Nel's New Day

November 9, 2019

DDT: Week 146 – Disaster

Last week was miserable for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The transcripts from witnesses for the Impeachment inquiry consistently contradicted him, but the statement from Fiona Hill, who served until July as the White House’s top expert on Russia and Europe, may have been the most devastating. She testified, “We found disparaging remarks made by pretty much every world leader and official at different points about the President.”

DDT’s level of confusion may be rapidly increasing. On 11/9 (today) he retweeted a tweet from John Bolton about 9/11 that begins “as we reflect this week on the horrific 9/11 attack ….”

After being booed at a World Series game, DDT had the same experience last Saturday when he attended the main fight of the mixed martial arts UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden. Tonight he got mostly cheers in the Deep South at the football showdown between Louisiana State and Alabama.

A few weeks ago, Shep Smith left Fox; this past week Catherine Herridge, chief intelligence correspondent abandoned her 23-year career at Fox for a move to CBS. Her reason:

“CBS News has always placed a premium on enterprise journalism and powerful investigations. I feel privileged to join a team where facts and storytelling will always matter.”

Yesterday, DDT went to Atlanta to help launch Black Voice for Trump, the grassroots’ attempt to increase the black vote for him in 2020. He has a ways to go after he got 8 percent of the black vote in 2016 and now polls at 7 percent approval rating among blacks. [Left: two of the few hundred people who turned out for his speech.]

The Pentagon said that DDT doesn’t have the right to take oil revenue out of Syria, but it’s still claiming its authority over the oil fields. Officials declared U.S. military authority over the oil fields by saying that they would shoot any Representative of the Syrian government who tries to retake control of their fossil fuel resources. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has already said that the U.S. will decide what to do with the oil “in the future.”

A New York judge ordered DDT to pay $2 million out of his own pocket to nonprofit organizations in a civil lawsuit resolving DDT’s bogus fundraiser for veterans as part of his 2016 campaign. The lawsuit filed by the state’s AG accused DDT and his children Donald Jr, Eric, and Ivanka of repeatedly using charitable donations for personal, political and business gains including legal settlements and campaign. DDT, who said he would never settle the lawsuit, settled by admitting his wrongdoing. Other parts of the settlement subject DDT to ongoing supervision by the New York AG and compulsory training for his children to guarantee that their illegal activity “never takes place again.”

Another woman has filed a lawsuit against DDT: E. Jean Carroll who is a prominent writer, media figure, and advice columnist. When the accusation first became public, DDT said that she is a “liar” and not his “type.” The suit is for his lying that “inflicted emotional pain and suffering, they damaged her reputation, and they caused substantial professional harm.” Carroll explained that she can’t hold DDT accountable for his sexual assault but she “can hold him accountable for lying about it.”

A similar case against DDT by Summer Zervos has a deadline of December 6 for depositions. DDT may have to answer questions under oath. 

DDT has lost other court cases in the past week or two:

In a unanimous decision from a three-judge panel, the 2nd Circuit Court ordered DDT’s tax returns to be turned over to a state grand jury. The panel also rejected the argument that DDT is immune from criminal investigation (aka above the law). DDT plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Usually, the few cases that SCOTUS takes come from disagreement among courts. In this case, four judges have adamantly ruled against DDT, making the move to SCOTUS questionable.

A federal judge in Oregon temporarily blocked DDT’s requirement that immigrants prove they have U.S. health insurance within 30 days of arrival or enough money for “reasonably foreseeable medical costs.” The restraining order is for 28 days. Immigrants without insurance used under 0.1 percent of U.S. medical expenditures in 2017. 

Using the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal judge voided DDT’s rule allowing health-care provides to refuse any health care that they opposed on religious or moral grounds after over 20 states, municipalities, and health advocacy groups filed a lawsuit. One part of the lawsuit was that the rule disproportionately harmed specifically groups of patients such as Q patients. DDT’s rule could have allowed medical “professionals” to deny a wide variety of procedures such as in-vitro fertilization, gender-affirming surgeries, or assisted suicide and even refuse referrals if they chose not to perform these procedures.

A second federal judge, this one in Spokane, blocked the same “religious beliefs” rule a day later. DDT’s rule would also cut federal health funding to employers and states if DDT believed they were not following health care workers’ beliefs.  

Another federal judge ruled the government must provide mental health services to thousands of migrant parents and children who experienced psychological harm because of DDT’s separation of families. Hundreds of these separations still occur. Counseling and other services are mandated to compensate for the families’ trauma. The ruling referred to federal decisions that governments can be held liable when they place people in dangerous situations with “deliberate indifference.”

Thanks to a court decision, DDT extended Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from six countries through early 2021. Migrants running from natural disasters have lived in the U.S. without controversy for up to two decades, but DDT’s aide Stephen Miller prioritized an attack on TPS.  

In a speech at the annual Judge Thomas A. Flannery Lecture, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman of the District of Columbia said that DDT’s rhetoric “violates all recognized democratic norms.” He explained:

“We are witnessing a chief executive who criticizes virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him, sometimes in very personal terms. He seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a coequal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions.”

Friedman talked about Thomas Jefferson, who tried to make federal judges’ seats elected positions, and Dwight Eisenhower, who called the appointment of Earl Warren as the Supreme Court’s chief justice one of his biggest mistakes. No other man sitting in the Oval Office, however, has attacked the judiciary in the same way that DDT does, using incivility and political scorn, according to Friedman. He finished by saying, “Unlike the other two branches of government, the courts are charged with making decisions grounded in facts, never on alternative facts.” Friedman is a senior judge and secretary of the American Law Institute.

Russia picked DDT for U.S. president and interfered in the election to win him the White House, according to Tamir Pardoto, the former chief of Israeli intelligence Mossad.

DDT’s businesses continue their decline, in tandem with his reputation. He keeps getting paid for GOP fundraisers and by foreign leaders, but the figures shrink. Profits at his Chicago hotel fell 89 percent between 2015 to 2018, $16.7 million to $1.8 million, while other Chicago hotels stayed steady or increased their profits. In 2018, a small-time investor defined DDT’s effect on his buildings: “Then the Embarrassment Came.” Even Trump Organization’s lawyers admit that DDT’s hotel is suffering from “political backlash.” DDT’s solution in Chicago is to cut costs such as cheaper housekeeping products and leaving jobs open. The one surefire profit for his properties, however, comes from his over 200 visits in less than three years, money to DDT paid by taxpayers. He faces other losses, for example the vacant street level floor at New York’s Trump Towers and the losses of contracts to manage three hotels.

At a Halloween party for children in the White House on October 25, DDT worked to brainwash his young guests by persuading them to build a construction paper wall by writing their names on brick-colored paper cards and tape them to the wall. Next to the wall were signs with the Ku Klux Klan and pro-Nazi saying, “America First.” In 2017’s Halloween party, DDT repeatedly made derogatory comments about their journalist parents. 

Update on Kentucky’s GOP idea of stealing the governor’s seat:  an increasing number of Republican lawmakers are asking Gov. Matt Bevin to give evidence of the alleged voting “irregularities” or concede the election to Democratic Gov.-elect Andy Beshear, who defeated Bevin by 5,189 votes. The GOP House Speaker said the House won’t have anything to do with the election unless Bevin files a complaint.

Although 88 percent of Republicans think that a president can be impeached for enriching himself, only 22 percent think that using presidential power to force foreign countries to investigate a political rival is impeachable. And 65 percent of Republicans think that presidents do that “all the time.” It’s the new normal for the GOP.

September 7, 2019

More Investigations by and for DDT

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 31, 2019

DDT: Week 136 – His Outrageous Storms

DDT avoided an 80th-anniversary World War II commemoration in Poland this week: he’s watching Hurricane Dorian. Maybe collect white paper towels for survivors. He may have dodged a bullet; the storm turned from a direct aim at his resorts, including Mar-a-Lago, to moving long the East Coast. Aides hoped that the Poland trip would avoid criticism if DDT got out of the country to honor World War II veterans and recover from bad publicity about dropping ratings, inappropriate response to mass shootings, negative responses from world powers at the G7 summit, subservience to Russia, etc. No such luck. Even a visit to Poland could be problematic: it is the only EU country without legislature to deal with restitution of Nazi-confiscated private property.

