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.

November 11, 2018

DDT ‘Low Energy’ on 100th Anniversary of World War I

World War I ended at 11:11 am on November 11, 2018—100 years ago today. Thirty-two countries fought in the four-year war that killed nine million combatants and seven million civilians, followed by genocides and the 1918 influenza epidemic, which caused between 50 and 100 million deaths worldwide. One-fifth of the world’s population of under two billion people were infected by the 1918 flu.

In commemoration of the solemn event, French President Emmanuel Macron called over 60 countries together for a three-day Paris Peace Forum, and many world leaders attending commemorative events in France. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to Canada’s National Memorial in France at Vimy Ridge on Saturday, and Macron went with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) to Compiègne, 80 miles northeast of Paris, where the peace agreement was signed on November 11, 1918. “We owe it to our soldiers,” said Macron about their journey.

Around 1,000 members of the public, including French and German schoolchildren, were invited to the ceremony. Sixteen-year-old Mickaël Arlin, 16, who was visiting World War I commemorative sites, said:

“It has helped us understand what is at stake today and helped us go further than just words.”

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who flew to Paris for the weekend, cancelled his visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, next to the site of the Battle of Belleau Wood where American Marines stopped a German offensive in 1918. The remains of 2,289 war dead are buried at the Aines-Marne cemetery is home to the remains of 2,289 war dead. DDT, 72, stayed in Paris and watched television, sending Chief of Staff John Kelly, 68, in his place. Winston Churchill’s grandson, Nicholas Soames, tweeted:

 “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen #hesnotfittorepresenthisgreatcountry.”

David Frum, George W. Bush’s speech-writer and political commentator, tweeted:

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary—and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow.”

A concern from some is that DDT lacked the strength to make the trip to the cemetery. After the adrenalin-pumping events of rallies for almost two months, DDT reportedly seemed distracted and disengaged, according to the WaPo, especially after his losses in the midterm elections and his problems with journalists. During his meeting with Macron, DDT seemed subdued, almost “sullen.” Kelly Magsamen, who served as a high-ranking Pentagon official on Asia affairs, used DDT’s term in a tweet with the description, “It’s real low energy.” That was DDT’s pejorative term for his opponents, and he ridiculed President Obama by calling him feckless and weak on the world stage.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool – RC17A17FAAE0

The only time DDT looked delighted was seeing Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Arc de Triomphe. DDT had not seen Putin since the Helsinki summit in July. WaPo columnist Brian Klass wrote:

“Putin murders journalists & opponents, recently used a nerve agent to assassinate a dissident on British soil, annexed Crimea, facilitates war crimes, and attacked American democracy. This is how Trump reacted when he saw him.”

David Schneider advised his Twitter followers:

“Find someone who looks at you the way Trump looks at Putin.”

The photo (left) showed part of the warm greeting between the two that included nods, shoulder taps, and thumbs-up. DDT denied that he planned to talk with Putin in Paris, but Putin told Russian news agencies that he did talk with DDT.

DDT skipped the meetings to explore ways for world peace. Instead he flew home today, sending angry tweets about taking federal aid from California because of the current disastrous fires and claiming that counting the ballots in Florida is a “STEAL.”

DDT had become angry with Macron for his statement that Europe must be able to “defend itself alone—and without relying on the United States—in a more sovereign manner.” Macron tried to calm DDT’s anger but claims of “good friends” were not supported by body language. Europe has become increasingly upset with DDT after he has pulled out of accords such as the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and the Russia nuclear agreement.

Weeks ago, DDT declared himself a “nationalist” in campaigning for Republicans; in Macron’s speech today to over 80 world leaders, he said:

“Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying, ‘Our interests first, who cares about the others,’ we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what gives it grace and what is essential: its moral values.”

DDT has returned from his non-productive 44-hour 3,800-mile trip and faces the same problems he left—viral opposition to his replacement for AG Jeff Sessions, Democratic House members discussion what they will investigate in his administration, spending bills that cannot pass without Democratic approval, the hush money case about women, immigration problems, constitutional concerns of birthright citizenship, and the killing of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi complete with recordings of Saudi Arabians’ murdering him while he wants the Saudis to keep giving his business money. No wonder he’s low energy.

July 19, 2018

DDT Sinks to Terrifying Low

For almost two years, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has claimed that he knows nothing about Russia meddling in the presidential election and the search into the issue is a “witch hunt.” The New York Times has now reported that DDT received highly classified intelligence including texts and emails from Russian military officers showing Vladimir Putin personally ordered cyberattacks to move the election toward DDT. CIA Director John O. Brennan, National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper Jr., and National Security Agency Adm. Michael S. Rogers briefed DDT at Trump Tower on January 6, 2017. At that time, Rogers was also commander of the U.S. Cyber Command. Almost a dozen people, including FBI Director James Comey, either attended the meeting or were later briefed on it. After the briefing, Comey privately told DDT about the “Steele dossier,” that contained sensational stories about DDT’s visit to Moscow.

One source to the evidence was so sensitive that Brennan kept the reference to the person from the Presidential Daily Brief and instead sent reports from the source separately to President Obama and a few top national security aides.

Despite this information, DDT finished his meeting with Putin last Monday by standing next to him at a press conference and again saying that he believes Putin’s denial of Russian interference in the U.S. election. Public outcry caused him to revise his statement, but he continued to support the Russian leader.

Also in January 2017, DDT was briefed about how the same Russians who meddled in the election, including the hacking and release of DNC emails, had been involved in cyberattacks on the State Department and White House unclassified email systems in 2014 and 2015 as well as an attack on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After the briefings, DDT issued a statement blaming “Russia, China and other countries, outside groups and countries” for cyberattacks against the U.S. government, businesses, and political organizations. He added, “There was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”

Brennan and Clapper left the government on the day that DDT was inaugurated. He portrayed them as political hacks who had twisted intelligence as an excuse for Hillary Clinton’s election loss. According to evidence, however, Russia is still aggressive meddling despite his acceptance of Putin’s denial of interference. DDT has spent his 545 days in office shifting the topic of Russian meddling to Clinton’s computer server, promoting the false belief that she has broken the law. He claims that Russia is so good at cyberattacks that hackers could never be caught and denigrated the intelligence about the interference.

When cornered, DDT repeats,  “I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama, just look at the facts.”

