Nel's New Day

August 12, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Nine – Wars to Help His Approval Ratings

With his approval ratings tanking, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may be attempting to model George W. Bush whose ratings rose from 50 percent before the 9/11 attacks to 85 percent—the highest for any president. Six months after W.’s preemptive war on Iraq, the approval dropped back down to 50 percent, but still went back to the White House a year later, with a little help from Ohio computers. If one war is good, then many should be far better, DDT may figure. Thus his attacks on North Korea, Venezuela, immigrants, transgender people, health care, voters, women, the climate, and the Republicans, to mention a few.

North Korea is the most obvious war on DDT’s agenda. During his campaign, he presented Hillary Clinton as a fearsome hawk while he pictured himself as an isolationist. Clinton was touted as the “War Hawk” at the RNC convention, and Bernie Sanders’ supporters, who voted for Trump instead of Clinton, made the same claim. In April 2016, DDT said:

“Unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct. A superpower understands that caution and restraint are really truly signs of strength.”

After killing hundreds and hundreds of civilians in the Middle East and sending in the “mother of bombs” to attack Syria, DDT’s ratings kept plummeting. This past week he started out by promising “fire and fury” against North Korea followed the next days by saying that he wasn’t “tough enough” and then continued about Kim Jung-Un:

“This man will not get away with what he’s doing, believe me. If he utters one threat, in the form of an overt threat … or if he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it.”

Then the Dow Jones dropped over 200 points, the second fall in two days.  Thus far, the military is not on his side and has done no preparation, but DDT said that he is “locked and loaded” if North Korea makes a move, probably threatening a nuclear strike that he can do all on his own. Nuclear war could be a distraction from Robert Mueller’s investigation into his finances and connection with Russia.

Twitter users are asking that DDT be blocked from tweeting because his threats of violence violate Twitter’s rules and terms of service. Last month, people accused DDT of the same violation after he tweeted the video clip of himself beating up someone labeled CNN. Individuals blocked from DDT’s Twitter account are suing him because it is a public forum and “official statement.” Blocking them prevents availability to the information and the right of dissent. Toilet paper featuring old DDT tweets are also sold out.

This week marks the 72nd anniversary of the tragic nuclear bombing of Nagasaki. DDT rages against North Korea, but he has failed to the positions of South Korea ambassador, the Head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and the Pentagon, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security to handle global nonproliferation—among many others.

DDT has wanted to bomb North Korea for at least 18 years, as an interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press shows. Also obvious in this clip is how much DDT’s ability to articulate issues has diminished since then, a frightening difference if one thinks about DDT suffering from dementia.

Not satisfied with war on North Korea, DDT threatened action in Venezuela. Once again, DDT refused any diplomacy, refusing to take a phone call from President Nicolás Maduro after the outrageous threat to militarily involve itself in the country’s problems. Maduro had warned that the U.S. might try to invade Venezuela, and DDT’s threat makes the action appear a reality.

Furious about the failure of Trumpcare, DDT continued his war against GOP members of Congress with a focus on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). One tweet ordered, “Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing. You can do it!” Later he indicated that he might be replacing McConnell although that’s not his right. In DDT’s pattern of  “tweet first, read later,” he sent out a piece about how “Insurers [are] seeking huge premium hikes on ObamaCare plans” from Fox and Friends, an article that explains DDT’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act as the reason for rising health insurance premiums.

Other tweet wars last week were against the “AmazonWashingtonPost,” the “FailingNewYorkTimes,” Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The New York Times has collected “The 351 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter.” The list is notable for DDT’s limited vocabulary—fail (105 times), fake (105 times), dishonest (91 times), variations of lie (83 times), dumb or dummy (61 times), sad (51 times), terrible (44 times), etc.

Another possible DDT war may be with potential 2020 candidates. Sens. Tom Cotton (AL) and Ben Sasse (NE) have gone to Iowa this year, Gov. John Kasich is considering a visit to New Hampshire, and Mike Pence’s full schedule produced the idea that he’s like a vice-president during the last couple of years of a president’s second term. Sen. Jeff Flake (AZ) is touting his book about conservatism unlike that of DDT. While DDT complains to his campaign rally audiences about Hillary Clinton, these prez wannabees work the donors. Pence still vociferously denies any interest in running against DDT and continues to look worshipfully at him in every photo op. DDT may think that he’s protected by Sean Hannity, Tony Perkins, Jim DeMint, and Grover Norquist, but his incessant alienation of Republicans may work against him.

Everyone seems to be a target for DDT except Russia and white supremacists. He praised Vladimir Putin for evicting 755 members of the U.S. embassy in Russia because it would give DDT a “smaller payroll.” These people continue to be on the payroll, however, because they will be employed elsewhere. The reaction to DDT’s statement was so negative that he said he was being “funny”—inappropriate and probably inaccurate. Russia isn’t laughing either.