Staying at the White House and then Camp David, DDT kept tweeting. He praised his trade war with China that increased taxes today, disparaged GM, and blasted former FBI Director James Comey. DDT says that he and his supporters should be “given our stolen time back.” The majority of people in the U.S. would probably also want their last 136 weeks back.

DDT’s campaign sent out millions of emails attacking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) after she pointed out that DDT had claimed in 2012 “the electoral college is a disaster for democracy,” a “sham” and a “travesty.” In 2012, DDT called for a “revolution” with his lie that President Obama “lost the popular vote by a lot” to Mitt Romney. President Obama won the popular vote in that year by 65,915,795 to 60,933,504; DDT lost the popular vote by three million ballots in 2016. DDT’s campaign email stated, “This is our country, not theirs,” possibly referring to “Coastal Elites and Liberal Mega Donors” but also meaning Latinx, blacks, women, LGBTQ, Muslims, and Jewish Democrats, to name a few.

Every time DDT gets enough backlash for his outrageous plans, his officials say that he was joking. Are these jokes? 

DDT will kill more children outside detention after three died in his detention process and he won’t be vaccinating detainees against the flu. In a reversal of long-standing policy, he ordered seriously ill people, mostly children, granted special immigration status for medical treatment back to their countries. Families given 33 days to leave the U.S. have Illnesses that include cystic fibrosis, cancer, and muscular dystrophy. Earlier this month, a man with diabetes, brought to the U.S. at six months of age with his Christian parents seeking asylum from Iraq, died after his deportation. During his campaign DDT claimed he would get rid of only criminals. 

DDT declared that children born outside the U.S. to U.S. citizen government employees and military service members, like former presidential candidate John McCain, are no longer U.S. citizens even if they are born in U.S. military hospitals or diplomatic facilities. His new rule, which lacks public notice and comments. could disproportionately affect LGBTQ service members who adopt children and use surrogates, sperm or egg donors or IVF as well as born-abroad children of noncitizen service members naturalizing after they become parents.

DDT promised to pardon federal officials for illegal activities—seizing private land, flouting environmental rules, pushing billion-dollar contracts, etc.—if they build hundreds of miles of border wall before the 2020 election. Last year, he admitted that enforcement and deportation are better than the wall but that his supporters want a wall. DDT’s pardon offer may violate federal bribery laws. Past pardons have been at the whim of DDT with no judicial review, but this corrupt promise flagrantly encourages unlawful behavior.

DDT plans to pull $271 million from DHS—including FEMA’s $155 million and $115 million from the Coast Guard for aviation security—for immigrant detention space and temporary hearing locations for asylum seekers despite lack of congressional approval. The TSA and cybersecurity also lost funds for detention.

DDT’s aides admitted that he lied about getting calls from China for trade war talks to boost the stock market. There were no calls.

DDT accused companies hurt by his trade war of being “badly run and weak” from “bad management.”  

DDT will open Alaska’s 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest—the planet’s largest intact temperate rainforest—to logging, mining, energy, and other corporate development projects.

DDT wants to stop hurricanes by dropping nuclear bombs on them. The idea is worse than other pieces from his vast knowledge of science—after all, his uncle was a scientist (a physicist born in 1907)—such as wind turbine noise causing cancer, climate change being a hoax, cold weather disproving climate warming, rivers not being diverted into the ocean, and raking forests stopping fires. After his frequent repetition of bombing hurricanes, NASA published an explanation about why it won’t work. DDT vigorously denied making the suggestion, but Axios reported that the information came from one of his staff members.

DDT urged his almost 64 million Twitter followers to “start looking for a new News Outlet” because of Fox “heavily promoting the Democrats.” Good idea! People who watch Fox have a less accurate knowledge of current events than those who don’t watch the news. 

DDT plans to move forward with his plan to index capital gains on stock to inflation as a gift to wealthy investors. Investors selling assets could use the inflation-adjusted value of the initial purchase for the sale to pay less tax by reducing taxable income from their sales.

DDT tweeted and praised a video from the anti-Semiitic and white nationalist hate group VDare that includes its lion logo that comes from a quote from Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini that DDT retweeted in February 2016:

“It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”

Before VDare adoped the lion logo, it was on a website and Twitter account from a group calling itself the Lion Guard, which vowed to protect DDT supporters and “forcefully protect” Trump from threats.

DDT’s included these words with the VDare video:  

 “Trump Pence Keep America Great. Thank you for the support as we MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

The lion logo appeared the following month on a website and Twitter account launched by a group calling itself the Lion Guard, which vowed to protect Trump supporters and “forcefully protect” Trump from threats. The logo soon appeared on VDare’s Twitter account. Larry Kudlow, DDT’s economic adviser, recently invited Peter Brimelow, right-wing English immigrant and VDare founder who called leftists “stupid,” to his birthday party.

DDT had several negative tweets about how Comey “leaked Classified Documents” after the DOJ Inspector General’s findings Comey about giving a memo regarding seven of his conversations with DDT to a friend as security and keeping his personal memos. Benjamin Wittes summarized that the IG “has determined that it is misconduct for a law enforcement officer to publicly disclose an effort to shut down his investigation.” After two years, IG Michael Horowitz discovered that Comey was “straightforward concerning why he wrote the seven memos in question, what he did with them, whom he shared them with and what his motives were in doing so.”

 Horowitz finished his report with ten pages “about how Comey ‘violated applicable policies and his Employment Agreement,’ about his release of ‘official FBI information and records to third parties without authorization,’ and about his failure to ‘immediately alert the FBI’ when he learned that material he had given his lawyers ‘contained six words … that the FBI had determined were classified at the CONFIDENTIAL’ level.”

Comey considered his memos were to be personal, not FBI records; therefore he kept them. Horowitz acknowledges no classified material was ever publicly disclosed. The only new information was the FBI’s process for examining the memos. A court decision ruled that only one of Comey’s redacted words, the name of a country, was confidential. As FBI director, Comey had the authority to judge what was classified. When he left and the FBI changed the classification, Comey was to return the material—which he did. Horowitz’ conclusion is “that a witness to gross misconduct by the president of the United States has a duty to keep his mouth shut about what he saw.”

Regarding classified information, DDT brought Russians into the Oval Office without security, revealed classified information about Israel, and overruled FBI decision to not give a high-level security clearance to son-in-law Jared Kushner. DDT’s most recent classified information leak comes from his tweeted aerial image of an Iranian launchpad, a photo that was most likely highly classified and showed that the U.S. has violated Iran’s airspace by spying on its missile program. In June, DDT declared that a U.S. surveillance drone was in international airspace when Iran shot it down. He almost started a war over the event. A camera flash and a person’s shadow on the image caused speculation that someone took a picture of the image with a cellphone in a classified intelligence briefing where handheld electronics are forbidden. As DDT tweeted, he can release any information he wants, but past presidents have made these decisions after deliberations with U.S. intelligence agencies about potential damage. [visual

DDT monitored Hurricane Dorian while playing golf at his private Virginia club, traveling by helicopter from Camp David. He also tweeted about his endorsement for the North Carolina special congressional election, praise for Fox’s Sean Hannity, and current lawsuits against “various people for violating their confidentiality agreements.” Missing were any thoughts and prayers for the five people killed and the 21 people injured in today’s mass shooting in Texas. He just tweeted that he was being kept informed.

April 5, 2019

DDT: Week 115 – ‘Zombie’ News Stories

Highlighted with flip-flops from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), new revelations, and retribution, the past week has seen a number of stories that just won’t go away—executions, health care, the southern border, the Barr Report, and more.

