Nel's New Day

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 Congress has not withdrawn U.S. forces from an authorized war for 45 years.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.

January 22, 2019

Sue Hardesty: Wall–‘Have We No Shame?’

Day 32 of government shutdown: Last Saturday, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) offered to sell Democrats a small part of what he took last year in exchange for $5.6 billion to build wall and reopen the country. In a TV speech, he offered DACA recipients a bit of relief for three years—unless he changed his mind—before they again lose their rights. People outraged with DDT’s weak offer may be angrier with other parts of DDT’s bill:

Remove eligibility for asylum from Central American minors. All these asylum seekers, who must have a parent or guardian in the U.S., would have to stay in their home countries and go through State Department processing centers there. DDT’s bill restricts the number of qualifying children to 15,000.

Eliminate all African countries and predominantly Muslim countries such as Syria and Yemen from the ten countries offered temporary protected status because of violence of damage by natural disasters. This change leaves only El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua out of the list of ten.

Restrict temporary protections to immigrants already legally in the U.S. Almost people in this category would lose their eligibility.

Create stricter penalties for Dreamers wanting a status change. The crime of making “any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements” would also allow prosecution for minor errors, even ones that the applicants unwittingly made.

Extend temporary DACA protections for those currently covered and who renew their applications. No new applications will be accepted, renewal application fees would be doubled, and income requirements would be added.

Add penalties for wrong information in applications to asylum applicants and limit applicants’ abilities to defend themselves. Applicants with fraudulent documents because of corruption in their home countries would suffer from these penalties.

Require that asylum applications be “consistent with the national interest.”

Meanwhile, 800,000 federal workers have missed their second paycheck. Many are on the same infamous “breadlines” common during the Great Depression. One of these soup kitchens are free meals (below) provided by chef José Andrés and his nonprofit group that served millions of free meals to needy people after natural disasters such as Hurricane Maria and the California wildfires. Conservatives are fond of saying that people need this kind of charity because they aren’t willing to work. These people—almost half of them still on the job—have employment, but conservatives deny them their paychecks. 

On her Facebook page, Sue Hardesty has published this piece on DDT’s wall:

I have to take one deviation from my fun writings on Yaquina Bay and surrounding areas to do a bit of a rant. To be honest, it’s really a big rant, so those of you who are fed up with hearing about Trump’s wall, delete me. I swore to myself I would stay out of politics on Facebook, and I do know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind. I just need to say it.

I grew up and spent most of my adult years close enough to the Arizona/Mexico border. I have crossed it in many places many times and have observed the damage the present walls have done in polluted lands, decreased water equality, loss of business in small towns on both sides of the border. When the border wall of the town of Boquillas del Carmen (Texas) was closed in 2001, the town was economically devastated and abandoned. Millions of dollars in border trade has been lost which will only get worse. The environment of more than one hundred species of wild animals will continue to be catastrophically damaged, and animals along 650 miles of the Rio Grande will be blocked from life-sustaining water.

Winston Churchill once said he believed in democracy until he spent five minutes talking to a voter. I have often been ignorant about politics having little energy left over after a long workday to think on our national crises. I figured that was what the guy I did vote for was supposed to do. And I don’t have a problem with that either unless those in power are as ignorant as the average voter and intend to stay that way. Seems to me anyone thinking about completing the wall on our Mexico/U.S. border would at least check out the historical successes or failures of walls, especially when millions of lives and billions of dollars are at stake. How long would that take?

So I decided to find out. Starting with the Great Wall of China I learned it was over 5,000 miles long and was built to stop inner Asia nomads from entering China. It did not. Then there was Hadrian’s Wall built across northern England to stop barbarians. It did not. Oh, and let’s not forget our modern-day Berlin Wall, built originally to stop invaders from the west but ended up attempting to stop deflectors from the East. It did not. The presently successful Israel/Egypt wall is Trump’s model. This “apartheid wall” or “anti-terrorist wall,” depending whose side you’re on, is 152 miles long and costs Israel $260 million per year for maintenance. Walls, like fences, help us feel safe. But that’s about all they do.