Despite a DDT’s large number of tweets since the bomb exploded at a mosque in Bloomington (MN) a week ago, not one has addressed this act of terrorism. White supremacist White House aide Sebastian Gorka said that there is no comment because the act may be faked by a liberal. He claims that DDT is waiting until an investigation is finished, something that DDT didn’t do when he accused a robbery during June in the Philippines of being terrorism. Hate crimes against Muslims increased 91 percent during the first half of 2017 compared to the same time period in 2016. DDT did tweet about the white supremacist attacks in Charlottesville (VA) today but said that the violence was “on many sides,” meaning that he refuses to blame the white supremacists agitators. A white supremacist killed one and injured nineteen counterprotesters by speeding his car into a large group before repeatedly backing up and attacking them again.

While DDT golfs and tweets, Robert Mueller continues his investigation. On July 26, the day after Paul Manafort appeared before Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, the FBI raided his home for “documents and other materials.” DDT most likely knew about the early morning raid because he released his tweets against the acting FBI director Andrew McCabe and transgender military service members a few hours afterward. Mueller’s large team recently added Greg Andres who specializes in corruption and bribery. Subpoenas have already been issued about the June 9, 2016 meeting involving Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort with a Russian lawyer offering incriminating information on Hillary Clinton. Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are now investigating the ways that DDT is financially benefiting from his current position. They started by requesting documents from 15 cabinet departments and nine independent executive branch agencies about their spending at “businesses owned by or affiliated with the Trump Organization.”

Everyday at 9:30 am and 4:30 pm DDT gets a briefing, but the folders are only positive news about him—admiring tweets, photos of him looking “powerful,” and praise-filled “news,” most likely from Fox. Much as it seems like satire, this information is for real. DDT thinks that the role of a president is to sit in the Oval Office, issue orders to pass legislation, and then sign bills.

Has Time magazine killed hopes for John Kelly staying as chief of staff? He’s on the cover as “Trump’s Last Hope.” Usually this praise above DDT means that the subject will be soon gone. Forty-three years ago this week Richard Nixon resigned. How long will DDT last?

April 17, 2017

Pence, A Scary Dude

The far-right and even a few liberal pundits had a meltdown a few weeks ago about ridicule and outrage directed toward VP Mike Pence. The subject was the “Billy Graham Rule” of 1948 that banned men from certain social and business situations. A man cannot have dinner alone with another woman: he must take his wife with him. In addition, a man cannot be without his wife if he is with other people where alcohol is served. I don’t know if a man can have coffee alone with a woman; I haven’t read the complete code.

In the 21st century, the United States vice president has a behavioral code that diminishes women to sluts who will all attack a man if they are alone with him at a dinner. And he’s not alone in this belief: females are frequently made responsible for all male transgressions toward them—infidelity, sexual assault, etc. Beyond demeaning women, the “rule” removes women from all professional interactions in networking, mentoring, and one-to-one time. An anonymous 2015 National Journal survey of female staffers in Congress showed that exclusion from one-on-one time with their male bosses was a “huge impediment to moving up.”

For centuries, women have been “protected” from opportunities in education and the job market. The discrimination starts early with school dress codes only for girls. For example, a dress code in a North Carolina public charter school requires girls to wear skirts and bans their wearing pants. The school’s founder, Baker Mitchell, explained that the mandate is “to preserve chivalry and respect among young women and men” and that a woman is “a fragile vessel that men are supposed to take care of and honor.” A school board supported the requirement as preparation for workplaces with gendered clothing, beginning with an example of the restaurant Hooters.

All school dress codes for girls follow Pence’s example—that they are a “distraction” to males: it’s the female responsibility to control men’s “baser urges.” Enforcement is then used to shame and victim-blame girls. Another solution in schools for “protection” is single-sex classrooms, following the Pence Plan. School officials reason that teenage boys are “distracted” from school work by the presence of girls. The program is not intended to teach young people to work together as equals because in a Pence World, there is no need.

A serious disadvantage of the Pence Plan for more secular people is that, as a far-right evangelical Christian, he thinks that everyone should behave in the way that he does. “Religious freedom” allows anyone to deny everyone else anything if the “religious” person disagrees with the beliefs or actions of the other person. If a Muslim, such as Keith Ellison, were to refuse to have dinner alone with a woman not his wife, evangelicals would be grabbing their petitions to prevent Sharia Law. The former CEO of the blog RedState agreed with the Pence Plan saying that his eating alone with woman not his spouse is acceptable only for “planning your spouse’s surprise party or funeral and that is it.” He is a strong supporter of the party that elected the man who rejoiced in his right to grab “pussy” whenever he wished.

Melania Trump, almost invisible in her role as First Lady, said in a speech at the state department’s International Women of Courage Awards:

“We must continue to fight injustice in all its forms, in whatever scale or shape it takes in our lives.”

Yet that same week during Women’s History Month, Press Secretary Sean Spicer ordered reporter April Ryan not to shake her head at him, and Fox host (maybe) Bill O’Reilly, known for his sexual assaults, ridiculed Rep. Maxine Walters’ (D-CA) hair. DDT asked a group of women if they had ever heard of Susan B. Anthony. In Iowa, a legislator wants a pregnant woman to carry her dead fetus to term because it “saves babies’ lives.”