Texas determined that people being legally executed will not be permitted to have the company of a spiritual adviser during their last moments after the Supreme Court ruled that Patrick Henry Murphy should be permitted the company of his spiritual adviser, a Buddhist. Murphy, however, can still have his spiritual adviser present because the supreme Court made this decision. The Texas death penalty killed half those executed last year.

Boeing finally admitted that the fault lies with the manufacturer in the problems with its 737 MAX 8 with a report that the Ethiopian Airlines crew followed Boeing recommendations but could still not save the jet from its March 10 crash that killed all 157 people on board. The plane’s uncontrollable dive, like that of Lion Air’s plane with another 189 deaths, was caused by a faulty angle-of-attack sensor. A defective sensor in the earlier crash was replaced, but the replacement may also have been defective. An internal review by engineers not connected to the MAX has pushed back Boeing’s fixes to the software by several weeks. The delay could mean months before the aircraft flies again, and sales have been indefinitely delayed.

The Air Force, also concerned about Boeing’s competency, again refused to accept the manufacturer’s KC-46 Pegasus tankers “because of foreign object debris we found in some closed compartments,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said. The tankers were due in 2017, but the Air Force didn’t get its first one until January 2019. The second decision to stop accepting the plans occurred on March 23. Boeing has paid the government over $3 billion for delays and cost overruns. Congress approved $2.4 billion for 25 jets this year, and the Air Force has requested another $2.3 billion for 12 KC-46 tankers in fiscal 2020.

Last week, DDT loved a judge’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act should be overturned and told his DOJ to support the decision in court. For a week, the panicked GOP tried to talk him out of the idea, terrified that more Democrats could win in Congress with the support of the ACA. After DDT was unable to convince people that he had a “beautiful” new healthcare plan, he gave up—until 2021 following the 2020 presidential election. No matter what Republicans say, surveys show that a majority of people like “Obamacare” when polled on its name and an even larger percentage like its benefits to them such no discrimination against them from pre-existing conditions and caps on payouts. [Visual – healthcare]

Congress and DDT battled throughout last week with each telling the other to write the bill and DDT going farther to tout a proposed bill that didn’t exist. In getting rid of healthcare insurance for tens of millions of people, DDT announced that the Republican Party “will soon be known as the party of health care.” DDT finally caved in when Senate Majority Leader told him that the chamber would not work on any replacement for ACA. A day later, less than a week after DDT  tweeted that placement legislation was “moving forward,” he tweeted that he had never intended to repeal ACA at this time:

“I was never planning a vote prior to the 2020 Election on the wonderful HealthCare package that some very talented people are now developing for me & the Republican Party.”

Polling shows why DDT would put off overturning the ACA.  Fifty-four percent of respondents said that they have a lot or some trust in Democratic lawmakers to protect or improve health care compared to 41 percent who prefer Republicans. A strong majority—59 percent—have little or no trust in DDT regarding health care.

The border was another place for DDT’s backtracking. Last week, he said he would close large parts of the southern border, before changing the terminology to “all” the border. Despite warnings that this action would cost $1.5 billion in trade each day—not to count the disappearance of avocados in three weeks—he stuck to his guns by claiming that security is far more important than the economy. The next day he said that Congress could solve the problem of asylum-seekers in 45 minutes. Get rid of all the judges, he suggested.

By yesterday, he decided he would wait a year to close the border so that Mexico could stop the flow of drugs, DDT’s claim for his reasons to stop asylum-seekers. There seems to be a theme of “wait” for DDT’s changes in “policy.” He explained his flip-flop by saying that Mexico had been doing a good job “the last three or four days.” First, he plans to “put the tariffs on the cars” before closing the border, but hours later he denied that he said the border would stay open for a year.

This afternoon, DDT took a few GOP House members on a short tour of border replacement barriers at Calexico that he calls a “new wall.” He talked about the California politicians complaining about forest fires but did praise the new “anti-climb” wall that “looks fantastic—very see-through.” Calexico, about 40,000 population, is considered a “suburb” of Mexicali, capital Mexico’s state of Baja California, that sends many of its 1.5 million population to the U.S. to shop and work. Instead of security needs, Calexico identifies its serious problems from a polluted river and air plus other health issues such as high obesity and diabetes rates. DDT had a good reason for picking Calexico to talk about the wall: it’s a short trip to his California golf club outside Los Angeles. That’s where DDT headed after a couple of hours at Calexico to look at the wall that President Obama initiated.

House Democrats have filed a lawsuit against DDT’s unconstitutionally taking money for his wall. The suit names Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and the departments they oversee. Democrats are using the same position as Republicans who argued that officials couldn’t use federal funds without appropriations. That case tried to eliminate the ACA by not paying insurers. In another lawsuit, the ACLU, the Sierra Club, and 20 states are suing DDT because he tried to use a national emergency to override the congressional refusal to allot him the funding that he demanded. The filing requested a preliminary injunction because of DDT’s “disregard of the will of Congress and violation of fundamental separation of powers principles.” They declare standing because DDT will remove fund from state projects to build his wall. DDT’s declaration resulted in at least five separate lawsuits; the DOJ claims that at least two of them “raise political questions that courts are not equipped to answer.”

The Barr Report is a story that won’t go away for a long time. For almost two years, Robert Mueller meticulously investigated people involved with DDT and their Russian connections before submitting his report to DDT’s lapdog DOJ AG Bill Barr along with summaries for the public. Stephen Colbert’s description of Barr’s four-page “summary” of Mueller’s work:

“That’s like tuning in to see the new season of ‘Game of Thrones,’ and it’s just Barr holding a sign that says, ‘Dragons did some stuff. The end.’”

After more than a week of listening to DDT and other conservatives crowing about the exoneration of DDT by the Mueller investigation, leaks reveal that members of Mueller’s team complained that they had discovered significant and alarming evidence about DDT’s obstruction while he has been in office that Barr excluded from his brief comments. Team members also indicated that information in Mueller’s report is far more damning than the four-page Barr Report reveals.

DDT’s meltdown since Barr released his first statement about the Mueller report hints at DDT’s slow discovery that life might not be as rosy as he hoped. At first, DDT cheered Barr’s report and supporting the release of the complete Mueller report. Then he said he would give Barr the decision whether to release it. A week ago, DDT said “I have nothing to hide.” Four days ago, he complained that “NOTHING WILL EVER SATISY” Democrats, indicating that he doesn’t want them to see the full report.  His earlier “Let the people see” has disappeared. To repeat millions of GOP responses to hiding the Mueller report, why hide the report if it doesn’t damage DDT.

The House Judiciary Committee voted to subpoena the unredacted Mueller report if Barr refuses to give it to them, and Chair Jerry Nadler requested all communication documents between Mueller’s office and the DOJ about the report. Meanwhile GOP senators have five times blocked a vote to release the Mueller report after a bill to do so passed the House by 420-0. Their reasons indicate they hope to protect DDT.

More disastrous news tomorrow about DDT’s tax returns, clearances for family and friends, GOP votes against him as well as fallouts from his decisions in Part II.

March 18, 2019

Some Republicans Briefly Oppose DDT

Congress is on a week-long recess this week—why, I don’t know—but last week it made two historic moves when GOP Republican senators voted against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—twice. Both of them are resolutions that opposed DDT’s power, and one has already been vetoed.

The first has been returned to the House for approval after the House already voted in favor of a similar bill. The War Powers resolution would eliminate U.S. military support for the assault on Yemen in a coalition led by Saudi Arabia. Since 2015, U.S. forces have provided targeting and refueling support to Saudi and United Arab Emirates warplanes that deliberately bomb civilian targets. A complete failure, the Saudi war against Houthi rebels has created the worst cholera epidemic in modern times and “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” Fourteen million Yemenis are on the edge of starvation. Saudi needs U.S. support to continue the war, and DDT’s administration plans to continue its support despite bipartisan opposition to DDT’s loyalty to the murderous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Senate does have a bill to stop U.S. sales of weapons to Saudi and place sanctions on Saudi after MBS’s torture and dismemberment of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Passing the resolution with a 54-46 vote, the Senate supported the resolution for the second time in three months. Last December, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) refused to allow a vote after the Senate passed it 56-41, but the House now passed it by 248-177. Congress has not withdrawn U.S. forces from an authorized war for 45 years.