The facts:

  • DDT constantly refuses to address Russia’s cyberattacks and election meddling, praises Vladimir Putin for his strong leadership, indicates warmth and trust toward Russia and Putin, and says that he is helpless because Putin denies any interference.
  • DDT continues to say that his intelligence agencies are wrong until cornered.
  • DDT only signed a congressional bill calling for new sanctions against Russia because it was veto-proof.
  • DDT failed to follow through on the sanctions.
  • DDT’s agencies and Congress forced DDT to fund for the European Reassurance Initiative, release a missile attack against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, approve arms sales to Ukraine, and put new sanctions on five Russians and Chechens because of their human rights abuses.

President Obama expelled Russian diplomats in December 2016, closed Russian compounds, and criticized Russia and Putin.

The GOP reflects DDT’s corruption. When David Klion wrote about the recent indictment of 12 Russians, he highlighted the allegation that on August 15, 2016, they “received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress” and that they “sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.” No names were available from the indictment, but Klion connected it to a Washington Post transcript of a June 2016 conversation among the House GOP leadership. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) stated that “the Russians hacked the DNC and got the opp research that they had on Trump” and speculated “there’s two people, I think, that Putin pays: [Representative Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump.” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) insisted that the discussion stay in the room and added, “What’s said in the family stays in the family.” When the comments were made public, Ryan claimed they were joking.

Klion pointed out that Rohrabacher wasn’t the only feasibility in the indictment but that the GOP leadership knew about the possibility, thought it was humorous, and failed to do anything about their knowledge. They appreciated Russia’s support for electing Republicans. In September 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) threatened to claim a public announcement of Russian interference as partisan politics. His blocking the publicity led to massive tax cuts for the rich—including himself—and a far-right Supreme Court majority. The GOP corruption has given Republicans the total control of the federal government.

This week, Russian national Maria Butina was indicted, arrested, and jailed without bail for operating as a foreign agent to gain influence in GOP political circles. Butina’s ties with the National Rifle Association and conservative religious organizations allows her to be the financial backbones of the congressional GOP. She is able to do with the elimination of campaign-finance laws, begun in Citizens United and furthered by DDT’s new guidelines for political donations. He eliminated the IRS rule requiring some nonprofit organizations to identify big donors—including the NRA and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. The dark money in politics has gone completely black.

Former Republican George Will infuriated Fox far-righters such as Laura Ingraham when he wrote about DDT’s collusion with Russia. In DDT’s convoluted excuse for agreeing with Putin with a tortured explanation of saying “would” instead of “wouldn’t”—which may have caused the White House lights to cut out—he omitted the part of his script that he had “full faith and support for America’s intelligence agencies.” Crossed out on DDT’s script was the statement that “anyone involved” in the attack would be brought “to justice.” In saying that he believed his intelligence evidence that Russia interfered, he added, “it could be other people also.” Scribbled across the script in broad felt pen was “There was no colusion [sic].”

About DDT’s performance in Helsinki, Will wrote:

“Collusion with Russia is hiding in plain sight. We shall learn from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation whether in 2016 there was collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign. The world, however, saw in Helsinki something more grave—ongoing collusion between Trump, now in power, and Russia. The collusion is in what Trump says (refusing to back the United States’ intelligence agencies) and in what evidently went unsaid (such as: You ought to stop disrupting Ukraine, downing civilian airliners, attempting to assassinate people abroad using poisons, and so on, and on).”

Today, a reporter directly asked, “Is Russia still targeting the U.S.?” DDT said “No” and moved on to the next question. Later Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied, as shown in a video, when she claimed that he was saying “no” to more questions. Then the White House claimed that DDT was responding to a different question. DDT’s next excuse was that he blamed Putin personally, but indirectly, “because he’s in charge of the country.”

DDT is also continuing his practice of doctoring official White House transcripts, official records. In this case, he deleted the part of the Helsinki press conference in which Putin said that he wanted DDT to defeat Clinton and possibly said that he had sent people to make that happen. Reuters reporter Jeff Mason’s asked:

“President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?”

Putin’s translated broadcast answer:

“Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”

Although this exchange is available on video, it’s missing in the White House version.

In DDT’s attempt to “Make Russia First,” two serious problems have emerged. No announcements were made in the United States about agreements in the meeting that has no record, but Russian officials declared “important verbal agreements,” including preservation of New Start and INF agreements, major bilateral arms control treaties, and a new arrangement or proposal about Syria. Senior military officials know nothing about DDT’s “agreements.” Spokeswoman Marina Zakharova at the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the unknown summit agreements implementation has begun:

 “Relevant instructions are being carried out, and diplomats are beginning to work on the outcomes.”

A horrifying result of the meeting is DDT’s suggestion that he might accept Putin’s offer to turn over U.S. citizens, including former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, for questioning in “illegal activities.” Today, Huckabee Sanders reported that DDT “said it was an interesting idea … He wants to work with his team and determine if there is any validity that would be helpful to the process.” Russia has released a list of 11 U.S. government members to be questioned.

In a terrifying authoritarian move, DDT is actually considering getting rid of people who criticize him by turning them over to Russia although there is no indication of wrongdoing.

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?

July 6, 2018

GOP Values: Separate Children from Parents, Charge People Higher Prices with Tariffs

Last week, Alexander Azar, HHS Secretary, told a Senate committee last week that the process is simple:

“I could at the stroke of—at keystrokes, I sat on the ORR Portal with just keystrokes and within seconds could find any child in our care for any parent available.”

The day after Azar explained the simplicity of reunification, a federal judge ordered ICE to stop most family separations and reunify the already separated ones. The parents were to have contact by phone by July 6, today, and all children five years old and younger, assumed to be about 100, were to be returned to parents by July 10. The other minor children were to be returned by July 26. The process of reunification seems to be more difficult than Azar claimed. Records linking children have disappeared with some of them destroyed, and the two federal agencies in charge of the separated children and parents haven’t shared records. The HHS solution is to find volunteers to search through 12,000 case records to confirm identities, locations, and connections. When children were separated from their parents, many of them were sent thousands of miles away, and the mothers and fathers were also separated from each other. Many children are also too young and/or frightened to speak.

Four days before the deadline to reunify 100 children under six with their parents, the government asked for an extension because they cannot find parents for half the parents by the deadline. The DOJ hasn’t found parental identification for 19 of the 102 children. Another 38 parents can’t be found—half them somewhere in the U.S. and the other half deported. DOJ wants DNA identification as proof of biological child/parent relationship and vetting that the parents will be fit parents, but the judge sees no necessity if parents arrived at the border with their children.

