Nel's New Day

February 10, 2020

Week 159: Beyond Impeachment

The impeachment trial, the outrageous speeches of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), and Democratic candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire have consumed most of the media. Yet DDT keeps wreaking havoc in other ways. 

The “peace plan” that Jared Kushner orchestrated for Israel without any Palestinian input is not going smoothly. In a spike of violence, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager in the contested West Bank that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to illegally annex, the fifth killing in the West Bank and Jerusalem since DDT tried to give Palestinian territory to Israel. Two Palestinians were killed during a protest against the Israeli’s demolition of a Palestinian house. Israeli police prevented Palestinians from worshipping at the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the Jerusalem location which Jews call the Temple Mount.

A week ago, at the Arab League headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas announced to its members that Palestine would immediately cut ties with the U.S. Palestine Authority’s security forces have long joined Israel to police the occupied West Bank under Palestinian control. The PA also has intelligence cooperation agreements with the CIA which it is stopping at this time. [Right: Abbas shows the Arab League how Palestine has lost land in the last century.]

The Arab League foreign ministers said the U.S.-Israel plan would not lead to a comprehensive and just peace and the League will not support its implementation. It does not meet Palestinians’ minimum aspirations. The foreign ministers affirmed that peace requires a future Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital and based on borders before Israel captured land in the 1967 Middle East War.

David Friedman, U.S. ambassador to Israel, said that Israel cannot annex the West Bank without U.S. permission. He didn’t mention Palestinian’s rights to keep their land. Most of the world sees Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank as illegal. Netanyahu has temporarily backed down, possibly endangering his chances for reelection on March 2.

DDT’s assassination of Iranian leader Qasem Soleimani won’t go away: Iraqi officials are now saying that ISIS is responsible for the rocket attack that DDT used to justify the murder. Soleimani was fighting ISIS.

A former Air Force drone operator called the U.S. military “worse than Nazis” in the atrocities that they inflict in the Middle East. From a small room near Las Vegas, he remotely fired missiles over 7,000 miles way. He said his breaking point was killing a child in Afghanistan that his superiors said was a “dog.” He quit the military and spoke against the drone program after directly killing 13 people while his squadron fired on 1,626 targets that included women and children. In his training, he was told to “kill people and break things.” Superiors kept him in line with punitive measures and mockery. He wants people to understand how the drone program dehumanizes the operators.

DDT has a plan for “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” in an executive order requiring Greek and Roman architectural style for all federal buildings costing over $50 million in Washington and throughout the U.S.  His goal is supposedly to “inspire … respect for our system of self-government.” Smithsonian-funded museums will escape the order. The “inspiration” comes from the “National Civic Art Society” that argues contemporary design in buildings is “dehumanizing.” All designs will be subject to White House approval.

For Architect of the Capitol, DDT nominated J. Brett Blanton, an engineer in airport operations and construction management who is not a licensed or practicing architect and was confirmed in mid-January by a voice vote on the day that the impeachment trial began. Blanton also served as a transportation engineer for the military. His first project will be overseeing the renewal project for the 111-year-old Beaux-Arts office building Cannon House Office Building (left), designed by architects for the New York Public Library and other early 19th-century buildings. Only one senator, Rules Committee Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO), appeared at Blanton’s hearing.

After DDT praised Super Bowl victors, the Kansas City Chiefs, for represented the “Great State of Kansas,” Fox & Friends hosts defended the geographically challenged man in the Oval Office despite the Chiefs’ location in Kansas City, Missouri. It’s not his first gaffe

  • At a UN luncheon with African leaders, he praised the health care in the non-existent country of Nambia.
  • He told his foreign policy advisers that Nepal and Bhutan are parts of India, instead of separate countries. [He also called them Nipple and Button.]
  • He also doesn’t know that Ireland isn’t part of the United Kingdom.
  • When talking to Indian Prime Minister Narenra Modi, he said, “[I]t’s not as though you have China right on your border.” [The India-China border is 2521 miles.]
  • He announced that he is building a border wall in Colorado, 1,193 miles from the Mexico border.
  • He thinks that Belgium is a “beautiful city” instead of a country.
  • Paris is still in Germany instead of France, according to DDT.
  • In talking to people from the Baltic states, he thought he was talking to the Balkans. This explains the difference.
  • When DDT bombed Syria, he thought he was bombing Iraq.
  • Recently at Davos, he thought he was talking with a Syrian Kurd when he was having a conversation with the president of Iraqi Kurdistan.
  • He announced that his call from South Korea was from North Korea.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may keep a map without names for the countries to educate DDT. Pompeo used it after he lost his temper with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly, walked out of his interview, and swore at her in private before he demanded she identify Ukraine on his unmarked map. She had no trouble complying because of her education, but Pompeo tried to make it appear as if she didn’t. DDT was delighted with Pompeo’s lying, rudeness, and swearing by calling it “impressive.” He added, “I think you did a good job on [the reporter].”

In retaliation against Kelly, Pompeo removed NPR reporter Michele Kelemen from his trip to Europe and said in an interview in Kazakhstan that revoking her press credentials for the trip sends “a perfect message about press freedoms” to the world. He added that the State Department only grants press credentials when it believes reporters are “telling the truth and being honest.” [Pompeo’s altercation was with Kelly, not Kelemen.] Despite his behavior, Pompeo said that journalists are allowed to ask him anything they want. Kelly’s brilliant response to the Pompeo debacle in a NYT op-ed explains the substance of the interview that got lost after Pompeo’s temper tantrum and how his personal attack on her is “not the point.”

On his tour, Pompeo ironically praised Kazakhstan for taking in refugees fleeing persecution and said:

“The protection of basic human rights defines the soul of a nation.” 

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross likes the novel coronavirus sweeping China that has killed over 1,000 people And affected another 40,000+. He said:  

“I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”

DDT told states and local officials that they could block refugees, Texas took him up on it, people got riled at the governor, and a judge told states they couldn’t block refugees. A Maryland U.S. District judge called DDT’s policy “unlawful” and “does not appear to serve the overall public interest. [It] flies in the face of clear Congressional intent.” Although 42 states and over 100 local governments agreed to acceptance refugees, seven states were thus far noncommittal. DDT already lowered the annual national refugee cap to 18,000, down from 110,000 in 2016.

DHS has put non-violent protesters who committed acts of civil disobedience on its “extremist” list of white supremacists and mass killers.

DDT’s Labor Department, run by the son of former Justice Antonin Scalia, has changed rules so that workers will have a harder time suing for wage theft and other violations.

DDT’s tariffs will hurt everyone in the nation. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reduces the average family’s real income by $1,277 in 2020 by reducing the GDP level and raising consumer prices. The projection is over double that of last year’s $580 report.

On the campaign trail, DDT said, “If we don’t win, your farms are going to hell.” DDT had told farmer that they might have some “pain” from his trade wars, but he didn’t warn them about the eight-year high of farm bankruptcy rates that spiked 20 percent in 2019. Earlier in a campaign speech in Warren (MI), DDT declared that F-35 jets are literally invisible.

Another lie from the SOTU: Wooing black voters, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gave a “scholarship” to fourth-grader Janiyah Davis to let her escape from a “failed government school.” She already attends one of Philadelphia’s most sought-after schools, Math, Science and Technology Community Charter School III, a public school.  Last year, she moved from a Christian school with tuition. Janiyah and her mother were invited to the SOTU after the principal in he former school was asked for names for youth who might want scholarships. No one checked to see where Janiyah attended school, explained why they were invited, or warned them that they would be in the spotlight. After the SOTU, Janiyah’s mother said:

“I don’t view MaST as a school you want to get out of at all. I view it as a great opportunity.”

DDT was angry with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf for vetoing tax credits for students in private religious schools.

November 30, 2019

DDT: Week 149 – Trouble around the World

After bad publicity from the impeachment inquiry and pardoning war criminals, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) made a surprise visit to troops in Afghanistan. He’s still in trouble with emerging news.

Much has been said about the shadow government that DDT runs in Ukraine, but he has another one in Turkey, as suggested by former National Security Adviser John Bolton when he talked a “personal or business relationship dictating Trump’s position on Turkey.” Like the “irregular” diplomatic run by the “three Amigos” and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Turkey’s “backdoor diplomacy” has been operated by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and DDT’s business partner Aydin Dogan’s son-in-law, Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ.

Along with Mehmet’s wife Arzuhan Dogan Yalçındağ and Iranian/Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, the three sons-in-law circumvented U.S. ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, who has been in the foreign service since 1980. Zarrab, represented by DDT’s private secretary Rudy Giuliani, was arrested in the U.S. for evading Iranian sanctions. Giuliani also had his finger in the financial pie. Originally, the irregular diplomatic channel resulted in Michael Flynn’s firing from national security advisor, followed by a prison term for lying about being a foreign agent hired by Turkey. This extensive timeline reports the many times that DDT connected with Turkey and the favors that he gave them as he sided with Turkey against objections of advisers to help his substantial business interests in the company.

Since DDT lifted sanctions on Turkey, it began using U.S.-made Viper and F-4 Phantom II fighters to begin tests of radars connected to its new Russian S-400s although the U.S. warned against this “activation” of the surface-to-air missile systems. Turkey’s government announced it will test low and high altitude flights this week. Using the F-35 for these tests can give Russia knowledge about the plane’s capabilities, and NATO, including the U.S., warned that the system can’t be integrated with other allied aid defense networks. It will be unable to detect the difference between friendly and hostile aircraft. The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAASTA) requires the U.S. to take action against Turkey, but DDT is a “fan” of Erdogan, wanting to keep a trade agreement and protect personal financial gain from his two Trump towers in Turkey. Erdogan is also negotiating with Russia about the purchase of Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets after announcing plans to buy components of the new S-500 air defense system.