The day after he addressed a “Women’s Empowerment Panel” at the White House, VP Mike Pence cast the 51st deciding vote to stop mandates for states to deliver family planning services to people with low income through Planned Parenthood—about four million patients across the nation. Spicer said that DDT “made women’s empowerment a priority,” but Pence took away women’s empowerment to get contraceptives, well-woman exams, and cancer screenings. Pence, like DDT, has meetings with no or few women present. Far-right males love this position because of their anger about losing their rightful superiority to women and minorities. Their ticket won with the biggest gender gap in a presidential election while men wore “Trump That Bitch” T-shirts. Pence has joined DDT in removing the ability of women to decide their futures—even when or if to have children. The game plan is to win the next election with male-domination.

Those who want to impeach DDT need to think about the fact that DDT is the only person blocking the United States from male Christian domination by the Family or the Fellowship, an evangelical cult with an office on Capitol Hill.  In his book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, Jeff Sharlett writes:

“The enemy, to them, is secularism. They want a God-led government. That’s the only legitimate government. So when they speak of business, they’re speaking not of something separate from God, but they’re speaking of what, in Mike Pence’s circles, would be called biblical capitalism, the idea that this economic system is God-ordained.”

An example of Pence’s determination to overcome government officials is his hiring a private law firm when Indiana’s attorney general refused to join a lawsuit to overturn President Obama’s executive order about immigrants, charging taxpayers for the cost, and then hiding information about it. When a citizen filed a public records request for the cost and other communications, Pence argued that the courts had no control over what he chose to reveal. An appeals court rejected Pence’s argument but agreed with Pence that the information was privileged attorney-client communication. The basis of the lawsuit, originated by Texas senior official Daniel Hodge, is its attempt to control executive orders—which should be embarrassing for a man who works for a president who constantly signs executive orders. Before DDT, Pence agreed that “the unchecked expansion of executive authority … threatens the constitutional balance of power.” That argument has disappeared with a Republican president. Another Pence problem is the scrutiny regarding his use of a private email account to conduct state business while he was Indiana’s governor. Pence frequently criticized Hillary Clinton for her private email server.

Pence’s issues go far deeper than the problems listed above. Following is my letter published in the Eugene Register Guard:

People who believe that the “scientific method … is in no danger from Vice President Mike Pence’s … religion” should consider his history. As governor of Indiana, he signed a bill into law forcing women to carry non-viable pregnancies to term. Not only anti-abortion in all cases, he also cosponsored legislation to ban common forms of contraception, stem-cell research, and in vitro fertilization. Believing that LGBT people can be made heterosexual, he supported electroshock therapy for LGBT children and fought marriage equality. His opposition to HIV/AIDS programs started a full-blown epidemic in his own state.

In his refusal to believe science, he said “global warming is a myth” and thinks that smoking isn’t harmful to health because only one-third of smokers die from a smoking-related illness. According to Pence, even the smallest quantity of cannabis possession should be a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

Pence refused to comply with federal rules to reduce prison rape, tried to ban state agencies from bringing Syrian refugees into his state, and defended the Iraq War, calling it a “victory.”

Mike Pence is anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-elders, anti-poor, anti-environment, anti-nonChristian, anti-media, anti-science, and pro-war. He is more dangerous than the current president because he is a religious zealot, determined to force everyone in the nation to follow his far-right non-scientific evangelical Christian view of the world. None of his beliefs have any connection with “the scientific method.”

More information about Pence is here and here.

Mike Pence is now playing president in Asia, claiming that “the era of strategic patience is over” with North Korea and that the bombing of Syria and Afghanistan shows our “strength and resolve.” No matter how tough Pence tries to look, he’ll have trouble out-bullying Kim Jong-Un. The result may be another war in Korea—if we don’t expire from nuclear weapons. But then Pence loves a good holy war. At least the military–not Pence or DDT–is making all decisions regarding strikes, bombings, and other warlike activities. Even with all the civilians who they have killed, the Pentagon may have more sense than the two men elected vice president and president.

April 8, 2017

DDT: Week Eleven, Bomb and Revoke

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:43 PM
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Two days ago, on the 100th anniversary of U.S. entering World War I, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ordered the bombing of the Shayrat Airfield in Homs, Syria. The $80-million raid was a knee-jerk reaction from a bully now desperate to create his own 9/11 moment to raise his ratings. The Syrian attack on its own people was horrific, but no more than what Bashar Al-Assad has done to them in the past when he killed hundreds of thousands with starve and surrender, repeatedly bombed hospitals, and carried out two savage chemical weapons attacks. Yet DDT did nothing until his approval ratings were barely better than those of Congress.