The second historic congressional action was the 59-41 vote to overturn DDT’s national emergency wall-building order after the House had passed the bill by 245-182, a bill that DDT almost immediately vetoed. Twelve Republicans voted against DDT after he spent almost two weeks begging them to support him. GOP lawmakers voting against DDT’s executive order know that the Constitution grants Congress, not the president, spending control.

Caving in to DDT’s threats to campaign against them in 2020, all GOP senators running for re-election except Susan Collins (ME) voted for his emergency declaration although several of those who voted against the resolution said that they supported it. Last month, Thom Tillis (SC) said he would vote for the disapproval, writing in an opinion piece for the WaPo that there would be “no intellectual honesty” in supporting DDT’s executive overreach when he had opposed that action under President Barack Obama. He lost his “intellectual honesty” and supported DDT’s executive overreach with the excuse that DDT will stop presidential powers with changes to the National Emergencies Act.

One new senator asked for a bribe in exchange for her vote. Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) told VP Mike Pence that she’ll vote against the bill blocking DDT’s emergency declaration if he gives her more money for the military in Arizona. She may have to vote for more Pentagon funding because the Pentagon wants more funding if it has to pay for wall.

Democratic representatives plan an override vote on March 26 although Republicans will most likely not vote to oppose DDT’s emergency declaration. The Senate would need eight more votes to override the veto, and 21 are under DDT’s thumb if they run for re-election. Only one, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, has said he won’t run for re-election. Schumer has suggested that Democratic senators may attach Rep. Juan Castro’s (D-TX) disapproval resolution language as amendments to larger bills, including spending and defense funding reauthorization. Republicans who allow DDT to pluck money from the military for his wall may be in trouble with their constituents with the loss of jobs for the projects.

After voting to abdicate their responsibilities to determine expenditures, some Republicans are considering changes to the National Emergencies Act to more easily stop future emergency declarations as an end run around Congress—possibly as a control on a Democratic president. DDT opposes restrictions on his powers, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “Republican Senators are proposing new legislation to allow the President to violate the Constitution just this once in order to give themselves cover.”

Twenty states are suing the administration in opposition to DDT’s order to build his wall. Three issues to be considered:

For “standing” to be able to sue, plaintiffs must prove they are harmed. The states argue that the funding will be diverted from state-based projects, and landowners can sue for seizure of their property. Democratic legislators can also sue with the precedent of Republicans suing President Obama for payouts to insurers under the Affordable Care Act that were not approved by Congress.

The question of whether an emergency at the southern border must be proved, and DDT said, “I didn’t need to [declare an emergency].” Other arguments against the emergency include data about lower crossings, less crime from immigrations, and drugs moved through official ports of entry can also be argued. Congressional majority votes against the executive order also factor into this decision.

The third point argued in the lawsuit is whether the wall construction is a “military” project. Border enforcement is typically a civilian project, and leaders of the military complex have already said that it is “security,” not “military” as DDT’s acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Four days after Congress passed the resolution to overturn DDT’s executive order, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan provided a list to Congress with several hundred construction projects costing $12.9 billion in dozens of states and U.S. bases around the world that would be impacted shortly after DDT’s acting chief in staff Mick Mulvaney said that no list exists. The release of the list to the media has resulted in a hornet’s nest of papers across the United States furious about the losses to military construction projects.

Republicans promised Democrats that this bipartisan effort to lead the country is a short-term thing. In their efforts to placate DDT, they said that they’ll be back on his side after the two votes this week. The House has passed many bills in their two months of the 116th Congress, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has promised that they won’t “see the light of day.”

McConnell’s power hasn’t brought him popularity. He’s up for re-election next year, and 61 percent of people in Kentucky think it’s “time for someone new.” Only 32 percent think he “deserves to be reelected.” Before January, McConnell was the third more unpopular senator in the country: Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) retired, and Claire McCaskill (MO) were voted out of office. McConnell’s state disapproval rating of 47 percent last year went up to 56 percent in February. Nation-wide, 40 percent of people gave him an unfavorable rating.

Hundreds of youth activists from the Sunrise Movement protested at McConnell’s office where 42 of them were arrested. The group claims that McConnell does not answer their emails; he did not speak to them at the protest. Destine Rigsby, a 17-year-old from Louisville, said of McConnell: “You line your pockets while we die in floods and choke on the air we breathe, yet you don’t even have the decency to look us in the eyes.”

DDT’s base and GOP legislators wanting to get re-elected seem to be the only ones defending DDT’s wall. Four-star Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, tasked with troops at the southern border, told Congress that Russia is the main threat facing the U.S. No mention of Mexico, caravans, or drugs. He added that “the threats to our nation from our southern border are not military in nature.” At least, DDT may have decided not to take $1 billion from military pay and pensions for his wall.

Sixty percent of Texas voters disapprove of President Donald Trump using emergency powers to fund the wall; 52 percent of voters said they don’t believe undocumented immigrants crossing the border amounts to a national emergency. According to 57 percent of Texas voters, a wall on the Mexican border would not “significantly decrease violent crime in the U.S.” while 54 percent said the wall would not “significantly decrease the amount of illegal drugs in the U.S.” In the general population, an average of 64 percent polling oppose the national emergency. Only 27 percent of poll respondents oppose a veto override; 46 percent support the override.

Another of DDT’s broken promises: Mexico isn’t paying for the expensive, unneeded wall.

DDT’s re-election campaign is asking for donations to the “Wall Defense Fund” with the money going directly into the campaign general funds. From there, it goes to DDT’s businesses and lawyers who defend his family members and some of his former officials. [Above: the wall that Nogales doesn’t want]

 

February 27, 2019

U.S. House Keeps Busy Despite Jim Jordan’s Complaints

For people who have been watching the situation with former fixer Michael Cohen for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), his testimony today before the House Oversight Committee held few surprises. Points from today:

  • Republican committee members did not try to refute anything he said; they just tried to smear him.
  • The GOP smears against Cohen—that he’s a “pathological liar”—can also be said about DDT, the man who Republicans were defending.
  • Cohen said that he had tried to cover for DDT during the past ten years in the same way that Republicans are doing now.
  • With this comment about protection, he added, “The more people that suffer Donald Trump, as I did blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I did.”
  • Reporters following DDT in Vietnam for his meeting with North Korea president Kim Jong-Un were banned from his presence after asking questions about the Cohen testimony.

Pieces of Cohen’s testimony that many people already assumed:

  • DDT is a “racist,” “conman,” and “cheat.”
  • Cohen quoted DDT as saying that black people were “too stupid” to vote for him and during a drive through a poor section of Chicago said that “only black people could live that way.” Cohen added, “The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries ‘shitholes.’ “In private, he is even worse.”
  • Cohen has checks (which he produced), evidence “as part of a criminal conspiracy of financial fraud,” directed by his son and the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization Allen Weisselberg, to quiet a former adult film actor.
  • DDT told Cohen to lie about his affair with the actor to his wife, Melania.
  • Cohen said he presided over “several” “catch-and-kill” arrangements between David Pecker and DDT for the National Enquirer to purchase exclusive rights for stories damaging to DDT and then suppress the stories.
  • DDT inflated his wealth to appear on lists of rich people rich lists and falsely reduce it to avoid paying taxes.
  • To a question from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Cohen said that DDT’s tax returns would be helpful in showing how DDT sharply reduced his tax costs by undervaluing his parents’ real estate holdings.
  • Cohen believes that DDT’s tax returns were not being audited in 2016 although that’s what DDT claimed.
  • DDT told Cohen that he didn’t release his tax returns because he might get audited and face big taxes and penalties.
  • Roger Stone communicated with WikiLeaks for the release of hacked Democratic party emails during the 2016 presidential election.
  • DDT knew about the June 2017 Trump Tower meeting among members of his campaign with a Russian lawyer connected to the Kremlin to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
  • DDT used his charity’s money to pay for portrait of himself after driving up the price to impress people.