Questions: Why did DDT life sanctions against Turkey? Why did DDT let Turks kill U.S. Kurdish allies? What did DDT say to Erdogan in his “diplomatic” dealings? What are DDT’s financial ties? Why does Bolton think that DDT is financially compromised?

DDT also illegally suspended congressionally approved $105 million funding for Lebanon so that it can push back on extremists. Without that aid, DDT allows attacks by Hezbollah and invasion by forces that can hurt the U.S. In this case, the winners are Russia and Iran.

On the home front, the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday sued AG Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross because they refused congressional subpoenas in an investigation into an attempt to put a citizenship question into the 2020 census. Ross said under oath that the DOJ asked for the question, but evidence shows that he lied. The Supreme Court ruled that Ross’ rationale “seems to have been contrived.” A complaint claims that Ross and his aides conspired with DOJ officials to cover up what happened and provide a legal justification for Ross’ demand. Another Ross lie may be that he didn’t communicate with the White House about the event.

Throughout the past week, the fallout from DDT’s pardoning three Navy Seal war criminals continues. Resigned/fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer sent a letter last week, citing good order and discipline throughout the Navy’s ranks to be “deadly serious business”:

“The lives of our sailors, Marines and civilian teammates quite literally depend on the professional execution of our many missions, and they also depend on the ongoing faith and support of the people we serve and the allies we serve alongside.

“Unfortunately, it has become apparent that in this respect, I no longer share the same understanding with the commander in chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline. I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took.

“The rule of law is what sets us apart from our adversaries. Good order and discipline is what has enabled our victory against foreign tyranny time and again, from Captain Lawrence’s famous order ‘Don’t Give up the Ship,’ to the discipline and determination that propelled our flag to the highest point on Iwo Jima. The Constitution, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, are the shields that set us apart, and the beacons that protect us all.”

DDT started lobbying for Eddie Gallagher against the wishes of the Navy Seals after the convicted Seal received positive publicity for him from Fox. Two of Gallagher’s supporters, Bernard Kerik and Marc Mukasey, are two of DDT’s and Giuliani’s friends. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/30/us/politics/trump-seals-eddie-gallagher.html   Like DDT, Gallagher shows great disdain for authority. His goal in the service was “to kill as many people as possible,” and he turned off his locator so his superiors couldn’t find him. Now pardoned, he gave an interview to Fox in which he denigrated Rear Adm. Collin Green, commander of the Navy Seals:

“I just get a feeling of embarrassment for my community that Admiral Green is letting the ego get the best of him at this point. And he’s trying to take my trident because it’s all about retaliation.”

DDT is considering taking his three pardoned war criminals on the campaign trail with him next year.

No matter the spin, conservatives can’t get evidence that the intelligence agencies leaders conducted the investigation into Russian interference from personal bias against DDT. That is the decision of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz although he did find “errors and omissions in documents related to the wiretapping of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page” and an altered email by a “low-level” attorney in seeking a renewal of the wiretap. The IG concluded that the wiretap application had a legal and factual basis.

DDT lost one of the few people in the White House since his inauguration, deputy chief of staff Daniel Walsh, who planned foreign trips and decided White House aides’ use of government resources. He was an important part in the failed planning to have the G7 summit at DDT’s Doral resort.

While the State Department fires ethical career service people, it hired Frank Wuco as senior adviser at the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance. A conservative talk radio host, he suggested dropping nuclear bombs on Afghanistan after 9/11 and promoted far-right conspiracy theories including President Obama not born in the U.S., former CIA director John Brennan converted to Islam, former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. esd a member of the Black Panthers, and former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Last year, Wuco moved from the Department of Homeland Security. DDT had also considered “using nuclear” in Afghanistan and promoted the false birther theory.

While progressives in the United States try to block foreign interference in the U.S. election, DDT is interfering in the British election on December 12. Anti-Brexit Boris Johnson is trying to keep his leadership in the nation, and DDT called into a radio station on Halloween to say:

“So bad for your country, so bad. [Labour Party head Jeremy Corbyn would] take you in such a bad way. He’d take you into such bad places.”

This coming week, DDT heads to Buckingham Palace while NATO meets in London, and Corbyn maintains that DDT has an arrangement with Johnson that includes the sale of Britain’s popular National Health Service to U.S. pharmaceutical companies. DDT also wants to sell “chlorinated chickens” and hormone-injected beef to Britain that don’t meet their food safety regulations, and Corbyn maintains that he has copies of trade agreements between DDT and Johnson. Over 70 percent of the voters don’t approve of DDT, and DDT is less popular than Vladimir Putin. Johnson knows this, and he’s tried to get DDT to back off. This past week, Johnson said on LBC radio:

“What we don’t do traditionally as loving allies and friends, what we don’t do traditionally, is get involved in each other’s election campaigns.”

In a possibly fraudulent act, DDT reported higher occupancy rates to lenders and lower ones to tax officials over three consecutive years while the Trump Organization refinanced a $100 million loan. 

After the federal government forced 159 BLM employees from Washington to the West, staffers’ wages were reduced. The change was justified by reduced cost of living in the new location. The new location will favor energy interests: the new Grand Junction (CO) office share a building with Chevron. The town is four hours away from a major city and has only a small regional airport with no direct flights to D.C. The move costs $6.6 million, but lawmakers blocked funding for the move in the 2020 budget. The Agricultural Department’s Economic Research Service move to Kansas City (MO) cost them almost 80 percent of its employees.

In an unusual move, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has been bypassed in budget talks as the House tries to meet the December 20 deadline for passing the budget.  

October 27, 2019

DDT: Week 144 – Disasters Grow

Last week ended with more bad news for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) after Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, testified on Saturday. Like others, he said he saw top DDT officials stopping their support for former U.S. ambassador for Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, after DDT took her out of Ukraine. About his testimony, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) said, “It’s a much richer reservoir of information that we originally expected.”

DDT’s chief argument for blocking subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry was that there is no inquiry. A federal judge disagreed, ruling that the House had launched “an official impeachment inquiry” because “a House resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry.”  AG Bill Barr has also been ordered to turn over grand jury material he redacted in Robert Mueller’s final report by October 30. Beryl Howell, chief judge for the Washington, D.C. district court, responded to the DOJ claim barring “disclosure to the Congress of grand jury information” by declaring, “DOJ is wrong.”

A month into the impeachment inquiry, DDT becomes increasingly frustrated with his inability to block subpoenas. Earlier, he said that only “crooks” need a “war room” to defend themselves from impeachment, but he has brought back Jane and Marty Raskin, criminal defense attorneys who were part of his legal team during the Mueller investigation. White House officials are also having regular impeachment strategy meetings and discussing the possibility of hiring a veteran lawyer with impeachment experience and a communications strategist.

Depositions this coming week:

  • Monday – Former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman. (He has asked a court to rule on whether he should after receiving his subpoena.)
  • Tuesday – Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top expert on Ukraine.
  • Wednesday – Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of defense for international security.
  • Thursday – Tim Morrison, a White House adviser on Russia and Europe.

More reports show DDT’s responsibility for deaths in Ukraine because he held up military aid for personal political reasons. Russia has been firing artillery shells at Ukrainian soldiers in rural areas in spite of the Moscow-signed ceasefire. In one case, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and another eight injured. Approximately 13,000 people, one-fourth of them civilians, have been killed since 2014 when Russia illegally annexed Crimea and started a separatist uprising in Donbass. The death rate in Donbass dropped after $1.5 billion in U.S. military aid. The congressionally-approved $391 million was designated not only for weapons but also for defensive systems against Russian artillery attacks. DDT’s indifference about saving lives in Ukraine is like his abandonment of Kurdish allies so that Turks could kill them.

DDT’s high point is killing people. “He died like a dog,” crowed DDT about the U.S. military killing ISIS leader Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria last night and continued with a gleeful description of the death. CNBC reporter John Harwood tweeted, “Trump relishes describing ghastly violence.” Once again, DDT violated protocol by not notifying Democratic congressional leaders of his raid but did tell Russia before the attack. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) demanded a briefing on DDT’s action. Although the Kurds were instrumental in the attack on al-Baghdadi, DDT gave Russia and Iraq credit without their taking part. Before President Obama’s raid that killed Osama bin Laden, he informed leaders of both parties. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that there were no recorded airstrikes in the Idlib zone on Saturday where the operation is said to have taken place and that al-Baghdadi’s presence there was unlikely because the area is controlled by either Syria or a rival al-Qaeda. Al-Baghdadi’s death has been reported at other times.

Despite the possibility of al-Baghdadi’s death, impeachment still looms large over DDT with past officials’ negative interviews. Yesterday, former acting chief of staff John Kelly told a conference audience at the conservative Sea Island Summit that he had warned DDT:

“Whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man’—someone who won’t tell you the truth. Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached.”