Trump himself once said, “Is there a brick wall getting in your way? Fine. That happens. But you have a choice. You can walk away from the wall. You can go over the wall. You can go under the wall. You can go around the wall. You can also obliterate the wall. In other words, don’t let anything get in your way.” As Jane Loeffler, architectural historian who studied fortifications of U.S. embassies, said, “A wall is so primitive. You can dig under it, go over it, catapult yourself over it. A wall is more symbolic than a real defense. A wall is fear in three dimensions.” In truth, what really happens? The first and last lines in Robert Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall,” reads “Good fences make good neighbors,” ironically depict how walls separate people and describes his wall-building neighbor as unthinking, “like an old-stone savage armed.”

As to the illogical argument we are overcrowded now, 39.8% of the land in the U.S. is privately owned with 1.14 million miles in farmland, mostly unpopulated as is most of the 60% publicly owned land. The U.S. is a very big place. If you think we don’t have jobs for all these undocumented, that is also not true. During the 1990’s the U.S. Congress provided the H-2A work visa to stop criminals from entering the U.S. and prevent farmers from hiring immigrants if a U.S. resident could do the work. The loss of so many workers with the passing of this act was devastating to many businesses in most of the states.

Some states such as Georgia passed even more highly restrictive laws against immigrants. As a result, an estimated 40 percent of Georgia state’s agricultural workforce disappeared, and $140 million worth of crops were lost. It was a lesson no one learned. Desperate for workers, Alabama founder/CEO of Grow Alabama, Jerry Spencer, decided to train local white workers in a month-long experiment. At the end, all but three workers were gone. I understand why it failed. As a kid, I decided to earn money by chopping weeds in my brothers’ cotton fields. I lasted four hours: I had no idea how much bending, kneeling, chopping, pulling, and bleeding it took. I was lucky I could get an education and move on.*

But the most tragic result of wall building is that when we began hunting each other we turn the hunter and hunted alike into animals as violent as any criminal. We teach each other there are undesirables among us, resulting in refuge seekers and innocent indigenous people getting beat up and left lying in the hot sun in their own blood and vomit, wives and daughters raped, and homes savaged.

The opportunity to openly hunt with little repercussion along the 1954-mile border has already attracted self-appointed groups like the American Border Patrol who call themselves a watch group, the Civil Homeland Defense, Tea Baggers, white supremacist vigilantes, Minute Men, National Socialists, and Ranch Rescue. And my favorite, Joe Arpaio copycat Walking Tallers. In the middle of this crazy mix are the cartel, Coyotes, drug traffickers, undocumented workers, and on the Mexican side, the Federales. On the American side we have our own Border Patrol with its Forward Operating Camps.

When we do run down the undocumented, we throw them into cages, separating parents from their children, and don’t even pretend to care what happens to them. The old adage, “violence never resolves who’s right. Only who’s left,” has never been more frightening. I cannot help but ask what happened to our humanity. Have we no shame?

Sources:

https://talkpoverty.org/2019/01/03/already-border-wall-environmental-disaster/

https://www.newsweek.com/what-history-tells-us-about-building-wall-solve-problem-381875

https://www.summitpost.org/public-and-private-land-percentages-by-us-states/186111

https://www.Wikipedia

https://www.america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/3/12/visual-activism

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/world/middleeast/

*The situation was worse in Georgia and Alabama than Hardesty described. After an anti-immigrant law caused 11,000 Latino farm workers to leave, farmers tried to hire others looking for jobs. In Georgia, the new non-immigrant “workers” picking cucumbers had one-sixth of the output that migrant workers did because of less effort, longer breaks, and quitting early. Throughout the states with these punitive laws, farmers retired or switched from growing food to planting trees. When Alabama potato farmer Keith Smith lost his immigrant workers, most of the new employees not only displayed the same problems as listed in Georgia but also showed up late with some quitting after less than a day. These problems existed in 2011 with a higher unemployment rate. In 2019, far fewer workers are willing to endure the backbreaking work.