Cohen finished his testimony by saying:

“Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

Cohen’s described DDT as a mobster-like president, who told Cohen to shortchange suppliers, keep schools from releasing his student grades by threatening them, and deal with negative media about DDT’s Vietnam War draft dodging. Cohen said he had probably threatened a person because of DDT’s instructions at least 500 times. “Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not make his country great,” said Cohen. “He ran to market himself and build his wealth and power.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is under investigation by the Florida Bar because of a tweet that appears to be an attempt to intimidate DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen the day before he started his open testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Gaetz’s tweet:

“Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…”

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), a former DA and federal prosecutor, asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Gaetz’s tweet because it “clearly defines witness tampering and intimidation.” Her request that could lead to an official investigation and possibly a reprimand, censure or fine. An expulsion would require a two-thirds majority of the House. Asked about why he wrote the tweet, Gaeta said, “The tweet speaks for itself.” Later he deleted the tweet and apologized for sending it.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) attacked Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) during the hearing, falsely accusing him of using his first hearing to start removing DDT from office. Cummings ended the session by talking about the committee’s earlier hearings. The first hearing was on January 29, 2019 concerned the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs; Cummings noted that a young man had died because of these escalating costs. He also told Jordan that they had a hearing on H.R. 1, which was about voter suppression and executive branch ethics. That one was on February 6, 2019. “We can do more than one thing,” Cummings said. “And we have got to get back to normal.” The GOP House was notable for not having hearings before votes.

Credibly accused of ignoring sexual abuse of athletes while he was assistant coach at Ohio State University, Jordan’s accusations of Cohen’s lying and lack of remorse rang hollow to many watchers. Jordan claimed that Cummings had “stacked the deck against the truth” and ranted about Hillary Clinton conspiracies, calling Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis a “Clinton operative.” Then he raged about Democrats doing what Tom Steyer tells them and that Steyer had organized a town hall in Cummings’ Maryland district.

Asked if he believed Cohen, Cummings referenced his history with the law when he said he found him “credible” and that it “appears” that DDT committed a crime. Cummings added, “I think that there are still a number of shoes to drop.”

The House has been far busier than Republicans might like. This week, representatives passed a resolution to overturn DDT’s emergency declaration that takes money for various sources to build his wall without congressional approval. Thirteen Republicans voted with Democrats in the 245-182 vote. According to law, the Senate will be required to vote on the House resolution within 18 days, a March 18 deadline. Three GOP senators—Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Thom Tillis (NC)— have indicated they will vote for the House bill, and others are questioning the sensibility of the national emergency, especially if a future president is a Democrat. Two more GOP votes are needed for a simple majority if all Democrats and independents vote in favor of it. A veto from DDT for any bill passed requires two-thirds support in each congressional chamber.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), ranking member of the Committee on Rules, read a complaint about the lack of time for representatives to review the 70-word bill although Republicans passed the $1.5 trillion, 1,097-page tax bill a few hours after it was completed.

The House also passed a bipartisan bill requiring all gun sellers to conduct background checks on firearm sales by a 240-190. With five GOP co-sponsors, the bill received eight GOP votes and lost two Democrat votes. It expands background checks on private sales, including those at gun shows, on the internet, and through classified ads. The bill is the first significant gun control vote since the Senate failed to pass similar bipartisan legislation in 2013. Another bill is due for a vote that would extend the review period on gun sales.

Yesterday, the House Oversight Committee voted to subpoena the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services for documents about the separation of families at the southern border. Cummings said that the documents submitted to the committee were not sufficient and failed to answer committee questions. Two Republicans, Justin Amash (MI) and Chip Roy (TX), voted with Democrats for the subpoenas. Again Jordan attacked Cummings, saying: “You just wanted to be first.” Cummings pointed out that the request was the same as the bipartisan request from eight months ago.

Other House actions:

The House is doing a lot to make Jim Jordan angry.

February 21, 2019

Sue Hardesty: The Wall Continues 

In a poll taken since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced that he was building a wall at the southern U.S. border because of a “national emergency,” polls indicate a disagreement from the people of the United States:

  • 61 percent do not approve of the “emergency.”
  • 58 percent believe an “emergency” does not exist.
  • 58 percent think that DDT misused his power by redirecting funds toward the wall.

Sue Hardesty shows from her FB writings that she’s in the majority of people not approving of an “emergency” and believing that there is no emergency and DDT misused his powers. A few pieces from the past month (lightly edited). She wrote these pieces after her first commentary on walls.

Did you know that for the year of 2015 the IRS reported 4.4 million workers (mostly undocumented immigrants) without a Social Security number paid $23.6 billion in income taxes? And that these same undocumented workers pay $7 billion each year into Social Security. The tragic thing is they are paying all these taxes for benefits they cannot even use like Medicare and Social Security. The reason they did file is that paying taxes leave a paper trail proving how long the immigrant has been in the U.S., one of the requirements toward becoming a citizen. The half of the undocumented workers who did not file still paid taxes which adds billions more every year. These workers are also doing critical jobs, especially in the food industry, that natural born whites refuse to do.

  *  *  *

Sorry. My political side is back. I received so many responses to my page on Trump’s wall that I decided to continue the debate. On crime committed by immigrants, I found that “the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. tripled between the 1990s and 2013, while violent crime declined 48% and property crime fell 41% over that period.” Recent research sources on immigration and crime concluded:

“There are two broad types of studies that investigate immigrant criminality. The first type uses Census and American Community Survey (ACS) data from the institutionalized population and broadly concludes that immigrants are less crime prone than the native-born population. It is important to note that immigrants convicted of crimes serve their sentences before being deported with few exceptions.”

Not only have immigrants committed less crime, there is an abundance of research that immigrants even bring the crime rate down. The second type of research at a macro level analysis generally found, “increased immigration does not increase crime and sometimes even causes crime rates to fall.”

I guess what breaks my heart are the asylum seekers caught in a war we likely caused and are only asking to live. Tell me we have room for them.

Another of Sue’s entries after she read about how private prison conglomerates take cash from immigrants seeking asylum:

I think the government should never hire outside contractors for any job having to do with taking care of any living thing because greed usually wins, especially when rich corporations such as GeoGroup and CoreCivic are involved. On the average, ICE pays around $62 dollars a day for each detainee, giving $38 million to CoreCivic alone last year. When it comes to corporations and the bottom profit line, anything is never enough. In addition to starving prisoners so that they have to work for as little as $1.00 a day, they are overcharged for anything they buy such as a can of tuna, paying four times what it cost outside. Or a dollar’s worth of Dove soap $2.44. Companies also take ten percent of money from inmates waiting for asylum for “fees.” One more nail of shame.

In response from one of Sue’s readers, an 11-minute video about the effect of the wall on Arizona’s Tohono o’odham, whose land is approximately the size of Connecticut [transcript included]. Full one-hour PBS presentation.

A comprehensive view of Arizona’s Tohono o’odham dilemma from the Smithsonian American Indian Magazine. 

Addenda from Nel:

DDT started the wall as a memory device to remind him to talk about his hatred for immigrants; now he says that his Space Patrol started as joke. “I was not really serious,” he said about his first mention. Now he has ordered the DOD to establish a new military branch for the purpose of fighting threats in space—which the Pentagon already does in a Space Command. DDT still needs congressional approval.