DDT denied that Kelly “said that.” He accused Kelly of wanting “to come back into the action like everybody else.” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said that Kelly “was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President.” Yes man Mick Mulvaney replaced Kelly, and DDT isn’t happy with him either. He snapped at him in front of his aides when Mulvaney reminded him of the Hatch Act, prohibiting all executive branch employees except DDT from using their positions for political activities, and called Mulvaney “weak.” In dictator fashion, DDT said, “I’m in charge of the Hatch Act,” meaning that people don’t need to follow the law.

A month ago, DDT floated the idea of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Liddell as his chief of staff. DDT also suggested Kellyanne Conway as a possibility. Others one the list for his “yes man” chief of staff are former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and veteran political operative Wayne Berman.

DDT’s advisers are also trying to push out Mulvaney. Fox’s Sean Hannity called him “dumb” and “interpretation of things,” “idiotic.” Fox’s Lou Dobbs called Mulvaney’s press conference “thoroughly confusing” and that it “seemed to contradict what the president has said.” Mulvaney may have been “dumb” when he defended Trump’s selection of Doral for the G7 Summit, now rescinded, by saying that DDT still thinks of himself as working in the “hospitality business.” 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may also be moving on. DDT was upset that he hired acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, who testified about the quid pro quo.  

DDT can hire anyone for chief of staff, but he’s restricted in his appointees for agency directors. Ken Cuccinelli is out as head of the DHS after Kevin McAleenan left because he hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate for any position and hasn’t been at the agency for 90 days before the vacancy. Immigration is currently such a hot potato that infighting about McAleenan’s replacement will make DDT’s life worse. DHS has had four DHS secretaries in less than three years.  

Rick Perry, totally inadequate for the position of Energy Secretary, is gone, and DDT found another lobbyist to add to his Cabinet. DDT picked Dan Brouillette, top lobbyist for Ford Motor Company, to replace Perry one month after he told an audience, “We stared down the unholy alliance of lobbyists and donors and special interests, who made a living bleeding our country dry. That’s what we’ve done.” He does stare them down in his Cabinet meetings—secretaries of Defense, EPA, HHS, Labor, Interior, and now Energy.

DDT repeatedly claimed that he opposes corruption, but his own affairs indicate that corruption begins at home. Earlier this year, the U.S. Marshals Service awarded a $33 million contract to CertiPath, owned in part by DDT’s younger brother, Robert Trump. The company failed to disclose that DDT’s close relative will benefit financially. Protests led to a “stop work order” on the contract.   

When the Pentagon picked Microsoft instead of Amazon for its new $10 billion cloud computing contract, the military may have proved Jim Mattis’ claim that DDT had called the former defense secretary and ordered him to “screw Amazon” as part of DDT’s ongoing vendetta against Jeff Bezos, owner of both Amazon and Washington Post. Mattis refused, saying that the bid procedure “will be done by the book, both legally and ethically.” DDT fired Mattis six months after the altercation.

Mystery traders made $1.8 billion from stock purchases placed hours before DDT tweeted talks with China were “back on track” at the G20 meeting in June. Other trades are netting people in the know, one just before Iranian drones attacked Saudi Arabian oil production facilities ($180 million) and another made shortly before DDT announced a delay in tariffs on Chinese goods ($190 million). Democrats are seeking a probe into the suspicious stock trades connected to DDT’s statements.  

Two top HUD officials admitted at a congressional hearing that the agency deliberately and illegally missed a legally required deadline to make billions of desperately needed hurricane relief funding available to Puerto Rico. They managed to issue funding notices to 18 states by the deadline and published all notices except Puerto Rico.

DDT’s administration is also blocking the report from an interagency working group that describes environmental risks for low income communities. Of the multiple agencies required to file annual progress reports about actions each one takes to address environmental justice, only four have done so, and most haven’t updated environmental justice strategic plans.

The National Archives is investigating Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross‘ use of private email for official business, discussions with the European Commission for Trade, a U.S. ambassador’s meeting with German car manufacturers, a dinner with the ambassador of Japan, an event related to billionaire businessman Bill Koch, and meeting requests from a far-right Internet troll.

DDT’s highly touted whistleblower protection office at the VA was designed to punish whistleblowers and held no wrongdoers accountable. it shelled out over $300,000 last month on ineffective and at times irrelevant training for its staff who work on misconduct and whistleblower retaliation allegations.

More corruption tomorrow!

June 29, 2019

Supreme Court Moves to Eliminate Democracy

The debates took up much of the media air last week, but the Supreme Court decisions are what will permanently change democracy in the United States. The two biggest one came out Thursday, the last day of the session so that the conservatives could quickly get out of town. Chief Justice John Roberts now has a one-two-three punch against voting with his three major decisions to suppress the vote. In the first, Citizens United, Roberts gave donors the right to give unlimited amounts of “dark money” to political candidates. His elimination of the almost 50-year-old Voters Rights Act made sure that states could keep minorities and the poor from voting in the states that were usually inclined to discriminate against these populations.

This Thursday, Roberts guaranteed that politicians can select their own voters instead of the constitutional position that voters should pick their candidates, and courts can’t stop gerrymandering even if it promises partisanship. Roberts’ swing vote in Rucho v. Common Cause blocking federal courts from preventing the most aggressive partisan gerrymandered districts that computers can create. In a circular pattern, Republicans pick districts so that the districts will pick Republicans.

The conservative majority used the excuse that some acts can violate he Constitution but are beyond the judiciary to determine any violations. Roberts’ reasoning that courts cannot require states to draw legislative maps somewhat proportional adversely twisted the definition of “proportional representation” for voting, meaning legislative representation should track electoral results. He allows states where Democrats win 54 percent of the vote to give Republicans 65 percent of the legislative seats, and he skipped the part of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits states from denying anyone “equal protection of the laws.” The First Amendment also prohibits viewpoint discrimination—aka gerrymandering. For elections, Roberts views the amendment narrowly while he uses it for unlimited expenditures to influence elections.

The swing vote in Department of Commerce v. New York, Roberts voted against the conservative four justices. The racist policy by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to rig the census by requiring all people in the U.S. to answer a question of their citizenship provided more voter suppression by shrinking districts with Latinx, designed to allocate congressional seats in a way that “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” The U.S. census is ordered for all “people” in the nation, not citizens or legal residents.

Experts testified that the citizenship question “could seriously jeopardize the accuracy of the census,” because “people who are undocumented immigrants may either avoid the census altogether or deliberately misreport themselves as legal residents.” Meanwhile, legal residents “may misunderstand or mistrust the census and fail or refuse to respond.” The Census Bureau “calculated in January 2018 that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census was likely to lead to a 5.1% differential decrease in self-response rates among noncitizen households.” The purpose of the census covers a lot of territory from determining the number of legislators, both state and federal, and the amount of federal funding for different areas.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied about the question’s inception and reason and falsely claimed that it was necessary to help the DOJ enforce the remaining portion of the Voters Rights Act. Evidence, however, “showed that the Secretary was determined to reinstate a citizenship question from the time he entered office; instructed his staff to make it happen; waited while Commerce officials explored whether another agency would request census-based citizenship data; subsequently contacted the Attorney General himself to ask if DOJ would make the request; and adopted the Voting Rights Act rationale late in the process.” This evidence suggests that “the Secretary had made up his mind to reinstate a citizenship question ‘well before’ receiving DOJ’s request, and did so for reasons unknown but unrelated to the VRA.”

Although Roberts voted that the question had to go back to state courts for another look, he denied that it should be removed because Ross didn’t follow a federal law requiring a three-year notice to Congress about “the subjects proposed to be included, and the types of information to be compiled.” The ruling did not state that the decision was “substantively invalid” but that “agencies must pursue their goals reasonably,” and “reasoned decisionmaking under the Administrative Procedure Act calls for an explanation for agency action.” Remanded back to the New York district court, the Supreme Court decision overturned a ruling that the question is “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedures Act and upheld the constitutionality of a citizenship question under the Enumeration Clause of the Constitution. The ruling determined the question legal if the Commerce Department can come up with a good enough reason.

DDT is so furious about the citizenship question decision that he wants to (unconstitutionally) delay the census until he gets his way. Supposedly, census forms printing must be started next week to complete them in time, but Commerce Department could wait until October 31 to start printing the questionnaire if it can get “extraordinary resources” allocated by Congress.

In a filing last Monday, Maryland District Court Judge George Hazel stated the evidence “potentially connects the dots between a discriminatory purpose—diluting Hispanics’ political power—and Secretary Ross’s decision” to add a citizenship question with the argument that DDT violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause. Although the Supreme Court decision may stop the Maryland lawsuit, it can reappear if Ross returns with new reasons.

DDT’s court continues its pattern: conservative decisions are sweeping ones that change laws; liberal ones are narrow with little relief except in one specific situation.

In the census decision, Justice Clarence Thomas, on the court thanks to Joe Biden’s refusal to listen to women’s statements about Thomas’ sexual harassment, called Judge Jesse Furman a conspiracy theorist for challenging Ross’ lies. Earlier, Thomas had raged about sending a case back to Mississippi for a sixth time in Flowers v. Mississippi because, according to Thomas, prosecutors can strike minorities from a jury on the basis of their race. Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas in his position. Last February, Thomas announced he wants to overturn New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 ruling sharply restricting public figures, including government officials, to sue for defamation and get rid of Gideon v. Wainwright, requiring states to provide public defenders for indigent defendants. Gorsuch agrees with that position too. To Thomas, abortion rights equals eugenics.

