018

DDT: Week 97 – Revelations Increase Call for Revenge

Of this week’s bombshells for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), the biggest may be his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s admission that he lied about when DDT stopped trying to make financial deals in Russia. In 2016, while DDT was campaigning and saying he had nothing to do with Russia, he was negotiating a deal for a Trump Tower Moscow, including illegally working with a sanctioned bank because of money laundering and planning to give Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse to sweeten the deal. Cohen’s testimony also puts DDT’s family in legal danger because of their discussions about the deal. Last year, Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was only “peripherally aware” of the Moscow deal in 2016 and may have also lied to the House Intelligence Committee about the same issue. Cohen may also corroborate the key parts about DDT’s ties to Russia in the Steele dossier. New Yorker reporter Adam Davidson tweeted that “*any* significant real estate development in Moscow is, almost by definition, part of a money laundering scheme.”

DDT claimed that he could do business while campaigning for president, but he concealed his activities while repeatedly lying about them.  He tried to cover his activities by saying that he never cared about building in Russia, but he’s been working on the project for 30 years. DDT accused Cohen of lying but added “even if he was right.”

Another crisis for DDT was Russia’s firing on three Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait and seizing 24 sailors. Putin blamed Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko of creating the naval “provocation.” In response, Poroshenko, who accused Putin of trying to take the Sea of Azov, has called for martial law across Ukraine’s border regions for a month. Put has already taken Crimea and eastern Ukraine; now Ukraine claims that Russia is sealing off the Sea of Azov by blockading ports Mariupol and Berdyansk and preventing ships from going under the Crimean Bridge through the Kerch Strait. The EU called on Russia to release the ships and crews and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty; Poland wants new sanctions on Russia. Although DDT seemed to blame Ukraine and Russia equally for Russia’s attack, he finally canceled his meeting with Putin at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires (Argentina) this weekend. Both U.S. and world media, included in Russia, blamed the cancellation, on new revelations about DDT’s lying about his business affairs.

Putin, largely a pariah at the summit because of his attack on the Ukrainian ships, didn’t look happy to see DDT at the summit. Yet he greeted Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam (MBS) with a high five and big smiles. Even after intelligence shows that MBS was responsible for torturing and dismembering U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, DDT still denies that MBS had any involvement in the murder at the Saudi embassy in Turkey. DDT’s faithful sidekick John Bolton, national security adviser, refused to listen to the torture and dismemberment tape of Jamal Khashoggi because it wasn’t in English.

The real pariah at the summit, however, was DDT. U.S. former allies avoided him, and DDT was afraid to connect with his authoritarian friends. David Ignatius has provided a detailed background of MBS’ paranoid and violent move toward power that he compares to Saddam Hussein.

When DDT signed his new NAFTA with Mexico and Canada at the G20 summit, he claimed that the slightly revised and renamed trade agreement is monumental, but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pointed out that DDT’s tariffs hurt Canada and mentioned the loss of jobs at a Canadian General Motors factory. The agreement must still pass the Congress with a Democratic House and conservatives in both chambers who opposed the anti-discrimination provision against LGBTQ people.

Although DDT was supposed to talk at the summit with Xi Jinping, China’s president, about solving DDT’s trade Chinese trade war, DDT left early after the death of former President George H.W. Bush on Friday, claiming that he and Xi had declared a truce on the tariff problem. The stock market has been going up and down, based on how buyers perceive the tariff situation. China has found ways to avoid the new U.S. tariffs:

  • Avoid 25 percent tariffs on Maine lobster by getting them from Nova Scotia.
  • Buy more oil from Russia and Saudi Arabia.
  • Get soybeans from Brazil and Argentina.
  • Replace U.S.-made high-tech imports with those from Asia.

DDT blamed the struggles of the stock market and the GM layoffs on the Federal Reserve, especially his own appointee Chair Jerome Powell, yet Wednesday’s headlines stated that DDT might be making a deal with China about the tariffs, and the Dow skyrocketed more than 600 points. DDT is still trying to take credit for the stock market, claiming that it is up 13 points more than the 25 percent rise since he was inaugurated. Even so, the rise is less than that during President Obama’s first two years in office—33 percent.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was behind DDT’s selection of Powell, and DDT has another reason to dislike his hand-picked Treasury secretary. If Democrats request DDT’s tax returns, Mnuchin indicated that he will follow the law. Meanwhile DDT listens to Larry Kudlow for economic advice—the man who swore that there would be no recession just three months before Bear Stearns and the dominos began to fall. Faced with the disaster, he said, “Recessions are therapeutic.” The “therapy” of recessions may occur before the end of DDT’s first term.

DDT’s reputation with his base has been damaged by General Motors’ announcement that it is slashing 14,700 jobs—many in Michigan and Ohio—by eliminating 15 percent of its workforce in North America and closing four factories in the U.S. Offering buyouts to 50,000 salaried North American workers, GM stated that DDT’s steel tariffs cost them $1 billion. Traditional passenger cars went from 50 percent of GM U.S. vehicle sales in 2012 to 31 percent this year while SUV and pickup truck sales increased by 31 percent. The company also gained a massive tax break from the GOP cuts and failed to invest in U.S. jobs, choosing instead to build the Blazer in Mexico. DDT took the closures personally and threatened GM, saying that the company “better damn well open a new plant [in Ohio] very quickly.” He continued, “I love Ohio. I told them, ‘you’re playing around with the wrong person.’ ” He lied that he would eliminate tax credits for purchasing GM electric cars—only Congress can do that—and false accused GM of not paying back the bailout money the company received after the Bush recession.

Over a month ago, Ford announced 24,000 layoffs of its 202,000 worldwide workers and stated that DDT’s tariffs had lost the company $1 billion. It was producing 32.8 vehicles per employee compared to GM’s 52.7 vehicles per employee. The company also plans to switch to SUVs, CUVs, and pickups, leaving the only the Mustang in its passenger-car line-up. Even that car may disappear with China’s tariffs on U.S.-made vehicles.