Before the attack, senior officials and foreign countries were notified so that they could escape, leaving innocent civilians, at least nine of whom were killed including four children, to suffer DDT’s “presidential” moment. The Syrian military evacuated personnel and moved equipment, and the airstrikes avoided runways and bunkers with chemical supplies. U.S. targets were concrete bunkers sheltering planes or helicopters, fuel tanks, and warehouses probably storing convention arms, supplies, and spare parts. The damage, little in terms of Assad’s overall force, may have been less than currently assessed with fuel and ammunition readily available in the Middle East. Jets took off the day after the U.S. bombing for airstrikes on Khan Sheikhoun, the site of Assad’s most recent attack, and seven other town, again killing several civilians.

DDT has announced that this is a one-time deal, leaving Assad to further persecute his people, and DDT’s “travel ban” goes to court on May 15 so that he can keep Syrians out of the U.S. Russia reported that Syrian authorities are searching for 36 Tomahawk missiles that missed the target and fell outside the base and promised to help Syria strengthen its air defenses by launching one of its biggest deployments in decades. Yet DDT’s priority, according to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, is a regime change by removing Assad.

DDT has no policy except to criticize past unsuccessful interventions—forcing Iraqis from Kuwait in 1991; conflicts in Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo; and removal of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. The United States is still in Afghanistan and Iraq in the longest war of U.S. history, 14 years old as of March 20. The only past successes have been to create more terrorists, just as this bombing will do. Either DDT will be satisfied with raising his ratings in a one-time shot, or he will be in the midst of the mess that he blamed on President Obama.

A serious question is whether DDT’s actions are constitutional because Syria is not a threat to the U.S. Presidents have been using authority for attacks in the Middle East from the 2001 authorization for presidents to use the military against any entity that “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” DDT can claim that he is using the deal that President Obama brokered with the UN, but that resolution prevented military action unless authorized by its Security Council. In his speech following the bombing, DDT used the “national interest” argument which Republicans will repeat ad infinitum on the Sunday morning news shows. Following the U.S. Constitution, however, is not important to DDT or the Republicans who want to “de-operationalize” the United States.

Far-right conservatives are unhappy with DDT’s bombing; they believed DDT when he said that he would “put America first.” In the American Conservative, Daniel Larison explains that position. Today’s protests in ten U.S. cities compare DDT’s bombing to the start of the Iraq “War,” preemptive strikes because Syria is not a threat to the U.S. As of yet, there is no proof that this attack used chemicals just as Iraq had no nuclear weapons.

While GOP members of Congress disagreed about the constitutionality of DDT’s bombing, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asked when DDT planned to do something about jobs, infrastructure, trade, and other promises that he made during his campaign. About DDT, Schumer said:

“Instead, he has focused on increasing health care costs while taking away health benefits, signing resolutions benefitting big corporate special interests and polluters, and signing divisive and disruptive Executive Orders.”

The Washington Post addresses 13 questions surrounding DDT’s attack on Syria.

Bombing isn’t DDT’s only destructive activity during the past week, some of them against “innocent babies”:

U.S. Children At Risk from Poisoning: “Innocent babies” in the U.S. are at risk because DDT’s hand-picked EPA director, Scott Pruitt, declared the pesticide chlorpyrifos to be safe. The research about the dangers of the substance comes from Pruitt’s own agency, but he gave Dow Chemical the green light to make more money with its use. No one near farms—workers, children, and consumers—can avoid exposure because the poison is in the air, soil, and food. Infants and children are most vulnerable they cannot assimilate the poison that drifts at least 300 feet from the fields. Effects are slower autoimmune disorders, slower motor development , attention problems, reversal of gender differences, and other neurological effects. Exposure during pregnancy retards the mental development of children, and most home use was banned in 2001 in the U.S.

Killing Wildlife: Unlimited slaughter of wolves, bears, and other “predatory” animals on federally-protected national preserves is a good idea, according to the bill that DDT signed this week. The legislation permits killing the animals from airplanes and helicopters, while baiting them, during hibernation, and in steel-jawed leghold traps and dens—including baby animals. As DDT’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric well realize, this encourages “sport” hunting for trophy kills.

Repeal of Equal Pay Act: The day before Equal Pay Day, highlighting the discrepancies between women’s and men’s wages, DDT signed the repeal of the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order that required companies with federal contracts to be accountable to fourteen labor laws. The order protected women in the work place by mandating transparency in salaries and claims for sexual assault and discrimination. Many of these women are responsible for feeling “little babies.” More information.

Slowing Job Growth: DDT took credit for the job growth in January and February, but he’s said nothing about the March numbers that added only 98,000 jobs, a ten-month low and well below expectation of 180,00. President Obama’s policies brought 11.5 million new jobs and 75 straight months of job growth; DDT’s second full month in office dropped the number since his reduction of regulations and GOP “tax reforms.” Republicans in Congress hope to increase jobs by giving 99.6 percent of the cuts to the top 1 percent. Watch to see if DDT blames President Obama, calls the jobs report “fake news,” or just ignores it.

No Internet Privacy: DDT also signed a highly unpopular bill (80 percent Democratic opposition, 75 percent Republican opposition, and 69 percent independents opposition) behind closed doors. The new law allows cable and telecom companies to secretly sell users’ data, an action making money for big corporations.