January 14, 2019

H.R. 1:  Imagine If the Swamp Really Got Drained

Day 24 of the government shutdown: A record-breaking snowfall has shut down Washington while Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) left on a trip to New Orleans to speak at the National Farm Bureau Federation. He told them he liked farmers and that everything would be fine with the shutdown before he launched into a gory description of a woman attack at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Fox network cut away from the speech after DDT began talking about how undocumented immigrants appear at court hearings are “not smart.” Demonstrators outside the convention center chanted “lock him up.” Earlier DDT tweeted that his speech was in Nashville (TN). [Left: The Korean War Memorial, Kevin Ambrose]

In a Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of people opposes the wall (54 percent) and blames DDT and the GOP for the shutdown (53 percent). The new CNN poll is higher—56 percent opposing a wall and 55 percent blaming the GOP. Opposition to the declaration of a national emergency to build a wall is at 66 percent, but only 24 percent believes DDT’s description of a “crisis” at the Mexico border.

Those who claim that DDT is not a racist should note how he made his case for wall with his tweet touting Pat Buchanan’s recent column:

“The more multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual America becomes—the less it looks like Ronald Reagan’s America—the more dependably Democratic it will become. The Democratic Party is hostile to white men, because the smaller the share of the U.S. population that white men become, the sooner that Democrats inherit the national estate.”

Nothing says GOP like the color white.

My favorite shutdown story of the week: Today Kate Brown, elected twice for Oregon governor, was sworn in. Three days ago, she tweeted the story of how her husband, Dan Little, recently cleaned up a bathroom at the Mt. Hood National Forest Sno-Park southeast of Portland. This photo shows what the public does to public spaces if there is no staff to clean up after them. Little cleaned up the bathroom, hauled off the trash, and then sent a bill of $28 for “Trash Removal” to DDT. Like other national parks, Sno-Park is still open with the public leaving trash and human waste everywhere. The story is an example of how people care about their surroundings even if others don’t mind making them into a pigsty.

Instead of working to open the federal government, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scheduled a third week trying to give states the right to discriminate against companies that boycott Israel. McConnell is sticking to his program of not putting forward any bills that DDT doesn’t like.

DDT may be backing off on his suggestion of declaring a “national emergency” to get his wall. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) always echoes DDT’s approach. A few days ago, he said “Build a wall!” Last Sunday, he went to the “last option” statement. The House conservative Freedom Caucus also opposes the emergency excuse because of legal standoffs and the strategy leading to tactics for Medicare for all or other progressive “emergency” ideas. Meanwhile DDT sat in the White House last weekend and waited for Democrats to come to him and give him his wall while legislators in both parties went home for the weekend. The House has already approved four funding bills to reopen parts of the government.

Two more weeks of the shutdown will cost the U.S. economy more than building the DDT’s vanity wall. If the government shutdown lasts another two weeks, the total cost to the U.S. economy would exceed the price of building the proposed border wall. In this estimate, S&P Global Ratings included lost productivity by furloughed workers and dropping sales for government contractors. No paychecks for 800,000 federal workers or IRS tax refunds equals at last $2 billion per week, according to Wells Fargo analysts. The 16-day shutdown in 2013 cut 0.4 percent from the fourth quarter GDP that year.

During DDT’s campaign, people believed his lie that he wants to help the working people. The shutdown is another example of how he has no concern for the plight for the workers; he’s ruining federal workers in the same way that he has spent decades cheating the people who worked for his business by refusing to pay for their work. He claims that he needs to keep his promise to get the wall—skipping the part of the promise about Mexico paying for the wall—but he has broken his promise to coal miners who have lost health protections, safety, wages, and even their jobs, just to mention a few ways that he has cheated his base.