More Russian connections for DDT:

Late night chats between DDT and friend Roger Stone may have covered WikiLeaks’ dropping bombshells from hacks into Clinton’s campaign, but Stone denies it “unless [Robert] Mueller has tape recordings of the phone calls.” Conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi gave WaPo an August 2, 2016 email in which Corsi told Stone that WikiLeaks was planning a major release of “very damaging” material, the day before a private Stone-DDT talk. Mueller may have evidence that Stone told Corsi to get him the WikiLeaks information and then funnel it to DDT’s campaign.

DDT’s chief defense lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has admitted that he received briefings from Paul Manafort’s attorneys while Manafort was supposedly cooperating with Mueller in conversations not covered by attorney-client privilege. A joint defense agreement exists only between people with common legal interests which Manafort lacked when he claimed he was cooperating with Mueller. Now DDT is suggesting that he may pardon Manafort, possibly as a reward for Manafort passing along confidential information. Manafort shouldn’t count on a pardon, however: he has already pled guilty to state crimes in California, New Jersey, and Virginia. DDT can pardon only federal crimes.

Despite at least 15 blanket denials from those involved, DDT’s campaign team had at least 92 contacts with Russia-linked operatives, and at least 26 high-level campaign officials and DDT advisors knew about these contacts, including three successive people who ran Trump’s campaign.

As more information is released about the Russian scandal, DDT’s tweets become more manic. Last Wednesday, he retweeted images of special counsel Robert Mueller, Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, President Obama, former AG Eric Holder, and former President Bill Clinton—all behind bars—and calling for the Democrats and law enforcement and intelligence officials to be imprisoned and claiming that they should have trials for treason. DDT fan Cesar Sayoc targeted many of these people with pipe bombs. He also falsely accused Mueller of “viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts” in exchange for “relief.” The desperate DDT is calling for more violence.

July 16, 2018

Helsinki: A Day That Will Live in Infamy

“Trump traveled to Finland, defended an American adversary, took cheap shots at Americans, and rejected the judgment of American intelligence professionals.”

That was a summary of today’s brief meeting between Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the man who may have given the presidency to DDT. 

[Five of DDT’s team from Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, on the left to DDT’s Chief of Staff John Kelly second from right all look as upset as many people watching the press conference.]

Three days before DDT journeys to Helsinki to present the United States as a gift to Vladimir Putin, 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted with hacking the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign before release the stolen emails to “interfere in the 2016” election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said he briefed DDT on the indictments earlier this week. Yet DDT continued to present the Russian scandal as a “witch hunt” and said that the Putin meeting would be “easier” than his participation in the NATO summit and visits in the UK. He also said that the DNC was to blame for the hacking because it didn’t have enough protection.

Hacking 76 emails occurred the same day—July 27, 2016—that DDT asked Russia to help his candidacy by finding the “missing emails. Russians also “hacked the website of a state board of elections and stole information related to approximately 500,000 voters, including names, addresses, partial social security numbers, dates of birth, and driver’s license numbers,” according to the indictment, as well as hacking “into the computers of a U.S. vendor supplying software that verified voter registration information for the 2016 U.S. elections.”

The Putin/DDT meeting followed DDT’s claim that the European Union is a “major global foe” to the U.S. About Putin, DDT had said:

“He’s a competitor. He’s been very nice to me the times I’ve met him. I’ve been nice to him. He’s a competitor. Somebody was saying, is he an enemy? He’s not my enemy. Is he a friend? No, I don’t know him well enough. But the couple of times I’ve gotten to meet him, we get along very well.”

DDT also referred to U.S. journalists as “the enemy of the people” while the reporters were on foreign soil. In commenting that both his parents were born in E.U. countries, DDT skipped over the fact that his grandfather was deported from Bavaria with his family because of DDT’s grandfather’s draft dodging. Nor did DDT tell the public that he told Theresa May to “sue the E.U. — not go into negotiations.”

An “ex-Republican” wrote:

“If Putin could have his wishes he’d wish for a  dysfunctional US – EU alliance, a breakup of NATO, a US trade war with Canada, Mexico, Europe and China, unenforced Russia sanctions, a widening US gap between rich and poor, more US investments in oil and coal, increased US debt and refusal to acknowledge Russian election hacking.”

What actually happened in Helsinki? Putin showed up late—just as DDT did for his dinner with UK PM Theresa May and tea with Queen Elizabeth II. Before the meeting, DDT blamed the U.S. for any problems with Russia. Putin said he didn’t have anything to do with the U.S. elections, and Trump agreed with him.  Asked if he wanted DDT to win the election, Putin said, “Yes, I did.” Putin also indicated that he told his people to help DDT win.

At the press conference, DDT sided with Russia over the U.S. law enforcement, saying that didn’t see “any reason” why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election. He also leaped into a question to Putin about Russian election meddling by rambling about Hillary Clinton’s email server and his electoral college votes:

 “My people came to me…they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server, but I have confidence in both parties…what happened to the server?”

Going into the one-on-one meeting, the participants differed in their hopes of achievement:

Putin: lift sanctions by the U.S. and its (former?) allies, pull back NATO forces near Russia’s borders, accept Syrian army deployment on the Israeli border, reinstate business as usual with Moscow, get the U.S. to acknowledge Russia’s influence over its former Soviet neighbors, and recognize Russia as a global player.

DDT: “start a discussion.”

A prime goal for the U.S. could be to address Russian meddling in U.S. elections, which continues, as well as Russian explorations in vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure and attempts to infiltrate energy, water, nuclear, and manufacturing sectors. Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, said that cyberattacks on the United States put the nation into as much danger as it was before 9/11. Yet DDT not only failed to criticize Russia for this meddling but also embrace the idea that Russia and U.S. work together in an investigation into these breaches—giving Russia more information to help them further meddle. [Coats issued a statement late today correcting DDT by stating that Russia definitely interfered with the U.S. election and continues its “efforts to undermine our democracy.”]

In the Helsinki meeting, DDT has continued his slogan of “Russia First.” He has abandoned U.S. international influence by leaving the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Iran nuclear deal, Paris Climate Agreement, and UN Human Rights Council while threatening to leave the World Trade Organization and NATO.  He has further weakened U.S. global power and expanded that of Russia by cutting the State Department budget and foreign aid. His bullying has increased Russia in Central America where Russia is providing aid, reopening military bases, and building a satellite-tracking station to spy on the U.S. His rejection of Cuba allows Cubans to turn back to Russia. And he has alienated all U.S. allies with trade tariffs and insults.