After another Supreme Court ruling last week, police no longer need a warrant to draw blood from an unconscious person suspected of drinking while driving. Gone is the requirement of a person for an invasive procedure that overturns the 2013 Supreme Court ruling a violation of the Constitution for a nonconsensual blood draw without a warrant in a DUI case.

The 40-foot Christian cross will remain on a traffic median near Washington, D.C. according to six Christian and one Jewish Supreme Court justices. Catholic Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Christian crosses have “secular meaning.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, dissenting with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, read her disagreement from the bench. [I’m guessing that the Supreme Court would not consider a “secular” Jewish star of David or Islam crescent to replace the “secular” cross.]

The Supreme Court refused to hear a lower court ruling against Alabama’s 2015 abortion law banning “dilation and evacuation,” a common procedure during the second trimester. The high court’s inaction left the law struck down, but it won’t avoid abortion cases forever. Earlier this year, it left in place the requirement for disposing of aborted fetal remains through burial or cremation because of the “sanctity of life.” Nothing about miscarriages. The high court also refused to hear a case from two Kansas men convicted of violating federal law regulating silencers.

In Gamble v. United States, the Supreme Court on Monday also reaffirmed a 170-year-old exception to the Constitution’s double-jeopardy clause, leaving an opportunity for states to prosecute DDT and his campaign officials for issues already prosecuted federally.

In one sane move, Roberts was the swing vote in Kisor v. Wilkie to not overturn a 75-year series of SCOTUS decisions permitting agencies’ reasonable interpretations of their own regulations.

The Supreme Court has started its docket for the upcoming year with a case determining what happens to 700,000 DREAMERS living in the United States because of DACA. Three appeals courts and a district judge have ruled that DDT had no rationale for his attempt to close a program that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Other cases include one from Bridget Kelly and Vill Baroni, convicted of participating in gridlock near the George Washington Bridge and a Montana ruling invalidating a state program offering tax credits for funding scholarships at private schools, including religious schools.

In a 5-4 decision exempting a public access television channel from constitutional requirements, Brett Kavanaugh wrote:

“It is sometimes said that the bigger the government, the smaller the individual.”

Although Kavanaugh didn’t cite his source, the false statement was tracked to the Ayn Randian Atlas Society, refuting Roberts’ common claim that the Supreme Court is not political. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) clearly stated that blockades of Supreme Court nominees are only for Democratic presidents. He smirked while he told an audience that he would “fill it” if a vacancy on the high court appears next year. No longer should “the American people have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice.”

March 9, 2019

DDT: Week 111 – A Plague of Lost Court Cases, Investigations, Inhumanity

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has had another hard week: Jane Mayer’s article about the “Fox White House,” burgeoning investigations including a look into his giving his children high-level security clearances, and the revelation that North Korea is developing nuclear weapons after DDT took Kim Jong-Un “at his word.” The courts are also dealing DDT a few blows.

Another judge has ruled against DDT’s citizenship question on the 2020 census, ruling that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acted in “bad faith,” broke several laws, violated the constitutional representative democracy by deliberately undercounting specific populations, and lied under oath to Congress, according to uncovered emails. The Supreme Court will hear arguments about the questions in late April before the census materials go to the printer in June.

Another federal judge expanded his ruling to reunite over 2,700 migrant children with their parents to all parents separated at the border on or after July 1, 2017, far earlier than the previous order going back to June 26, 2018. Judge Dana Sabraw was responding to the DHS report that unknown thousands of children may have been separated since summer of 2017. He will consider the next steps on March 28, 2019 and wrote, “The hallmark of a civilized society is measured by how it treats its people and those within its borders.”

In more lack of concern for human life, DDT revoked the mandate that the U.S. report the number of civilians killed in drone strikes outside war zones. Since he was inaugurated, a recorded 2,243 drone strikes, far more than the total 1,878 during President Obama’s eight years, have killed civilians. With almost no congressional oversight or media attention, DDT is also waging a secret war in Somalia, killing at least 252 people in two dozen airstrikes thus far this year. The Pentagon has deployed 500 U.S. troops, including special ops, in the country.

Demonstrating disregard toward Palestine, DDT closed the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem serving as a de facto embassy for Palestinians and sending them to the U.S. Embassy to Israel where Ambassador David Friedman, fierce critic of Palestinian leadership, further recognizes Israeli control over Palestinian land in Jerusalem and the West Bank. DDT has also cut hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Palestinians which includes help for hospitals and peace-building programs as well as funding for the UN agency providing aid to Palestinian refugees. Last fall, he shut the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, in charge of peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestine, said that the U.S. will reveal the deal, rejected by the Palestinian Authority, after April’s Israeli elections.

DDT promised Alabama “A Plus treatment” after 23 people died in a tornado.  About California, where 86 people died in just one town’s fire, DDT tweeted:

“Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”

Embarrassing even the State Department and the Department of Defense, DDT may demand that Germany, Japan, and possibly all other allies hosting U.S. troops pay the full price of U.S. soldiers deployed in their countries—plus another 50 percent or more. U.S. keeps bases in these countries for our benefit—for example, emergency care in Germany for U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq and other hot spots. Although Germany sometimes opposes involvement in the Middle East, one German base provides a necessary staging post for U.S. military actions in Iraq and Libya. German bases also provide headquarters for the U.S. Africa Command, and marines crisis response forces in Spain and Italy protect U.S. interests and diplomatic compounds in Africa. If DDT removes the bases, the U.S. will lose the benefits while paying more of money to support the troops.

DDT’s appointees are becoming increasingly disturbed about DDT’s orders to them coming from his “gut.” Last December, DDT said he was pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, and his Defense Secretary, James Mattis, quit. Two months later, he said he would leave 2,000 there—and then 4,000. Now he’s “100 percent” behind keeping troops in Syria. Even national security adviser is disturbed about the North Korea buildup fiasco, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo finds himself consistently forced to lie for DDT. As Michael Cohen said in his testimony to the House Oversight Committee, “The more people that follow Mr. Trump as I did blindly are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering.”

In his testimony, Cohen said that DDT’s run for president was “to make his brand great, not to make our country great.” DDT proved Cohen right when he tweeted an advertisement for his Scottish golf course, incidentally violating two clauses of the U.S. Constitution. He may also be in deeper hot water if anyone investigates the financing for the golf course like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) plans.

Tens of thousands of dollars poured into DDT’s inauguration fund from shell companies hiding foreign contributors, at least one of them ineligible for political donations because of U.S. election law. The daughter for a contributor received a White House internship, and a Washington lobbyist has already admitted that he funneled $50,000 to the inauguration from a Ukrainian oligarch. Another $25,000 was traced to an Israeli businessman. Things are so bad for DDT that Forbes thinks his Trump Organization could be charged as a “RICO enterprise.” And Michael Cohen is suing DDT for almost $2 million in unpaid back legal fees from 2018.

Since Democrats said that they would not have a debate on Fox, DDT said he would block other networks from hosting debates. DDT’s Mar-a-Lago buddies call him “king,” perhaps making him think he has the ability to tell the media what to do.

After giving trillions of dollars to the wealthy and big business, DDT plans to become the king of fiscal responsibility. On the first of March, the U.S. national debt hit $22 trillion, requiring another vote to raise the debt ceiling following months of using “extraordinary measures” to pay the country’s bills. March 11 is the deadline for the White House to release DDT’s broad budget priorities. The man who bragged “I’ve made a fortune by using debt” will make deep spending cuts in the safety net which won’t pass the House and increase military spending. DDT may cause another shutdown.

Corporation tax rates were cut 40 percent for 2018 while over 11 million taxpayers lost $323 billion in tax deductions. Republicans who passed the tax cuts, who said that the added revenue would make up for any deficits, are calling the $1 trillion addition to the U.S. debt a “threat to national security.” Five GOP senators and 50 GOP representatives are co-sponsoring legislation for a resolution stating “that deficits are unsustainable, irresponsible, and dangerous” and that Congress is committed to “addressing the fiscal crisis faced by the United States.”

The U.S. budget gap climbed to $310.3 billion from October to January, up from $175.7 the same time during previous year, while tax revenues were lower after the tax “reform”—corporate payments down 23 percent and income taxes down three percent. Individuals still paid the same amount as last year, however, because prices of good increased at least $25 billion from the tariff costs. Between the tariff and IRS withholding, individuals paid $839, and business paid $73 billion. The surplus in January dropped from $49.2 billion in January 2018 to $8.7 billion in January 2019.

DDT has found a flaw in his tax scam cut that offends his wealthy friends: because it restricts deductions of state and local taxes—including property tax—to $10,000 and the mortgage interest deduction to $750,000, people are leaving New York City and causing a decline in home prices. The reeling real estate market may cause a recession there. Republicans refuse to change that provision. Some of these frustrated tax payers may have formerly been doors to Republicans.

When DDT expressed belief in the innocence of New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, charged with soliciting prostitutes at a Florida spa, he forgot to mention that he watched the Superbowl at Mar-a-Lago with the spa chain’s founder, Li “Cindy” Yang, whose family still owns the spas. A visitor to the White House, Yang is quite a GOP supporter having posed for photos with Rep. Matt Gaetz, Gov. Ron DeSantis, GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. DDT signed a photo with Yang. [visual Yang] Other photos show Yang with Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) and Fox contributor Dan Bongino, who had a meltdown about its release.