Although Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) accuses the Democrats of inaction, the House has already passed four bills to open the government and fund several of the agencies. In addition, the House added these new rules to its operations: a ban on members serving on corporate boards, a requirement that members take ethics training every year, and a ban on employment discrimination against LGBTQ staffers and jobseekers. In the first few days, the House also created For the People Act, H.R.1, the number given to the bill considered the most important of the session. Provisions of this bill are intended to overcome the travesties of GOP actions in the 21st century–i.e., to “drain the swamp.” DDT’s and the GOP behavior has given an extensive list of ideas for reform. Following are some of the bill’s provisions:

Voting Rights

Access:

  • Removes barriers to the ballot box such as difficult registration systems and limited voting hours.
  • Creates nationwide automatic voter registration.
  • Restores voting fights to people who complete felony sentences.
  • Expands voting by mail.
  • Mandates a minimum of two weeks for early voting with locations accessible by public transportation.
  • Eliminate postage for absentee ballots.
  • Guarantees that ballots cast in the wrong precinct but within the home county will be counted.
  • Requires all provisional ballots to be counted.
  • Prevents states from imposing restrictions on voting by mail.
  • Creates options for same-day and online registration.
  • Designate colleges and universities as registration agencies.
  • Make Election Day a holiday for federal workers.

Integrity:

  • Affirms congressional right to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which granted the Justice Department veto power over jurisdictions with histories of voting discrimination.
  • Confirms the federal government’s power to protect Native American voting.
  • Prohibits voter roll purges by overturning a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that put the onus on voters instead of government to keep registrations up to date.
  • Ends partisan gerrymandering by requiring a nonpartisan redistricting commission in every state.

Security:

  • Eliminates involvement in elections by foreign countries.
  • Pays for modernized voting systems.
  • Supports voting system security including paper ballots.
  • Increases oversight over election vendors.

Campaign Finance

Disclosure:

  • Requires super PACs and other organizations involved in political activity to disclose donors giving more than $10,000.
  • Mandates that large digital platforms maintain a public archive of all political ads and prevent foreigners from directly or indirectly buying ads.
  • Requires government contractors and presidential inaugural committees to disclose their political spending.

Empowerment:

  • Creates a multiple matching system for small donations.
  • Reaffirms congressional authority of regulation of money in politics.
  • Asserts that Citizens United was wrongly decided by the Supreme Court and Congress has authority to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures.

Oversight: 

  • Bans the use of shell companies that funnel foreign money into U.S. campaigns and campaign contributions from corporations with significant foreign ownership.
  • Calls for the IRS to create new rules for non-profit political spending.
  • Defines a “coordinated” expense among political allies.

Enforce existing laws:

  • Tightens rules on super PACs.
  • Restructures the Federal Election Commission to break gridlock and enhance its enforcement mechanisms.
  • Repeals Senate riders that prevent government agencies from requiring commonsense disclosure of political spending.

Ethics and Accountability

Fortification of Ethics Law:

  • Expands conflict of interest law and divestment requirements.
  • Prevents members of Congress from serving on corporate boards
  • Requires presidential candidates to disclose ten years of tax returns.

Greater Ethics Enforcement:

  • Overhauls the Office of Government Ethics.
  • Provides sufficient resources to watchdogs to enforce the law.
  • Creates a code of ethics for the Supreme Court to govern conflicts of interest and recusals.
  • Requires that ethics waivers be publicly disclosed.
  • Governs possible conflicts of interest from previously received political contributions.
  • Gives the director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) final approval over executive branch recusals, exemptions, or waivers from ethics laws or regulations.
  • Allows the OGE to investigate violations of ethics laws and author to provide remedies.
  • Limits the President’s ability to remove the director of OGE only for cause.

Foreign lobbying:

  • Closes registration loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents.
  • Gives the OGE authority to levy civil fines for offenders.