The judge did offer to delay the deadline for the youngest children if the government provides a list of all children and their parents’ status by Monday morning. He also asked for a status conference over the weekend. The DOJ lawyer, representing the failed agencies, cannot attend a conference. Why? She has “dog-sitting” responsibilities in Colorado that keep her from appearing at a meeting about the status of 100 infants and toddlers involuntarily separated from their parents at the Mexico border. This action represents the status of the U.S. GOP; dog-sitting supersedes reunification of families after children have been torn from their parents.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) failed to buy one of the available sites for his Trump Hotel so Atlanta attorney Loren Collins bought it. TrumpHotels.org shows life at DDT’s “home” for migrant children kidnapped from their parents during the past few months. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) inspired the concept with his tweet, “The real Trump hotel,” accompanied by the photo of a detention facility in McAllen (TX) used as the website header. Collins said he would give DDT the site “in exchange for 10 years of his tax returns and the termination of 25 NDAs of my choosing.” TrumpHotels.org also links to articles showing articles such as DDT’s ridicule of a disabled reporter, his attacks on Mexico, and his unhappiness about parenting.

Collins is a conservative who ran as a Republican candidate for the George state House. Yet his writing shows his dissatisfaction with DDT’s policies, demonstrated in his book about critical thinking and conspiracies, Bullspotting: Finding Facts in the Age of Misinformation. Collins wrote:

“Even if you take all of his ill-defined political beliefs out of the picture, he’s still an ignorant, intemperate, foolish, gullible, intellectually incurious, pathologically dishonest conspiracy theorist who is utterly unqualified for the job of running a country. And every day since he’s taken office, he’s demonstrated how ill-suited he is for a job that demands diplomacy and considered thought.

“Which is why he not only managed to unnecessarily create this current border fiasco, but he cannot even appear that he has any real empathy for the people involved or has given any serious thought to how to remedy it. Instead, as always, he blames others and passes the buck, while he spends time holding rallies and insulting Jimmy Fallon on Twitter.”

DDT proves Collins’ description with his accelerating trade war through the world. The U.S. placed the first duties on $34 billion of Chinese goods today, China accused the U.S. of violating World Trade Organization rules, and DDT claimed that he will put tariffs on all products from China. Soybeans, corn, pork, seafood, and poultry are a few of the U.S. goods that China will target with tariffs. In return, DDT threatened to put tariffs on every Chinese import. Meanwhile, China is holding up shipments from the United States.

Defense Secretary James Mattis wrote that the Pentagon was concerned “about negative impact on our key allies” from the tariffs. Another concern is higher costs for weapons and infrastructure. Other countries could also stop defense purchases from the U.S.

DDT wants legislation to ditch World Trade Organization rules and maybe even WTO itself that would give DDT more control on U.S. trade policy by renegotiating with countries and applying tariffs. The plan follows DDT’s wish to withdraw from WTO. http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/team-trump-drafts-radical-economic-bill-unfortunately-crude-name?cid=eml_mra_20180702  DDT’s proposed legislation is the Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act (FART).

One person who won’t suffer from DDT’s trade war is DDT himself. Chinese government-backed firms will continue work on two large developments in Dubai and Indonesia that include DDT’s name. He will be paid to operate his second golf course in Dubai and for the use of his name. DDT’s partner in Indonesia is building a DDT-branded golf course, hotels, and villas, a separate contract from DDT’s planned project in Indonesia. One of China’s top state-owned banks pays $2 million annually for the 20th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan. Ivanka Trump will continue to get blouses, shoes, and handbags from Chinese assembly line workers.

In another attempt to make more money, DDT has called for further lowering the corporate tax rate another percent to 20 percent. Other than businesses becoming wealthier, no one has been helped by the six-month old tax cut. The Dow Jones is lower than it was then, wages are at the same pace, and a few people got small one-time bonuses. The majority of people have a negative view of the tax cuts.The greater the tax cuts, the more Republicans can moan about the deficit and use it to remove the safety net along with Social Security and Medicare.

Other major events of the week deserving longer examination are the resignation of Scott Pruitt and the continuing investigation of the Russian scandal. In an attempt to bury its news, the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on Russia’s election interference late the day before the Fourth of July. The bipartisan effort concluded that the U.S. intelligence agencies were correct in their findings that Russia tried to help DDT win the presidential election and intended to “denigrate” and “harm” Hillary Clinton as well as “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process” while helping Trump. The committee also supported the intelligence agencies findings that Russia’s tactics included cyberattacks and intelligence collection “against the U.S. primary campaigns, think tanks, and lobbying groups they viewed as likely to shape future U.S. policies.” There was “no politically motivated pressure to reach any conclusions,” according to the report. The Committee will be releasing a final report to contain information about the possibility of collusion between the campaign and Russia.

At the same time, seven GOP senators and a representative spent the Fourth of July in Russia wooing its officials.

In June, DDT proved himself inept at negotiating with North Korea. Kim Jung-Un got everything he wanted while continuing to build up his nation’s nuclear arsenal. DDT got nothing but still says that he thinks that Kim will keep his deal with DDT. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo feeds DDT’s ego by saying that Kim “made a personal commitment” and promising that North Korea will “denuclearize as quickly as we can achieve that.”

Now DDT is headed to a meeting with Putin in 11 days where he plans to give away more for nothing. National security adviser John Bolton said that DDT may recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. He also echoed DDT by saying that “Putin said…there was no meddling in 2016 by the Russian state,” something that a Senate Intelligence Committee disputes.

Before the Putin meeting, DDT will attend a NATO summit on July 11-12. He has already sent dunning letters to all the members indicating what they owe with an indication of “pay up or else.” His present for Putin the next week will be an attempt to destabilize Ukraine. DDT has already worked to unseat German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Friday the 13th will celebrate DDT’s meetings with UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II. Protests force him to see them at their homes outside London, Chequers and Windsor Castle. Two million people signed a petition asking May to cancel the “working visit,” a much less prestigious invitation than a formal state visit.

Protesters are planning to be in a number of places, including outside Chequers. DDT may not be directly exposed to the protesters, including the flying of the huge blimp, Trump Baby, but the world will be well aware of their presence. Demonstrations are also planned in Glasgow and Edinburgh when DDT travels to Scotland where he owns two golf courses. Only Vladimir Put supports DDT by now.