The big media buzz this week was the light sentence that Paul Manafort received from the first judge. DDT worked hard to spin the ruling into his favor, claiming that the judge said, “No collusion!” The judge, however, declared that Manafort wasn’t on trial for or convicted of “anything to do with Russian colluding in the presidential election.” The second sentence with a maximum of ten years will be delivered this coming week.

January 24, 2019

Shutdown Bills Fail; House Investigates Kushner

Day 34 of government shutdown: Both of today’s Senate bills designed to reopen the government failed when neither one met the 60 votes necessary. In a 51-47 vote, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Tom Cotton (R-AL) voted against their party in opposing the measure proposed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to get his $5.7 billion for 200 miles of wall, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-VA) supported DDT’s bill with the wall. The second bill from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to open the government with a continuing resolution until February 8 had one more supporting vote, 52-44, with GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Murkowski (AK), Cory Gardner (CO), Lamar Alexander (TN), Johnny Isakson (GA) and Mitt Romney (UT) joining Democrats.

Billionaire Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that he doesn’t understand why federal employees without paychecks don’t get loans instead of using food banks. He claimed that financial institutions just give them loans against “the 30 days of pay that people will be out.” Ross added that even if these 800,000 people never got their pay, they’re “about a third of a percent on our GDP. So it’s not like it’s a gigantic number overall.”

DDT, another billionaire, had a peculiar reaction to Ross. He thought that Ross was accurate in his assertion that federal employees, either furloughed or working without pay, don’t need to get emergency help from homeless shelters and food pantries because—drum roll!—grocery stores will give these paycheck-less people food without paying for it. He said:

“Local people know who they are. Where they go for groceries and everything else. If you have mortgages, mortgagees, the folks collecting the interest and all of those things, they work along. That’s what happens in times like these. They know the people. They’ve been dealing with them for years, and they work along.”

Two months ago, DDT was telling people that they needed IDs to buy a box of cereal.

Republicans are getting so desperate that they are yelling at VP Mike Pence. In a private meeting two days ago, several senators harangued Pence, who said that the White House was working on a strategy to reopen the government and that they should not vote for the Democrat-offered bill that got six GOP votes today.  Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said they gave Pence an “earful” because “we’re all hearing from our constituents who are working for no pay.” Other members criticizing Pence included GOP Sens. Mitch McConnell (KY), Lisa Murkowski (AK), John Boozman (AR), Johnny Isakson (GA), and Jerry Moran (KS). Two of them voted for the Democratic-supported bill.

Fly at your own risk during the shutdown is the message from representatives of air traffic controllers, pilots, and flight attendants. Making things worse, they report that the FAA “has frozen hiring and shuttered its training academy, so there is no plan in effect to fill the FAA’s critical staffing need.” Certification requires two to four years, and the U.S. has the fewest number of air traffic controllers in 30 years.

According to CEOs, DDT is hurting business with the shutdown and low immigration with lack of investment in research and development, education, and entrepreneurship. The National Science Foundation has not issued any grants for over a month, and government researchers in agencies such as NOAA, the EPA, and the U.S. Geological Survey don’t get paychecks. Hundreds of postdoctoral fellows don’t get their stipends. Loss of immigration is destroying U.S. innovation.

In a “what if” piece, Rachel Maddow suggests a “Worst Case Scenario” in which Russia’s Vladimir Putin is behind the government shutdown. At one time, this idea would be too far-fetched, but Robert Mueller’s investigation has found hundreds of links with DDT’s campaign; ties with Russia and national security adviser John Bolton, Maria Butina, the NRA; threats against Michael Cohen’s family to keep him from testifying; and Oleg Deripaska’s Belarusian escort, who claimed to have information about DDT, was returned to Russia and may be in early states of poisoning. Putin wanted interference in the presidential election to cause chaos within the United States.

Now federal agency employees who were called back to work without pay—TSA agents, meat inspectors, prison guards, IRS workers, etc.—are starting to walk off their jobs, adding to the impact of jobs not being done by furloughed employees. Imagine if people can no longer trust safety in flying, food, and water and from crime while not receiving their tax refunds in addition to millions losing income from the missing paychecks for 800,000 federal employees. DDT is behind the shutdown and shows little urgency in reopening the government. He is also the focus of the biggest criminal and counter-intelligence investigation of any sitting U.S. president.

DailyKos has ideas for what a U.S. leader following Putin’s strategy could do to weaken the United States:

  • Relax sanctions on Putin and his oligarchs to give them more money.
  • Antagonize U.S. allies.
  • Polarize the U.S. with ugly divisive rhetoric.
  • Attack U.S. institutions, especially the judiciary, and replace the leadership with his cronies.
  • Pull the U.S. out of multinational trade and security alliances.
  • Excessively praise Putin.
  • Implement irrational economic trade sanctions to weaken U.S. economy.
  • Use excessive measures to conceal communications with Putin.
  • Consistently repeat Putin’s propaganda talking points.
  • Shut down the U.S. government for a ridiculous rationale and continue to cripple the U.S. with huge political, security, social, and financial damage.

Two years ago, this scenario would have seemed impossible. Now some might like to think it’s improbable, but every DDT action makes the proposition appear more likely.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), new chair of the Judiciary Committee, has an answer for the crisis facing many people in the U.S. during the shutdown: investigate Hillary Clinton’s email server, specifically the FBI’s handling of the situation and the FISA warrant application targeting DDT’s campaign adviser Carter Page. The FBI investigated Page after the possibility that he conspired with Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. Graham believes that the FBI was “in the tank” for her campaign and accused them of a double standard in the agency’s handling of the two presidential campaigns. In actuality, he’s right: the FBI helped swing the election to DDT by publicizing non-existent problems with Clinton and hiding real investigations into DDT.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) laughed at Graham’s plans and compared them to the ”thrilling days of yesteryear.” Durham said:

“This is going to be like the History Channel, it turns out. Instead of taking a look at the current issues, Lindsey Graham wants to go back and answer important questions about the Bermuda Triangle and Hillary Clinton.”

Durbin added that Graham may want to investigate Jimmy Carter next. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a judiciary committee member, joked that Graham might want to “investigate Benghazi some more.”

The House Oversight Committee plans an investigation into “grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump Administration” with the focus on White House handling of classified information, including DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Over 130 political appointees in DDT’s office lack permanent security clearances as of 2017, include Kushner and DDT’s daughter Ivanka.

The House committee has even more grist for its mill since the revelation that Kushner’s application for a top secret clearance was rejected by two career White House security specialists because of FBI concerns about possible foreign influence on him. Overruling this decision from an investigation, the specialists’ supervisor, Carl Kline, approved the clearance. In unprecedented behavior, Kline, a DDT appointee, repeated this overruling 30 times despite unfavorable information on each of the applicants. Sources indicated that “the Trump White House attracted many people with untraditional backgrounds who had complicated financial and personal histories, some of which raised red flags.”

Kushner, who had to redo and correct his application clearance 40 times, received questions about foreign contacts, travel, and meetings as well as his family’s business. After Kline gave Kushner secret and top secret clearances, Kushner went to the CIA seeking a higher that allows him to access “sensitive compartmented information” that includes transcripts of intercepted foreign communications and CIA source reporting. Kline even stopped credit checks on security clearance applicants.

The CIA reviewed Kushner’s materials and questioned even the “top secret” clearance giving Kushner access to material that would cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security if disclosed to adversaries. Officials are questioning whether the White House overruled the CIA refusal for the SCI clearance. A year ago, WaPo reported that officials in at least four countries—United Arab Emirates, China, Israel, and Mexico—talked about how they could manipulate Kushner though his lack of policy experience, financial difficulties, and business arrangements.

The House needs to work fast!

August 9, 2018

Lack of Transparency in Agency Control

Filed under: Congress — trp2011 @ 12:02 AM
Tags: , , , ,

Although the Senate has blocked very few of nominees by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), some of his appointments don’t require confirmation. Such is the case of actor Steven Seagal, the new special envoy to Russia, an unpaid position with the goal of working with “humanitarian issues” and improving ties between the two countries. Seagal admires Vladimir Putin, calling him “one of the great living world leaders,” and defends Russia from statements that it interfered in U.S. elections. Several women including Portia di Rossi, Julianna Margulies, and Jenny McCarthy have accused Seagal of sexual misconduct. Two other women claimed that Seagal had sexually assaulted them when they were teenagers.

Robert Wilkie, former aide to late GOP Jesse Helms (R-NC), has recently been confirmed as head of Veterans Affairs. In his work for Helms, Wilkie supported the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Confederate flag while belonging to Sons of Confederate Veterans. Wilkie also opposed equal pay for women when he worked for Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) and suggested that women graduate from high school before they receive welfare. As executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party in 1996-1997, the anti-LGBTQ Wilkie played a part in developing DDT’s transgender ban. Wilkie’s confirmation vote of 86-9 was the first time that any VA Secretary had received opposition votes. One of his goals is to privatize health care for veterans.

Wilkie’s confirmation may not run the VA, however, because three DDT friends and Mar-a-Lago members are actually calling the shots in the agency, according to information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Bruce Moskowitz, a Palm Beach doctor who runs “concierge” medical care; Ike Perlmutter, chairman of Marvel Entertainment; and Marc Sherman, lawyer, steer policies at the VA, make personnel decisions, and tell its officials what to do although none of them has served in the U.S. military or government—or been nominated and/or confirmed. The secret Mar-a-Lago Crowd, as they are known, have neither accountability nor oversight but push their pet causes and demand that they run everything. One proposal is to have private health care executive tell the VA what services should be outsourced to the private health care providers. Before David Shulkin, the former VA director, left, he communicated with the triumvirate on his private cellphone and with his private email address, breaking federal records laws as people have constantly told Hillary Clinton. The “Crowd” decided to get rid of Shulkin because of differences in opinion regarding how to improve the VA’s electronic record-keeping software. Wilkie is currently the pet of the threesome, but they can always decide to get rid of him too.