Reading through this wish list of reforms, people will claim that Republicans will never agree—and they are right. The GOP of the 21st century knows that they cannot elect their candidates if everyone votes. That’s the reason that they violate ethics, codes of conduct, conflicts of interest, fair voting practices, transparent donations—in short, cheat to get their own way. Republicans no longer believe in democracy; they just want to get their own way. [Caveat: if the GOP embrace these ideas, I will profusely apologize.]

January 12, 2019

GOP Makes History with Shutdown—Again

Day 22 of government shutdown: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has his wish—the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Until today, the longest was from December 5, 1995 to January 6, 1996 when GOP leaders disagreed with the method of determining a balanced budget. Before that, the GOP closed the government from September 30 to October 18, 1978 when Jimmy Carter opposed purchasing the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Details of all shutdowns until the GOP objection on October 1-17, 2013 to the Affordable Care Act are here. In the formerly three longest shutdowns, the Republicans voted to agree with the Democratic presidents.

This past week, members of the Coast Guard risked their lives to rescue three men on a crabbing boat that tried to cross the dangerous Newport (OR) bar, the opening at the end of a jetty between the ocean and Yaquina Bay. Sadly, the boat was lost and the three crew members died, but not because the Coast Guard didn’t do their jobs—although they aren’t being paid. The 41,000 members of the Coast Guard are part of the 800,000 federal workers no longer receiving paychecks because of DDT’s intransigence or government allowances for housing in expensive coastal cities.

Adding insult to injury, a federal website for Coast Guard members published a five-page tip for surviving without paychecks—babysit or dogwalk or serve as a “mystery shopper.” They could sell their belongings at a yard sale. “Bankruptcy is a last option,” according to the website although it’s always been DDT’s first action before he got money from his father or the Russians. To be fair, the recommendations are primarily for the 8,500-person civilian workforce, but its publication is still demeaning, especially the comment, “Stay in charge of the situation by getting a clear understanding of what’s happening.”

Federal workers are already struggling to make up for the missing paychecks by getting supplies at charity food pantries, driving for Uber, and giving blood. They aren’t employable because they may not be staying on the job long. At the same time, states and municipalities are losing revenue by less sales tax, and small businesses are hurting from lack of business.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to address any bill passed by the new Democratic House.  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “The goal is not to open up the government. Instead, the Senate focused on a bill The goal is to fix a broken immigration system.” Instead, the Senate worked on a bill giving states the right to punish companies that boycott Israel by refusing to contract with them and adding $33 billion in military aid to Israel over the next ten years to the $5.5 billion the U.S. enacted in last year’s defense spending bill. The fast-tracked bill bypassed any committee involvement. McConnell’s blocking all bills to reopen the government led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to ask:

“Do you take an oath to the Constitution or an oath to Donald Trump?”

 

This week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) decided to negotiate a resolution with DDT by reopening the government while letting congressional committees sort out money for the wall. DDT rejected the GOP plan, and Graham said that he’s given up looking for a resolution. In making a “deal” for the wall, each side has to give something to get something. The only “give” that DDT offers is reopening the government—which he has to do anyway. DDT claims “No wall, no deal,” and the only resolution is for two-thirds of each congressional chamber to vote for a continuing resolution—without a wall.

DDT now falsely claims he never said that Mexico would pay for the wall. Not only does video show him making this statement over and over, but his campaign materials state that he expects to finance the wall with “a one-time payment of $5-10 billion” from Mexico which his administration would “compel” the country to make.

Trying to avoid bad press and appease friends, DDT promised the illegal actions of sending tax refunds to people and favoring lobbyists in the lending block of the mortgage industry. Yesterday, 800,000 federal workers got paychecks with $0.00, but Treasury officials guaranteed that the IRS will process forms for mortgage lenders. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association CEO, Robert Broeksmit, asked to “make these guys essential” because of “a problem for the lending industry.” The clerks working on Broeksmit’s problem will receive full pay, unlike the vast majority of their colleagues, but the estimated 248,400 veterans working for the shutdown government agencies get nothing.

In 2004, DDT told an audience of graduates at Wagner College how to avoid a wall:

“If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, go through it, go over it, go around it, but get to the other side of that wall.”

Thirty-three Wagner professors and over 700 alumni have asked the school to rescind the honorary degree that DDT received for his address.

A saw can be used to cut a hole through DDT’s preferred wall prototype, the “steel bollard.” Even without the hole, the spaces between the slats are wide enough for packages or perhaps people. Or they can just climb the bollards.

 

“Never so many apprehensions ever in our history,” DDT said. Yet the 400,000 apprehensions in 2017 and 300,000 in 2016 are far lower than the past with 19 years over one million people between 1983 to 2006 and topping out at 1,643,679 apprehensions in 2000. And bipartisan support for immigration has grown.

DDT wants to build a wall by taking $13.9 billion in disaster relief in declaring a national emergency, including include $2.4 billion for flood prevention and protection projects in California, $2.5 billion for reconstruction projects in Puerto Rico, and $4.5 billion for projects in Texas, including those related to 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.

Putting this money into a medieval wall is like flushing it down a toilet—or a river—especially in the vast areas of the Rio Grande floodplain, where a 1970 treaty between the United States and Mexico bans the barrier. According to the treaty, the joint U.S.-Mexico International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) “must approve construction of works proposed in either country” along those rivers and prohibits the construction of projects “which, in the judgment of the commission, may cause deflection or obstruction of the normal flow of the river or of its flood flows.”

Border experts state that a wall has already been built everywhere possible on the border, but 1,254 miles runs through the middle of the Rio Grande River which routinely floods—more and more since recent climate change. Any barriers will greatly worsen flooding as shown by the flash flood along the 5-mile border fence along the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument that poured through the port of entry and damaged businesses, government buildings, and private property. The only solution is to put the fence miles away from the border, leaving privately-owned U.S. land seized through eminent domain on the Mexican side and ceding that land to Mexico.

About walls, DDT declares he’s a “professional at technology.” He said, “I know tech better than anyone.” This statement follows all the other areas in which he considers himself an expert because he knows more about the subjects than “any human being on earth”: science, drones, Osama bin Laden, Cory Booker, borders, campaign contributions, courts, debt, Facebook, guns, visas, infrastructure, the political left, money, horror of nuclear, renewables, steelworkers, taxes, trade, Wall Street bankers, and wedges.

Jeffrey Toobin writes:

“If the President can spend government funds without congressional approval—indeed, if he can do so in the face of an explicit congressional refusal to spend funds for precisely the purpose that he seeks—that fundamentally reorders the relations between the branches. Specifically, it vastly expands the President’s power at the expense of Congress.”

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) went silent when CNN’s John Berman asked him if a future Democratic president could bypass Congress and declare climate change a “national emergency.” Finally questioning the validity of the claim, Berman pointed out that the Pentagon thinks climate change is a serious problem. Then deaths from guns could be a “national emergency.”

While DDT shuts down the government because of immigrants, U.S. citizens are destroying public land. A prime example is the prized Joshua Tree National Monument, now unstaffed, where “patriots” are cutting down trees (below right), making new roads with four-wheelers, and spray-painting rocks. Paraplegic veteran Rand Abbott has gone to the park almost every day to clean bathrooms, pick up trash, and “kindly persuade people to not destroy the park.”

Federal workers suffering from no pay are scattered throughout the country with the top afflicted places outside Washington, D.C. being Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Idaho. A map with numbers of federal workers without pay is here.