DDT demanded the wall because of his “gut feeling” that drugs don’t come through ports of entry. ICE disagreed because drug smuggling has turned to large truckloads—such as the 254 pounds of Fentanyl that Customs found a few weeks ago “under the rear floor of a tractor-trailer.” The discovery didn’t deter DDT’s claims, but facts disprove his false claims again. Yesterday, Customs announced the find of 906 pounds of meth hidden in a trailer with frozen strawberries. A wall would not have blocked either of these enormous drug shipments.

Last week, DDT said the wall wasn’t being built; this week he says the wall is being built—but it’s only a renovation of an existing wall approved in 2017. The video that he parades is almost two years old.

DDT said he would be sued over the wall, and he’s right.

  • A coalition of 16 states filed a federal lawsuit to block DDT’s building the wall without congressional permission.
  • The Sierra Club, the ACLU, and a coalition of environmental groups have filed suits in two other jurisdictions.
  • Three Texas landowners are suing to keep their land on the border from DDT’s wall. One of them said she had never seen undocumented immigrants crossing the border in 40 years.
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a suit seeking documents about DDT’s legal reasoning for declaring the emergency.
  • El Paso County has joined the Border Network for Human Rights to sue DDT in a lawsuit designed to prevent the wall. They argue that the emergency declaration damages the city’s reputation and economy.

Arguments against the constitutionality of DDT’s emergency include no emergency exists (DDT waited two years until he got a Democratic House), the Congress refused the money, apprehensions of undocumented immigrants are down, immigrants aren’t responsible for massive crimes, and drug trafficking won’t be blocked by a wall.

More opposition:

  • The House is preparing to vote on a bill opposing the “emergency.”
  • More than one-third of the money said he would take from other federal programs will probably be unavailable. DOD said only $85 million remains unspent in the $2.5 billion anti-drug funds that DDT targeted.
  • At least eight GOP senators and possibly more, openly oppose the emergency declaration and DDT’s taking money from military construction funds because military bases won’t get the renovation that they need.
  • Representatives are equally unhappy, even our Trumpist Greg Walden (R-OR).

For now, the law that gave DDT only $1.375 billion for a barrier that can’t be concrete has protected areas in the Rio Grande Valley:

  • The National Butterfly Center, an ecotourism destination.
  • Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, an international area for bird watching.
  • Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, exempted in last year’s budget.
  • La Lomita, an historic Catholic chapel that lost a court fight a week ago.
  • Area designated for the commercial spaceport for SpaceX, a space transportation company designed by Tesla founder Elon Musk.
  • Starr County, second-poorest county in Texas, permitted mandatory “mutual agreements” with DHS about barriers.

Losers are the 154-year-old Eli Jackson cemetery, an indigenous burial ground, and 600 owners of private land that can be taken by eminent domain. Every protection is gone if DDT’s “national emergency” succeeds.

DDT is increasing human trafficking by transferring money from the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to ICE that focuses on low-level “coyotes” and finding law-abiding undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for decades. HSI investigations have dropped by other 50 percent because of less than half its former staff in DDT’s first full fiscal year. Although the number of people charged with “bringing in and harboring certain aliens rose statistically by 18 percent, DDT had lowered the standards for smuggling.

Taxpayers are paying $12,000 for DDT’s wall around his Florida golf course to block the press’s view. Last year, he put journalists in basements and covered windows with black plastic so that they couldn’t see his frequent golf games. Taxpayers have already given DDT $17,000 to build a wall at Mar-a-Lago.

February 17, 2019

A Wall to Protect People from Religion?

If we used the same standards for religious figures that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tries to use for undocumented immigrants, the United States would build a wall between the country and all churches. Another former archbishop and cardinal has been defrocked for sexual abuse with no chance for appeal, Theodore McCarrick has been found guilty of “sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power” and “solicitation” during confession. A study completed in 2002 found almost 11,000 cases of sexual abuse by almost 5,000 priests. Far more have emerged in the past 17 years, including the uncovering of over 300 priests in just one state who abused over 1,000 children.

Catholics aren’t alone in sexual abuse by their leaders: at least 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have faced charges of sexual misconduct against over 700 victims in the past 20 years—more in Texas than any other state. The church urged many of the victims to forgive the offenders and for becoming pregnant. Sometimes churches shunned the victims. Some sexual abusers returned to their churches to preach. Southern Baptist Convention officials shielded the predators and refused any reforms.

The above are just two examples of denominations in which people are sexual abused by their religious leaders. The stories go into the tens of millions, unlike DDT’s concerns about undocumented immigrants.

The Roman Catholic diocese has exonerated the male white students from Covington (KY) who appeared to invade the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington, D.C. after they attended an anti-choice March for Life. The bishop claimed that their students were being threatened can called their behavior “laudatory.” The opinion was based on online video and interviews with 43 students and 13 adult chaperones. No one from the Indigenous Peoples group was interviewed. All of them are quite pleased with themselves.

Wyoming has failed to repeal the death penalty, and state Sen. Lynn Hutchings (R-Cheyenne) is grateful because Jesus also got the death penalty. Without his execution, he could not have absolved the sins of mankind. Therefore, retaining the death penalty is vital. I’m a bit confused about her logic. Does she compare all executed people to Jesus? Self-identified on her FB as “your only true Conservative, Christian, Pro-Life Candidate,” she also made this argument for her homophobia while speaking to students from Cheyenne Central High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance:

“If my sexual orientation was to have sex with all of the men in there and I had sex with all of the women in there and then they brought their children and I had sex with all of them and then brought their dogs in and I had sex with them, should I be protected for my sexual orientation?”

Frustrated by two Muslim women in the newly-elected House, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) has accused her of being anti-Semitic because she pointed out that Israel gets its power with the U.S. government because of its donations to legislators. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is right in her claim, but she left out the money that anti-Semitic evangelicals donate to conservative legislators while lobbying them to support Israelis and destroy Palestinians. It all comes from the Christian belief that Christ must convert the Jews after he returns to Israel before the great millennium, the golden age, can begin. Thus their obsession with strengthening Israel for Jesus’s return. Eighty percent of evangelicals viewed Israel’s new state in 1948 as a vital piece of the Second Coming, and 52 percent say they support Israel because of its role in the End Times. VP Mike Pence is one of these people.

The Center for Religion and Civil Culture at the University of Southern California divides evangelical Christians into five different sects since DDT developed power:

Trump-vangelicals:  Primarily white with a few Latinx or black pastors; DDT’s base who want access to political power with the belief that God picked DDT to “make America great again.”

Neo-fundamentalists: DDT supporters who try to keep some Christian values and separate themselves from DDT’s “moral failings.”

iVangelicals: Conservative but pretend to be non-partisan; ministering in big churches to mostly white, financially well-off suburbanites.

Kingdom Christians: Separate from evangelicals but with similar beliefs; keep to smaller, urban churches, sometimes rented spaces.

Peace and justice evangelicals: The left-wing with origins in the 1973 “Chicago Declaration of Social Concern,” urging evangelicals away from prosperity gospel and toward the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia shows that religious fundamentalism comes from a functional impairment in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. Damage results in diminished cognitive flexibility and openness—a loss of curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness. Religious beliefs, socially transmitted mental representations of supernatural events and entities assumed to be real, differ from empirical beliefs based on the appearance of the world and updated with new evidence and new theories. People with lesions in the prefrontal cortex rate radical political statements as more moderate than people without the damage possibly caused by brain trauma, psychological disorder, drug or alcohol addiction, or genetic profile. Although brain damage can lead to religious fundamentalism, the reverse can be true: extreme religious indoctrination can harm the development or functioning of the prefrontal brain areas.

Conservatism is connected with religious beliefs because they are not updated with new evidence or scientific explanations. Fixed, rigid beliefs promote predictability and rules of evidence in the person’s tribe. Religious fundamentalism discourages progressive thinking about religion and social issues—anything that challenges their beliefs. People can become aggressive toward others who are perceived because they don’t share their anti-science and supernatural beliefs.

Although brain damage can lead to religious fundamentalism, the reverse can be true: extreme religious indoctrination can harm the development or functioning of the prefrontal brain areas. Dr. Marlene Winell, daughter of Pentecostal missionaries and a human development consultant, addresses the problem of Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) in her counseling and in her book Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion. She explains that emotional and mental treatment by authoritarian religious groups causes RTS from teachings such as eternal damnation, religious punishment and guilt, and neglect when people are denied information and opportunities. Indoctrination leads to fear and anxiety, and some people suffer from nightmares and panic attacks throughout their lives. The syndrome can also cause depression, cognitive problems, and difficulty in social functioning because the core message of fundamentalist Christianity is that people are wrong and deserve to die.

To control people, fundamentalists tell them that they are weak and dependent, keeping them from making decisions because they must follow the Christian leaders. Leaving can be almost impossible because of religious shunning if people don’t conform.  Departure from a church requires a complete change of one’s self of reality and belief systems. Traumas other than RTS are built into society because of an understanding about the horrors of domestic abuse and war-related PTSD. A person needed counseling because of issues related to RTS are sent back to religion.

One of the goals for fundamentalist Christians is to block marriage equality, and seven Kansas GOP legislators are using the concept of religion to accomplish their mission. Their proposed bill would eliminate all rights for sexual minorities because being LGBTQ is “a religion that does not fulfill any compelling state interest.” They maintain that secular humanism was recognized as a religion in the 1961 unanimous Supreme Court decision when the decision merely determined that the U.S. Constitution prohibits government prohibits a religious test for public office. The legislators’ proof is that the LGBTQ community is organized and has “a daily code by which members may guide their daily lives” along with its religious symbols, i.e., a rainbow-colored flag, and the creed of “love is love”—a shibboleth to oppress those outside their denomination.

Perhaps we need a wall to protect people.

January 25, 2019

DDT: Week 105 – The ‘Dealmaker’ Caves

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) blinked not once but twice this week—the first time when he discovered that he cannot go to the House without its permission and the second time this morning when he reopened the government—for three weeks—without his wall money. He did deliver a threat about a “very powerful alternative” if he doesn’t get his wall money by February 15—likely meaning a “national emergency” to bypass Congress and added this probably illegal and not-so-oblique threat:

“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15 again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”

Republicans followed DDT’s today’s bidding, and both congressional chambers unanimously passed a bill—that DDT has already signed—to fund the government for three weeks while working on DHS funding. Conservatives pundits like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh scuttled the same bill to start the shutdown five weeks ago. DDT the dealmaker got nothing in return for reopening the government.

After 35 days of criticism and sinking ratings, DDT changed his May 2017 statement when he said, “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September.” After 18 months calling for shutdowns and driving the country downhill, DDT achieved his desired goal and didn’t like it.

DDT still isn’t off the hook. FBI Director Christopher Wray is furious—and he’s a DDT appointee. In a video, Wray told agents and other employees, “It takes a lot to get me angry, but I’m about as angry as I’ve been in a long, long time.” He called the government shutdown “mind-boggling” and “short-sighted.”

For two years, terrified Republicans demonized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to convince her caucus that she shouldn’t be Speaker. The most conservative Dems, some belonging to a DDT-supporting group, accused her of being too old. Nancy, DDT’s “nickname” for the speaker, won, just as she did in passing the Affordable Care Act, now popular with a majority of people. Earlier, Pelosi quashed George W. Bush’s plan for privatizing Social Security and sent his ratings into the tank. Pelosi stays firm and holds her caucus together.

Republicans blame Mick Mulvaney, DDT’s acting chief of staff, for their shutdown troubles after he lobbied them to give DDT his $5.7 funding for “wall.” One Republican said that Mulvaney “seems to have screwed this up and put us in a box.” Another said that DDT “wants a chief of staff who isn’t in charge of anything. Mulvaney is the right man for the job.”

For the past five weeks, DDT’s approval ratings have tanked, and confidence in the economy has dropped. His supporters continually wailed about “bad optics,” and the FAA’s brief closure of flights at LaGuardia, where DDT keeps his private jet, caused ripples of delay across the nation. Ten percent of air traffic controllers called in sick, and 3,000 TSA screeners didn’t come to work last Sunday.

Roger Stone, the DDT friend who created the monster of “wall” as a campaign gimmick, became Robert Mueller’s 37th arrest in a pre-dawn raid at his Florida home and been charged with seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction. As intermediary between DDT’s campaign and WikiLeaks’ hacking Democratic emails in he latter part of DDT’s 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton, his indictment tightens the connection between the Russia connection and DDT. Federal officials believe that DDT ordered his former fixer, Michael Cohen, to benefit his campaign with other secret duties.

The indictment accuses Stone of false testimony to the House, and his threats toward associates come straight out of a Godfather movie. DDT didn’t refute the charges against Stone; he just ranted and lied that the FBI had alerted CNN, which had a stakeout at Stone’s house. Stone claimed he would never testify against DDT, something that Cohen promised before he testified against DDT. The New York Times is keeping tabs on all charges and their dispositions from Mueller’s investigation.

In 2017, Foreign Policy reported that the newspaper owned by DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, published all of WikiLeaks releases and sent a freelancer in 2014 to meet with founder Julian Assange, avoiding arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The New York Observer published laudatory articles about Assange and stories refuting Russia’s involvement in DDT’s presidential election.  

The best headline about Roger Stone’s arrest comes from Charles Pierce: “FBI agents arrested Roger Stone for Free. I would have, too.” The reference is to lack of paychecks during the government shutdown, and the article is well worth reading.

DDT is rapidly sinking in the polls—as low as his 34 percent approval rating in the AP poll and down eight points from his 42 percent a month ago. [visual poll] With women, he’s up to 71 percent disapproval, from 58 percent disapproval only a month ago.

Other events of the past week:

The GOP party is so afraid that someone will run against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the 2020 primaries that a committee has passed a resolution to do away with them because of his “effective presidency.” The resolution is headed for the full GOP governing body. South Carolina’s GOP had already considered this possibility.

To build his wall, DDT wants to use the civil forfeiture asset “slush fund,” money that law enforcement takes from people and keeps even if they are never charged with any crimes.

The DOJ changed the definitions of “domestic violence” and “sexual assault” to only physical harm constituting a felony or misdemeanor and eliminating emotional abuse to eliminate asylum seekers and reduce investigation into college sexual assault victims.

Four women who left water and food in the desert to keep migrants from dying were convicted of trespass and littering with sentences of $500 fines and six months in federal prison. With no jury, the judge ignored their defense of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act and misrepresented the area where the women left help, false accusing them of being in a place “littered with unexploded military ordnance” and an uncited federal law that they needed permits to enter the property. The last prosecution for this offense was from George W. Bush’s second term; a 2009 conviction was overturned by the 9th Circuit Court. Border Patrol agents regularly destroy food and water, and DOJ prosecutes only volunteers of No More Deaths.

In story straight out of a mob movie, DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen has postponed his testimony to the House Oversight Committee because of threats to his family. He has now been subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee for mid-February.

In DDT’s “nobody is sure” defense that he used for the killing of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia royalty, DDT said that “nobody is sure” who killed the four U.S. citizens in a suicide bombing last week. ISIS took responsibility for the killings in Syria, and the bombing was shortly after DDT bragged about pulling out all the troops with his rationale that ISIS was “defeated.”

DDT and Rudy Giuliani claim that there were no plans for DDT’s Moscow Trump Tower, but Buzzfeed has proved they are lying by releasing hundreds of business documents, emails, text messages, architectural plans, and its goal to be “the tallest building in Europe.”

Other memorable Giuliani comments from the past week:

  • Failed to say that no DDT campaigner colluded with Russia before he added, “If the collusion happened, it happened a long time ago” and finished by asserting that it “wouldn’t be a crime.”
  • Quoted DDT as saying that talks to build a Trump Tower Moscow were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won.”
  • Suggested that DDT talked to Michael Cohen about his false testimony to Congress before saying that his statements were “hypothetical” and “not based on conversations I had with the President.”