Before and during the Helsinki meeting, DDT showed nothing but weakness. His words showed helplessness in trying to get Putin to stop meddling—if, indeed, DDT might not believes Putin’s denials. DDT said, “What can I do” if Putin denies meddling. “I don’t see any reason why” Russia would interfere in the election, DDT also said. Russians made DDT wealthy; he cannot cross them.

DDT is winning Republicans over to Russia. Forty percent of them now see Russia as “an ally or friendly” to the U.S., almost twice as many as four years ago. Those Republicans include seven senators and one representative who traveled to Russia on the Fourth of July to agree with officials that Russian election meddling—if any—wasn’t any problem. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Homeland Security Committee chair, summarized their attitude by saying that Russian interference in U.S. elections is “not the greatest threat to our democracy,” and “we’ve blown it way out of proportion.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), copying DDT in calling the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” and blaming Russian aggression on NATO, has also decided to go to Russia in search for “common ground.”

The conservative media disagrees with these legislators. DDT’s go-to people on Fox were dismayed with his “performance.”

  • Guest Mark Weinberg on Varney’s program: “Putin won. Trump missed the opportunity.”
  • Ashley Webster: “He outmaneuvered our president. I was very surprised. I thought Trump was going to
  • Neil Cavuto: “[The performance was] “disgusting.”
  • John Roberts: “There is a growing consensus across the land tonight … that the president threw the United States under the bus.”
  • Brian Kilmeade about DDT’s tweet about U.S. horrible relationship with Russia: “That’s by far the most ridiculous tweet of late.”
  • Brit Hume: “Trump is unable to see past himself.”

Ultra-right Drudge Report’s lead headline, “Putin Dominates in Hel,” was accompanied by DDT’s awkwardness.

Jay Nordlinger wrote for the conservative National Review:

“Putin’s Russia is a dictatorship that kills critics, violates borders, interferes in democratic elections, etc. — and that’s why relations between it and the United States, a great liberal democracy, are bad. Also, the Mueller team has just indicted twelve GRU agents. Does our president think that’s the fruit of a ‘Rigged Witch Hunt’?”

Other responses from conservatives:

  • Meghan McCain, John McCain’s daughter: “I’m horrified!”
  • Abby Huntsman, a conservative commentator and daughter of US ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman: “No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus”.
  • Newt Gingrich: DDT’s statements on intelligence agencies are “the most serious mistake of his presidency.”

And GOP members of Congress:

  • Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE): “This is bizarre and flat-out wrong.”
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): ” I’d check the soccer ball [that Putin gave Trump] for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.”
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin.”
  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC): “Vladimir Putin is not our friend and never has been.”
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI): “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.
  • Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX): “I’ve seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people over my professional career and I never would have thought that the US President would become one of the ones getting played by old KGB hands.”
  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), daughter of former VP Dick Cheney: “I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia.”

U.S. handoffs to North Korea with nothing in return set up the scene for DDT’s meeting with Putin. Just the meeting, like DDT’s meeting with Kim Jong-Un, makes Putin the winner in what DDT erroneously calls a “summit.” Having a diplomatic meeting and not giving away U.S. activities for nothing may not be a problem; DDT’s meeting with Putin displayed neither of these. DDT’s creation of chaos by attacking Europe and starting a trade war with closest allies of the U.S. has already made Putin the victor. Now that DDT has trashed the U.S. with his pandering to Kim Jong-Un of North Korea and Vladimir Putin of Russia, he plans to talk to the Taliban. What can go wrong?

February 17, 2018

DDT: Weeks 55/56 – From ‘Treason’ to ‘Trumpgust’

 One year ago yesterday, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gave his only press conference since inauguration. George W. Bush gave five during his first year, and Barack Obama gave eleven. Almost two years ago, DDT tweeted:

“Crooked Hillary Clinton has not given a press conference in more than seven months. Her record is so bad she is unable to answer tough questions!”

Instead of being accountable for directly lying to the people, he leaves the job to staff like Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. His rally speeches give him the chance to spread falsehoods with no questions from the media. Six days after his mildly “presidential” State of the Union address, DDT released his vitriolic anger in a speech to Ohio workers. At the rally, supposedly about the tax bill and the economy, he launched into a furious attack of Democrats as “treasonous” and “un-American” because they did not clap for him at his address the week before. [Treason, as defined in the Constitution, “shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”] Masha Gessen compared DDT’s fixation on applause to that in the Soviet Union.

“Whether I chose to applaud or not applaud is a First Amendment right that our forefathers wrote down and that generations before me have sacrificed many a life for,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “And I would just say the president’s out of line with that statement.” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in battle, tweeted that she didn’t swear an oath “to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.” Four of DDT’s draft deferments during the Vietnam War were for college and the fifth for bone spurs in his heels.

As he bragged about the stock market during the speech, the television screen showed the Dow Jones plummeting 1,177 for the day on top of the 666-point loss the Friday before. [Later DDT, who took credit for the stock market growth, said that it is now rigged against him.]

During his speech, DDT became almost incoherent with a reference to the GOP-drafted memo claiming FBI bias:

“Oh, but did we catch them in the act or what? You know what I’m — oh did we catch them in the act. They are very embarrassed. They never thought they were going to get caught. We caught ‘em! We caught ‘em. It’s so much fun. We’re like the great sleuth.”

DDT told the workers that they would get “thousands and thousands of dollars, and you’re getting it every year,” but a few fortunate ones are getting $1,000 bonuses, $.30 a day for the next ten years. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called that “crumbs,” compared to the tens and hundreds of thousands—and even millions—of dollars given to the wealthy and large corporations, but Sheffer CEO Jeff Norris said that “we consider [the bonus] fine dining.”

Unable to let go of his obsession about his former rival Hillary Clinton, DDT ranted about her destroying discarded smartphones with hammers while she was secretary of state five years ago. Guidelines mandate destruction of discarded technology for security reasons.

Earlier that day, DDT enthusiastically—and erroneously—tweeted that UK people were marching because “their [universal healthcare] system is going broke and not working.” The marches were in support of the National Health Service and calling for more funding.