Salary Donation: DDT donated $78,000 of his quarterly salary to the Park Service, about half of what taxpayers pay to support his wife and son every day in New York City. DDT doesn’t need this “pittance” because people are paying a fortune to curry favor with him by staying at his hotels and resorts—demonstrated by this tweet from Georgia Amabassador Kaha Imnadze about DDT’s Washington hotel:

“Great #hotel and so far the best service I’ve seen in the United States! Keep it up!”

In another violation of the emoluments clause about not taking gifts, money, or anything else from foreign governments, DDT changed his trust in early February to receive regular financial reports on his businesses and give him the right to pull money from these businesses any time he wishes.

Business is booming at the Trump-branded properties where he spent ten of his first twelve weekends after inauguration, half of them at Mar-a-Lago.

Ultimate DDT Distraction: Accusing former National Security Adviser Susan Rice of trying to “unmask”— reveal names of—DDT transition members who communicated with foreigners under surveillance failed because no one believed it. DDT’s solution to moving the discussion away from his Russian involvement was bombing Syria. In 2013, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) accused President Obama of wanting a “mere demonstration” when he went to Congress, asking for military action. DDT didn’t bother to ask before he bombed. He articulated his reason for bombing in 2012 when he tweeted: “Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.” In 2013, DDT tweeted his opposition: “What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long-term conflict? Obama needs congressional approval.”

One piece of legislation that DDT would like to avoid is the budget. If Congress doesn’t pass it by April 29, the government shuts down. Congress has three days to solve the problem when they get back from a two-week recess facing down those pesky constituents. Meanwhile DDT has no meetings scheduled today because—it’s Saturday?

April 12, 2016

Cruz Worse Than Trump

In a panic about the GOP being represented by Donald Trump, Republican establishment types have moved to the presidential candidate who they hate the most—Ted Cruz. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) shifted from wanting to poison his colleague to just saying that the Republican party is “screwed up.” Part of the GOP argument is that Trump is too “liberal,” but when they complain about his actual positions, they are almost identical to those espoused by other Republicans—particularly Cruz. The GOP has temporarily picked its most mistrusted and hated senator, “a serial liar who led the 2013 government shutdown and called Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a fraud on the Senate floor.”

Trump’s briefly held position about punishing women for having abortions is part of the GOP agenda. John Kasich said that individual states should decide how to punish the women. (It’s the usual GOP statement when candidates or elected officials try to weasel out of answering a question.) Cruz has a much worse position when he says farther by saying that states should ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who still denies that  he wants to be president in the same way he denied wanting to be Speaker of the House, “opposes abortion, period,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. During a campaign, he said that he was willing to let states criminally prosecute women who have abortions.

Troy Newman, one of Cruz’ top advisers, wants to execute abortion providers, and another adviser, Kevin Swanson, wants to execute Girl Scout leaders for “promoting homosexuality.” Cruz’ “no” votes include the Paycheck Fairness Act, raising the minimum wage, and reauthorizing the Violence against Women Act. He has voted to defund Planned Parenthood. All three of the GOP presidential candidates are saying, “Vote for us, and we’ll take away your rights.”

Both Trump and Cruz are competing to prove how much they hate Muslims. All eight people who Trump and Cruz appointed as advisers have connections to the Center for Security Policy, a hate group serving as the anti-Muslim movement’s premier think tank, and half of them hold ranking positions with CSP, including founder Frank Gaffney who works for Cruz. On his radio show, Gaffney called Jared Taylor’s openly racist American Renaissance website “wonderful.” Other major Cruz advisers are Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (Ret.), Executive VP of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council; Claire Lopez, VP for research and analysis at CSP; Andy McCarthy, columnist for National Review and active on the anti-Muslim speaking circuit; and Fred Fleitz, Senior VP for Policy and Programs at CSP.

Trump picked Sen. Jeff Sessions, key politician in the anti-Muslim movement; Walid Phares, anti-Muslim activist and former Lebanese Christian Militia member; and Joseph E. Schmitz, Senior Fellow with CSP. After Trump fired adviser Sam Nunberg for being too racist, Nunberg moved to the Cruz camp.

After Trump promised to “bomb the sh*t” out of ISIS, Cruz promising to carpet bomb the Middle East. Even Fox criticized Cruz’ position, but he was still touting this solution on Easter Sunday, right after talking about salvation. As Jimmy Kimmel pointed out on his late night show, the only difference is that Cruz wants the sand to “glow.”

President Obama reported that he’s “getting questions constantly from foreign leaders about” both Trump’s and Cruz’ “suggestions” including their immigration proposals. Cruz claims that, if elected, he would deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. He also wants the same wall that Trump does and would triple the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Trump and Cruz also show the same positions in issues of no gun control, repealing the Affordable Care Act, picking Supreme Court nominees, and costing taxes by $9.5 trillion through cutting taxes. Jimmy Kimmel shows the striking similarities his late night show.  Both men want religion in government and oppose international agreements.

