Nel's New Day

June 2, 2018

DDT: Week 71 – Growing Dictatorship

The President of the United States is above the law, according to John Dowd, a lawyer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who said over six months ago:

“[The]President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”

Today the New York Times published a confidential 20-page memo dated January 29, 2018, from Dowd to investigator Robert Mueller declaring DDT as a dictator in blocking the Russian probe.

DDT’s threats on tariffs is in accord with his “above the law” position. Although Congress is in charge of trade policy, DDT can declare tariffs in the name of national security. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called tariffs on steel and aluminum “insulting and unacceptable” in connection with a national security threat, especially because DDT lied about the trade deficit with Canada. Canada has the deficit, not the U.S., and DDT admitted that he had no idea who had the deficit.

After DDT threatened tariffs on $50 billion from China, they returned with declaring tariffs on $50 billion from the U.S. which dropped the Dow Jones 400 points. It went back up only after the FEC promised a lack of oversight on U.S. banks. Europe plans tariffs on Kentucky’s bourbon and Wisconsin’s Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and Mexico plans trade penalties on pork. China’s tariffs may focus on soybeans, and other U.S. crops may have to be destroyed because other countries cannot afford the price. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) complained about foreign tariffs, “Canada and Mexico, Europe—these are our allies.” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has a better understanding that DDT started the war, saying that DDT’s tariffs will “destroy manufacturing jobs, especially auto jobs, which are one-third of all Tennessee manufacturing jobs.”

Canada filed two complaints with the World Trade Organization after DDT will no longer exempt the country from his tariffs, and EU plans to follow suit. The G7 conference the end of this week—or G6 plus 1 as France describes those attending—will be awkward if the U.S. has to explain why it’s destroy relationships with former allies. The trade war means higher costs for goods and lost jobs.

Stephen Moore, economist at the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, called tariffs “corporate welfare” because they force consumers to pay more to keep favored companies in business. DDT is also erasing competition, a sacred cow of conservative capitalism, by forcing power-grid operators to buy from ailing coal and nuclear plants instead of from cheaper source to protect DDT’s friends and donors such as Murray chief executive Robert Murray and FirstEnergy chief executive Charles E. Jones Sr. Some congressional GOP members are considering a restriction on DDT’s tampering with the economy.

In the Russian investigation, prosecutors are reassembling the shredded papers of DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen and looking into possible audio tapes of his conversations with clients. A website begging for money to support Paul Manafort’s defense team may be a scam. And more information about DDT trying to get rid of his AG Jeff Sessions—or at the very least get him to “un-recuse”—has emerged. DDT’s desperation about Sessions’ not protecting him adds to the appearance of guilt. DDT angrily tweeted about the $16.7 million cost of Robert Mueller’s first year investigating Russian meddling—about one-fourth the cost of DDT’s golf games for the same time period.

DDT’s latest ploy to conceal testimony against him is pardoning people, most recently right-wing conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza for campaign finance fraud with no request from or any attempt to follow the traditional channels of presidential pardoning. Pardoned the same week as Roseanne Barr’s “vile, anti-Semitic” rhetoric, D’Souza has been much more vile. DDT pardoned D’Souza the day after he met with Kim Kardashian West, who asked him to pardon Alice Marie Johnson, 63, serving a life sentence for her participation in cocaine transportation. Johnson has already served 21 years but gets no pardon.

After former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich wrote an anti-federal prosecutor op-ed, DDT may pardon him for trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat. DDT said that politicians don’t deserve prison for being “stupid,” meaning that people should be exonerated for corruption. Blagojevich was fired on DDT’s television show, but he may win DDT’s new game show, “Get Out of Jail Free.” Michelle Goldberg calls it, “Celebrity Impunity.” By demonstrating his power to pardon anyone he wishes, DDT is sending a message to Michel Cohen that he would protect him. This use of pardoning was cited as a possible article of impeachment against President Richard Nixon.

DDT ally Roger Stone, also under investigation, stated that DDT’s pardon “has to be a signal to Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort and even Robert S. Mueller III: Indict people for crimes that don’t pertain to Russian collusion and this is what could happen.” Stone may be thinking he would also be protected.

North Korea talks may be back on as DDT bumbles around, first claiming that he got a “very nice” letter from Kim Jong-Un and then saying eight minutes later that he hadn’t read it. According to scholar Rachel Maddow, North Korea’s envoy is General Kim Yong Chol, “the top-ranked spy in the North Korean government … for a very long time. He headed military intelligence for the past seven years, and he built the world’s most elite hacking and cyber-espionage service from scratch—in a country where no one even has the internet.” Kim was linked to the 2010 death of 46 sailors in an attack on a South Korean naval ship and the 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures as well as other crimes. Maddow questioned whether Kim left surveillance devices when he spent two hours with DDT in the Oval office.

Tropical storm Alberto arrived a week before the official opening of hurricane season, but Puerto Rico remains in dire straits from last September’s Hurricane Maria. In one whitewash of the horror, officials declared the number of deaths at 64, but a new Harvard study in the New England Journal of Medicine gives 4,645 as the real death toll. That’s more people than the 1,833 who died in the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. And more than the number of deaths—2,977—on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Post-hurricane mortality rate of 14.3 deaths per 1,000 people is a 62 percent than the same time period in 2016. The greatest causes of deaths were disrupted medical services, including access to medication and medical facilities. The 4,645 deaths are a conservative number; the death toll may be over 5,740.