July 19, 2017

DDT Dominates Media–Again

The interview of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) by a New York Time report sucked the energy out of any other news today, perhaps for good reason because of the outrageous–and false–statements he made:

  • If he had known that current AG Jeff Sessions would have accused himself from the Russia investigation, he would not have appointment Sessions for his position. [Is the U.S. now on resignation watch for Sessions?]
  • The investigation in Russia’s involvement in the United States—including DDT’s campaign—suffers from conflicts of interest because the lead investigator, Robert Mueller, interviewed for FBI director. DDT claims for have far more conflicts of interest about Mueller that he will reveal “at some point.”
  • Mueller would cross a “red line” if he looks into DDT’s family finances.
  • Rod Rosenstein was wrong for appointing Mueller as special prosecutor because he’s only a “deputy,” and DDT was irritated after he learned that Rosenstein was from Baltimore. “There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any.”
  • He complained that Mr. Rosenstein had in effect been on both sides when it came to Mr. Comey. The deputy attorney general recommended Mr. Comey be fired but then appointed Mr. Mueller, who may be investigating whether the dismissal was an obstruction of justice. “Well, that’s a conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said. “Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are?”
  • Former FBI director James Comey lied in his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony—according to DDT. Also Comey told DDT about the salacious allegations against him to gain leverage with DDT.

Senate Democrats need to be careful about voting to confirm Christopher Wray, a lawyer with a past in supporting money laundering and torture, for the FBI director. Wray gave all the right answers in his confirmation hearings, but so did others such as Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who reversed their opinions the instant that they were confirmed. During his interview with the NYT, DDT delivered revisionist history about the FBI when he stated that the director reported “out of courtesy” to the Department of Justice during Richard Nixon’s presidential term. DDT said that “the FBI person really reports directly to the President of the United States.” The FBI website states:

“Within the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI is responsible to the attorney general, and it reports its findings to U.S. Attorneys across the country. The FBI’s intelligence activities are overseen by the Director of National Intelligence.”

The president can fire the FBI director, as DDT proved a few months ago, but he can’t tell him what to do. DDT followed his falsehood with the statement, “I think we’re going to have a great new FBI director.” That discussion was interrupted by the appearance of DDT’s daughter, Ivanka, and his granddaughter, Arabella, but the allusion was obvious.

The interview also delved into DDT’s lengthy discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a G20 Summit dinner almost two weeks ago but was just revealed yesterday. That talk had only three people in attendance—DDT, Putin, and Putin’s translator. DDT had no translator, and no one from the United States was a witness. In the interview, DDT described the hour-long conversation as about 15 minutes in length and concentrating on “pleasantries.” He mentioned that it was about adoption, originally given as the focus of a meeting of eight people, including DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and son Donald Jr., a year ago. Jr. later said the meeting was really about Russia offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. Putin also banned adoptions of Russian children in 2012 because the U.S. sanctioned Russians about human rights abuses.

DDT gave Putin a gift today when he ended the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad. President Obama started the program in 2013 to put pressure on Assad, so DDT accomplished two goals today—pleasing Putin and wiping out another program from the last administration. Putin and DDT had agreed to back the ceasefire in southwest Syria, but the plan did not require the elimination of the training program. Russia has been firing on the CIA-backed rebels fighting against ISIS, and a U.S. official said, “Putin won in Syria.” Charles Lister, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, said the DDT’s actions “are making the moderate resistance more and more vulnerable…. We are really cutting them off at the neck.” The U.S. may no longer be able to stop other countries such as Turkey and Middle East allies from providing anti-Assad rebels and other more radical groups with sophisticated weapons. Officials have seen the program as a bargaining chip for Russian concessions about Syria’s future.

The NYT reported:

“The dinner discussion caught the attention of other leaders around the table, some of whom later remarked privately on the odd spectacle of an American president seeming to single out the Russian leader for special attention at a summit meeting that included some of the United States’ staunchest, oldest allies.”

No one has any notes from the meeting except for Putin, meaning that the U.S. has no record of discussions, disclosures, and promises. In his first meeting with Putin at G20, DD accepted Putin’s denials of Russian interference and claimed that the U.S. were “exaggerating” the affect of Russia on the presidential election.

Russia also gave DDT permission to name Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor and presidential candidate, as ambassador to Russia. His name was tossed out four months ago, but he wasn’t officially nominated until Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov met at the State Department with Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon.

Since DDT’s talk with Putin, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is considering the elimination of his cybersecurity office. The U.S. was the first country to have a high-level cyber diplomat role. This week, Tillerson fired Christopher Painter, the person in this job. Doing away with the position would make the U.S. the only major country without a leader whose job is to reduce cyberattacks, abdicating the role to Russia and China.

DDT’s interview was a distraction from the “no confidence” resolution that 25 Democratic representatives filed today. The resolution has no chance of passing in the GOP-dominated chamber, but it publicizes the 88 reasons for declaring DDT unsuitable to hold his current office. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) defined the resolution as “an attempt at political intervention.” He said that the resolution details “misdeeds and actions that give people lack of confidence in him and the direction he is taking our country.” Among them are DDT’s refusal to release his taxes, verbal attacks on women and the press, withdrawal from a vital climate agreement, payments from foreign powers, firing the FBI director during an investigation, and indiscriminate use of Twitter. Cohen said that DDT’s track record reveals “a president that you wouldn’t want your children to look up to.”

“The way he talks about women, the press, the language he uses, the use of Twitter — you don’t want him to be a role model. It’s injurious to our culture, and it’s injurious to … our foreign policy.”

Co-sponsor Judy Chu (D-CA) said:

“We have a president who actively undermines the very principles of our government, and a Republican Congress that makes excuses for him as though his behaviour were normal. It is not normal. Trump’s behavior is cruel, unethical and it is driving people’s faith in government to dangerously low levels.”

About DDT’s second, just revealed, meeting with Putin, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said, “This is not the behavior of the leader of the free world.”

The Democrats also criticized GOP representative for defending DDT’s actions. A bill to appoint an outside prosecutor has only two Republican supporters, Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Justin Amash (R-MI).  Capitol Hill Republicans for defending Trump’s actions and his unconventional approach to governing.

In today’s news, a major story was Sen. John McCain’s diagnosis of brain cancer. He is indeed fortunate to have excellent health care provided by the government.

July 9, 2017

DDT’s European Trip Isolates U.S.

After embarrassing the United States for four days in Europe, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is home again. He had so many disasters that pundits referred  to the G-20 Summit as the “G-19 plus one.”

  • One major problem was DDT’s lack of hotel reservations for the grand event. He and Melania were forced to stay at the city of Hamburg’s Senate guest house.
  • Melania missed a photo session and a tour because protesters blocked their digs.
  • A brief talk with Russia’s Vladimir Putin lasted so long that White House staffers sent DDT’s wife in to end it; she failed, and the session lasted another hour.
  • Daughter Ivanka Trump took the place of real U.S. officials in replacing her father during a session called “Partnership with Africa, Migration and Health” so that DDT could meet with Putin. Former president of Mexico Vincente Fox Quesada tweeted that “a G20 summit isn’t a ‘bring your child to work and let her attend high level meetings’ day.”
  • Photos of DDT at the summit illustrate his goal to make America alone.  matches his own appearance at the event.
  • Another remarkable video shows Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, host of the summit, rolling her eyes at a patronizing Putin.