In his struggle to rise from the bottom, GOP candidate John Kasich summarized their positions although he didn’t give their names:

“a ban on Muslims from entering the country, surveillance of Muslims in the U.S., dropping out of the NATO alliance, allowing nuclear weapons in Europe, and promising to repeal Obamacare ‘simply through the will of a strong man in the White House.’”

USA Today editorial board likened GOP presidential candidate Cruz’ “dogmatic, confrontational and hyperpartisan” rhetoric and tactics to those of Trump.  An analysis of the similarities between Cruz and Trump are striking with the only differentiation that Cruz varies from “generally” to “far” more conservative than Trump.

There is one major difference between Trump and Cruz: Trump backers are proud of their candidate; and Cruz backers are embarrassed by their candidate. John Nichols described Trump as “a crude xenophobic demagogue who has little respect for civil liberties or civil rights and who says terrible things about Muslims, refugees, and immigrants.” Steven Rosenfeld described Cruz as “a conniving, uncompromising, power-hungry demagogue whose policies would serve the richest Americans.” Cruz is just more tied to special interests, rigid, and connected to sleazy campaign tactics.

Cruz also has a super PAC to do his bidding. He claims that “family” is off-limits, but his super PAC started the “war of the wives” by printing a photo of Trump’s wife, causing Trump to retaliate. The difference is that the super PAC didn’t get permission to use a copyrighted photograph whereas Trump pulled his off of a tweet.

Religion is another area in which Cruz is farther away from reality than Trump. Colorado’s Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt is on Cruz’ team of leaders in that state, and Cruz has bragged about the man’s endorsement. As a “preacher,” Klingenschmitt has made many videos, including his claim that God made a hurricane because he was thrown out of the U.S. Navy chaplain. His departure didn’t even come from his crazy beliefs; he violated policy by wearing his military uniform at a right-wing political rally. He lost his position on the state House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee after he declared that a viciously violent attack on a pregnant woman removing her fetus was punishment for America’s legalization of abortion. He also tried to exorcize President Obama—although not in person—and tried to cleanse a woman of the” foul spirit of lesbianism.” His objection to gays serving in the military is their “taking breaks on the combat field to change diapers all because their treacherous sin causes them to lose control of their bowels.” Videos of Klingenschmitt’s “preaching” are here.

Much has been said about how Trump is wonderful because he doesn’t follow “political correctness,” which parents call courtesy when they’re teaching the children how to be well-behaved. Trump takes pride in not being civil while Cruz continues with his wax-face smile and speaks courteously. Yet the same vitriol comes from both their mouths—except when Cruz is worse. Asked about a comparison between him and Joe McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator who destroyed tens of thousands of lives through his hearings in the 1950s, Cruz said, that it “may be a sign that perhaps we’re doing something right.”

Robert Reich listed four reasons that Cruz is far worse than Trump: Cruz is more fanatical, more disciplined and strategic, a true believer, and a loner who’s willing to destroy government institutions to get his way.

The only virtue that the GOP can find in Cruz is, in the words of Lindsey Graham, “He’s not Trump.” No, he isn’t. He’s worse.

July 16, 2015

Congress to Decide between Iranian War, Peace

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) has declared that his first priority is to represent Jesus. He could start by supporting the Iran deal to bring peace and persuade his Christian GOP colleagues to do the same. But that’s not going to happen. The instant that a deal was announced, Republican presidential candidates led the charge against peace in a deal among six countries that would curb Iran’s nuclear program and significantly limit the country’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon for over ten years. (Details here.)

walker

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (above), who declared his presidential candidacy on the day that the deal was announced, said, “President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran will be remembered as one of America’s worst diplomatic failures.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) doesn’t expect Congress to approve the deal. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the agreement appeasement. Rick Santorum called the deal a “catastrophic capitulation.”

Kerry and Zarif, photo Thomas Imo

The deal took 19 days and four missed deadlines before Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, appeared at Secretary of State John Kerry’s working quarters at midnight Monday. Kerry flew 400,000 miles to prevent the tenth country from getting the bomb in the first successful dealings with Iran since its 1979 revolution. In addition to containing the country’s ability to produce a bomb for at least a decade, it provides for permanent, broader U.N. inspections to monitor Iran’s declared and suspected nuclear facilities, even after the deal expires. The combination of restrictions and time frames from ten to twenty-five years gives the international community more insight into Iran’s program and capabilities.

War hawks in the U.S. will complain that Iran can still enrich uranium, yet it’s at a minimum level, with the number of centrifuges cut by two-thirds. Some Congressional members, accompanied by Israel and the Gulf sheikhdoms, insist on zero facilities instead of one. The Iran deal will not diffuse deep sectarian and political rivalries in the Middle East with Sunni concern about Iran become a player instead of a pariah, but that was not the goal. Under the deal, Iran can reclaim between $100 billion to $150 billion of its oil revenues from foreign banks. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, denounced the deal before the details were released.