The General Services Administration rented a federal property to DDT for his Washington hotel even knowing that it might violate the U.S. Constitution.

Last April, the day after T-Mobile announced its $26 billion merger with Sprint to double T-Mobile’s value, nine top staffers stayed at DDT’s hotel for up to three days and making repeated visits while they curried support from DDT for the merger. The Senate Commerce Committee is calling for another hearing on T-Mobile’s proposal.

Since DDT was inaugurated, 7 million more people are without health insurance, going to a four-year high from 10.9 percent in late 2016 to 13.7 percent.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar allowed Miracle Hill Ministries, a federally funded Protestant foster care agency in South Carolina, to deny foster children to Jewish families because of the South Carolina agency’s “strict religious requirements.” Texas AG Ken Paxton, several times indicted, is working on a federal waiver allowing discrimination against both religion and LGBTQ people.

Penalties for polluters in the last fiscal year dropped 85 percent from $500 million to $72 million, the lowest level since 1994.

The best thing from the past week was Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) response to Democrats rejecting DDT’s bill demanding his “wall” and adding punitive measures to immigration. His 30-minute speech went far more than lambasting Republicans for perpetuating the shutdown into a history of how they blocked Democrats from a $46 billion measure for border security and the intrinsic problems of the current Congress. Everyone should watch this video.

January 23, 2019

Shutdown Continues Deprivation, Covington Gains Prominence

Day 33 of government shutdown: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may be feeling the consequences of his government shutdown. After he wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that he would give his State of the Union speech in the House in six days, she told him that he could give the annual speech at the Capitol after the government was reopened. She had invited him on January 3 with “no thought that the government would still be shut down.” DDT cannot give his speech in the House without a concurrent revolution for a joint session of Congress and an invitation from the House. DDT referred to the Democrats as being “radicalized,” a term that then House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) endorsed using as a pejorative term about Democrats in the early 1990s. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who supports the government shutdown, said that elected people should “put America’s public first.”

Pelosi accused DDT of “holding the health, safety and paychecks of the American people hostage” and said that Democrats fear he may do so again in future if they agree to his demands. Someone explained to DDT that he couldn’t go to the House with congressional approval, he launched into his usual tantrums, blaming Pelosi for trying to keep “the truth” from the public and controlling Schumer. DDT also was shocked that Pelosi would take this action for the first time in U.S. history. He skipped over the part that trying to give during the speech during a president-caused government shutdown is unprecedented (unpresidented?).

Deciding that he has lost the argument, DDT insulted Pelosi and said that he would wait until after the government reopens to give that “great” speech.

Lara Trump, wife of DDT’s son Eric Trump, calls the loss of paychecks for 800,000 people “a little bit of pain … for the future of our country.” An example of the “little bit of pain” caused by the shutdown is the requirement by Newton (AL) requiring  43 subsidized tenants to pay full rent until “the government opens up.” One 48-year-old woman living on disability with her daughter and granddaughter will immediately see her rent increase from $110 per month to $505. For Lara Trump, that wouldn’t be even a “little bit of pain”; for this family, the almost 400-percent increase is devastating. Rural people who voted for DDT are discovering the “pain” that he can cause them.

Poll since DDT started the government shutdown doesn’t look good for him:

  • 71 percent think that the border wall, which they say is having a negative impact on the country, is not worth a government shutdown.
  • 66 percent want DDT to agree to budget without wall funding.
  • 60 percent think that the shutdown is causing serious problems for the United States.
  • 20 percent report being personally impacted by the shutdown’s cutback in services and programs.

Because of the shutdown, some jail inmates cannot have visitors—not only family but also attorneys—even if they have not been convicted of any crimes. Medical care is also being denied to people in jail because of no availability. The Kentucky union of prison officials have started a billboard campaign to open the government. And they are targeting McConnell as responsible for the shutdown. Today, the House passed the tenth bill to open the government, and McConnell rejected all ten. He is up for re-election next year.

FBI agents have been forced to put investigations on hold because of the shutdown. An undercover agent investigating child exploitation said that he’s “had to put pervs on standby.” Investigation into MS-13 gang members had been slowed because Spanish speakers are on furlough. Another agent working counter-intelligence cases said that they can “only conduct administrative functions.” Indictments are postponed, and grand jury subpoenas put on hold.

DDT’s shutdown caused the cancellation of the 16th annual International Export Control and Border Security Conference, scheduled for 270 security experts from 85 countries to discuss border-related issues such as weapons policy, licensing, and enforcement, including nuclear-arms proliferation. The State Department described the move as a postponement but did not offer a date when the conference would be rescheduled.

Tomorrow, the Senate plans to offer Democrats a deal to stop holding DACA recipients hostage for three years in exchange for $5.7 billion to begin DDT’s wall. Today, the Supreme Court refused to hear the court cases that had stopped DDT’s executive order against the DACA program. That decision makes DDT’s bargaining chip moot for at least ten months.

Arizona Republicans have a way to pay for DDT’s wall: State Rep. Gail Griffin introduced a bill forcing each resident to pay $20 to get porn sites on new computers and smartphones unlocked. Forget the fact that the idea is unconstitutional; the necessary funds for DDT’s current wall would still be short $5,559,680,000 . And imagine the logistics of requiring manufacturers to comply. The idea came from Chris Sevier, a self-described porn addict.

During the government shutdown, the annual March for Life brought about 200,000 people to Washington, D.C., including a large contingent from Covington Catholic High School, a prep school for privileged—mostly white—teenagers in Kentucky, represented by Mitch McConnell who refuses to allow senators to vote on House bills to reopen the government. Most people in the United States were unfamiliar with the school until Nick Sandmann and a group of 50 to 70 students  came from the March for Life to jeer at Nathan Phillips, an older Native American and Vietnam veteran, and a group trying to raise awareness of Indigenous people. When Nick was faced with bad press regarding his behavior, his mother hired a PR agency to organize a campaign that would back the press off from criticism of her son.

Families of Covington students hired the attorney Robert Barnes who appeared on Fox & Friends where he threatened legal action against anyone making false or defamatory statements about the teenagers. He also gave journalists and celebrities 48 hours to apologize and delete their tweets. Videos of the event showed the teens screaming, harassing women, making rape jokes, and taking off their clothes. Barnes may also have to deal with past photos of Covington students in blackface during a basketball game against a rival team with black players. Covington students described blackface as “school spirit.”

This morning, Nick appeared, without his MAGA hat, on NBC Today show where he claimed that he couldn’t remember anyone yelling “build the wall” and “go back to the reservation,” that the chants that he and his fellow students shouted were “positive” displays of “school spirit.” According to Nick, the students, mostly wearing their MAGA hats, were reacting in fear to the “African-Americans” who shouted insults at them. Five Black Hebrew Israelites were seen on video calmly standing, and a sixth videoed them and the crowd while the Covington students was jumping, moving around, and shouting. Phillips led his group between the small group of blacks and the large group of Covington students, who then blocked him from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Racism is “not tolerated” at his “Catholic school,” Nick said. Rev. Marshall Jolly disagrees with Nick’s assessment, as shown in his tweets about his experience with Covington. Nick said on Today that he saw no reason to apologize for what he called “listening to [Phillips] and standing there” and that he had every right to be there.

DDT’s response to Nick’s behavior:

“Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be.”

A week earlier, DDT joked about the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre of several hundred Lakota Indians by the U.S. Cavalry when he ridiculed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) with his customary insulting term of “Pocahontas.”

The dialog on both right and left sides in the past five days has demonstrated one thing: Nick learned from his school, his parents, and other adults that he has the right to stand wherever he wants, even if he is blocking an elder and the resources to hire anyone to threaten people who disagree with him. He feels no obligation to apologize to someone who he has upset, even if it was inadvertent. Males like Nick have a great future: Brett Kavanaugh is now a Supreme Court justice.

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