Scott Hutchins, the pesticide executive appointed as the chief scientist for the USDA, could be the third person to switch from Dow Chemical’s pesticide/seed division to make high-level federal decisions. Of the first two, one leads USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service, and the other, a lobbyist for Dow, has been confirmed as undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs. As pesticide promoter, Hutchins would control the USDA’s $2.9 billion research budget. Dow Chemical donated $1 million to DDT’s inaugural committee, leading to a variety of governmental favors for the company. DDT’s last nominee for Hutchins’ position, Sam Clovis, had to withdraw his name after publicity about his involvement in the Russia scandal.

Scott Pruitt’s scandals may no longer be a focus of the EPA, but its new acting secretary, Andrew Wheeler, faces his first lawsuit and call for an ethics probe from repeated concerns about conflicts of interest. The former coal lobbyist had at least three meetings with previous clients during his first month and participated in events including the head of a company that he was prohibited from working with. Wheeler’s next lawsuit may come from DDT’s insistence that he roll back California’s waiver to control greenhouse emissions. Seth Meyers has provided an update on Wheeler’s EPA leadership—rolling back coal industry regulations so that companies can more easily “dispose” of toxic coal ash waste. A member of the EPA board of science advisers, Robert Phalen, thinks that our air is too clean.

In the past four months, DDT has named 69 new appointees, some of them awful and the rest worse. Check here for an overview.

Wilbur Ross, Secretary of the Commerce Department, may have replaced Scott Pruitt as the biggest creature among DDT’s swamp pets. In justifying Ross’ appointment, DDT explained, “In these positions, I just don’t want a poor person.” The conservative publication Forbes has explained why Ross is so wealthy: he’s a “grifter.” A former Ross employee settled a $4 million lawsuit against his old boss two weeks before the trial, in which he alleged that “Ross stole his interests in a private equity fund, transferred them to himself, then tried to cover it up with bogus paperwork.” Other allegations against Ross go from refusal to pay workers to a pattern in which he typically stole a few million from a number of people that totaled up to $120 million. Dan Alexander reported:

“Those who’ve done business with Ross generally tell a consistent story, of a man obsessed with money and untethered to facts. ‘He’ll push the edge of truthfulness and use whatever power he has to grab assets,’ says New York financier Asher Edelman. One of Ross’ former colleagues is more direct: ‘He’s a pathological liar.’”

Ross’ company lost money in a rising stock market and got into trouble by overcharging investors on underperforming funds. A lawsuit claims that he illegally charges management fees from current and former company executives as well as outside clients. He also kept the portion of fees for serving on the boards of his firm’s portfolio companies instead of rebates to investors as required. When he sold part of the company, Ross managed to bolster it up and reap an undeserved price through higher evaluation. Ross also falsified his situation on a sworn document almost nine months, asserting he had divested all the assets as promised but still owned between $10 million and $50 million worth of stock in WL Ross’ parent company, Invesco. He waited to sell his shares to make more than $1.2 million.

Forbes claims that Ross lies about how much money he has, sometimes inflating the sum into the billions. A fair guess could be $700, although he cheats on what should be small amounts to him such as the $73,000 stake in Air Lease. He sold the shares a year after he promised to carry out the transaction. Investors claims that heads of private equity firms always know what they own, but Ross always claims ignorance.

Jake Johnson wrote:

“Wilbur Ross is a cartoon stereotype of a Wall Street fat cat with no interest in anyone but himself. He has shady ties to Russia and China, serious business conflicts, and a history of cheating people out of their homes.”

Ross maintains significant financial conflicts of interest, according to the Forbes investigation, and shorted stock on a Putin-related shipping company before share prices dropped because of an imminent negative story about his personal connection with the company. His investment conflicts also include companies co-owned by the Chinese government and a Cypriot bank in the Mueller investigation and in the industry Ross is investigating. Forbes reported that Ross has a history of lying and dodge questions about assets and holdings by claiming that he has divested when he actually set up trusts and handed assets to his family. Ross’ connection with the Cypriot bank gives him strong ties to Russian oligarchs, including Viktor Vekselberg who gave Michael Cohen’s consulting business over $500,000.

As co-founder of the Bank of Cyprus, a mail drop for moving Russian money to real estate “purchases” in the U.S., Ross may appear in Robert Mueller’s investigations. His partner, Dmitry Rybolovlev gave DDT $100 million for a $40 million property in Florida. Paul Manafort used Ross’ bank for funds funneled from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska with the pretense of a “loan.”

Firings:

Reagan Hedlund, Melania Trump’s policy aide, has been fired, but no one is explaining why. She was in charge of such programs as the “Be Best” anti-bullying initiative. The departure further shrinks the First Lady’s office of ten staff members.

The Future:

Hope Hicks, ex-girlfriend of and White House defense author for DDT’s fired aide Rob Porter for domestic abuse, left the White House soon after that debacle closed, but she was seen boarding Air Force One to travel with DDT to his Ohio campaign rally. Hicks resigned the day after she told the House Intelligence Committee that she told “white lies” on her job. DDT’s encounter with Hicks might be considered witness tampering because she testified about helping to draft DDT’s original statement on his son’s Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 at a time when DDT is frequently tweeting about the meeting. Hicks said that she is willing to become DDT’s chief of staff although John Kelly said that he is staying until the end of DDT’s four-year term.

It’s the summer doldrums while the Senate tries to put together enough Republicans to push through DDT’s judicial nominees. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) slowed down the process when he left Washington. His temporary departure left the Judiciary Committee at a 10-10 contest between Dems and the GOP. As for moving Brett Kavanaugh toward the Supreme Court, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) requested his records from the National Archives. When it couldn’t meet McConnell’s August 15 deadline, he said “never mind” to getting three years of records on him while he was White House staff secretary. The Dems is trying a different route, filing a Freedom of Information Act, something that has never happened before.

Polling on Kavanaugh becoming a justice doesn’t bode well.

November 5, 2017

DDT’s Attempts to Cripple the Nation

More shoes are dropping off the centipede of Robert Mueller’s special investigation into Russian connections with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Russia. One is the formerly undisclosed business ties between Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Putin-connected oil company located in Bermuda. Ross is currently with DDT in Tokyo to work on trade deals. Also referenced in the new documents are Gary D. Cohn, the chief economic adviser, and  Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson. In addition, Mueller has sufficient evidence to charge Michael Flynn, former national security adviser, and his son Michael J. Flynn Jr.

The United States went into Korea in 1950 after North Korea invaded South Korea. Although an armistice was signed, there was no peace treaty, meaning that the war may be ongoing. The U.S. may return: top Pentagon official Rear Adm. Michael J. Dumont has stated that the only way to destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons program would be through a ground invasion.

As dire as circumstances are after the summer’s hurricanes, advance knowledge saved lives despite the fact that many people ignored the information. They may start paying attention to how a warmer, wetter atmosphere threatens lives and property with more supercharged storms, intense droughts, massive wildfires, and widespread flooding. Yet DDT is cutting the budget to drastically cut back satellite programs and other forecasting tools along with forecasters. The 18 jobs lost at National Center for Atmospheric Research are some of the only scientists in the U.S. who can prepare a system for predicting disasters. The climate deniers leading to “weather deniers” are causing deaths and costing billions of dollars.

Rep. Al Green (D-LA) not only exposed the excessive ignorance of DDT’s pick for HUD director, Ben Carson, HUD director, but also explained objections to the inexcusably drastic cuts Carson supports for people in poverty:

“Mr. Carson, there seems to be a belief of among the ranks of those who have opportunities to help others, who have been blessed themselves. They seem to think that the rich need more, that the poor can do more with less, but the rich will have to have more to do more. Mr. Carson, if poor people could do more with less, there would be no poor people.”

Over 300,000 immigrants from Central America and Haiti legally living in the U.S. for almost two decades may be thrown out of the U.S. because Rex Tillerson claims that the reasons for allowing this arrangement are gone. They are here under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Congress to protect foreign nationals from being returned to their countries because of instability and precarious conditions caused by natural disasters or armed conflict.

DDT’s 12+ day trip to Asia has almost no backup help from the State Department because he sees no need to fill vacancies. In a recent interview he announced, “I’m the only one that matters.” He blamed the Democrats for obstructing his nominees immediately before he said, “We don’t need all of the people.” The nation is missing about three-fourths of personnel to fill 600 positions requiring Senate confirmation. Half the State Department positions are empty. The U.S. has no ambassadors to Australia, Austria, Ireland, South Africa, and Sweden in addition to Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, or Venezuela. Also empty are positions for combatting trafficking, war crimes, global women’s issues, and even the chief financial officer.

Saying “I’m the only one that matters” makes a leader sound like a dictator—or maybe just a despot.

A recent Time cover shows DDT as a wrecking ball with an article title, “How Trump’s cabinet is dismantling government as we know it.” DDT responded with the retort that describes his own appointments:

“The federal government is a broken, lobbyist-infested cesspool of corruption that abuses its power, cooks deals for crooked politicians, and despises hardworking Americans.”