A decade ago, the government had to bail out banks in a recession because of lax restrictions, and the Republicans are moving toward the same disaster. The week after DDT signed a bill into law that removed much oversight from banks, the FEC started the process for banks to take the same risks as hedge funds that indulge in speculative activities, aka “proprietary trading.” The GOP Congress already penalizes consumers with new laws allowing minority borrowers to be charged more than whites and removing federal rules easing consumer lawsuits against banks.

Back on the campaign trail, DDT is continuing his three-year-old lie that Mexico will pay for a wall separating the country from the United States. After DDT’s speech in Nashville (TN), Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted:

“President @realDonald­Trump: NO. Mexico will NEVER pay for a wall. Not now, not ever. Sincerely, Mexico.”

As DDT left to talk with family members of the Santa Fe (X) school shooting victims, he said, “We’re going to have a little fun today.” One mother, an Army veteran, compared her discussion with DDT to “talking to a toddler.”

John Boehner, former Speaker of the House: “There is no Republican Party. There’s a Trump party. The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.”

As of yesterday, the WaPo has recorded 3,251 false or misleading claims in 497 days. That’s over 6.5 a day, up from 4.9 claims in his first 100 days. May’s average was eight, helped by 35 just at the Nashville rally on May 29. At least 122 claims were repeated at least three times. One-third of his claims deal with economic issues, trade deals, or jobs, partly when he takes credit for jobs or decisions made before he was inaugurated. For example, DDT’s job growth is actually slower than President Obama’s last five years. The 379 claims about immigration include 19 times that he has said that his wall is being built although Congress denied its funding. Seventy-five times he falsely claimed that he passed the biggest tax cut, and a large chunk of his claims are 265 statements about the Russia probe. The database of these claims.

My favorite recent lie, this one in Nashville about infrastructure:

“We will breathe new hope into our communities and we will do it all with these big, beautiful hands,” Trump continued, raising both presidential paws and stretching out the fingers. “Look at these hands.”

The mystery of the week–and maybe longer is the whereabouts of Melania Trump. She hasn’t been seen for 23 days, despite DDT’s appearances on Memorial Day and this weekend’s trip to Camp David. The only evidence from a White House that leaks like a sieve is a DDT-sounding anti-media tweet supposedly from her that claims she is fine.

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May 29, 2018

Congress Decisions, Destructive or Failed

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) couldn’t even get a farm bill passed after 18 hardline far-right and 12 moderate GOP representatives sided with the Democrats to vote against it after a difference of opinion about immigrants. Conservatives also didn’t like the idea of “too much” funding for food stamps, and the Dems hated the drastic food stamp cuts. On the other hand, farmers and relatives could be eligible for up to $125,000 annually per person. Food stamps cost $125.41 per month.

DDT has signed a bank deregulation bill that puts the United States into almost the same lack of oversight that sent the nation into a recession at the end of George W. Bush’s two terms. The excuse is to help the economy, but, thanks to the tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, Wall Street netted $56 billion in the first quarter of 2018. That’s the industry’s most profitable quarter in history. The new law allows banks to take irresponsible risks that can primarily hurt the bottom 90 percent. Supposedly the lack of regulations help small banks, but rules moved big banks into the “mid-sized” level (up to $250 billion in assets) permitting them to lower compliance costs, expand trading opportunities, substitute costly debts with deposits, and kick back more money to shareholders. Consumers have lost their protection. Lobby money paid off 33 Democrats as well as the Republicans who voted for the bill.

The Senate showed that it understands the disaster of FCC’s repeal to net neutrality by passing a bill in opposition with all 49 Democrats and GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and John Kennedy (LA) voting for the bill. The House will ignore the bill, but it’s a start. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had to deal with the bill because supporters used the Congressional Review Act to force action with a simple majority vote. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pointed out that new net neutrality rules hurt “public schools, rural Americans, communities of color and small businesses” while protecting “large corporations and special interests, leaving the American public to pay the price.”

Congress has failed to overturn requirements on payday lenders that protect borrowers from paying excessive interest on these short-term loans. Conservatives touted these loans as the way that poor people could save themselves from disaster, but a typical two-week payday loan had an annual percentage rage of 400 percent. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may still try to change the rules itself, but that requires public input. The rules required under a former CFPB administration don’t go into effect until August 2019.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) formally requested that Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) schedule a public hearing for Donald Trump Jr. because of evidence that Jr. gave “false testimony.” He told a congressional committee that foreigners did not “offer or provide assistance” to DDT’s campaign and did not seek any foreign assistance. Lying to Congress is a crime even if a person is not under oath. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley defended Jr. by saying that a different witness may have lied to the panel instead.

Crowdfunding (aka cyberbegging) has been used for-profit ventures as well as medical and legal expenses, travel, and community projects. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) wants to use crowdfunding to build DDT’s wall and has introduced a bill to “allow the secretary of the Treasury to accept public donations.” The bill also states that funds can be used “for other purposes” including a mile-long “commemorative display” to honor donors. During her announcement of the bill on Fox, host Farris Faulkner asked, “What happened to Mexico paying for it?” Black said that she didn’t know “what kind of pressure” DDT is putting on Mexico for funding. He is threatening to close the U.S. government if Congress doesn’t approve funding from taxpayers. USA Today has an interactive map of barriers to the wall.