Yet U.S. involvement in the Middle East is already overwhelming—air wars in Iraq, Syria, and Libya as well as selling arms to Saudi Arabia to wage its war in Yemen. The deal creates no renewal of U.S. diplomatic relations with Iran. Lifting sanctions on Iran will open international markets to Iran’s population that has more than doubled since 1979, but U.S. businesses will be limited in trading with Iran because of sanctions tied to human-rights practices and support for terrorism. If Iran breaks the deal, the U.S. still has a military option.

Congress has 60 days to review the deal with Iran. It can vote for a resolution of disapproval that President Obama has promised to veto. An override of his veto requires two-thirds vote in each chamber. GOP legislators have reasons to vote against the deal, oil prices being one of them. Prices in the United States began to fall in June as the deal came closer to fruition, shrinking to $54 a barrel this past week, and more oil availability from the Middle East forcing down the oil market may bring the price of gas down to below $2 a gallon by the end of the year. The International Energy Agency estimates that Iran could add 800,000 barrels a day to the global market within months of the lifting of sanctions, but immediate relief could come from the 30 million barrels of Iranian crude in storage and ready for sale. A general rule is the two-thirds of the cost of gas comes from the crude oil cost and the remaining one-third comes from taxes, refining, distribution, and marketing. Republicans like to claim, however, that the president is completely responsible for higher costs of gas. They won’t want to see the price go down in the Obama administration.

Any deal from the president is described as a “bad deal” to Republicans. Presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that the deal is “a possible death sentence for Israel,” but he hasn’t read it. He added that reading it didn’t’ matter because visits to the Mideast made him know that he didn’t like the details. The GOP belief that any international interaction is a “bad deal” goes back to the opposition to the Hot Line Agreement, in which Moscow and Washington could communicate directly during emergencies such as the Cuban missile crisis. The right opposed then-President Nixon going to China and called it “appeasement,” just as they are describing the deal with Iran.

The biggest influence on conservative members of Congress is Netanyahu. Some congressional leaders put Israel’s prime minister above the President of the United States in their loyalties. Last year, presidential candidate Graham told Netanyahu that Congress would “follow his lead” in reinforcing sanctions on Iran despite President Obama’s refusal to do so. Last March, Netanyahu spoke to both chambers of Congress after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) invited him without notifying the president, a breach of protocol. His speech was intended to persuade congressional members and the people of the United States against Iranian negotiations. At this time, President Obama is offering additional military aid to Israel beyond billions of dollars to help build Israel’s Iron Dome and provide ammunition that killed the people in Gaza last summer. Netanyahu may be willing to sell out his principles for more billions of dollars from the United States.

Soon after Netanyahu’s speech, 47 U.S. senators, led by Tom Cotton (R-AR) sent a letter to Iran, explaining that they might as well not make the deal because any future president could negate it. The letter also claimed—erroneously—that there could be no agreement unless Congress passed it by a two-thirds vote. To this next breach of protocol—and possibly a treasonous act—Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif wrote that Cotton’s letter was a “propaganda ploy” meant to undermine Obama. Yesterday the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Wednesday told Congress to reject the nuclear deal with Iran.

The Republicans have a history of sabotaging U.S. welfare to elect their candidates. When President Jimmy Carter thought he had a deal with the new Iranian president to release 52 hostages in 1979, the Reagan campaign went behind Carter’s back arranging with the Iranian radical faction to keep the hostages in captivity until after the Reagan v. Carter presidential election in 1980. Iranian extremists released the hostages on January 20, 1981, the moment that Reagan was inaugurated, and pointed out that Reagan must keep his agreement to ship weapons to the radical forces. The result was deaths of thousands of people throughout the world, especially in Central America where Reagan took money from the Iranians to destabilize Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. Those areas have still not gained stability after Reagan’s actions. Carter’s loss in the election led to the appointment of Justice Antonin Scalia and the elevation of William Rehnquist to Chief Justice. One reason for the GOP to keep Iran closed to the U.S. is to cover Reagan’s actions.

Although Netanyahu has expressed strong opposition to the Iran deal, not everyone in Israel supports his position. Israel is also a dangerous country with undeclared chemical warfare capabilities and between 75 and 400 nuclear weapons. It is also one of four nuclear-armed countries not recognized as a Nuclear Weapons State by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the others being India, Pakistan, and North Korea. Because Israel never signed the NPT, the country does not have to submit to inspections. Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer and its takeover of the Palestinian West Bank shows that the country will use any means to defeat other countries, whether warranted or not.

The GOP refuses to admit that, like almost every problem in the U.S. during the 21st century, Iran’s expansion of its nuclear program can be traced back to the Bush/Cheney administration. With 164 centrifuges in 2003, Iran wanted to negotiate with the U.S. to remove the sanctions blocking the growth of the country’s middle class. Cheney said, “We don’t talk to evil,” and Iran built 5,000 centrifuges in the next two years. The country had 8,000 by the time that Bush/Cheney left. Now Cheney is lobbying to add another war to the ones they started during their administration instead of letting this generation try to achieve peace through diplomacy.