This collection of photos demonstrates how the United States has lost any relationship with allies, including this image of President Obama at the 2015 G7 summit.

Two events stood out during DDT’s four-day offshore trip in Europe: his visit to Poland and his meeting with Russia’s president.  DDT began his trip in an environment where he felt most comfortable: Poles were bused into Warsaw with the sole purpose of cheering DDT for his speech much like the ones he gives to xenophobic audiences in the United States. DDT’s popularity in Poland is actually 23 percent.

A major premise of the speech was the survival of the West against the Middle East (aka Christians against Muslims). DDT’s image of the terrorism conflict as a clash of civilizations has been avoided by both GOP and Democratic predecessors. The Trump manifesto seems to be the “dire threat” against Western civilization. The language comes directly from white supremacists Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. DDT’s anti-Semitic audience were surely pleased when he was the first sitting president in decades to avoid a stop at Warsaw’s monument to the Jewish Ghetto uprising.

DDT is on the same page as Poland’s leading party, Law & Justice (PiS). The party has inundated civil service and diplomatic corps with their loyalists and weakened the judiciary’s independence. The national broadcaster is a mouthpiece of the state, and independent journalists are restricted. Together DDT and Polish president, Andrzej Duda, based the media with DDT repeating his mantra of “fake news.” The EU calls Polish reforms “a systemic risk to the rule of law.”

Conservative Jonathan Turley wrote about the exchange between DDT and Duda regarding their hatred for the media:

“To have such an exchange with a man like Putin about the free press is a truly low moment for our country.  The men and women in front of the two leaders represent a profession that has lost dozens of journalists who fought to publish the truth about the Putin regime. Thousands more have died around the world in the struggle for free speech and the free press.  I understand the need to deal with figures like Putin in diplomacy but commiserating with the likes of Vladimir Putin about the free press is a terrible image for any American president.  Putin is not a great man and the media is not the enemy.  We can (and should) criticize the media for their loss of objectivity but even casual moments like this one with Putin carry a chilling message both in Russia and the United States. There remain committed journalists in Russia who look to the United States as their ally in the fight for a free press.   For them, these comments must be chilling and demoralizing.”

As usual, DDT displayed his weak vocabulary during the speech—even when someone else wrote it—by describing the losses in Poland during World War II as “tough” and “trouble.” Almost six million Poles, about 20 percent of the country’s population, died during the war.

Possibly worse than DDT’s speech was his press conference before the speech. In opposition to U.S. intelligence reports, he continued to claim that “nobody really knows” who was responsible for the cyberattacks around the November 2016 election and refused to admit that Russia was responsible. “It could have been other people in other countries,” he said. Yet he kept laying the blame on President Obama for something that he wouldn’t admit had happened. His claim that only “three or four” agencies believed that Russia was responsible. These agencies are the FBI, CIA, and NSA; no others disagreed, and some weren’t involved. In the conference, Polish officials cut off NBC reporter Hallie Jackson’s mike to keep her from asking a follow-up question.

Once again, DDT’s staff disagrees with his perception. In an interview for State of the Union, the nation’s UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, said, “Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections.” Her comments followed DDT’s amicable meeting with Putin on Friday. Haley continued by explaining that Russia is meddling “across multiple continents … in a way that they’re trying to cause chaos within the countries.”

Still reeling from DDT’s denial that Russia meddled in the U.S. election, people of the U.S. watched him go into a long meeting with Putin. Only four people attended with the two leaders—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and two translators. No one took notes, and only Russians reported much of what happened in the two and a half hours. Headlines have declared that DDT “confronted” Putin, but the end result did not seem like a confrontation. Supposedly DDT questioned Putin about the meddling. Putin said he didn’t have anything to do it and followed that with the statement that DDT agreed with him.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin didn’t attend the meeting but repeatedly said that DDT “handled it brilliantly.” Putin followed earlier statements by claiming that Russia and the United States agreed to work together to “prevent interference in the domestic affairs of foreign states, primarily in Russia and the U.S.” Tillerson said that the two leaders selected officials to collaborate on a resolution to the Ukraine conflict and reached a “de-escalation agreement” about part of Syria near Daraa and Quneitra.

Even Republicans are disgusted with DDT’s plan to team with Putin in creating a “cyber security unit.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “I am sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort since he’s doing the hacking.” Once again, bad press may have forced DDT to back down on his idea. Today he tweeted, “The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the partnership isn’t “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close.” On the other hand, Mnuchin called the idea “a very significant accomplishment for President Trump.” He wants to “coordinate with Russia.”

Putin picked up popularity in the United States with DDT’s election, but it’s receding again, perhaps because of the hacking reports. Meanwhile, the number of Russian spies gathering intelligence in the United States has gone up to at least 150 from temporary duty visas issued by the DDT administration. Law enforcement officials have reported that some Russian diplomats are violating protocol by leaving the Washington, D.C. area with notifying the State Department. President Obama had shut down Russian compounds in December that were allegedly outfitted with high-power surveillance equipment and evicted 35 spies. Officials say that countering the threat is difficult because DDT doesn’t accept intelligence information about Russian meddling.

DDT completed his embarrassing four days by referring to his “wonderful relationship” with Xi Jinping. The White House used the wrong title for Xi, however. Instead of his correct title, president of the People’s Republic of China, he was identified as president of the Republic of China, the official name for Taiwan. The elected leader of Taiwan is Tsai Ing-wen, the most powerful woman in the Chinese-speaking world and one of Xi Jinpin’s greatest rivals. DDT is currently trying to persuade China to pressure North Korea for the U.S. benefit.

As always, Melania Trump looked lovely in her expensive fashion designs, but she shouldn’t try to wear them on Capitol Hill. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is reinforcing a patriarchal ban on sleeveless clothes for women—at least female reporters—in the speaker’s lobby. Although many conservatives have poo-pooed the story, report, Independent Journal Review‘s Haley Byrd was refused entrance. She was offered a cardigan but also told that open-toed shoes are also a no-no.

January 10, 2017

Trump: ‘You’re Fired’—Except for Putin

“You’re fired.” Donald Trump’s (DT) favorite sentence on The Apprentice has circled the world. In a break with decades of precedent, he has ordered all politically appointed ambassadors, 39 in all, to return to the United States by Inauguration Day. The order was given two days before Christmas, about the time that DT was offering ambassadorships to booking agents who could find performers for his inauguration. New ambassadors to all these countries have to be individually confirmed by the Senate. Forget any continuity; DT is king.

DT’s ten-year-old son gets to stay in his New York school after his inauguration, but ambassadors’ children will be left in limbo. For example, Stafford Fitzgerald Haney, U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, has four school age children, and his wife is fighting breast cancer. A question for DT’s Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson, is whether he thinks that diplomats should be treated in this manner.

“You’re fired” is also what DT said to the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and his deputy. This $12 billion-a-year agency “maintains and enhances the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.” That includes responding to nuclear emergencies throughout the world, keeping the Navy in its guarding against terrorists acquiring nuclear material, and caring for the nation’s 7,000 weapons. For the first time since its creation in 2000 that the agency has no one in charge of this responsibility or its 2,300 employees. Never fear, however, because one of these days Rick Perry may be in charge as Secretary of Energy.

There are denials that the people in the top two NNSA positions were “fired,” but Gizmodo reported that “the Trump transition team has not asked the top two NNSA officials to stay on until they can be replaced.” Still sounds like being fired on the first day. And no replacements have been named.

No one knows how many more government officials will received the message of “You’re fired!” The executive branch has between 3,000 and 4,000 positions requiring a presidential appointment, and over 1,200 of these need to be confirmed by the Senate. In a recent petty DT act by DT,  he fired Charles Brotman, 89, by email and replaced him with a DT campaign volunteer. Brotman has served as official announcer for every inauguration parade since the second one for Dwight Eisenhower in 1957. That’s 11 inaugurations and 60 years.

DT will most likely not fire Vladimir Putin because of DT’s heavy financial involvement with Russia. Human rights lawyer Scott Horton has been investigating Financial Times studies that show how Russian crime lords bailed DT out of his seventh bankruptcy in the past decade and the cancellation of all his bank lines of credit.

 

One of DT’s many lies is that he’s a good businessman, but the above graph shows his failure during a decade from 1995 to 2005. That sham of a successful enterprise came from millions of dollars from Russian businesses fronting for mobsters and the GRU, the military intelligence service of the Russian Federation which was formerly the Red Army of the Soviet Union. One of the actors in DT’s pretend success is Sergei Millian, head of the Russian American Chamber of Commerce (RACC) in the U.S. when Donald Trump, Jr. explained the Trump solvency as coming from “money pouring in from Russia.”

Millian denied that the RACC has any relationship to the Russian government, but former Russian MP Konstantin Borovoi cited the chamber as a front for intelligence operations dating back to Soviet times. Millian called himself the Trump “exclusive broker,” and “in 2007-2008, dozens of Russians bought apartments in Trump properties in the US.” He told ABC television that the Trump Organization had received “hundreds of millions of dollars” through deals with Russian businessmen. DT denied any association with Millian despite documents and photos.

Another Financial Times article shows DT at the center of a money-laundering scheme when he used his real estate deals to hide both his infusion of Russian capital and launder hundreds of millions of dollars looted by Russian oligarchs through selling his apartments at highly inflated costs. The companies created for the laundering network were created in April 2013, a week before one LLC paid another LLC hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to buy apartments in Trump Soho—all transactions with companies having undisclosed ownership. DT’s only obligation was to ignore the background for the deal and deny any knowledge of ownership, as in the case of the Fort Lauderdale project, Bayrock.

Jody Kriss, a former Bayrock finance director, claimed the backers included “hidden interests in Russia and Kazakhstan.” Both Bayrock and DT were based in Trump Tower and collaborated in deals around the world. DT said that he had no idea who owned Bayrock, yet he was a partner who represented and took money from this corporation totaling hundreds of millions of dollars throughout the world.

DT’s involvement with Russian money came from his multiple corporate bankruptcies removing his ability to heavily borrow in the U.S. In the 2000s, he had become an entertainer who licensed his name to businesses wanting a brand. He was bankrupt but appeared to be a “successful businessman,” allowing him to carry out massive criminal activities. His only value was his image. DT still had some degree of ownership in apartments and buildings, and foreign crime bosses needs a place to hide their money.

Reports emerged today that both President Obama and DT have been briefed on compromising personal and financial information that Russian have about DT. The two-page synopsis was attached to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. It shows that Russia had material harmful to both political parties but chose to release only what damaged Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. The sources were credible enough to inform President Obama and DT.

The FBI was aware last August about the content of the memos that include contact between DT aides and Russian operatives as well as graphic sexual acts documented by the Russians. Whether this information is accurate has not been made public, but the United States has serious problems with just an indication that Russia can blackmail the president of the United States. Kellyanne Conway, DT’s counselor, said he is “not aware” about any briefing, but she also said that people shouldn’t believe anything he says.

Without DT’s tax returns, no one may never find out the extent of DT’s involvement  with the Russians. Yet he got money, oligarchs hid their money, and Russia got the U.S. president. And DT can’t afford to say to Russia, “You’re fired.” The real losers are the DT supporters who believed his lies about getting them jobs and a better future.

DT’s overriding motivation is revenge. His hatred for Barack Obama came with the president’s jokes at a White House Correspondent’s Dinner and throughout the years as he expressed his loathing for the “elites.” Right now he may be planning action against Meryl Streep and the Golden Globes because of Streep’s anti-bullying speech last Sunday. DT has evidenced no human decency, and now he’s in charge of millions of people who will be trampled by his fragile ego.

DT’s first press conference in six months is scheduled for tomorrow at 11:00 EST. The topic is supposedly how he plans to “divest” himself to avoid conflicts of interest. Will he show up? Will he spin? Will he lie? Last question is a no-brainer.

 

December 19, 2016

Rex Tillerson: Oil in Trump’s Swamp

Kakistocracy: a fine English term going back to 1829 that means government by the worst element of a society, a government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens. Forbes writer Michael Lewitt explains its usage: “Corrupt, dishonest and incompetent politicians, regulators and bureaucrats were put in charge by self-absorbed, selfish and ignorant citizens.” Trump cabinet nominees collectively have more wealth than a combined one-third of American households. They are the most conservative, very white, and very male with almost no experience. In addition, they resemble DT—egotistical, megalomaniacal, bumbling liars. The nation’s future government will be a blend of “nepotism, oligarchy, plutocracy, kleptocracy, demagoguery, alt-right values and a disturbing tendency toward fascist white nationalism.” (Quote from Sophia A. McClennen, professor of international affairs and comparative literature at Pennsylvania State University.)