 

DDT’s shutdown is estimated to lose the economy $2.5 billion every week, a 0.1 percent loss in GDP for every two weeks. And that’s low-balling the guesstimate. Congress can stop the shutdown if two-thirds of each chamber votes for a continuing resolution or a budget. That’s 50 Republicans in the House and 15 in the Senate. The House has already picked up 12 Republicans. Maybe that many legislators will learn that a wall won’t stop drugs coming in through tunnels, ports of entries, and international bridges; a wall won’t address the majority of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who overstay their visas.

January 4, 2019

Shutdown Disasters Start with DDT

Day 14 of the government shutdown: VP Mike Pence and hundreds of his appointees will receive wage increases averaging about $10,000 a year, thanks to the lack of appropriation legislation. At the same time, 800,000 federal workers have no paychecks although about half of them are still on the job. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ordered a pay freeze for most federal workers just before 2019, one which does not keep his cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, top administrators from getting raises, people who may receive them in bulk later if their agencies’ human resources departments aren’t staffed because of the shutdown. Public information about these raises led to “bad optics”; after a day of “exploring options,” the government ordered departments to hold off on the pay raises.

DDT has already said he would “look foolish” if he backed off from the wall funding, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is goading him into staying the course by saying:

“If he gives in now, that’s the end of 2019 in terms of him being an effective president. That’s probably the end of his presidency. Donald Trump has made a promise to the American people: He’s going to secure our border.”

Disagreeing that DDT is an “effective president,” people also wonder why he doesn’t keep his promise to make Mexico “pay for the wall.”

To get his wall through holding the government hostage, DDT spreads false fear-mongering to keep his base in control.

  • DHS highly inflated numbers of gang members trying to cross the border—6,000 instead of the actual 800.
  • The 3,755 “terrorists” described, including those under suspicion of ties to organizations, come at all U.S. ports of entry such as airports. Last year, the State Department report zero number of terrorists crossing the Mexico border.

  • Percentages of apprehensions on the Mexico is high for 2018 because the number was so low in 2017, the first year after DDT’s inauguration. DDT wanted that decline to prove that his methods were effective, but he realized that he needed high numbers to persuade people to fund his wall.
  • DDT spreads false increases about drugs coming across from Mexico: the 2.14 million pounds of narcotics were seized in 2017 dropped to 1.7 million pounds in 2018, a decrease of over 20 percent. Former DHS Secretary John F. Kelly testified that most of these drugs come through existing ports of entry, and statistics show that the vast majority of these drugs is marijuana, which has been legalized for some purposes in two-thirds of the states. DDT also lied when he said most of the drugs don’t come through legal ports of entry.
  • A conservative outlet reported 900 cases of human trafficking but inflated the figure by counting all children who did not come into the U.S. with a biological parent. Only 170 children claiming to be with family were separated because of no biological; these children, who may have been with family friends, have been sent to privatized confinement where many of them are abused—physically, sexually, and emotionally—by taxpayer funds.

People in the U.S. need to be far more afraid of native-born citizens than undocumented immigrants. In 2015, these citizens committed crimes at over twice the rate that of undocumented immigrants. In another study, cities with a higher undocumented immigration population do not have higher rates of violent crime.

After a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House this morning, DDT said that they came “a long way” and that they were “all on the same path.” DDT’s other reports were equally optimistic. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said, however, that DDT threatened to keep the government closed for “years” if he doesn’t get his wall funding. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) described the meeting as “sometimes contentious.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said DDT did not talk about protections for DACA recipients. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did not attend the meeting but said that Democrats need to agree to meet. DDT, the great negotiator, has appointed a group—including VP Mike Pence, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner—to negotiate a solution.

On Splinter, the irreverent but informative purveyor of news, Rafi Schwartz called DDT’s 16-minute press conference following the White House meeting the dumbest—if not the craziest or worst—performance. The strangest part was DDT’s repetition that terrorists are driving across the southern border where they make a right turn” at the existing border fence and then “they make a left” where the barrier ends to enter the United States.

Other repetitive DDT statements were a long diatribe about the “powerful steel structure” for a wall, perhaps better than concrete because people can see through it and because steel is stronger and more “beautiful” than concrete. People might throw drugs across a concrete wall and kill you—according to DDT. About people who own land where he wants to build the law, DDT declared a nonexistent “military version of eminent domain.” He also declared that he would give himself emergency powers to build his wall by calling it a “national emergency.”

On Vox, Aaron Rupar went farther when he called the news conference “unhinged, incoherent, oblivious, and dangerous.” DDT lied again about his government finishing “new walls, beautiful walls, steels walls” in California. Congress has not appropriated one cent for DDT’s “new walls.” He also falsely claimed that San Diego begged him for the wall.

DDT preened about how “some” previous presidents privately told him that they wish they would have built a border wall. Unless he’s channeling Andrew Jackson, who died in 1845, he’s lying again. No rational person can imagine former presidents—Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—even having recent private conversations with him, let alone being sorry that they didn’t create a “beautiful” wall.

Asked about the $10,000 raises that his executive employees receive when federal workers aren’t being paid, DDT suggested that these workers approve of the increases, that they are the “biggest fan[s] of what we’re doing.” April Ryan asked him whether he had a safety net for people without paychecks for months or years. DDT said, “The safety net is going to be having a strong border.”

Asked whether he was still “proud” to own the shutdown, Trump deflected:

“I’m very proud of doing what I’m doing. I don’t call it a shutdown. I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and safety of our country.”

DDT’s babblings can be found here.

Yesterday Pelosi explained why DDT is difficult to negotiate with:

“When you’re negotiating with someone, you have to know, you stipulate to some fact. It’s hard to do that with the president because he resists science, evidence, data, truth. It’s hard to pin the president down on the facts.”

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), member of the Appropriations Committee, was more blunt than Pelosi in describing DDT:

“The one thing you’ve got when you come into this place is your credibility, and once you lose it, it’s gone and it’s gone forever. He’s lost it. It’s very difficult to negotiate anything, because you don’t know if he’s going to stick with it. You don’t know what his attitude is going to be tomorrow or what his position is going to be tomorrow. There’s a lot of members of our caucus who think this shutdown is stupid.”

Simpson expressed more frustration because DDT backed down after he told McConnell that he would support a CR without a wall until February 8. McConnell twisted arms until he persuaded every GOP senator to vote for the CR, and then DDT refused to agree with the bill. The House patterned its new bill after the unanimously-passed Senate bill, and McConnell refuses to bring the House bill back to the chamber floor—probably because it was passed by Democrats.

DDT denies that he ever offered $2.5 billion instead of the original $5.7 billion for his wall, but Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), said that he attend the meetings where “Pence offered the $2.5 [billion].” Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) called for “cooler heads to prevail and to know where “everybody’s negotiating from.” Asked if he knows where DDT, is negotiating from, Hurd said, “No, I don’t.”

The idea for the wall came from Roger Stone, being investigated by Robert Mueller, when the political analyst urged him to talk about illegal immigration to manipulate conservatives. Sam Nunberg said that he and Stone “came up with the idea of ‘the Wall,’ and we talked to Steve [Bannon] about it. It was to make sure that [DDT] talked about immigration.” DDT tried out the idea at the Iowa Freedom Summit. The crowd went crazy over the idea, and DDT added, “Nobody builds like Trump.”

Even the conservative Wall Street Journal opposes the building of the wall to stop illegal immigration. A large increase of legal admission of farm workers during the 1950s drastically reduced illegal entry to the United States from Mexico, and illegal entry across the Mexico border has dropped by over 90 percent since 2000, according to Border Patrol apprehensions data. A wall also does not stop immigrants from applying for asylum.

In 1995 and 2013, the shutdowns closed national parks, but White House budget director/acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke decided to keep them open this time without staffing. By the 14th day of DDT’s shutdown, three people have died of accidents in three different national parks. More may have died because the government is not notifying the public of deaths because of the shutdown.

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