Likely pick of Penny Young Nance, president and CEO of the Christian organization Concern Women for America, for ambassador-at-large for women’s issues reflects DDT’s negative feelings about women. She opposes abortion and LGBTQ rights and condemned the Disney animated movie Frozen for undermining masculinity. Concerned Women’s mission includes “protecting and supporting the Biblical design of marriage,” “protecting the sanctity of human life,” “ending sexual exploitation by fighting all forms of pornography, obscenity, prostitution, and sex trafficking,” and “defending religious liberty.” Nance opposes reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act, told Hollywood to feature more strong male leads, and joined the DOJ in their imprisonment of a teenage girl to keep her from getting an abortion. The position considered for Nance oversees the State Department program to end gender-based violence and empower women and girls in the world.

Eric Dreiband, awaiting confirmation for the top DOJ civil rights job, specializes in defending companies accused of discrimination. One spectacular case was from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that rescinded a job offer to a Muslim woman on the basis of her religion. Dreiband won with the argument that “Congress had failed to specifically mention that the commission would be subject to congressional rules, it was free from the civil rights laws that govern entities in the legislative branch.” That oversight has been corrected, and the case was later settled in favor of the woman by making the change retroactive.

Stephen Akard, an associate of Vice President Mike Pence, has been appointed to director general of the foreign service to keep it from political issues. The job typically goes to experts in diplomacy instead of someone with little diplomatic experience who instead served as an executive for an economic development company.

Some appointments, including the above, can be done away with, but DDT’s judicial appointments are forever. The Republican Senate is rapidly confirming and/or considering far-right judges after ignoring President Obama’s nominees:

  • Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the 7th Court of Appeals. With no judicial experience, she strongly opposes reproductive and LGBTQ rights.
  • Joan Larsen was confirmed to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. She was one of 21 people suggested by far-right Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation for the Supreme Court seat that Neil Gorsuch has. Larson once refused an appeal from a lesbian mother for parental visitation rights from an ex-spouse and objected to Lawrence v. Texas that stuck down sodomy laws and de-criminalized consensual same-sex relations.
  • Steve Grasz gave testimony to be on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. The American Bar Association unanimously rated him “not qualified” to serve as federal judges, only the third such rating since 1989, because of his bias to push his conservative social agenda. Board member of the anti-LGBTQ Nebraska Family Alliance, Grasz claimed that marriage equality is a “threat” to society, advocates conversion therapy, and opposes legal protections for LGBTQ people.
  • Mark Norris also provided testimony for a federal judgeship in Tennessee. His beliefs are similar to those of Grasz, and he voted for his state’s law permitting mental health providers to refuse service to LGBTQ clients. He advocates strict voter ID laws, opposes the removal of Confederate monuments, and supports bills that increase difficulty for workers to pursue compensation claims in Tennessee. His history includes discrimination against Muslims and people of color.

DDT is replacing Janet Yellen with Jerome Powell as Federal Reserve chair. Concerned about rising interest rates, the bond market flattened its yields between 2-year and 10-year yields, the same as in 2007 and a possible precursor to recession.

The sentence for former Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured and held prisoner for five years after he left his post in Afghanistan has traumatized DDT. Bergdahl was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, fine of $10,000, and reduction of rank to private. DDT called him a “traitor” at least 45 times and called for his execution, saying that he should be “thrown out of an airplane without a parachute.” The judge considered DDT’s comments a mitigating factor in Bergdahl’s receiving a fair trial. DDT is now spreading the same inflammatory language by calling for the execution of the man who recently killed eight people in New York by deliberately driving a truck into a bicycle lane.

On November 1, DDT declared November National Native American Heritage Month; on November 3, DDT again referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as “Pocahontas.” DDT’s tweet was one of ten enraged statements after DDT’s Twitter account was shut down for 11 minutes by a departing company employee.

Two pieces from Week Forty:

Scott Pruitt, EPA director, may be getting ready for nuclear bombing: he has a new “guideline” stating that excessive exposure, up to ten times the current level, to radiation is safe. A result of this document could be weakening radiation safety levels, perhaps even unravelling them.

DDT continued alienating the UK by falsely claiming that “radical Islamic terror” was causing a crime wave in that nation. He ignored the reasons: increase in gun- and knife crime, a 29-percent rise in hate crimes, and the loss of 20,000 police officers from conservative fiscal cuts.

In a new poll, 65 percent, up from 56 percent at his 100-day mark, described DDT’s accomplishments between “little or nothing” to “not much.” The 65 percent is the same range as DDT’s inability “to serve effectively as president,” call him dishonest and untrustworthy, and think that he “doesn’t understand their problems.”

[Note: Much has been said from all sides of the Hillary Clinton about the hacked emails, most of it negative. They need to consider that those emails were changed in content before they were released.]

May 25, 2017

DDT Doesn’t Complete Embarrass U.S.

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:10 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

At the half-way mark of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT’s) whirlwind trip to the Middle East, NATO in Brussels, the Vatican, and G-7 in Sicily, he got back to Europe but marked the trip with hypocrisy, rejection of human rights, gaffes, and lots of meetings that have left DDT exhausted.

The people who voted for anti-Muslim, anti-global DDT were unhappy to see him with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi holding a creepy glowing orb in a darkened room for a ceremony opening a global organization. At the same event, he touted the similarities between the United States and the Muslim countries represented by 50 leaders in his audience and reversed all his former positions. No mention of “America First.”

President Donald Trump’s one time campaign adviser and longtime confidante Roger Stone said the royal reception Trump received in Riyadh, including the country’s highest civilian honor, made him want to puke. Both George W. Bush and President Obama received the same award, and both bowed. DDT criticized President Obama for this. Stone said that DDT should insist that Saudi Arabia pay for the 9/11 attacks which they financed. Instead DDT lavished praise on the Saudis. The opulence in Saudi Arabia made DDT comfortable, so comfortable that he made this comment when he was talking to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi: “Love your shoes. Boy, those shoes. Man!” (Note that the speaker is the president of the United States.) He gave a speech reversing all his former positions, but he made a lot of money for his friends with their multi-billion-dollar deals in the Middle East plus $360 billion in arms deals. In return, Saudi Arabia wants the repeal of a 2016 law permitting relatives of 9/11 victims to sue the kingdom for their deaths. After George W. Bush declared war on Afghanistan and Iraq, many people forgot that 15 of the 19 attackers came from Saudi Arabia.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also gave a news conference with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, to which only foreign media were invited—not any U.S. media. The UK Daily Mail provided a transcript to U.S. media.

DDT’s hosts were a bit concerned about his visit too. Speeches had to be cut down to a couple of minutes for the man who has a shorter attention span than a five-year-old, and everyone needs to be careful about what they tell him as he’ll tell anybody anything. DDT needs to be complimented and feel that he’s winning.

When DDT landed in Israel, his next stop after Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered his cabinet members to be present. Some of them had planned to skip the event. DDT said to a group of Israeli officials, “We just got back from the Middle East.” The men tried to control their laughs at the man who failed to realize that Israel is also in the Middle East.

Gaffes before the trip to Israel also riled his host there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hoped that the U.S. embassy would be moved to Jerusalem, giving Israel ownership over the city occupied by four distinctly separate groups. DDT decided against the move, however, because Jordan’s King Abdullah told him not to do it. DDT refused to go to the ancient mountain fortress of Masada because he would have to take a cable car instead a helicopter. The White House had told Netanyahu that he couldn’t go to the holy Western wall because it was in the West Bank although part of it is in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. The map used for the trip showed Israel’s pre-1967 borders, excluding East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Golan Heights, and the Gaza strip. In his appearance at the Jewish Western Wall where he seemed to be either doing exercises or maintaining his balance. DDT was afraid to speak to Israel’s Parliament because he might be interrupted. He limited his visit to the famous Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, to 30 minutes, and much has been made of the difference between his statement at the site compared to the one that President Obama wrote.

Truly embarrassing was DDT’s giving highly classified Israeli intelligence to the Russians while DDT chatted with two high officials in the White House Oval Office. Israel’s bitter enemy Iran is one of Russia’s closest allies. In child-like manner, DDT blurted out at a press conference that he never told the Russians that the information had come from Israel—something no one had been accused of doing. “Never mentioned the word Israel.” This response was to a question directed toward Netanyahu about any concerns regarding intelligence cooperation with the United States.

As for the Palestine visit, DDT had reported that his meetings with leaders in their territory were in Israel— another map issue. He skipped Islam’s Holy Sanctuary, where the prophet Mohammed is said to have ascended to the heavens, and his brief remarks to the Palestinians during his one-hour visit made no reference to a “two-state solution” between the two rival countries. As Hanan Ashrawi, senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said, “He’s still on a learning curve, and peacemaking is not a business deal.” Palestinians in Bethlehem joked that the greatest achievement was that the streets had been cleaned for the visit.

Iran commented on DDT’s constant criticism of the country. PressTV in Iran quoted Americans who wonder, “Why is the Saudi monarchy our friend but not democratic Iran?” Mehdi Hassan, based in the U.S., criticized Trump for speaking to a room full of “autocrats, dictators and despots.”

From Israel and the Middle East, DDT moved on to the Vatican; this photo shows the beginning of the meeting although Pope Francis did relax a bit by the end of the hour. DDT left the 30-minute private meeting, saying that he’ll remember what the Pope had said.