The Electoral College has voted, and Donald Trump (DT) is now the formal president-elect of the United States. In building his kakistocracy, DT has appointed a number of inexperienced oligarchs for his cabinet. A series of postings on this blog will begin with Rex Tillerson, nominee for the Secretary of State.

rex-tillerson

AP Photo / Manuel Balce

tillerson-putinThe outrage against Tillerson from both Democrats and Republicans began with the nominee’s extremely close relationship with Vladimir Putin. Exxon missed the U.S. fracking boom and moved to the Russian and Arctic oil fields, perhaps 20 percent of the world’s untapped resource. Toward that end, the company signed deals between 2011 and 2013 with the Russian state-owned oil company, Rosneft, for exploration in the Black Sea, development of shale resources in western Siberia, and drilling in the Arctic. According to Rosneft, these areas could contain more oil than the Gulf of Mexico. The year after Tillerson and Exxon signed the deal with Rosneft, Russian president, Vladimir Putin gave the country’s Order of Friendship medal to Tillerson. (Above: Russia President Vladimir Putin (R) and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson (L) attend the signing of an agreement between Rosneft and ExxonMobil in the Black Sea port of Tuapse on June 15, 2012. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Exxon is so wealthy and powerful that it’s like a country of its own with its own foreign policy. Its pockets are deep, and it employs such Tillerson advocates as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Robert Gates. President Obama’s sanctions on Russia’s oil industry for its 2014 “participation” in the Ukraine and annexation of Crimea smashed Exxon’s dreams—until DT was elected last November. Russia needs Western expertise to drill in places such as the Arctic, and DT can give it to them.

Tillerson’s connection with Rosneft also connects him with oligarch Igor Ivanovich Sechin, head of the oil company. A close relationship with oligarchs from major world powers puts Tillerson into a position to set up his own U.S. oligarchy and what better place to do it than the White House. He has been open about his goals. Asked in March 2013 what he would do if he worked in the White House, he laughed and said, “My philosophy is to make money. If I can drill and make money, then that’s what I want to do.” His idea of international diplomacy—the Secretary of State’s job—is that it “is an enormous amount of interference with that process of discovery and perfection and improvement.”

Improvement to Tillerson doesn’t mean controlling global warming. Exploitation of the Russian and Arctic resources would vastly increase warming above four degrees, but he doesn’t worry about climate change. He has said, “To say that you’re addicted to oil and natural gas seems to me to say you’re addicted to economic growth.”

For almost the entire four decades of Tillerson’s tenure at Exxon, the company has lied about their awareness of catastrophic effects from climate change and spent millions of dollars to block any bills that address the problem. Forty years ago, the company took the problem of climate change seriously and developed programs to explore the issue. Within a few years, however, Exxon started dismantling its own climate change programs and moved on to suppress evidence, spread doubt about science, and block any action to control greenhouse gases. It also created the misnamed Global Climate Coalition to stop any government action to curb fossil fuel emissions.

By the beginning of the 21st century, Exxon used the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of corporations that writes measures for U.S. legislators, to block emissions control. Tillerson was CEO for 12 of those 17 years. In addition, Tillerson’s block of Exxon shareholders successfully opposed a measure from the Rockefeller family to expand the company’s investment in alternative energy sources.

Tillerson’s current position on climate change is that it’s merely an “engineering” issue because, he claims, people can adapt to anything. Asked about models of greenhouse gas concentrations, he replies that “models simply are not that good.” He has no answer for what to do if the sea levels surge and freshwater pulses into the ocean from a collapse in the West Antarctica.

Yet Tillerson’s egregious business dealings go much farther than just his pandering to the Russian government which recently arranged for the release of hacked emails in order to get Tillerson’s possible new boss elected to his leadership position of what people like to call the most powerful country in the world.

Many people are unaware that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating Tillerson and Exxon. Under his leadership, the company failed to accurately value its oil reserves in order to keep stocks high. A correct disclosure of its lower valuations would cost Exxon billions of dollars if the initiation of drilling is more costly from the “price of carbon” or regulations that force reductions to greenhouse gas emissions. With this high cost, Exxon might have to drop projects, and that shrinks its profitability. Even if Tillerson manages to get DT to leave the Paris climate accord, Exxon’s worldwide business may lose money because it does business with other countries that remain in the pact.

The SEC is also investigating the reason that Exxon does not record its reserves values when oil prices drop. The price of a barrel of oil dropped from $115 in 2014 to under $28 by last February, but that the company didn’t include that loss in future calculations. Fabricating future profits not based on fact is an act of securities fraud against investors.

DT as president would greatly benefit Exxon because the investigation could get stymied with Tillerson as Secretary of State. The SEC could also be remade with DT as president. Seven top officials, including chair Mary Jo White, have already resigned, and DT can appoint three new commissioners on the five-member panel. Whether Tillerson becomes Secretary or stays Exxon CEO, the oil company benefits. Last week DT referred to the free market as the “dumb market,” indicating that government should be in control, a total reversal of past GOP philosophy.

Another lawsuit plaguing Tillerson and Exxon accuses the company of discrimination against LGBTQ people in its hiring practices. ExxonMobil is the only corporation in history to get negative ratings on the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Index for lacking any protections for LGBTQ employees in 2012 and 2013. President Obama’s executive order barring federal contractors from anti-LGBT employment discrimination—probably to be soon revoked by DT—caused the company to adopt an LGBT non-discrimination policy, but the lawsuit is still pending. Exxon has received over $1 billion in federal contracts during the past decade.

Tillerson’s conflicts of interest are overwhelming. He personally owns at least $218 million in Exxon stock and holds a pension worth $70 million. At least he wouldn’t have to pay any taxes if he has to sell them for a Cabinet position because divesting stocks based on a potential conflict interest for this position is tax-free.

In another connection with Russia 20 years ago, Tillerson became a director  and then president of Exxon Neftegas, a US-Russian oil firm based in the tax haven of the Bahamas, a country with zero corporate taxes where Exxon has registered at least 67 companies. Exxon reported that Tillerson was no longer a director after he became Exxon’s CEO in 2006, but the secrecy of the nation may cause difficulty in determining Tillerson’s investments. Conflict of interest may be somewhat legal for the president and vice president but definitely not for Cabinet members or other government officials.

Oh yes, and Tillerson has literally no background in diplomacy or public service—just like DT.  With pushing from oil oligarchs like Dick Cheney and deep-pocketed campaign donor Robert McNair as well as Gates and Rice, skeptical GOP senators like Marco Rubio are showing signs of falling into DT’s swamp—the one filled with oil.