John M. Gore, acting head of the DOJ Civil Rights Division has both refused to appear before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and refused to answer questions about his request for a citizenship question on the census, but under the leadership of Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), GOP members refused to issue a subpoena to Gore with no reason. Two weeks ago, Tom Brunell, DDT’s choice for Census Director, said that the decision to add this question was based on politics. He said, “They have made a political decision. And they have every right to do that, because they won the election.”

Republicans believe in no regulations—unless they serve personal interests. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) declared he will stop banks from new rules on guns that restrict credit card and banking services to gun retailers and cease lending to gun manufacturers that fail to comply with the banks’ age limits and background checks. Bank of America will no longer lend money to companies that make the AR-15. Kennedy plans to file complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—that doesn’t protect consumers because regulations have disappeared—and wants colleagues to write legislation that prevents banks from “discriminating” against gun buyers. Other GOP senators threatening banks for their rules regarding guns are Mike Crapo (ID) and Ted Cruz (TX). Michael Piwowar, a SEC commissioner whose term ends this year, told banks that they would have trouble getting GOP support for easing derivatives regulations.

Dumbest statement from a member of Congress this month? It’s hard to pick, but this one is good. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) has never known to be that sharpest tool in the shed, but his reason for sea-level rise may top earlier comments. “Every time you have that soil or rock whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise. Because now you’ve got less space in those oceans because the bottom is moving up.” He looked over the fact that his solution would be accurate only if the top five inches of the 9.1 million square miles in the U.S. went into the ocean—every year. At least, he’s figured out that the seas are rising. He’s making progress.

Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-VA), member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, dropped his run for a second House term and announced that he’s an alcoholic. Former staffers had accused Garrett and his wife of treating them like servants—carrying groceries, walking the dog, and even cleaning up after the animal’s waste when he forgot to take the dog home from his office. Chief of staff, Jimmy Keady, was ready to leave Garrett when he made the announcement. Garrett’s resignation makes the 44th GOP resignation from the House this year. He had no opposition in the June 12 primary; the House district RNC will select an opponent against a strong Democratic candidate in the November midterm election.

No matter what Congress does, its rating stays low. Among Republicans, the approval rating dropped from 50 percent when DDT was inaugurated to 22 percent this month. And the GOP is in control!

State-wise, felons are beginning to regain their voting rights after they leave prison. Louisiana has passed a bill, which will probably be signed into law, that gives voting rights to people on probation or parole if they have been out of prison for at least five years. In other states:

  • Alabama: thousands of felons were added to voter rolls following a law clarifying specific crimes that bar felons from voting.
  • New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) restored the first pardons giving the right to vote to over 24,086 parolees.
  • Virginia: Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) restored voting rights to over 155,000 convicted felons who completed their sentences.
  • Florida: A November ballot measure could restore voting rights to felons after they complete their prison sentences. (Florida is one of ten states where felons permanently lose their voting rights.)
  • Mississippi: Two pending federal suits seek automatic voting rights after the completion of the sentence.
  • New Jersey: Lawmakers are considering a measure allowing people in prison to vote, legal only in Maine and Vermont.

Republicans want to keep felons from voting from fear that they will vote against the GOP, but states have another method to keep white supremacy: eliminating all non-citizens from the census that determines the number of seats per state in Congress. Alabama has a lawsuit to exclude immigrants from the count, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) are supporting that position. The 14th Amendment requiring the census states that congressional seats are designated on the basis of the number of “persons.” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and Alabama’s AG Steve Marshall are using the argument that “persons” did not include undocumented people in the 18th and 19th centuries. Alabama may lose a congressional seat after the 2020 census. Missouri state legislators are considering a law that would base state legislative districts entirely on citizen population.

In all but six states, legislatures will be adjourned by the end of June. Next week, however, the Senate comes back to meet 12 weeks before midterms—less time for the House schedule. Both chambers disappear in August. We’ll see how much damage they can do in that time.

March 5, 2018

DDT: More Week 58: Who’s In, Who’s Out

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:24 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Appointments:

John Dunkin, former personal pilot for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), is under consideration for FAA administrator.  In charge of all U.S. civil aviation, the FAA chair oversees a $16 billion annual budget. While Dunkin supervised the DDT campaign air fleet, VP Mike Pence’s plane had several “hard” landings, including a plane ended up 300 feet from a major highway. Dunkin also hired a pilot wanted for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, running over a colleague with his car three times, and deliberately running into someone with a motorcycle. Other DDT hires include:

  • DDT’s golf caddie as the White House Director of Social Media.
  • DDT’s bodyguard as the Director of Oval Office operations.
  • Eric Trump’s wedding planner in charge of HUD for the northeastern United States.
  • The husband of a member of DDT’s household staff at Trump Tower who ran a home contracting company called “Steve’s Tools in Motion” in a job at EPA Region 2 headquarters in New York.
  • DDT’s bankruptcy lawyer as the ambassador to Israel.

And John Dunkin in charge of a life-and-death job.

Wendy Vitter, appointee for a federal judge and wife of GOP Louisiana senator reelected after he confessed to hiring prostitutes from the “D.C. Madam,” omitted her anti-abortion speeches, interview, and letter from a disclosure form for the Senate Judiciary Committee. She skipped information about moderating a panel on the false dangers of abortion that supported the myth about women taking oral contraception having a higher risk of dying violent deaths, cheating on their partners, having fertility problems and unhealthy children, and experiencing poor relationships with their partners.

Resignations:

Hope Hicks, White House communications director who is “like a daughter” to DDT, left after she testified to the House Intelligence Committee that she told “white lies” for DDT. A black lie from November 2016:

“There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

There were contacts between DDT’s campaign and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, top advisers including family members met privately with the Russian emissary about “dirt” on Clinton, George Papadopoulos’ contacted with Russians, Carter Page traveled to Moscow and contacted with Russian officials, Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak’s met with a variety of DDT’s campaign surrogates and officials including Jeff Sessions, and Donald Trump Jr. privately communicated with WikiLeaks..

Josh Raffel, White House spokesman and “manager” for DDT’s children, White House officials, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, quit.

Joseph Yun, the top U.S. diplomat with the foreign service since 1985 who is overseeing North Korea policy, retired. Last year, Yun assisted the release of Otto Warmbier, U.S. citizen held prisoner by North Korea.

Roberta S. Jacobson, U.S. ambassador to Mexico and one of the most experienced Latin America experts in the State Department, left her position after the growing schism between the two countries and the diplomatic relations being assigned to Jared Kushner. Other major State Department resignations include Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the third-highest ranking official, and John Feeley, the ambassador to Panama.

Matthew Masterson, a GOP member of the Election Assistance Commission who won’t be reappointed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), brings the four-member agency down to two members. Masterson was an expert in non-partisan approaches to help states fight cyber attacks and develop anti-hacking protocols.

H.R. McMaster may resign as National Security Council adviser, his departure facilitated by Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis. The replacement is reportedly Stephen Biegun, a bigwig at Ford Motor Company who was on the council for a couple of years with the George W. Bush when national security warnings were ignored. He also tried to advise Sarah Palin on foreign policy when she was a VP candidate.

Lawsuits:

The 4th Circuit Court ruled 10-4 that Maryland’s ban on 45 different “assault” weapons, such as the popular AR-15 in mass shootings, and its 10-round limit for magazines does not violate the U.S. Constitution. The court wrote:

“Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war.”

Last year a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit sent a ruling upholding the ban back to U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake, ordering her to apply “strict scrutiny.” Maryland appealed to the full court which supported its decision. The fourth similar ruling in a decade, it follows the 2008 opinion from SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia in Columbia v. Heller that the right to bear arms “is not unlimited.” Other rulings permitting the ban came from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the 7th Circuit, and the 2nd Circuit.

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear DDT’s appeal of a federal court ruling to continue DACA; DHS must accept renewal applications for 700,000 young Dreamers, making DDT’s arbitrary March 5 deadline moot. Two weeks ago, DDT turned down six bipartisan compromises, including one that funded his wall in exchange for extending DACA protections to Dreamers.

Two victories in LGBTQ rights: The 2nd Circuit Court banned discrimination against LGBTQ workers based on Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The DOJ had supported discrimination in the lawsuit in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was fighting the discrimination. Last April the 7th Circuit Court was the first appeals court to ban this discrimination. The 11th Circuit Court ruled for discrimination in a split three-panel decision. The U.S. Supreme Court left in place the Arizona decision recognizing Suzan McLaughln as the legal parent of a child she and her female spouse, Kimberly McLaughlin, conceived through assisted reproduction.

The New York-based International Refugee Assistance Project has asked the Supreme Court to join Hawaii’s challenge to DDT’s travel ban, to be argued before SCOTUS in April. The 4th and 9th Circuit Courts have already ruled against the ban. Syrian filmmaker Kareem Abeed, nominated for an Oscar for Last Man in Aleppo with Feras Fayyad, could not attend the ceremony because of DDT’s travel ban. Also denied entry is Mahmoud Al-Hatter, featured in the movie as co-founder of the White Helmets, a humanitarian volunteer group in rebel-controlled Syria and Turkey that does search and rescue after bombing to evacuate civilians. Russian propaganda has pushed the misinformation from Syrian president Bashar al-Assad who accuses them of being a front for Al-Qaeda.

In the second recent lawsuit to reverse DDT’s deportations of people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), eight Haitian and Salvadoran recipients have sued with the argument that the decision was based on discrimination. Both suits use DDT’s “public hostility toward immigrants of color” as evidence. One of the Salvadoran plaintiffs began as a kitchen assistant and now has four Boston restaurants; he employs over 20 U.S. citizens.

A federal court ruled that South Dakota’s March 27 petition deadline is too early and that the 2.5 percent mandate of voters too high for a new political party in the state primary.

A federal judge stopped construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline in southern Louisiana, the southern extension of the Bakken Pipeline until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reconsider its environmental impacts.

Without permanent security clearance, Ivanka Trump explained the new U.S. economic sanctions against North Korea to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. An ambassador didn’t have this responsibility because DDT fired his nominee, Victor Cha, after Cha disagreed with DDT’s threats toward North Korea.

Net neutrality is dead, and AT&T is dancing on the body. After its claim that nothing will change, the company texted its customers to tell them that it’s expanding zero rating, content exempt from arbitrary usage caps, to “some” content meaning that which already belongs to AT&T and “sponsored” data—that is paying AT&T.

DDT hasn’t saved coal: the average for the closure of a plant every 16 days in 2017 matches the average for President Obama’s eight years.

DDT wants to emulate Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in killing drug dealers—over 12,000 in the past two years. “You know the Chinese and Filipinos don’t have a drug problem. They just kill them,’” DDT said.

The faculty at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA), self-identified as “among the nation’s premier research universities,” voted to rescind an honorary degree given DDT in 1988. The decision is now with the Board of Trustees which took no action on a petition with 35,000 signatures.

DDT’s most bizarre tweet last week:

“I have decided that sections of the Wall that California wants built NOW will not be built until the whole Wall is approved. Big victory yesterday with ruling from the courts that allows us to proceed.”

California officials fought the project, and the administration has no change in policy, despite a judge’s ruling that the wall can be built with no attention to environmental and endangered species laws.

Melanie Trump stayed in the U.S. on a “genius” visa, the EB-1, for only the highest accomplished artists, doctors, academics, and engineers in 2001. Only 3,376 immigrants with “extraordinary ability” were granted of the one million visas that year.

DDT’s problems in the White House:

A new poll sponsored by a conservative group shows that 77 percent of millennial voters, ages 18 to 35, want action to oppose human-caused climate change, and only ten percent oppose any action. Even 57 percent of millennial Republicans want to stop or slow climate change. Over twice as many millennials think that the country is “on the wrong track” as those who see it in “the right direction.” Last week, DDT’s approval rating was 35 percent.

April 28, 2017

DDT: Week Fourteen, More Failures

The quarterly GDP report just came out, and the average 0.7 percent increase is bad news for news for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) who bragged that his leadership would move the gross domestic product skyhigh. Instead the GDP for his first quarter is the worst in three years. Why do people vote for Republicans? In a statement of how DDT is struggling, he said, “I thought it would be easier.” This is DDT’s classic statement as he reflects on his first 100 days. “I loved my previous life. I had so many things going.” Many other people wish he were back in his previous life too after his string of failures.

Alienation of South Korea: After picking a fight with North Korea, DDT attacked South Korea by threatening to terminate the U.S. trade agreement with South Korea because the five-year-old accord was “a horrible deal” that has left America “destroyed.” To make things worse, he told South Korea that they should pay the $1 billion for the U.S. missile-defense system, Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (Thaad), to be installed in South Korea as protection against a North Korean attack.

Flynn’s Failure: When Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser for 24 days, started the chant of “Lock her up” about candidate Clinton last summer, he said that he’d be in prison if he did one-tenth of the things that she had done. Maybe he will be incarcerated. The investigation into Flynn has already shown that he likely took money from Russia without notification to the U.S. after the Pentagon warned him against doing it and that his work for Turkey has a Russian connection. Meanwhile, DDT is trying to cover for Flynn’s illegal activities by refusing to release any information about him. Now the Pentagon has joined the investigation into Flynn, and DDT’s AG Jess Sessions has recused himself from the whole problem. Maybe if FBI James Comey had been more worried about real treason and not Hillary Clinton’s emails?

The Wall: Press Secretary Sean Spicer is trying to cover for DDT’s backing off from his main promise by saying that it was a priority and not a demand, but DDT tweeted that the drug problem will never be solved without a wall. Yet 56 percent responses to a poll agree that DDT hasn’t accomplished much, and 47 percent of the blame goes to DDT. The GOP gets 25 percent blame and Democrats only seven percent. At the same time, the majority of people—a number that is growing—oppose building the wall, and an increasing number want money put into infrastructure instead. Texans oppose the wall as much as Mexico on the possibility of making Mexico so instable that it becomes another Venezuela as well as flooding and sewage in the Rio Grande River.

Tax Increases: DDT may have hoped that his shiny new tax plan would distract from his other problems, but it’s going downhill fast. Presenter and Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin knows that it gives cuts to the wealthy but can’t guarantee that “no one in the middle class is gonna pay more.” At least DDT will get a big cut with his own plan. A 65-year study by the Congressional Research Office found no correlation between cutting taxes and economic growth.

Latest Executive Order Overturned: Judge William Orrick, of the federal Northern District for California, has blocked DDT’s threat to cut off funds to sanctuary cities if they refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked an executive order by Donald Trump which threatened to cut off funds to sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. The injunction retains the right to identify sanctuary cities and withhold certain grants but cannot alter the way federal funds are spent because that power lies within the congressional, not the presidential, branch of government. The Justice Department said that the order applies only to the failure in sharing citizenship information as required by law and three federal grants that require compliance as a pre-condition. Orrick said that this defense is worthless because law already permits it, leaving no purpose for the executive order. He also said that DDT’s rhetoric and surrogate statements, including those from the AG, contradicted the interpretation that the Justice Department tried to place on it. Orrick said:

“The President has called it ‘a weapon’ to use against jurisdictions that disagree with his preferred policies of immigration enforcement, and his press secretary has reiterated that the President intends to ensure that ‘counties and other institutions that remain sanctuary cites don’t get federal government funding in compliance with the executive order.'”

Press Secretary Sean Spicer had said that the administration stood behind its threats to eliminate law enforcement funding to those cities. The federal government is now trying to decide on a definition of “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

Massive Donor Errors for Inauguration: Inauguration Donor Fraud?: Follow the rubles. A crowdsourced data project at HuffPost found massive mistakes in DDT’s final campaign report with the was filled with mistakes—missing addresses, vacant lots used for addresses, anonymous or fake names, etc.—showing that even basic checks on accuracy were made.

Failure of Conservative Press Control: Unhappy with the sometimes factual reporting in the mainstream press, DDT has been wooing the far-right outlets and frequently failing. After they didn’t support his healthcare plan, he called them to the White House last Monday to tell them—gently, for him—to shape up. It wasn’t a success: they’re still complaining about the lack of attention that DDT has given them despite his favoritism. They’re also upset that they were told to leave their phones outside the room and not to report on what was said until 30 minutes into the meeting. The result was bad press from conservatives about DDT’s communications team. 

Empty Rooms: Cite Priebus: The Senate has confirmed 26 of DDT’s picks for his Cabinet and other top posts, but he’s nominated only 37 people for 530 other vacant senior-level jobs requiring Senate confirmation.

Disappearance of Zombie Healthcare Bill—Again: Once again, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) couldn’t get the votes for the revised healthcare bill. The ultra-conservatives loved it because it takes insurance from more people, but the more centrist GOP members balked. One embarrassment for the GOP is that the failed bill exempted members of Congress and their staff: they can keep all their benefits. Once this fact came to light, GOP representatives talked about changing their minds about piece of the bill.

No Budget: The House passed a one-week extension on passing the budget to keep the government functioning for another seven days. The reason may be to prevent a shutdown on DDT’s 100th day tomorrow. The GOP House follows the pattern of teenagers who do no school work and then ask for an extension. And the action saves DDT the embarrassment of a government shutdown on his 100th day.

The United States has become so racist—including some law enforcement officials—that Sanya Gragg has published a book on the “talk” with black children: what they should do to stay ALIVE. Momma, Did You Hear The News?, a picture book for small children, gives this directions if they are confronted by the police, even if they’re just innocently walking down the street.

  • A – Always use your manners
  • L – Listen and comply
  • I – In control of your emotions
  • V – Visible hands always
  • E – Explain everything

Something else that white children don’t have to face.

Much more about DDT’s last week, but tomorrow is his 100th day—and lots more for another post.

Meanwhile, cheers for recently retired GOP Judge GOP Judge Doug McCullough, who resigned from the North Carolina Appeals Court a month before his date of mandatory retirement to allow the Democrat governor to replace him. McCullough is disgusted with the legislature’s blatant attempt to strip the new governor of any appointment abilities, going so far as to pass a bill to reduce the court from 15 to 12 so that newly elected Roy Cooper cannot fill any vacancies. An attempt to override Cooper’s veto leaves the governor with a small window of opportunity. Cooper’s new appointment, Judge John Arrowood, is the first openly gay member of the North Carolina court of appeals. McCullough is a man with ethics.

April 1, 2017

The Great Wall of DDT

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:07 PM
Tags: ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) walked out of his Oval Office yesterday without signing the executive orders on trade and dodged questions about granting immunity to Michael Flynn. He refused questions and left the folder with the orders on a desk in the next room. After failing to get him to come back, VP Mike Pence grabbed the folder and followed him out. DDT supposedly signed the orders later, one for a 90-day study of the country’s trade deficits to identify potential abuses and the other one for stricter enforcement of anti-dumping laws to prevent foreign manufacturers from undercutting US companies by selling goods at an unfair price.

Evidently things are not going well for him. He’s also having trouble with the centerpiece of his campaign, building an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” between the United States and Mexico. He first announced that he would make Mexico pay for it, but they refused. Then he said he would charge them tariffs which would pay for it. Congress refused. He has sent out RFPs for construction, but he currently has no funding.

The “wall” has many more problems for its construction:

Cost: DDT says that the total cost will be $10 billion for the remaining 1,000 miles, but conservative GOP estimates are $15 billion. More realistic guesses are $25. The existing 650 miles have already cost over $7 billion, and it is not tall, impenetrable, powerful, or beautiful. In trying to get the money through border-crossing fees, taxing imports, and other methods would work, according to DDT, “if you know something about the art of negotiating.” He hasn’t evidenced any ability in that era yet. 

Private Land: Some of the cost will be purchasing property that people don’t want to sell or taking the land by legal force. Only two-thirds of the 2,000-mile border are federal and tribal lands with private and state-owned lands comprising the remainder. In Texas alone, 225 miles are not federally owned, and the government quit in 2009 when it still had to negotiate with over 480 landowners. In order for the government to take land away from people, federal law requires the government to consult with “property owners … to minimize the impact on the environment, culture, commerce, and quality of life for the communities and residents located near the sites at which such fencing is to be constructed.” Then the government would need to declare a taking and undergo condemnation proceedings. In addition, the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment mandates compensation for the existence of the wall on owners’ property.

Tribal Land: Although DDT may think that he has control over tribal lands, the treaty before the Mexican-American War of 1853 says differently for Tohono O’odham territory, a 2.8 million acre area the size of the state of Connecticut bridging the Arizonan/Mexican border. To the tribe, a wall would damage their “sacred sites, ceremonies, relations with relatives, and respect for ancestors’ burial sites,” according to Nellie Jo David, a Tohono O’odham law student at the University of Arizona. A steel barrier already separates tribal members on parts of the border with barbed wire in other places, but they were allowed to freely travel across the border until 9/11. A wall such as DDT envisions would stop water flowing into the Tohono O’odham land and prevent animals from moving back and forth to breed and find food. Tribal members talk about having convenient water sources nearby, but being blocked at the border requires miles of travel for water.

Eco System: Building a wall would destroy the natural movement for animals between the north and south of the North American continent. Without this migration, endangered species such as the North American jaguar and black bears will be increasingly threatened. Eighteen federally protected species are found on the California border, and at least 39 federally endangered, threatened, or candidate species live along the Arizona border. The border is also home to natural flooding zones and large areas of sand with movement of land.

Food for People in the U.S.: Inexpensive undocumented labor is the foundation for food in the nation. Without them, crops rot in the field because no one else will do the work. If the wall is effective, the price of fruit and vegetables, both highly labor intensive, will skyrocket. Then comes prices for animal products, starting with dairy and moving on to eggs and meat. Grains and beans will follow. With DDT’s freeze on people who inspect food, work with farmers, and do research to improve food system sustainability and efficiency, people will have less—and more contaminated—food.

Economy: U.S./Mexico trade is over $1 billion every day; the 13 million Mexicans who traveled to the U.S. in 2010 spent $8.7 billion, and trade with Mexico sustains 6 million U.S. jobs. Over 20 percent of all U.S. jobs are tied to trade along the border.

Lost Land: DDT hates to give up anything, and building the wall will lose him part of the United States. He can’t put it on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande because Mexico won’t let him. He can’t put it in the middle of the river because that’s impossible—or unbelievably expensive. When he puts it on the north side of the border, he can’t always put it exactly on the edge of the river. For example, he will have to go through the second hold of the River Bend Resort & Golf Club in Brownsville (TX). The Texas wall would most likely be on a federally-owned flood levee. Fifteen of River Bend’s 18 holes are located on the south side of the levee in addition to over 200 plots where retirees park their RVs. Some of these people voted for DDT and want the wall—just not on their property.

Laws: A 1970 boundary treaty governing structures along the Rio Grande and Colorado River at the Mexican border requires that they not disrupt the flow of the rivers. These flow across Texas and 24 miles in Arizona and define the US-Mexico border, according to The International Boundary and Water Commission, a joint US-Mexico agency that administers the treaty.

Appearing more rational than his boss, Ryan Zinke, who DDT chose for the Secretary of Interior, seems to understand the improbability of the “big, beautiful wall.” In discussing how complicated building such a structure could be, he suggested electronic monitors in some areas and nothing in places with large natural features. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly stated that at least parts of the wall but will instead “rely on sensors and other technology.”

DDT continues to insist that he will build the wall, but he has a very short attention span. And at least 62 percent of the people oppose the building of the wall. Of course, a majority of Republicans supports it although the closer they live to the proposed wall, the greater the opposition. None of the congressional members from Texas supports its building. Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) described The Wall as “the most expensive and least effective way of securing the border.”

According to DDT, building the wall would be easy. That statement comes from a man who has never built anything in his life. On the other hand, a professional engineer describes how difficult the project would be. To be effective, cheap, and easily maintained, it must be built from readily available materials and use an existing labor force. To avoid tunneling, it must go five feet into the ground; to avoid climbing, it must be 20 feet above the ground.

The continuous, non-porous construction would be built from concrete that would have to be pre-cast because of the hot, dry climate—three times the amount of concrete necessary to build the Hoover Dam and with a greater volume than all six pyramids of the Giza Necropolis. The materials could pave a one-lane road from New York to Los Angeles, going the long way around the planet. The rebar to reinforce the concrete would weigh about 5 billion pounds, perhaps from melting down four Nimitz-class aircraft carriers plus a few cruisers. Facilities would have to be built to create the pre-cast part of the wall and then shipped across the desert. Workers would need food, water, shelter, lavatory facilities, safety equipment, transportation, and medical care. Who would do that—other than immigrants?

Humans have built a 2,000-mile-long wall just one time in a centuries-long process that required the forced labor of millions of Chinese peasants.

[More thoughts on building the wall.]

February 11, 2017

DDT: Week Three – Part 2

trump-signature-photoMost of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) publicity during his first three weeks was vigorously signing Steve Bannon’s executive orders, actions, and directives and then proudly holding up leather-bound documents like a toddler being potty trained. Some of these, such as the recently overturned Muslim ban, had teeth, but many of them are just—publicity. For example, the three on “strengthening” police. They were supposedly “designed to restore safety in America,” to “break the back” of cartels, and “stop as of today” violence against the police. Yet the text reveals that policy steps were missing. Instead they showed DDT’s displeasure with the cartels and order task forces that will actually stop investigations into the spike in killings of black people, many of them by law enforcement officials.

An earlier order about ISIS asked for a plan—not really a news breaking concept. The one on killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership merely fired another shot into the TTP’s decaying carcass. An examination of his 26 “executive actions” disclose most of them to lack substantive value, according to Mark Rozell, the dean of the government school at George Mason University. Yet he presents them as if “he’s doing something very dramatic, very significant.” That’s DDT—a theatrical showman signifying nothing. [DDT’s signature with his inauguration photograph.]

Yet pieces of what he has done are extremely destructive:

Return of Dakota Pipeline: The Army Corps of Engineers will approve the final easement allowing the pipeline to cross underneath Lake Oahe, the primary source of drinking water for the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. DDT said he didn’t get a single phone call opposing his pipeline approvals. Maybe because the White House has removed the availability for calling and people can’t call the White House anymore? And the fact that DDT still has money invested in the company building the pipeline.

Disappearance of Fair Internet Use: After the election, Breitbart.com bragged that net neutrality would be “dead” under Trump. DDT’s appointment for the Federal Communications Commission, former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, is achieving that goal by cutting the federal assistance program for low-income broadband users and refusing to defend existing FCC rules that cap inmate intrastate calling rates. He also stopped an investigation into Verizon and AT&T that offer free data for preferred apps.

USDA Purge of Animal Welfare Information: All inspection reports about monitoring of animal treatment at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities have been removed from the federal website and now accessible only through FOIA requests, requiring years for approval. That means that puppy mills and other animals abuse are back with impunity.

CNN’s Refusal to Interview Kellyanne Conway—and Its Backtracking: Last week, the White House declared a boycott on CNN, and DDT accused the news network of being “fake news” at his speech about Black History Month. The position was briefly reversed: CNN turned down the White House for a number of guests, including Kellyane Conway, to be on CNN’s State of the Union. The network declined. Conway wanted to appear to discuss her MSNBC complaint about the media not covering the fictitious “Bowling Green massacre” caused by refugees. There has never been a terrorist attack in Bowling Green (KY), but two Iraqis were arrested for donating to Al Qaeda. The situation was covered in at least 90 major newspaper articles as well as on television news. If the term “massacre” was a slip of the tongue, as Conway declared, she has had other slips about the situation in Bowling Green, including false details for an interview with Cosmopolitan. CNN told a reporter that Conway was turned down because the network has “serious questions about her credibility.” Within two days of its bravery, CNN caved, and Conway was back on the network peddling her lies—like how DDT deserved credit for not lying some of the time.

hitlerWhite Supremacists Rejoicing at White House Direction: Last week we reported on DDT’s removal of white supremacist groups from the government’s attempts to stop “homegrown” terrorism within the United States so that they are no longer targeted. The Daily Stormer, named after a Nazi propaganda publication, wrote:

“Yes, this is real life. Our memes are all real life. Donald Trump is setting us free.”

The publication sees DDT’s action as the same as their own writing and their reward for helping elect him, and their colleague, Steve Bannon, is running the White House. Bannon called himself “the platform for the Alt-Right [aka white nationalism]” when he published Breitbart.com. Just one example of joy from the white supremacists is a post on another neo-Nazi site, Infostormer:

 “We may truly have underestimated President Trump’s covert support of our Cause (at least in some form), but after this proposal, I am fully ready to offer myself in service of this glorious regime.”

Deportations: For the party supposedly supporting “family values,” the saddest piece of the new DDT regime is the massive ICE roundups of parents to separate them from their children. These sweeps, primarily in California which voted against DDT, do not target dangerous criminals. Other deportations were of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos in Arizona which she reported into ICE as she always did after being caught in a workplace raid ten years ago and Francisco Alvarado who was taken from his three children and wife. Garcia de Rayos came to the U.S. when she was 14 years old, and Alvarado fled Honduras because the “Maras” gang begun in the U.S. killed several of his wife’s family members. ICE agents find their prey by following children home from school.

Among those detained are two U.S.-born children with no criminal background and another youth considered a “gang member” simply because of old speeding tickets and tattoos. Lawyers cannot find their clients because ICE refuses to reveal information about whether they have been deported. These people are not the “killers and rapists” who DDT said he would deport.

Super Bowl ads were a highlight of last Sunday. The ads—costing $10 million a minute—were remarkable. During more progressive times, many of these ads bashed women, but DDT’s ascendancy changed that focus. Check this out for a great piece on the television commercials shown last Sunday.

ryan

It’s been only three weeks, and the victorious Republicans are “moving the goal posts” of their dreams. Promises of dumping Obamacare, overhauling the tax code to benefit the rich, and funding a wall to separate Mexico are being stalemated by budget deadlines. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) bravely says that things are better between the GOP Congress and DDT, but conservatives are upset by their slow pace. The House Freedom Caucus, worried that the entire agenda will be halted until a repeal of Obamacare, doesn’t see any urgency for the task. They’re also amazed by the virulent attacks from constituents highly disturbed by the loss of the Affordable Care Act although they maintain that the protests are from big money.

Just the wall that DDT promises will run $21.6 billion, according to the Department of Homeland Security, and take almost four years. That’s $157.31 per person for everyone who paid income taxes last year–even the 63 percent of the people who don’t want the wall. And Mexico won’t be paying for the wall. Raise the tariff as DDT said? People will have to buy 36 billion avocados to pay for a wall. Then consider the problems of terrain, Native American treaties, and problems with eminent domain in Hillary Clinton territory. And maybe the fact that DDT doesn’t have an investment in construction companies for the wall. And that entire issue just one facing the Republicans in 2017.

[Correction: Although Adolf Hitler made a comment similar to the one above, he actually wrote in Mein Kampf that “they will more easily fall victim to a large lie than a small lie … the most bold and brazen lie is sure to stick.” Joseph Goebbels stated, ““If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” He also stated, “The truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” ]

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