Two days after his speech, DDT said in the midst of a bipartisan congressional near-agreement for a two-year spending bill, “I’d love to see a shutdown.” He got his wish because Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY decided to hold the Senate floor, but it was over in five hours. The bill that ended the shutdown is another “continuing resolution” until March 23, the deadline for Congress determining the specifics of the two-year spending plan.

The little boy in DDT has also demanded a military parade in Washington with costs for heavy tanks damaging streets and movement of equipment to that location while taking the military away from their responsibilities.  The parade will cost taxpayers between $10 million and $30 million. George H.W. Bush’s military parade is a precursor of DDT’s disaster. VP Mike Pence criticized North Korea’s military parade but praised one in the United States.

DDT’s latest infrastructure week was again a disaster, marred by talk about sexual misconduct, missing security clearances, and a horrific school shooting. He waited almost 400 days to announce that he expects states to assume over 80 percent of the costs, a reversal from the past when the federal government provided 80 percent of funding. The $200 billion budgeted for infrastructure for an effort that will cost trillions is offset by his removal of $281 billion from transportation—a loss of $81 billion.

Congress contributed to the disasters of the past week. With a vote of 225-192, the House removed business incentives for improving access for disabled people in the Disabilities “Reform” Act. Twelve Democrats supported the discrimination with 19 Republicans in opposition.

Despite a bipartisan compromise between party leaders, both congressional chambers failed to move forward with an immigration bill. The conservatives want nothing to do with helping DACA recipients, and DDT has refused to sign anything that doesn’t give him $25 for his wall.  Yesterday legislators went home for a week’s vacation, and the State Department closed one-third of its refugee settlement offices across 24 states.

After a year, the disposition of some inaugural funds shows one-fourth of the $107 million went to Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Melania Trump’s friend, who got almost $26 million entertainment, staffing, and a $1.62 for her consultation and executive production. Another $25 million went to event company Hargrove Inc. of Maryland.

(Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

VP Mike Pence embarrassed the United States at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The man who claims to be a Christian sat next to Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister, but refused to even acknowledge her. Pence, who spent taxpayer money to fly across the continent twice in one day to walk out of a sports event after athletes protested, refused to stand when the North Korea and South Korea athletes entered the stadium under their flag. Before the opening ceremonies, Pence kept claiming that the North was trying to “hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games” with its “propaganda,” and he stayed at a VIP reception for less than five minutes. DDT accused Democrats of being “treasonous” because they sat at his address like “death.” Pence looked like “death” at the Olympics and missed the chance to represent sportsmanship and unity that DDT says he wants at U.S. sports events.

DDT got a lot of political play for a border wall by claiming last year that a Border Patrol agent was killed by undocumented immigrants, but the FBI determined that Rogelio Martinez died of an accident after the agencies mobilized 37 field offices in an investigation.

FEMA chalked up another loss; the government agency gave Tribute Contracting LLC a $156 million contract to deliver 30 million meals to people in Puerto Rico. The Atlanta company provided 50,000 meals. It has at least five canceled government contracts, and the company, with only one employee, has no experience coordinating large-scale disaster relief. At least 20 percent of Puerto Rican residents still lack power five months after Hurricane Marie.

The Koch-backed organization National Federation of Independent Business is promoting flu across the nation. They are fighting a Maryland law, passed over the governor’s veto, and an ordinance up for vote in Austin (TX) allowing workers to earn paid sick leave. Flu infection rate decrease with sick days, and two-thirds of restaurants and cooks have served or cooked foot while ill. The organization complain about job-killing costs while they push a policy that is people-killing.

ICE has rescued “Amuricans” from another “bad hombre.” Syed Ahmed Jamal, 55, was taken away from his front yard in Lawrence (KS) without permission to say goodbye to his wife and three children.  Over 30 years ago, he came from Bangladesh on a student visa and earned graduate degrees in molecular biosciences and pharmaceutical engineering. He changed to an H-1B visa for highly skilled workers and then back to a student visa when he enrolled in a doctoral program. He was on a temporary work permit, teaching chemistry as an adjunct professor at Park University in Kansas City and conducting research at local hospitals, when he was arrested for deportation. “Amuricans” may think they are a bit safer today because this man is captured.

A 1946 law and its regulations allow ICE agents to search any vehicle within 100 air miles of a land or sea boundary. That covers almost two-thirds of the U.S. population—over 200 million people. Agents can have permanent and temporary checkpoints within that area.

Trumpgust” reveals that DDT’s “combover” is far more extensive than most people know.

The number of states where conservatives outnumber liberals declined in 2017 to the lowest in Gallup’s trend since 2008.

February 18, 2017

DDT: Week Four – Part 2

The news from the past week wasn’t all bad for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Some of it will make life more difficult and dangerous for the people in the United States.

Two-State Solution?: A future Palestinian state may have completely disappeared this week as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said during a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he doesn’t care whether there is a two-state or a one-state solution. “I like the one that both parties like,” DDT said. The statement conflicts with a half-century of work for a two-state solution although he followed—albeit very mildly—the five-decade policy of presidential opposition to Israeli settlement on Palestinian land. The usual bombastic DDT was quite mild with Netanyahu, especially when he said, “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.”

DDT also didn’t say he supported moving the U.S. embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a city that is partly Palestinian, but he has appointed David M. Friedman as Ambassador to Israel. Friedman has openly said that supporters of a two-state solution are worse than Nazi collaborators. He strongly supports the Israeli seizure of privately-owned Palestinian land and has financially invested in the illegal settlement enterprise in the Israeli-occupied, Palestinian-owned West Bank where Palestinians live under a half-century 50-year military occupation. DDT and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, along with Kushner’s family who are on the organization’s founding board of trustees, have donated to American Friends of Beit El Institutions, a group opposed to the two-state resolution. Kushner is in charge of peace negotiations between Palestine and Israel. “There’s no need to worry about the First Amendment,” said Friedman about the Muslim ban when he claims that immigrants applying for entry to the U.S. don’t have “the rights of free speech and privacy.”

DDT’s First Big Bill—Supporting Oil Industry: One in a series of regulatory rollback bills, a regulation requiring oil and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments is the first to fall under the hatchet of DDT’s signature. The oil and gas industry, including Secretary of State and Exxon-wealthy Rex Tillerson, is delighted because they can hide their business in Russia. DDT claimed that the bill will bring back jobs, showing that he has no idea what he has signed. He had the same problem with the order he signed that allows financial advisors to steal from investors. In his written response to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson acknowledged:

“Part of my job…will be to make sure that because American companies, NGOs and development relief efforts are expected to play by the rules and abide by [the Cardin-Lugar rule]…and other laws, that foreign companies or investors do not get an unfair advantage by cheating or keeping to a lower standard.”

Now the oil industry–and Tillerson–will use its deep swamp to easily hide bribery from foreign countries.

GOP Promotion of Coal Mining Waste in Streams: In its enthusiasm to overturn everything that President Obama did to help people, Congress is using the Congressional Review Act to destroy the nation. The right-to-bribery oil bill was the first; the second is to allow coal companies to dump their debris in waterways. DDT said he will save “many thousands American jobs” by making water unusable. The plan doesn’t increase the number of jobs: it just allows miners to continue burying streams by blowing off the tops of mountains, causing higher rates of cancer and heart disease. Thus far, Appalachia has seen 2,000 miles of streams ruined; the new law will allow another 6,000 miles of streams to suffer from the debris. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said, “If you want to help miners, then come address their health and safety and their pension program.” There was no evidence that this help for miners will occur.

Guns for the Mentally Disabled: The next time that the NRA speaks about a high profile mass shooting, someone will say, “The problem isn’t guns, it’s mental illness. We just need to keep guns out of the wrong hands.” Four Democrats and an Independent joined GOP senators to reverse an Obama regulation that referred a small number of people to the FBI background check system to prevent them from buying guns. This population is composed of people applying for Social Security disability benefits because of a mental condition and incapable of managing their own finances. President Obama used George W. Bush’s National Instant Criminal Background Check Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 for the regulation. DDT will most likely sign this bill next week.

Russia Feeling Brave?:  The country’s recent deployment of a ground-launched cruise missile violates the Cold War-era arms control treaty. A Russian intelligence ship was also seen 30 miles from the Naval Submarine Base in New London (CT), 18 miles out in international waters. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has expressed concern about the ship in connection with Russia’s firing the missile and the Russian aircraft buzzing a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea. He tweeted, “Russia is acting like it has a permission slip to expand influence, test limits of reach. Questions are obvious: does it, and if so, why?”

House Oversight Committee Rejection of Flynn’s Possible Treason: Top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), said that more information about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s talks with the Russians is upcoming and that these conversations are not covered by executive privilege. Flynn would have to answer questions in congressional investigations if Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) changed his mind about not investigating Flynn’s possible acts of treason. The GOP House just wants to “move on.” Chaffetz is now focused on investigating Sid the Science Kid. GOP senators appear to have more interest in investigations, but they have caved on issues before. Chaffetz did ask DDT for an accounting of security measures during his talk with Abe at Mar-a-Lago. (A few months back, Chaffetz said that he could never look his daughters in the face if he support Donald Trump.)

Immigration Abuse: DDT’s Muslim ban has been blocked, but border agents are still targeting people protected by the Dreamer act, falsifying records to keep innocent people in detention, targeting people from countries other than the “Muslim ban,” lying to get travelers to give up visas and green cards, hiding people in detention, detaining U.S. citizens who work for the government, etc. The new immigration tactics will vastly increase domestic abuse after officials detained an undocumented woman at the El Paso County Courthouse when she got a protective order against her abuser. In the past, the United States had given victims of domestic violence the option of protection through the U Visa if they cooperated with law enforcement. The officials picked up the woman on a tip from her abuser after he was arrested, creating a practice giving great control to an abusive person. DDT said he had promised “to get the bad ones.”

The Return of J. Edgar Hoover Tactics: DDT may be keeping dossiers on journalists, congressional members, and other influential people who don’t agree with him. White House reporter April Ryan stated that Omarosa Manigault, White House communications official “physically intimidated” Ryan as well as making verbal threats including the assertion that DDT officials had collected “dossiers” of negative information on her and several other journalists. White supremacist and DDT’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has asked people to dig for dirt on at least four Democrats who Bannon worries about participating in the 2020 presidential election: Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Murphy wrote that the White House “scouring my background” is a “compliment.”

japan-prime-ministerOne piece of humor from this past week was the look on Japanese Prime Minister Abe after an enforced 19-second handshake with DDT. Check the video out! People have started paying more attention to DDT’s handshakes than what he says. For example, the one with his Supreme Court Justice nominee made Neil Gorsuch look particularly pained. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was prepared: he strong-armed DDT and quickly took his hand back.

trump-to-great

You could also have gotten the above DDT inauguration print from the Library of Congress for only $16.95, but it’s been pulled—maybe because of the typo? The Internet, however, never forgets!

September 1, 2015

Don’t Follow Netanyahu into War

Thirty-three senators now support the President of the United States in agreeing to the Iran deal to keep the country from putting together nuclear weapons. To avoid an override of the proposed “resolution of disapproval” to stop the P5+1 agreement among seven countries of the world, President Obama needs one more senator to support the deal. Despite the tens of millions of dollars from anti-Iran deal groups advertising its dangers, a survey shows a majority of people in the U.S.—52 percent—want approval for the agreement. Nearly 7 in 10 Democrats support the deal that lifts some international sanctions against Iran in exchange for the country restricting its nuclear program for at least a decade. Six of 10 independents support the deal while almost 7 in 10 Republicans oppose the agreement.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called a “jackass” in a public meeting last weekend, has invited another GOP presidential candidate, Donald Trump, to join him in opposing the Iran deal at a rally on Capitol Hill. Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, considered too conservative by the ultra-conservative Fox network, will be at the September 9 event. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is continuing his possibly treasonous behavior by meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday and stating, “I will stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel.” He tweeted a photo of himself and the Israeli prime minister, writing: “Great meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem to discuss our opposition to the #IranDeal.”

cotton

Last year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) worked against U.S. foreign policy during the migrant-children crisis. Other GOP lawmakers have also promised their allegiance to Israel. Five years ago, then-Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) promised Netanyahu that the new GOP majority in the house would “serve as a check” on the Obama administration. In 2006, Cantor is the same member of Congress who accused then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of violating the Logan Act, “which makes it a felony for any American ‘without authority of the United States’ to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States.” Cantor’s accusation came after Pelosi’s meeting with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad which she coordinated with Bush administration officials and where she included State Department personnel. Dick Cheney, the past vice-president who plans to attack President Obama at the September 9 rally, said of Pelosi, “The president is the one who conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.”

Nine years ago, Al Gore criticized George W. Bush’s government “abuses” against Arabs after the 9/11 attacks when he spoke at a conference in Saudi Arabia. The conservative media attacked him, one claiming that Gore had committed “supreme disloyalty to his country.” Even worse to these writers was that his speech was “in front of an audience that does not vote in American elections” and “subversive … because of its location and its intended audience.” In 2007, John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, insisted, “I would simply hope that people would understand that, under the Constitution, the president conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.”

Now Republicans not only meet with foreign leaders to undermine the U.S. policy but also brag about doing it. Instead of being criminal, Cotton’s seditious behavior seems to be almost routine.

Netanyahu, the man who leads U.S. GOP congressional members, began his rise in 1996 after his opponent’s assassination. Fired up by the Oslo Accords, a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, Israeli settlers elected Netanyahu to avoid diplomacy and stop a Palestinian state. War mongering Richard Perle, advisor to Netanyahu’s campaign, headed the committee to write the strategy calling for a stop to diplomacy with Palestine and control the neighborhood by undermining, subdividing, or destroying Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Thanks to George W. Bush, only one of these three countries can still block Israel’s destruction of Palestinians. Since Barack Obama’s first election as president, Netanyahu has fought him with political assaults, international incidents, speeches to the U.S. Congress and the UN, and stories about the president’s lack of support for Israel.

The prime minister, who depicts Iran as a military aggressor, was close to attacking Iran three separate occasions between 2010 and 2012, the last of the three in an attempt to defeat President Obama for a second term. Fortunately, even far-right cabinet ministers or the military chief of staff blocked him.

Iran has not attacked another country in a conventional war in modern history. In contrast, Israel has a history of aggression in just a half century including preemptive wars in 1956, 1967, 1982, 2009 and 2014. The 1982 Israeli attack on Lebanon led to an 18-year occupation of ten percent of Lebanon. Lebanese Shiites formed Hezbollah to resist Israeli oppression, but Iran’s support is considered by the U.S. and Israel as “support for terrorism.” U.S. and Israeli support for the Israeli illegal invasion and occupation is considered standard operating procedure.

Israel has several hundred nuclear warheads, whereas Iran has none, but Iran has been sanctioned for its civilian nuclear enrichment program for generating electricity. No one knows how many nuclear weapons are located in Israel because it refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Netanyahu has consistently refused to broker peace with the Palestinians and forced out officials, such as Meir Dagan, head of the Israeli spying agency Mossad; the chief of staff; and the head of domestic intelligence. Netanyahu spread fear throughout the world by grossly exaggerating Iran’s threat, according to Dagan.

Netanyahu badly needs a GOP president because a Democratic one might not veto UN sanctions against Israel for failing to follow international law. Israel has violated many UN Security Council resolutions through its treatment of the stateless Palestinians, the status of Jerusalem, etc. Iran’s economy has been badly damaged by UNSC sanctions while Israel has not received any punishment thus far because the U.S. has vetoed sanctions against Israel, regardless of the cases’ merits. If the U.S. administration no longer exercises its veto, Israel could be forced into making peace.

Israel is also afraid of the UN recognizing Palestine, which has already been granted non-member observer state status by the General Assembly. Palestine has signed the treaties and instruments necessary to joining the International Criminal Court and gaining standing to sue Israel over its creeping annexation of Palestinian territory beyond the generally recognized 1949 armistice lines. The Rome Statute of 2002 under which the International Criminal Court operates, forbids colonization of other people’s territory. Israel could lose if Palestine sues.

The vast majority of Israel’s defense and security establishment support the Iran agreement, but Netanyahu has put them under a gag order. In a recent article for The Daily Jewish Forward, J.J. Goldberg wrote, “As unanimous as the politicians are in backing the prime minister, the generals and spymasters are nearly as unanimous in questioning him. Generals publicly backing Netanyahu can be counted on—well–one finger.” The U.S. media has avoided providing information that is well-known in the Israeli press and in a U.S. Jewish paper.

Republicans are so eager to spread propaganda against the Iran deal that Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) is terrifying second and third graders in Gilbert (AZ). He was supposed to talk to them about how bills became laws, but he moved into his opposition to the Iran agreement. According to parent Scott Campbell, Salmon explained the situation in Iran and then asked the children such questions as “Do you know what a nuclear weapon is? Do you know that there are schools that train children your age to be suicide bombers?” Campbell’s daughter told her father that she didn’t know what suicide is and that she is very afraid. Salmon’s office said the congressman’s remarks weren’t any more shocking than the local news.

Israel wants the United States to attack Iran, the Republicans want to destroy the Democrats, and the people of the U.S. are the ones left to suffer the economic and human losses that result from Israel’s determination to dominate the world. People who oppose Israeli positions are accused of being anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism is NOT criticizing Israelis for what they do, such as defying more UN resolutions than Iraq, spying on P5+1 negotiations and then leaking the information, committing war crimes, rejecting politicians for their loyalty to a foreign power, and trying to get the United States to go to war just to benefit Israel.

March 12, 2015

Infamous 47 Senators Face Backlash over Treasonous Letter

The past week has seen news issues such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email, two drunken Secret Service agents disturbing a crime scene at the White House, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott preventing state EPA officials from uttering the term “climate change.” All these major stories, however, have been eclipsed by the letter that 47 GOP Senators sent to Iran in an effort to either join Iranian hardliners in their effort to stop negotiations stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons or undermine the White House administration in working for a peaceful resolution with Iran.

Sen. Tom Cotton, the attempted coup’s leader, received $13.9 for his senatorial campaign, much of these funds from Israeli hard-line sources, almost $1 million from the Emergency Committee for Israel, that support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in going to war with Iran. Cotton has also called for supplying Israel with B-52s and so-called “bunker-buster” bombs for a possible strike against Iran. He has had a good week, going to the top of TV bookers’ lists and being sought out by colleagues on foreign policy. As such, he finds himself in “tall cotton,” a farmer’s term for success from good prices for crops. The attention, however, may come from his idiocy. Cotton is not known for his connection with reality and even takes pride in his ability to lie to the public. While a U.S. representative, Cotton told uninsured people not to use the health care marketplace because their personal information would be “stolen by Russian mobsters.” Others, however, may suffer from the continuing outrage about the senators’ treasonous action.

Lacking any sense of propriety, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) used the letter for fundraising.  A communication from his “Reclaim American PAC” stated that a $25 donation “will allow us to immediately fight back against these outrageous attacks [against the letter signers].” He should instead be apologizing for telling Secretary of State John Kerry that the U.S. can’t fight ISIS because the president is afraid of antagonizing Iran. Rubio said, “Tell me why I’m wrong.” Kerry did. “Because the facts completely contradict that,” he said, before he offered more details in a classified session. ISIL is a threat to Iran, and the country appreciates the U.S. campaign against the terrorists. Rubio repeated his false theory, and Kerry described it as “flat wrong,” following the statement with information about his meeting with King Solomon who supports U.S. actions against ISIL.

Facing the outrage across the country, other senators are trying to cover their sabotage like a cat in its sandbox. Republican aides tried to excuse the letter as a lighthearted attempt to show Iran that Congress should have a part in the negotiations. Other aides described it as a “cheeky” reminder of congressional rights, accusing the administration of having “no sense of humor.”

Failing in this tack, the GOP blamed President Obama for their letter. If he had consulted legislators or not threatened a proposed bill to give them the final vote on the agreement, they wouldn’t have had to write the letter, they said. This argument  also came from both Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who did not sign the letter, and hopeful GOP presidential candidate, Jeb Bush.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) admitted that the letter might not have been the best idea. He also said, “I saw the letter, I saw that it looked reasonable to me and I signed it, that’s all. I sign lots of letters.” Next time he might want to actually read what he signs. His next excuse was that “everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said he signed it to “strengthen the president’s hand.” He has lost any credibility as a non-interventionist, non-nation builder libertarian Republican by saying that he wants to create a new nation for the Kurds by giving them arms. He wants a new independent country, Kurdistan, by redrawing borders of Syria and Iraq. This claim came two weeks after he told Tea Party libertarians that the GOP should stop attempts at international nation building.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) might want to reconsider her signature; as an active duty lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard, she may have violated her state’s Code of Military Justice, specifically, Chapter 29B.85:

“Any person subject to this code who uses contemptuous words against the president, the governor, or the governor of any other state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which that person may be serving, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

Chapter 29B.1 notes that “this chapter applies to all members of the state military forces, while not in federal service.” Thomas Jefferson, one of the constitutional founders who Ernst reveres, wrote, “[The president] being the only channel of communication between this country and foreign nations, it is from him alone that foreign nations or their agents are to learn what is or has been the will of the nation….”  An Iowa National Guard representative said that Ernst is an on active duty, but Ernst claimed on CPAC that “today I serve as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.”

Before the letter, some Democrats had considered joining GOP senators to pass a bill requiring more sanctions against Iran. The plan that would kill Iranian negotiations is likely dead.

Historically, the GOP has fought congressional interference with White House foreign policy. In 1986, then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, joined by Cotton’s letter signer Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), insisted that President Reagan had the constitutional authority to ignore the congressional ban on aid to the Nicaraguan Contras. That was when Reagan provided weapons to Iran in its war with Saddam Hussein, who was backed by the United States at that time. Cheney’s support of the president’s constitutional powers applied to all issues and all occupants of the White House:

“[C]ongressional overreaching has systematic policy effects…. Congress’ efforts to dictate diplomatic bargaining tactics, as well as the efforts by individual members to conduct back channel negotiations on their own, make it extremely difficult for the country to sustain a consistent bargaining posture for an extended time period, whomever the President and whatever the policy.”

A fact-check pointed out the flaws in Cotton’s letter. President Obama is working on an “executive agreement,” not a treaty, and the Supreme Court has ruled that the president has authority to carry these out. Cotton maintains that future Congresses could “modify” the agreement, but the agreement would be supported by five permanent UN Security Council members plus one: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, plus Germany. Modification requires all signers to agree to changes. Even if Congress demanded this action from the United States, at least 67 senators would have to vote in favor of this to override a veto, an unlikely number now and perhaps less likely after the 2016 election which could lose some GOP senatorial positions. Even with a GOP president, the action would require 60 votes.

Reneging on an executive agreement may violate international law, and doing so would certainly endanger the nation’s diplomatic credibility. At this time, 95 percent of international agreements are done through executive agreements; reversing one of these would create global doubt to the United States commitment to most of the existing international agreements.

Asked about the letter from the infamous 47, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, responded that “in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy.  It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.  This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.”

Zarif expressed the same astonishment that at least 22 major newspapers across the country expressed on their editorial pages. Like the media, Zarif pointed out that the senators fail to understand both international law and their own Constitution as it pertains to presidential powers in foreign policy.

As of this evening, a White House petition against the 47 letter signers has reached almost 260,000 signatures.

July 3, 2013

Whistleblowers & Privacy

When the Revolutionary War started 237 years ago, the issues had gone far beyond taxation. The British government had decided to rule the colonies through making appointments and then attempted to take over part of Quebec, threatening the Protestant population. In addition, it increased the level of income inequality through financial regulations that moved more wealth to the rich people and corporations of England. The real anger felt by the American colonists was toward Parliament’s corporate bailout and not taxation.

The British East India Company was given preferential treatment in import taxes and given a monopoly for their tea shipped to the colonies, undercutting colonial business. Thus the Revolutionary War had to do with  a protest over government policies that benefited one business entity to the detriment of other businesses and individuals.

Freedoms in the constitution were hard-won. Since then, people called “whistleblowers” have tried to preserve these freedoms that corporations and Congress have worked to abridge. These are some of the people who changed the trajectory of the country through their actions:

Peter Buxtun: This VD investigator exposed the 40-year Tuskegee syphilis experiment conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service to study the progression of untreated syphilis in rural African American men who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government. After Buxtun went to the New York Times in the early 1970s, then-Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) called hearings, and the study was stopped.

Daniel Ellsberg: After serving many years in the military, Ellsberg released the “Pentagon Papers” to the New York Times in 1971. This classified document explained how the Johnson Administration lied to the public and Congress about the extent of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam during the previous 15 years. After the revelation of secret bombing missions in Cambodia and Laos, as well as coastal regions of Vietnam, the view of the war shifted into a growing opposition until the last U.S. troops were sent home within a few years.

Karen Silkwood: After telling the Atomic Energy Commission in 1974 about the grave dangers for worker safety at the nuclear power plant where she worked, Silkwood mysteriously died. An  investigation into nuclear power plant safety followed that resulted in plant closures and better procedures for workplace safety. Her experiences were detailed in the 1983 film Silkwood.

Deep Throat: A mysterious government informant revealed the connection between the Watergate break-in and President Nixon’s attempts to put political enemies under surveillance. The 1972 leaks to Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein led to the president’s resignation. The events were chronicled in the 1976 film, All the President’s Men. Thirty-three years later, former FBI Associate Director Mark Felt announced that he had been the mysterious “Deep Throat.”

Linda Peeno: Managed care came under scrutiny after Peeno revealed in a Congressional hearing how “managed care” in the healthcare industry succeeded by depriving patients of necessary treatment. Her testimony in 1996 led to reforms that provided the foundation for Obamacare.

Jeffrey Wigand: The tobacco executive caused CEOs of Big Tabacco to appear before Congress, thanks to his leaks to CBS’s 60 Minutes. The companies were successfully sued, and the government began to regulate tobacco advertising. The events were used for the film The Insider. 

Jennifer Long: The first IRS employers to show the widespread misconduct within the Internal Revenue Service, she first faced the possibility of being fired in 1997 before Congress passed laws giving taxpayers new powers.

Kathryn Bolkovac: In the early 2000s, this police officer worked with the U.N. in Bosnia. While there, she found that members of the peacekeeping forces were involved in sex trafficking, exploiting local women, and often coercing them into prostitution. She risked everything to come forward and reveal the abuses in court, by suing her employer. The 2010 film The Whistleblower tells her story.

Joe Darby:  The U.S. Army Reservist leaked photos and proof of U.S. military abuse at Abu Gharaib Prison during the Iraq war in 2004. He gave that information to Seymour Hersh, a journalist and the CBS News TV show, 60 Minutes II. Darby moved his family to a new town our of fear from retribution.

Coleen Rowley: The FBI agent came forward in 2011 to make public the government’s lack of interest in crucial intel that the Minnesota branch of the FBI had provided about terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui. Her testimony before the Senate and 9/11 Commission ultimately led to a drastic reorganization of the FBI’s structure.

Julian Assange and Bradley Manning: Wikileaks founder Assange worked with Army soldier Manning during the past two years to release thousands of classified diplomatic cables, probably the biggest leak of classified documents in U.S. history.

Edward Snowden:  Within the past few weeks, the NSA technologist  showed how millions of innocent citizens of with country are under surveillance by its government. The NSA is mapping their locations, tracking their friendships, and keeping logs of who they called. Snowden is the person who enlightened all of us about how government surveillance functions in this country.

The jury is still out on whether Snowden is a hero or a villain. Some people have erroneously accused him of treason, but his actions don’t fit the constitutional definition of “levying War” or giving enemies “Aid and Comfort.”  He isn’t protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 because people who work for NSA and the CIA are denied these protections. But the most that anyone could prove against him is most likely espionage for revealing classified information—the same thing that Daniel Ellsberg, considered a hero, did.

Because of Snowden’s actions, many people in the United States now have an inkling of how little privacy they have because of the NSA and the country’s fear of losing their mythical safety. Snowden has been criticized for leaving the country after his revelations, but if he had, he would have been in prison with no information about our loss of privacy.

Privacy is no longer a major issue with the majority of people in the United States unless it comes to registering guns. The only reason that gun-owners panic about a potential registration is that they think they might want to attack the U.S. government at some time—and that really is treason. People put everything about themselves, including naked photographs, on Facebook and think that they will be safer if the U.S. government knows every telephone call and email that they communicate.

The U.S. public has a fascination with voyeurism, starting with watching Allen Funt’s Candid Camera in 1948 and moving on to the 12-hour 1973 PBS mini-series An American Family in which a troubled family revealed all their problems on television. MTV’s The Real World in 1992 was followed by Big Brother that followed people into the bathroom. One of the contestants in Big Brother’s second season lost her cousin in the World Trade Center disaster but stayed with her audience rather than returning to her family. More than 300 reality shows are now airing, and YouTube gets millions of hits. People aren’t even making much money most of the time; they just want to be seen.

The NSA and the more naïve of people in the country claim that Snowden’s leaks help the terrorists, but many people before him have leaked information. With 854,000 people, almost one-third of them private contractors, having top-secret clearance, surveillance can’t be kept secret. After 2001, intelligence agencies began building 33 new facilities; the 17-million-square-feet is almost equal to three times that of the Pentagon. Over a year ago, James Bamford published a story telling about a clandestine $2 billion NSA data center being built in Utah designed to store “near-bottomless databases” that covers all forms of communication including Google searches and bookstore purchases.

Before 9/11, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy said, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” Why should anyone be surprised that Facebook and NSA’s surveillance program, PRISM, aligned in 2009, and Facebook’s chief security officer, Max Kelly, moved to NSA a year later. As early as 2008, an internal memo at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services suggested that their investigations exploit social networks. Even with protests from opposite corners of Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), nobody in leadership positions on either side wants to change the status quo.

Sens. Mark Udall and Ron Wyden have been questioning the NSA for two years, but as Frank Rich wrote,  “They have about as much of a chance of bringing change in 2013 as the former senator Russ Feingold did in his lonely opposition to the Patriot Act in 2001.” Only a leak stating that the NSA is tracking gun ownership might effect any change.

Oh, and the United States Postal Service is spying on you too.

Want privacy? Quit social networks; junk your cell phone; pay for everything in cash but don’t use ATMs; abandon all Google, tweeting, Amazon, Netflix, GPS, and Skype; and encrypt your email and communicate only with others who do. That’s a start. It’s a personality transplant.

So have a good Fourth of July tomorrow and think about your loss of freedom on July 5.

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