September 8, 2016

‘Special Treatment’ for Hillary Clinton

Last night’s precursor of the presidential debates shows the importance of a good moderator. Matt Lauer isn’t one. He started by grilling Hillary Clinton on her emails—taking up a full one-third of her time—that he could have used for issues such as military strategy, leadership goals, policy positions, etc. When he finally got around to the subject of the townhall—national security and veterans issues—he hurried her through her answers by interrupting her, something he didn’t do once to Trump. She was limited in discussing policy while Trump was permitted to lie without confrontation and then spend much of his time in generalities such as defining his qualifications to be commander-in-chief as having “good judgment” and “common sense.” MSNBC should be embarrassed about this debacle; it felt much like a performance on the Fox network.

Trump’s major position in protecting the country is that it has bad generals, “reduced to rubble” to be specific. Trump’s plan to defeat ISIS: he already has a plan. But then he said he’ll tell his top generals to create a plan. Which is it? And he’ll do it in 30 days. George W. Bush said “Mission Accomplished” 40 days after he invaded Iraq, and the U.S. is still in a quagmire there. Trump is also under the misguided impression that he can change all the generals to those who agree with him, but he doesn’t appoint them. He may nominate them, but the Senate has to approve his appointments.

Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is better than Obama, Trump said, because Putin’s approval ratings are higher. Throughout the townhall Trump had nothing bad to say about Putin and nothing good to say about the U.S. president. Lauer also failed to point out that dictators typically have high approval ratings.

Trump claims that he’s studying policy but excuses himself from knowing anything by saying, “I’m campaigning, I’m running a business, I’ve got a lot of hats right now.” Trump doesn’t want to remove women from the military, but he blames the high number of sexual assaults in the military on the fact that men and women are serving again. Trump is unaware that 53 percent of these assaults in 2012 were of men and almost entirely by men. Over half the assaults in 2015 were still of men. Lauer appeared totally unaware of this information.

Lauer’s introductory question to Trump was what he had done to be commander-in-chief. He answered, “Well, I’ve built a great company. I’ve been all over the world.” Then he proceeded to lie about opposing the Iraq War from the beginning and the U.S. intervention in Libya that overturned late dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Lauer failed to point out that Trump initially supported the Iraq War and called on the U.S. to intervene—leaving the audience with the idea that Trump was being truthful. By the finish, Lauer had failed to ask Trump about his dodging the draft, ridiculing POW Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), smearing a Gold Star family, comparing experience in prep school to serving in the military, calling on Russia to hack Clinton’s email server, and bragging about getting a Purple Heart because a soldier gave Trump his medal. Nor did Lauer ask about the affect that a Muslim ban would have on potential ISIS terrorism in the U.S. This in a discussion about national security and veterans affairs in front of an audience of veterans.

In the past, journalists believed that the truth had value. Now their position is that political candidates lie however they want with no questioning. Chris Wallace, moderator of the October 19 presidential debate, said, “I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad.” Lauer also showed his inability to handle Trump. Although he told the candidates to not be negative, Trump spent over half his time attacking Clinton and President Obama—perhaps because he doesn’t know anything about being a commander-in-chief. Lauer also failed to gather any specifics from Trump.

Trump has spent several months saying that he can’t release his tax returns because he’s being audited, despite his statement that the years 2002-2008 are no longer being audited. (Of course, no one knows for sure that any of his tax returns are being audited.) Then he switched to saying that it would be “irresponsible” to do that. The most recent statement before last night was that “I think people don’t care. I don’t think anybody cares, except some members of the press.” Actually, the man who follows polls so closely should know that 74 percent of the people think he should release them—including 62 percent of the Republicans. Even his running mate, Mike Pence wants him to make the returns public.

Last night, Trump tried a different tack. He’ll release them “immediately” if Clinton makes public personal emails that were deleted years ago. He also said that no one in business would delete emails although that’s exactly what his business did several years ago when he brought a lawsuit ten years ago.

“If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS,” Trump said last night. He suggested that the way to defeat ISIS is to “take the oil.” Asked how to do that, he said:

“Well, you—you just, you would leave a certain group behind. And you would take various sections where they have the oil. People don’t know this about Iraq, but they have among the largest oil reserves in the world.”

So Trump’s plan is to pillage a country of all resources after the U.S. idea has invaded it.

Trump has long valued Russia and Putin over the United States and President Obama, but he went over the edge in a townhall meeting on national security when he talked about his experiences at the his first classified briefing—after he talked about the dangers of Clinton’s emails. He said he was shocked by the way that the briefers disdained his political opponent and the current president and finished by saying, “Our leaders did not follow what they were recommending.” With this massive breach of ethics, concerns about giving Trump classified information were accurate. This is the first time that a presidential candidate has politicized these briefings.

Members of the Trump campaign staff also leaked information about the briefing. For example, it was reported that retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn interrupted the proceedings so much that Chris Christie, also invited by Trump, told him to shut up.

clinton-smileRNC Chair Reince Priebus couldn’t fault Clinton for her statements in last night’s townhall so he complained about—yes!—her not smiling. She answered, “Actually, that’s just what taking the office of President seriously looks like.” Priebus was also wrong: she did smile as this photo shows.

The male moderator at a townhall doesn’t allow the female candidate to address the issues and constantly interrupts her while telling her to hurry up. Then he gives the male candidate easy questions and fails to correct most of the candidate’s lies. The moderator also orders the female not to attack her opponent while asking the male candidate to “keep his attacks to a minimum.” The moderator didn’t limit the male candidate’s constant attacks in any way. And finally the leader of the Republican party complains because she won’t “smile” while talking about serious issues. Might this be called sexism?

Trump may have had a pitiful performance last night in the townhalls, but Gary Johnson, the Libertarian who disaffected Republicans consider as an alternative had a worse morning. When he was asked on Morning Joe about Aleppo, Johnson answered, “What is Aleppo”? The U.S. public may not need to know about Aleppo, but the President of the United States needs to know that Aleppo is the “epicenter” of the Syrian refugee crisis, as Mike Barnicle explained to Johnson. All of Hillary Clinton’s opponents are pathetic, and almost all the “journalists” focus on how she is perceived as not “likable.”

The bar is so low for Donald Trump that he’s admired if he doesn’t drool on his shoes—to quote Democrat Eugene Robinson and Republican Nicole Wallace. That means that Hillary Clinton definitely gets special treatment the way people claim—it’s just that she cannot achieve their high standards no matter the extent of her knowledge and preparation. Trump would have disappeared a year ago, if expectations for him were only one-fourth what they are for Hillary Clinton.

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