Polls, even one from the conservative Fox network, consistently show approval of the deal, but Republicans spreading lies that may reverse the surveys. Yet conservatives ignore their constituents and oppose the deal because they are convinced that the U.S. should rule the world and dictate the behavior of all countries. That’s what led us into the wars with Afghanistan and Iraq that almost wiped out the U.S. economy.

A comparison between Iran and the United States:

iran v. u.s. nuclear weapons

The only purpose of the Iran deal is to reduce the possibility of Iran getting a nuclear weapon. In opposing the Iran deal, Congress has three alternatives: kill the deal and do nothing else, leaving few restraints on the growth of Iran’s nuclear program; declare war and ignite a catastrophic regional conflict; and increase sanctions, which looks like the first option. Without a deal, Iran has a much better chance of building bombs. Increased sanctions are useless because U.S. business dealings with Iran are already limited and the rest of the world will leave the U.S. standing alone.

As conservatives continue to posture without reading the deal, Congress is in charge of deciding whether the United States will go to war with Iran. And the media focus on Iran will cause Scott Walker, the 15th presidential candidate, to stay in the shadows—at least for a while.

January 8, 2015

George Orwell, an Optimist

Filed under: Income inequality,Surveillance — trp2011 @ 8:57 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

The year before George Orwell died in 1950, he published his classic novel 1984. It is a dark story of a country in perpetual war, ever-present government surveillance, and public manipulation under the control of the Inner Party elite which comprised 2 percent of the population. Big Brother, described as a highly personable quasi-divine Party leader, may not have even existed. The Party “seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power.” Winston Smith, the novel’s protagonist, works for the Ministry of Truth which creates propaganda and historical revisionism through rewriting newspaper articles. Other ministries are Peace (perpetual war), Plenty (economic affairs–rationing and starvation), and Love (law and order–torture and brainwashing

“George Orwell was an optimist,” as Marjorie Cohn quoted Mikko Hypponen in her article, “Beyond Orwell’s Worst Nightmare.”

The National Security Agency (NSA) collects metadata on billions of our phone calls and 200 million of our text messages every day so that our government would read the content of our emails, file transfers, and live chats from the social media we use. In discussing NSA reforms, President Obama talked about Paul Revere’s patrolling the streets at night in the 18th century his the Sons of Liberty, “reporting back any signs that the British were preparing raids against America’s early Patriots.” This weak effort justify NSA’s spying ignored the fact that patrolling streets is not monitoring people’s private communications.

Left out of this argument about the U.S. spying is how the nation’s founding fathers responded to the British searches before the American Revolution. The British used the same “general warrants,” authorizing blanket searches without any individualized suspicion or specificity of what the colonial authorities were seeking, similar to what happens today. In a petition to King George III, Congress protested this unlimited power of search and seizure and charged that they used their power “to break open and enter houses, without the authority of any civil magistrate founded on legal information.” That was the reason for the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures—preventing the United States from becoming another police state.

Almost 200 years later, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ran his COINTELPRO (counter-intelligence program to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit and otherwise neutralize” political and activist groups. In the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950s, the U.S. government, under the guise of eliminating communism, used widespread illegal surveillance to threaten and silence anyone with unorthodox political views. The FBI’s “red-baiting” blackmailed, jailed, blacklisted, and fired thousands of U.S. citizens.

In the 1960s, the FBI’s program, “Racial Matters,” targeted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to prevent him from registering black voters in the South. Again the claim of communist activities allowed the FBI to wiretap King’s phones in attempts to discredit him. Their goal was to drive him to divorce and possibly suicide.

An attempt to justify today’s extreme surveillance programs is that it is targeting real threats. Yet an independent federal privacy watchdog, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, has found “no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack.” The NSA spying program covers everyone—Mexico, Latin America, the United Nations, the European Union Parliament, European leaders—even Angela Merkel’s cellphone. The only reason that anyone knows part of the extent of this surveillance comes from the disclosures by Edward Snowden, an exiled man threatened with decades of prison.

Reforms to the spying program include the requirement that NSA obtain approval from a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before it gets access to the phone records of an individual. Yet this court is secret, and its judges are appointed by the highly conservative Chief Justice John Roberts. Almost no executive branch wiretapping requests have been turned down since the court’s inception in 1978. President Obama has not said that surveillance without judicial warrants or individual suspicion should be stopped.

The Doublethink of 1984 shows the thinking of today’s Congress:

“The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink. Doublethink is basically the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

The purpose of unwinnable, perpetual war is to consume labor and commodities. Because the country’s economy cannot support equality a high standard of life for all, the “proles” are kept poor and uneducated so that won’t realize what the government is doing. In that way there is no danger of rebellion. These people live with hunger, disease and filth in ruined cities and towns while the top two percent have clean and comfortable homes in areas separated from their poor. Their pantries are well-stocked with foodstuffs such as wine, coffee, and sugar that are denied to the general populace.

Inner Party member O’Brien describes the Party’s vision to the protagonist of 1984:

“There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always—do not forget this, Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”

Leaders of the Inner Party use a culture of fear to control the masses.

“War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.” Read 1984 for yourself.

AGR Daily News Service

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