DDT took an extensive entourage with him although Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon were returned to the U.S. after just two days. DDT claimed that this was planned, but rumors included that they’re out of favor, anti-Semitic Bannon was dropped off the tour before Israel, they need to work with the budget, and—my favorite—they need to do something about the steady drip of Russia involvement with DDT.

Wilbur Ross returned with Priebus and Bannon, glowing about the lack of protests in Saudi Arabia. The Commerce Secretary raved, “There was not a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there.” Becky Quick, the CNBC anchor interviewing him, pointed out that the country is a police state and bans protesting. But he  knew better: “The mood was a genuinely good mood.” Saudi state security personnel had given him “two gigantic bushels of dates” which was “a from-the-heart, genuine gesture,” Ross said.

In 2015, more than a dozen activists, members of the Shia minority, were in prison, convicted for peaceful activities. Waleed Abu al-Khair has a 15-year sentence from his peaceful criticism in media interviews and on social media. The writer Zuhair Kutbi was jailed for discussing peaceful reform on television. Others are sentenced to death. In November 2016, the Saudis executed a partially blind and deaf man for protesting. His family said he was tortured into confessing. He was accused of “sending texts,” but he was too poor to own a cell phone. Earlier in January, 47 protesters were executed in one day, and the total number of beheadings by July was 108. In addition, people break the law if they “distort the reputation of the kingdom” or “break allegiance with the ruler.”  A 2014 anti-terrorism law treats virtually all free expression as acts of terrorism, including “calling for atheist thought,” “contacting groups or individuals opposed to the Kingdom,” and “seeking to disrupt national unity” by calling for protests. Dissenters are tortured in prison as well as publicly flogged and sometimes beheaded.

Those praising DDT on his trip have used the low bar that he hasn’t embarrassed the United States. He did support all the actions that found wrong with the Obama: his wife didn’t wear a head covering in Saudi Arabia, and DDT bowed to the Saudi Arabia king. He also supported a global organization and praised the Islam faith. He violated all his promises to his base. Now he has four more days in Europe.

One more thing. From videos of the couple, DDT and his wife, Melania, may not have a close relationship. She preferred to stay in New York when he moved into the White House, and he largely ignores her, never returning to his Trump Tower home. She rarely travels with him although she is on this trip with him. There was one moment that some have called “the slap heard ‘round the world.” As the couple deplaned onto the red carpet in Tel Aviv, he reached out for her hand, and she swatted it away—in front of the dignitaries and news cameras while they walked to a photo op with Netanyahu and his wife. It’s not the first time, but it was the least subtle. this time it was less subtle.

May 6, 2017

DDT: More Week Fifteen

The spin on health care keeps coming. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) claims that she would never hurt people with pre-existing conditions because she has a special-needs child. According to Rodgers, states can have “new models for better patient outcomes” and criticizes health insurance for relying “on younger, healthier people subsidizing the costs of the older and sicker.” That’s why it’s called “insurance.” People whose houses don’t burn down subsidize people whose houses burn down. That’s insurance. The GOP is now officially “the party of death.”

Lucky for Rodgers, she’ll still have insurance if the rest of the nation doesn’t. And her need for “new models” didn’t extend to state retirement plans that can help the national retirement savings crisis. Republicans vote for states’ rights as long as they benefit only the wealthy.

About ten percent of the Republicans who voted to take health care from people are facing their constituents at town hall meetings, and their audience isn’t swallowing what their representatives are serving. A crowd loudly jeered Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) when he claimed that nobody dies from a lack of access to health care. A study published in 2009 by the American Journal of Public Health shows that lack of health insurance is linked with 45,000 deaths annually, about 2.5 times higher than the estimate from the Institute of Medicine in 2002. Uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993. Labrador probably isn’t aware of research surrounding health care because he probably didn’t even read the bill he supported.

The Republicans claim that no one should have to pay for other people’s health insurance, but they make sure that we pay for the GOP war that George W. Bush started over 14 years ago. Taxpayers also pay for the extended DDT family‘s travel around the world, touting their businesses. The budget that DDT just signed into law includes an extras $120 million for security that includes reimbursements to law enforcement in Manhattan and Palm Beach and another $73 for “necessary expenses for presidential security.” Between the election and inauguration, New York paid $24 million for Trump Tower security, and Palm Beach County has spent $4.5 million in overtime pay for presidential protection. DDT has not spent one weekend in the White House since his inauguration, and each of DDT’s seven trips—25 days—to Mar-a-Lago has cost over $600,000 for just the flights. None of these costs shows the loss to the economy as small businesses are badly damaged by restrictions from DDT’s presence.

DDT’s businesses are profiting. His frequent trips to his properties, including his Washington hotel for dinner and his Virginia golf course, has increased their income by 30 percent. Taxpayers also give DDT $1.5 million a year to rent the floor below DDT’s penthouse, and he still appears on ads his new condominium building on Uruguay’s coast. The Trump Organization is using Mar-a-Lago’s taxpayer-provided helipad for Marine One, and the club’s promotional magazine features quotes about DDT’s last presidential campaign and an advertisement for Ivanka’s jewelry.

During his campaign DDT was highly critical of costs for President Obama’s vacations and the time that he played golf. A DDT broken promise: “I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf.” In eight years, the former president spent $96 million–$8 million a year, a sum that DDT blew through in less than three weeks. Although he tries to hide his games, DDT has played golf on the average of three times that the former president did.

Some other happenings from last week:

The Heritage Foundation has fired Jim DeMint from his position as president. One reason was was tension between DeMint and Ed Feulner, his predecessor, who was concerned that the DeMint-era emphasis on political activism overshadowed the institution’s role in the intellectual development of the conservative movement.” Feulner will replace DeMint on an interim basis. But the reasons behind the coup against DeMint might be deeper.

Be careful where you laugh. CodePink member Desiree Fairooz, 61, could face up to a year in prison. Her crime was laughing after Sen. Richard Shelby said during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearings that the nominee had a history of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.” She didn’t disrupt the proceedings until she was arrested and dragged out of the Senate chambers. No one was arrested for laughing when Sessions “joked” about disagreements with his wife. Each of two men wearing KKK costumes at the Sessions hearing could also be in prison for a year each.

Current administrative officials treat leadership like a joke. Last week, Wilbur Ross, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, described the U.S. preemptive bombings on Syria as “after-dinner entertainment” for guests at the Mar-a-Lago club on 6 April. His audience of the wealthy and powerful at the Milken Institute Global Conference laughed. Ross continued by saying, “The thing was, it didn’t cost the president anything to have that entertainment.” Actually, taxpayers shelled out about $100 million for the “entertainment.” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) referred to the “most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen” five times when he talked about the bombing.

DDT touted the Energy Star program, which honors businesses and organizations that excel in energy efficiency, as “America’s resource for saving energy and protecting the environment.” Then he announced that he will eliminate the 25-year-old program. Energy Star posts information on appliances about their energy efficiency, and over 1,000 U.S. companies call it a model for successful collaboration between public and private sectors. DDT’s properties, also evaluated by the Energy Star program, typically get low ratings: eleven of his 15 skyscrapers in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco are less energy efficient that comparable buildings. On a scale of 1 to 100, his Mayfair Hotel, now converted into condos, received a 1. Follow the rubles.

As a campaigner, DDT said he’d label China a currency manipulator. Now he says they aren’t because he made China to stop manipulating the currency as soon as he was inaugurated. He didn’t know that China’s currency manipulation ceased in 2014. The question is whether DDT is delusional or merely ignorant.

DDT has abdicated another responsibility of “commander-in-chief.” The Pentagon is now in charge of setting troop levels in Iraq and Syria where over 5,000 military members are employed.

DDT looked forward to terminating the trade agreement like a Christmas gift to himself until his brand new Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue, showed him a map of how the farmers who voted for him would be hurt. DDT changes his mind based on maps as well as what hurts blue states and who talked with more recently.

Guns were banned at the annual NRA meeting in Georgia where DDT made a campaign speech. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Guns should be available everywhere with no restrictions. And NRA members are all responsible gun owners who would never kill people. Right!

Sean Hannity’s question about DDT’s biggest accomplishment brought a variety of responses. My favorite: Not getting impeached.

DDT wants to change libel laws  so that he can sue journalists and the media for articles that DDT considers inaccurate and “win lots of money.”

Why would DDT call for “a good shutdown”? Maybe because he wants to know how far he can go and still have support. A year ago he said that he could kill someone in the street, and he would still get elected president. Now he’s called president—although he wasn’t sure about it at a recent speech. Fill the Cabinet with billionaires who hate their agencies? Sounds good. Shut down the press? No problem. Buddy up with the world’s tyrants while rejecting the nation’s allies? Just fine. Now he wants a “good shutdown” in September to fix the “mess” in government. He blames the constitutional checks and balances:

“I think the rules in Congress – and in particular the rules in the Senate – are unbelievably archaic and slow moving. And in many cases, unfair. In many cases, you’re forced to make deals that are not the deal you’d make. You’d make a much different kind of a deal. You’re forced into situations that you hate to be forced into.”

To change the “rules of the Senate” is because “for the good of the nation things are going to have to be different.” A major goal is to do away with the Senate filibuster of 60 votes if more Republicans aren’t elected. He’ll have to do more than that because of the serious split in the GOP.

DDT ran on a campaign promise of changing Washington, D.C., yet 54 percent of voters say that he’s made no progress. I disagree: he’s made it much worse.

Next Page »

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: