Poll: Majority Say Democrats Care More About The Middle Class

 

Any American who believes there is a Republican alive that cares about anything other than the wealthy elite, corporations, evangelical theocracy or self-advancement is either a blind, dumb fool, or a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. It’s no matter that Donald J. Trump is a dumb, blind fool, he is a Republican and knows the party cares about no-one but themselves and the rich. Although they greedily use the evangelical white crowd as an electoral weapon, deep down Republicans hate them unless they’re filthy rich. Still, Trump and Republicans spent a fair amount of time on the campaign trail last year feigning great concern for the plight of the dwindling middle class. Whether that phony regard helped Trump’s move into the White House or not, now a majority of the population says it is the Democrats, not Republicans, who care more about the middle class.

According to a recent Pew poll, it appears a majority of Americans recognize that Republicans really don’t care about the middle class any more than they care about the poor, minorities or the unhealthy. Most Americans already knew the GOP could not care less about the poor, but if one listens to Republicans at all levels of government, they claim to exist for the benefit of the middle class; a claim most Americans don’t believe for a second. If the media were doing its due diligence instead of covering every Trump Tweet and his all-too-frequent golf outings, it’s certain that more Americans would be aware of the dastardly anti-everyone hostility coming from congressional Republican legislation. But that’s a subject for another column.

The Pew Research poll released Tuesday revealed that only 42 percent of Americans believe that Trump or his Republican Party truly cares about the middle class. However, fifty-seven percent of the population said Democrats care more about the middle class; it may be due to the minimal media reporting that congressional Democrats are battling to stave off the extreme Republican austerity cuts and “reforms” that will affect the middle class in a big way. In fact fifty-four percent of Americans say Republicans are “too extreme,” and curiously, 45 percent said the same about Democrats. Probably because unlike Republicans, Democrats care about the rule of law, equal and civil rights, social programs and the U.S. Constitution; all things Republicans consider “too extreme.”

It is noteworthy that even though most Americans believe Democrats have more empathy for the middle class than extreme Republicans, neither party was viewed very favorably. The Republican Party was viewed “unfavorably” by 54 percent with only 40 percent seeing the GOP as “favorable.” Democrats were perceived slightly more favorably with 44 percent approval, while exactly half of the respondents, 50 percent, viewed Democrats unfavorably. Trump was less favorable than his nasty party, but since the poll was conducted in early June, it is certain his numbers are lower today than two weeks ago.

It really isn’t that surprising a majority of American believe Democrats care more about the middle class than Republicans. Most middle class Americans have watched their incomes decline due to Republican economic policies favoring the very rich, hostility towards unions and decent wages while the very rich continue to make giant income gains. In fact, from 1999 through 2014, the median household income fell by 8 percent;  all while the one-percent reaped monumental income gains that Trump and Republicans want to increase.

Now that Republicans and corporations are running the federal government, the wealthy elite’s gains will surge by who knows how many orders of magnitude; and the poor and middle class? Their income losses during and after the Republican Great Recession will look like massive wealth gains when the Trump Republicans get finished handing over the entire wealth of the nation to their wealthy and corporate donors. Why else would Trump install a billionaire cabal and Wall Street titans to set economic and tax policy?

According to the Pew poll’s results, it’s possible Americans aren’t nearly as stupid as they often seem if a majority sees Republicans as having little, if any, regard for the middle class that make up 51 percent of the population. The tragedy is that the 51 percent number is bound to continue declining because neither Republicans nor Donald Trump care about anyone who isn’t white and rich, and their policy proposals, executive orders, and already enacted legislation reflect that mindset.

If Americans recall, Trump allegedly won a fair number of votes by promising “the forgotten” middle class that he, and only he, could elevate their standard of living by “draining the swamp” of corporate and special interests in Washington. It’s likely that creating a stinking cesspool of corporate billionaires to run the government and set policy did not go unnoticed by a large number of Americans, and a majority of them now know that neither Trump nor Republicans care about the middle class any more than they do the poor. The poll’s results proves that the same majority believe Democrats do understand, and care about, the middle class’ plight. It is just too bad they are impotent to do anything to help them.

 

Ford Punks Trump By Outsourcing American Jobs To China

If there is only one thing most people know about a bully, it’s that their “bark is worse than their bite.” That idiom refers to a person “who is all bluster” verbally, but “lacks the courage when challenged to back up their threats.” By now it’s likely that the phrase “don’t let him scare you” is shared among a growing number of Americans who realize that Trump “is all bluster” and nothing else.

It is almost certain that Trump believes that because he gets to live in the White House, he also gets to be a tyrannical dictator with unchallenged and unchecked power and authority. Of course he has been disabused of that idea often because this nation’s Founding Fathers foresaw a time when some lunatic malcontent in the Oval Office would have to be held in check by one of the equally-powerful other branches of government. It’s why Trump hates the U.S. Constitution he claims is “archaic” and “really bad for the country.”

According to an announcement by the Ford Motor Company, Donald Trump must really think the second largest automaker is “really bad for the country” because it defied him and announced a move that is contrary to what Trump demanded.  Ford also understands that Trump’s bark is worse than his bite; maybe someone told the car giant “don’t let him scare you” and they acted accordingly.

Last year, the Ford Motor company publicized its plans to move its production of “the Focus”  to a new plant that was under construction in Mexico; the company cited cheap labor costs as its reason to outsource American jobs. However, In January of this year Ford scrapped those plans and the rumors were that the 2nd largest automaker was afraid of the bully Trump. But despite Trump’s nearly year-long repeated criticism that Ford was a bad actor for investing in Mexican jobs at the expense of American ones, the car giant is still moving its production facility out of country; in spite of Trump’s threat of economic punishment.

Ford announced yesterday that it is “investing in Chinese jobs at the expense of American ones” and dumb Don was punked again; because he’s all talk and lacks the courage to back up his “bluster” promising to save jobs from outsourcing. He is also likely aware that challenging a corporate giant like the Ford Motor Company is a fight he will lose in a Republican Congress and conservative Supreme Court. But he sure talked big on the campaign trail issuing threats on a daily basis.

Throughout the Republican primary and general election campaign, the Trump threatened to levy huge taxes against any automaker, especially Ford, that moved to import cars into the U.S. from other nations. Obviously, Ford knew Trump’s tax threat was toothless and in choosing China over Mexico, the company not only called Trump’s bluff, it killed American jobs for greed and saved itself about a billion dollars it will not have to invest to build a new manufacturing facility in Mexico; the company also exposed Trump as all bluster..

Trump started running his mouth as early as 2015 when he announced his candidacy and immediately began “sharply criticizing” Ford’s then-proposed new operation in Mexico to take advantage of cheap labor costs. Trump kept up the bully talk throughout the campaign and regularly made solemn promises that he, Donald J. Trump, was going to severely punish Ford or any automaker that moved its production facilities out of country; he even threatened severe action if an automaker dared increase its production output from outside the U.S. and then import those vehicles back to America. At one rally in Iowa, Trumps specifically threatened Ford saying:

I would say to the head of Ford, ‘Sorry, I’m not gonna approve. You’re gonna pay a tax for every car and every truck and every part that comes across that southern border, you’re gonna pay a 35% tax, OK?'”

Ford’s response: “Okay, then we’ll move those American jobs to China and avoid that Southern border like plague.

Today the Trump isn’t threatening Ford with a 35 percent “tax,” or any kind of punishment.  At the White House briefing yesterday, beleaguered Press Secretary Sean Spicer commented on Ford’s announced move to China; sans any criticism or further threats. What he did say about the move was that the “general consensus” is that as soon as Trump slashes corporate tax rates, companies will be anxious to “come back and bring back jobs in manufacturing here in the United States.”  It is worth reiterating that Ford never cited corporate tax rates as the reason it’s outsourcing more American jobs, the company specifically cited dirt cheap labor costs.

Trump’s Commerce Secretary, a former banker and leveraged buyouts of distressed businesses specialist Wilbur Ross, responded to Ford’s announcement and failed to level any threats. Ross said:

The Ford decision shows how flexible multinational companies are in terms of geography, I believe that as President Trump’s policies and reforms take hold, more companies will begin to locate their facilities in America.”

Ross’ remark is curious because it apparently isn’t an issue for Trump if an automaker outsources its production, and American jobs, to a foreign nation so long as the company is “flexible in terms of geography” and avoids moving south of the border.

It isn’t exactly clear what Trump’s issue is with Ford moving jobs to Mexico as opposed to China, but perhaps it’s because the Mexican government mocked Trump mercilessly for boasting that he would make our neighbor to the South pay for his “big beautiful wall.” It is noteworthy, by the way, that Ford also said that NAFTA, or a “renegotiated NAFTA,” had no impact and was not any part of its decision to move its production facilities to first Mexico, and then China. It was the nearly billion dollar investment savings, cheap labor, and awareness that Trump’s threat was just a bully’s bluster.

 

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Assails Trump’s “Grotesque” Cold War Spectacle

No matter that it’s the 21st Century and the Cold War has been over for thirty-plus years, Donald Trump is determined to undo diplomatic progress and return to an era of distrust and provocation for no apparently logical reason. It isn’t surprising though; dunce Donnie is not recognized by anyone as having a logical bone in his flabby orange body, or awareness that any blindfolded third-grader can easily see through his hypocrisy. That being the case, it was prescient that after Trump’s announcement on Friday last that he was returning America to its decades-old cold war footing with Cuba, a high-ranking Cuban Minister would assail the idiot in the Oval Office.

Yesterday in Vienna Austria, Cuba’s Foreign Minister took the time out of his busy schedule to “lash out” at Trump’s announcement restricting travel, business, and prospective economic ties to his country; an announcement Minister Bruno Rodriguez called “a grotesque spectacle that came out of the Cold War.” Mr. Rodriguez’ comments were a couple of days after Trump announced that he canceled the deal President Barack Obama negotiated with the Cuban government to “begin normalizing relations” with a neighboring nation and incrementally remove decades-old sanctions against the Cuban people.

Mr. Rodriguez was meeting with Austrian officials and expressed his disgust with Trump to reporters. He said:

There will not be a presidential directive from the U.S. that will alter the direction of Cuba. We have gone through everything, our people have gone through everything. What could they menace us with now that they haven’t before and failed? It looks like revisiting the same policy that didn’t work for 50 years — it is a failed policy.

Then Mr. Rodriguez addressed the hypocrisy of Trump’s return to Cold War policies because of human rights. He told NBC News:

Trump talks about business interests, making America great again. They have nothing to do with human rights. When it comes to Cuba, the massive and systematic harm to human rights comes from the blockade … and President Trump proposes to harden it.

It is surprising that a president who has based all his policies on things that are very distant from human rights proposes … as a top priority the defense of human rights in Cuba.”

To be fair, there have been human rights complaints against the Cuban government that one of Trump’s puppeteers, the Heritage Foundation, said had incurred “global outrage and a shame.” However, the Heritage Foundation never, never ever, not even once, has an untoward remark to say about Israel that has increasingly drawn serious global outrage over its shameful human rights abuses targeting Palestinians.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Cuban government has repressed criticism; like Trump and his BFFs in Saudi Arabia, Russia, Egypt, and the Philippines have. Although Trump hasn’t been able to arrest journalists like his “most favored” repressive nations, he has embraced their tactics of “public acts of shaming and arbitrary termination of employment” for criticism and dissent. But despite those human rights abuses, those countries are not suffering any of Trump’s Cold War policies being inflicted on Cuba.

However critical Human Rights Watch (HRW) was of Cuba, they also warned that, as usual, the ordinary Cuban people Trump feigned concern over as justification for his moronic action would certainly suffer his return to a Cold War posture. That acknowledgement was in agreement with the managing director of “the Americas” division of HRW, Daniel Wilkinson, who said in a statement:

The previous administration was right to reject a policy that hurt ordinary Cubans and did nothing to advance human rights. The fact that Obama’s approach hasn’t led to political reform in Cuba after just a few years isn’t reason to return to a policy that proved a costly failure over many decades.” 

Mr. Wilkinson needs a quick refresher in rudimentary arithmetic if he thinks President Obama’s “approach” has been in place for “a few years.” The Obama Administration just announced in December of  2014 that it was going to start “charting a new course for relations with Cuba,” and then began lifting restrictions in 2016. Still, the duration of the return to a semblance of normal relations isn’t the point; Trump’s hypocrisy is.

Many pundits have asked rhetorically because they already know the answer, “Why Trump takes the high road when it came to Cuba, but not other nations?”

Trump has openly praised murderous dictators in Russia, Egypt, and the Philippines as “doing a great job” when  referring to how they handle dissent and criticism, particularly in targeting protestors and journalists. And he recently became “good friends” with Saudi Arabia’s leaders who are notorious for beheading citizens for all manner of “religious infractions” that are appalling to the rest of the world. And, Trump just warned the United Nations Human Rights Commission that if it did not stop, immediately, condemning Israel’s blatant and unrelenting human rights abuses against the Palestinian people that America would leave the organization.

The former United States Ambassador to Russia and Special Assistant to the President at the National Security Council, Michael McFaul wrote:

Why is Cuba the only country in the world Trump allegedly cares about human rights? Not Russia? Not China? Not Saudi Arabia? Only Cuba.”  Mr. Rodriguez concurred with McFaul and reminded the world that when Trump was in a veritable capital of human rights abuses, Saudi Arabia, he told the Saudi government and its people: “We are not here to tell other people how to live.’ Last Friday he said quite the opposite [about my country]. Sad.

Trump is targeting Cuba because he is a raging hypocrite, he is not getting money from Cuba, and because it was a real President, Barack Obama, who began ending a five decade-long policy that should have ended with the Cold War.

There is nothing good about Trump’s return to Cold War policies toward Cuba, but there is nothing good about Donald Trump, his administration, his family or his sadistic actions towards most human beings. Although it was important that the Cuban Foreign Minister assailed Trump in front of international reporters in a foreign nation, it was another reminder of why Americans should be ashamed they let a punk-ass reality show celebrity move into the White House.

 

 

Civil Rights Watchdog Launches Two-year Probe of Trump Administration

 

At this juncture in American politics it is safe to say that there are a great majority of the population that considers Donald Trump, his closest associates, and his family as the epitome of corruption. It would be impossible for all but the Trump family or the Donald himself to dispute that the television celebrity in the Oval Office “acts dishonestly in return for personal or financial gain” as a natural inclination. It is that corruption that has the Trump at the center of a veritable plethora of special counsel, F.B.I., and federal watchdog agency investigations. Now that the Trump has finally admitted he is under investigation for obstruction of justice by a special counsel, among other things, he can add a two-year investigation into “federal civil rights enforcement,” or lack thereof, within the Trump administration.

Trump likely learned of the bipartisan United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) investigation at about the same time he took to Twitter to admit that he is the subject of a special counsel internal investigation. The Commission on Civil Rights operates under the authority of Congress and as a bipartisan agency it is charged with advising the White House and Congress on civil rights matters.

On Friday the Commission announced it had “unanimously approved a comprehensive two-year probe” into the “degree to which current budgets and staffing levels allow civil rights offices to perform” their important functions; especially in an administration that is openly hostile towards the civil rights of an ever-growing number of Americans in nearly every demographic save the filthy rich and white evangelicals.

What prompted the USCCR, a “federal watchdog agency” to launch an investigation into the entire Trump administration was several agencies that oversee civil rights gleefully announcing severe budget and personnel cuts to critical departments tasked with enforcing civil rights. According to a statement justifying a “two-year probe” into the Trump:

The proposed cuts would result in a dangerous reduction of civil rights enforcement across the country, leaving communities of color, LGBT people, older people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups exposed to greater risk of discrimination.”

The commission, created under the Civil Rights Act and funded by Congress, expressed specific worry about seven federal agencies under Trump’s oversight. Of course the Department of Education and Department of Justice are going to get a very special investigation over the next two years; Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions are notoriously hostile to civil rights of every demographic save white evangelical Christians. The “Commission” will also take a long, hard look into the departments of Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency and the Legal Services Corporation. They are all agencies Trump promises to slash funding from because they closely monitor civil rights and Republicans want that funding sent to the wealthy in the form of tax cuts.

Although the Commission’s statement cited several agencies and departments for a close investigation, it was particularly interested in the Department of Justice under anti-civil rights crusader Jeff Sessions; an agency the Commission said has “completely changed its priorities.” The Commission said in its statement:

Actions by the Department [of Justice] indicate it is minimizing its civil rights efforts. For example, a majority of the Commission criticized DOJ’s decision to site [install] Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers in courthouses as a dangerous impediment to access to justice for all Americans.”

The Commission also singled out Education Secretary Betsy DeVos who has “repeatedly refused” to commit to enforcing federal civil rights. The Commission also  found that, coupled with DeVos’ apparent intent to blow off civil rights for various demographics, the deep budget cuts within the Education Department’s ‘Office of Civil Rights’ is “particularly troubling.”

The statement announcing the two-year probe in the Trump administration actually cited DeVos’ Senate subcommittee  testimony earlier this month where she refused to answer a query whether discrimination against LGBTQ students in private schools would be allowed on her watch. It is highly likely that members of the Commission are acutely aware that DeVos is no more a friend to the gay community than she is the disabled or minority communities.

It is really unfortunate that the Commission on Civil Rights lacks the the ability or authority to enforce its investigation’s findings, but it will at least get to present the results in a “final report to Congress at the end of 2019.” Once the report is presented to Congress, the Commission’s task is completed and it will be left to legislators to take action. The current chairwoman of the Commission, Catherine E. Lhamon, said:

For 60 years, Congress has charged the Commission to monitor Federal civil rights enforcement and recommend necessary change. We take this charge seriously, and we look forward to reporting our findings to Congress, the President, and the American people.”

It is unlikely that regardless how damning the Commission on Civil Rights report is in the final analysis, a Republican controlled Congress and Trump will not take any corrective action any more than they regard civil rights for all Americans as a serious issue. Trump will declare it “fake news,” a “witch hunt,” and then summarily fire or disband the Commission. And Republicans in Congress will claim it was a partisan attack on white evangelical Christians and the Sessions-led Department of Justice will declare civil rights, like the Separation Clause, is unhistorical and unconstitutional overreach.

It is getting to be a chore to keep abreast of all the investigations into Trump, his family, and his administration, but at least with a two-year long investigation into seven different federal agencies in the Trump administration, there will be nothing to report on or opine about until the end of 2019.

Trump Is Sending Christians to Their Deaths in Iraq

As this column has noted often as of late, no-one likes a liar and it’s seemingly apparent that should particularly apply to Ten Commandment-loving evangelical Christians. Donald Trump certainly has accrued quite a record as a pathological liar, and still, the white evangelical sect flocked to the polls to put the serial liar and corrupt television celebrity in the White House. Trump won the support of the religious right on a solemn pledge that he, and only he, could protect them and bring an immediate halt to the so-called persecution they bitch about ad nauseam.

Trump also pledged to protect Christians in the Middle East and went so far as to exempt Christians living in “travel-banned” majority Muslim nations and allow them to emigrate to America. Silly Christians, you thought that your “orange messiah” would never lie to you, the spiritually devout, but his mendacity is pathological; he lies to everyone including you ignoramus evangelicals.

One of the pledges Trump made repeatedly throughout the campaign for president was that he would “champion the cause of persecuted Christians, especially those from the Middle East.” Now, due to his nasty immigration policy, Trump is sending Christians to their deaths in Iraq; a nation many of the deportees know nothing about.

Many of the Christians Trump is deporting to Iraq, a nation many fled as young children to escape persecution, have lived in America for decades. Apparently, some even have criminal records for such abominable crimes as allowing someone else to drive a car they rented, or were caught with a small amount of marijuana – decades ago. Their real crime, though, is not that they may have an infraction or misdemeanor criminal record, but that they are from the Middle East.

It is noteworthy that Trump actually made “costly” concessions to the Iraqi government to be able to “send Iraqi Christians living in America to their death,” so it must be something near and dear to his black heart. Trump agreed with the Iraqis that if they would grant him “permission” to deport Iraqi expatriates in America, Christian, Catholic, or otherwise, he would remove Iraq from the dreaded “banned nations list.

Ponder that for a minute; Trump must really hate Iraqi Christians if he forfeited the right to ban Iraqis, 99 percent whom are Muslims, from entering America just for the “privilege of deporting” Iraqi Christians out of “his America.

Although it wasn’t always the easiest life for an Iraqi Christian, they faced increased persecution after America invaded Iraq and allowed a sectarian war to begin in earnest. When the Islamic State (ISIS, IS, ISIL, Daesh) emerged as a force in Syria and Iraq, they immediately targeted Christians and other minority religions for instant extermination. It was such an issue that in 2014 the Republican-majority House of Representatives and Obama Administration State Department recognized the Iraqi Christians as “victims of genocide.”

Now Trump is sending them to be victimized further and it should be a signal to America’s religious right that Trump is not only a pathological liar, he is not going to protect Christians in the Middle East from being persecuted. That also means that he conned the faithful again when he promised to give priority to Iraqi and Syrian Christians who wanted to emigrate to America.

It isn’t just Trump who lies at the rate humans draw breath.  Barely a month ago the lying pretend preacher Mike Pence gave a speech at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians pledging that,

Protecting and promoting religious freedom is a foreign policy priority of the Trump administration.”

Pence promised, specifically, that protecting Christians in the Middle East was of enormous importance to the Trump White House and the administration was all about taking action. 

The suffering of Christians in the Middle East has stirred Americans to action, and it brings me here today.”

The roundups, detentions, and deportations that began this week in Michigan are an indication that Trump has been stirred to action, but it is not to stop the suffering of Christians in the Middle East. It is to increase their numbers with Iraqi Christians who lived peacefully in America, many of them for decades until Trump lied his way to the White House and began deporting them to a country that doesn’t want them.

According to the Huffington Post, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class-action lawsuit to stop the detentions and deportations. The Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan, Kary Moss said:

Not only is it immoral to send people to a country where they are likely to be violently persecuted, it expressly violates United States and international law and treaties. Our immigration policy shouldn’t amount to a death sentence for anyone.”

This latest example of Trump breaking a promise to the faithful should be a wake up call to all of Trump’s supporters that no-one is safe. The promise to protect Christians from persecution, particularly those in the Middle East, was a major reason the religious right flocked to vote for a self-admitted unrepentant sinner.

Trump doesn’t care about protecting Christians any more than Mike Pence does or they would have done precisely what they promised when issuing a ban on immigrants from mostly Muslim Middle East nations; give priority to Iraqi and Syrian Christians. Instead, they are rounding them up in America and sending them back to the Middle East to face serious persecution if they are fortunate enough not to be killed for being Christians.

Trump Angers Republicans By Calling Healthcare Bill “Mean”

When Donald Trump and House Republicans celebrated passing a horrendous healthcare replacement for the Affordable Care Act, very few of them acted as if they knew exactly how bad for the people the bill really was. Obviously Trump would have celebrated anything, but without any typical Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessment of either the benefits or damage to the economy or the people, he and the GOP were celebrating a veritable mystery to the public. Now that everyone and their brother is cognizant of the draconian nature of the House Republican bill, even Trump can no longer pretend he doesn’t know it is just “mean, mean, mean.”

That the House GOP bill is mean is what Trump told Republican Senators working on their own mean, and highly secretive, version of a repeal-and-replace healthcare bill. However, House Republicans heard that the Trump’s “inconveniently candid” assessment of their replacement healthcare bill is now public and they are not happy with the cheerful fascist in the Oval Office. They also are aware that he called on Senate Republicans to make their version “more generous” than the “mean” House version.

The Associated Press reported that Trump told Senate Republicans behind closed-doors that they had to revise the “the House repeal-and-replace bill to make it more generous;” the version he praised to high heaven and celebrated in the Rose Garden as “a great plan” is just too “mean, mean, mean.” When the Trump’s comments leaked, House Republicans felt “undercut” politically and are not happy with their fearless leader for expressing out loud what Democrats have been screaming relentlessly about.

Over at Politico there was a fairly accurate assessment of exactly how “thrown under the bus” House Republicans must feel after Trump’s criticism of a bill he pushed them vigorously to pass. They write:

Now you hear the president has gone behind closed doors and told senators the House bill is “mean” and says it doesn’t do enough to cover people. Wouldn’t that anger you? Well, it’s angering a lot of House Republicans, who believe their president put them at political risk with that comment … If you’re a House Republican, are you going to help the White House next time after the president privately just dumped all over you after you cast a vote for him? A lot of GOP lawmakers are buzzing about it, and many are none too pleased with the president right now.”

Of course House Republicans are irritated and most likely all of them feel justified at being disgusted with Trump on some level. Either they voted for a bill that they believed was too harsh or not harsh enough just to sate Trump’s lust for some kind of legislative accomplishment. However, no-one should believe for a second that Trump is gaining a measure of humanitarianism or regard for the people; he wants a bill that only makes him appear reasonable or he wouldn’t have profusely praised the “mean” House bill in the first place. It was the negative media attention and reporting from the CBO’s assessment that tens-of-millions of Americans will be harmed that put pressure on the Trump he’s passing off on House Republicans who believed they were doing him a favor.

As Greg Sargent at the Washington Post noted, just because Trump admitted he knows the House version of healthcare reform is mean, “it should not be taken seriously as an actual statement of [his] values.” He did, after all, champion and celebrate the ‘mean’ bill publicly until news of the CBO assessment became well-reported. What that means for the Senate version is that Republicans will have to devise some clever buzzword or flashy meme to “pretend the final product is more generous than it will surely end up.”

Look, most House Republicans knew exactly how mean their bill was and it is exactly why their version, and now the Senate version, was crafted in “secret” and passed hastily before the CBO could assess its damages. That lack of transparency is a concession that Republicans know just how mean their “final product” is really going to be and why Senate Republicans are crafting their own draconian measure in total secrecy.

House Republicans are slightly more than just “miffed” that their hero Trump admitted in a way that was guaranteed to leak that he knows there will be millions upon millions of people who will be hurt by any Republican “Obamacare” replacement. As the WaPo piece noted, Trump’s primary sin was giving the American people a preview of an impending disaster that Republicans “have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep hidden,” even from Senate Democrats.

Maybe now Republicans in the House will realize that they can’t trust Trump any more than any other American can, and that he will hurt them with the same disregard and contempt as the Republican healthcare bill is going to hurt tens-of-millions of Americans.

 

Court Rules Trump Violated the Law In Approving Dakota Pipeline

For the sick souls attempting to keep up with Donald Trump’s illegal activities and deliberate flouting of federal laws, it is getting to be an impossibly tiresome chore and frankly a little more disgusting every day. There are, however, those instances when the federal judiciary issues a ruling that some action Donald Trump performed violated federal law. Although he will never be sent to live out his pathetic life in a federal penitentiary, one can at least revel in the knowledge Trump was caught and called out for doing what career criminals do as a matter of course; violate the law. Yesterday was one of those occasions.

On Wednesday a Federal District Court Judge ruled that in serving the greed of the oil industry, Donald Trump “violated [federal] laws in certain critical respects” when he granted federal permits authorizing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to cross the Missouri River upstream of the Standing Rock Reservation. Federal Court Judge James Boasberg used 91 pages to say that the federal permits Trump “hastily issued just days after the [sparsely attended] inauguration” failed on several counts to meet critical federal laws. The Federal Court stopped short of determining whether or not the pipeline operations should be shut down immediately, but that possibility may be in the offing. The Judge requested “additional briefings” on the subject and a “status conference” in the next week.

The Federal Judge wrote, in part:

The Court agrees that [the Corps] did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.”

The Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, Dave Archambault II celebrated the ruling saying:

This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing. The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests. We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence, and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately.”

An attorney for Earthjustice, Jan Hasselman commented thus:

This decision marks an important turning point. Until now, the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have been disregarded by the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Trump Administration—prompting a well-deserved global outcry. The federal courts have stepped in where our political systems have failed to protect the rights of Native communities.”

It is noteworthy that the Court did not give the “Tribe” everything it wanted, but it did alert the Trump that there are protocols and procedures even an aspiring dictator has to follow; including honoring Treaties and sovereign rights of Native Americans and long-standing environmental regulations and procedures.

Where the Standing Rock Sioux won was convincing the court that Trump allowed the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed without due regard for environmental rules. On Trump’s authority, the Corp failed to:

Sufficiently consider the pipeline’s environmental effects before granting permits to Dakota Access to construct and operate DAPL under Lake Oahe, a federally regulated waterway.  Although the Corps substantially complied with NEPA in many areas, the Court agrees that it did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.

To remedy those violations, the Corps will have to reconsider those sections of its environmental analysis upon remand by the Court. Whether Dakota Access must cease pipeline operations during that remand presents a separate question of the appropriate remedy, which will be the subject of further briefing.”

The Standing Rock lawsuit centered around three primary areas.

First and likely foremost, the federal government is forbidden from taking any federal action that harms “the Standing Rock reservation” or “the Missouri River water the people of Standing Rock depend on.” The Standing Rock Tribe has uncontested “Treaty rights that guarantee the integrity of its reservation” that Earthjustice and the Standing Rock Sioux noted the “Obama administration carefully considered in connection with a leak-prone oil pipeline immediately upstream of the reservation.” Because Trump flouts agreements and treaties his fossil fuel masters refuse to accept, dirty Don disregarded the previous administration’s advice, and compliance with federal law, and “acted as if the Tribe does not exist.”

Second, as Earthjustice noted, Federal law requires a full, transparent and public environmental review for any federal action that has “significant” environmental effects anyplace in the country, not just Native Americans’ sovereign land. The environmental advocate righty noted that there have been “full,  transparent and public environmental reviews for decisions as mundane as off-leash dog areas and allowing jet skis in parks,” and yet there were none for a “30-inch crude-oil pipeline under one of the most economically and culturally important waterways in the nation.”

The third point Earthjustice and the “Tribe” argued in their lawsuit was that whether Trump likes it or not, and this is a particularly prescient point for the Trump to acknowledge:

There are limits on the extent to which one administration can reverse the decisions of its predecessor. While federal agencies can change their minds about matters of policy, the courts will set aside reversals that are not fully justified and explained.”

It is already well-documented that Trump is, and has been, on a tear to reverse every environmental policy and decision made during the Obama Administration; in part out of sheer spite and in part to sate the greed of the fossil fuel industry. That Trump “automatically” granted a permit to DAPL within days of his sparsely-attended inauguration informs even stupid people that he gave no consideration whatsoever to established federal laws, long-standing treaties with Native Americans, or National Environmental Policy Act  (NEPA) requirements.

It remains to be seen if after further review by the Court, including a “status conference” and “additional briefings,” the Judge will shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline. But for now the Standing Rock Sioux can celebrate that even with an adversarial tyrant in the Oval Office working solely for the fossil fuel industry against Native Americans and the environment, a Federal Court ruled in their favor and against Trump for doing what he does as a matter of course; violate the law in “certain critical respects” like the common criminal he really is.

Conservative Calls to Fire Special Prosecutor Are Mounting

 

There is little doubt that Donald Trump was disheartened when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 general election, and the Trump campaign’s cooperation with Putin’s operatives. This is especially true after he told the Russians in a secret White House meeting that he “relieved” himself of the FBI’s part in the Russia investigation by firing its director James B. Comey; the man he called a “nut job.” Donald Trump considers James Comey a “nut job” for daring to do his job and oversee an investigation into the Trump’s expansive criminal enterprise.

Now that Robert Mueller is proceeding with an independent investigation, replete with a pledge from the DOJ that he will not face pressure of termination from Trump, there are mounting calls for Trump to fire Mr. Mueller. It is almost certain that Trump has attempted to concoct a reason to “relieve himself of pressure” from yet another Russia investigation, so it appears the right wing media and conservative punditry calls for Mueller’s firing are a propaganda campaign and not attempts to incite Trump to take action.

What is curious is why Trump hasn’t acted thus far. Because if he boasted that he only fired Director Comey “over that Russian thing” and then celebrated with the Russians the “relief” it gave him, he likely doesn’t need encouragement from his conservative media supporters. But he does need to sow suspicion among the public about Mueller being unfit before he acts.

According to conservative columnist Byron York, the man that George W. Bush appointed as FBI Director in 2001“is unfit to investigate anything related to Comey or the Russians.” Apparently York’s primary objection is that Robert Mueller and James Comey have “professional respect” for each other.

Of course that is the case; they have each held the same high-level law enforcement position and they know each other is honest, and that as patriots they serve America and its Constitution, not Donald J. Trump. In conservative circles and in Trump’s mind serving the nation and its founding document instead of the GOP and Trump would make anyone “unfit” for any government job.

As noted in the New York Times, York and another Trump sycophant, Laura Ingraham, both overlook the level of respect for Mr. Mueller from Democrats and Republicans alike, and that he was Republican George W. Bush’s FBI director. No doubt Ingraham is defaming Mr. Mueller on Trump’s behalf because she is rumoredto be in the mix for a communications job in the White House.”

However, it is only recently that some Republicans, conservative pundits and media clowns have stopped celebrating Mueller’s appointment because it is apparent he is a patriot and serious about the investigation; he is not going to make the “Trump-Russia thing” just go away.

It is probable that Mueller’s appeal to Republicans is why close Trump adviser, boot-licker, and disgraced former House Majority Leader Newt Gingrich hailed Rosenstein’s appointment of Mr. Mueller as “an impeccable choice;” but that was before Mr. Comey’s testimony before the Senate. About three weeks ago Gingrich tweeted:

Robert Mueller is superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity. Media should now calm down”

Now Gingrich, like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and a chorus of conservatives is singing a different tune and took to Trump’s media outlet, Twitter, to publicize his suspicion that Mr. Mueller, widely respected on both sides of the aisle and “a superb choice” three weeks ago, is not to be trusted. Maybe it is dawning on Republicans that Mueller is not going to sweep the investigation under the rug which is what Republicans expect and Trump demands. Gingrich tweeted Just two days ago that:

Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel [Mueller] is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring.check fec reports. Time to rethink.”

Gingrich wanting Republicans to rethink their support for Mueller informs that despite what Trump and his lying underlings claim, James Comey’s testimony did not signal or prove to them that there is nothing to investigate any longer. If conservatives aren’t claiming Mueller is “unfit” and can’t be trusted, they are claiming a special prosecutor is unnecessary since they claim Mr. Comey’s testimony debunked the entire Russia story as “fake news.”

What is certain is that Gingrich’s remark about “look who he (Mueller) is hiring” is a direct reference to the former FBI director hiring deputy solicitor general Michael Dreeben to be part of the “rapidly expandinginvestigative team.  Michael Dreeben, according to former acting US solicitor general Neal Katyal, is another serious prosecutor and would not have been recruited without good reason. Mr. Katyal remarked to CNN that, “You don’t bring Michael Dreeben onto something ordinary… He’s the top criminal law practitioner in the United States.”

Despite the calls for a quick termination of the special prosecutor, it will take the cooperation of the second-in-command at the Department of Justice to get rid of Mueller. Rod Rosenstein will have to remove the “no interference” clause to allow Trump to “relieve” himself of the pressure of an expanding investigation. If Rosenstein fails an order from Trump, the crook will have to fire him and find someone in the DOJ to give him what he wants. And what Trump wants is the “Russia-Trump thing” to disappear.

No American should be surprised if Trump fires the special prosecutor and anyone else who dares keep the investigation going. It is why Trump marshaled assistance from conservative pundits and Republicans to take to the airways after Comey’s Senate testimony to declare the issue settled and time for the investigation to end.

Now, with a growing and seemingly concerted effort to cast aspersion on Mr. Mueller’s honesty, and the increasing number of conservatives calling to fire him, it is apparent the conservatives for Trump are busily spreading propaganda Trump will use to justify why he “had to fire” Mueller. He used the same tactic in firing James Comey by blaming a recommendation letter from Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein; a reason Trump himself debunked on national television, and when he boasted to the Russians in private that he got rid of the “Russia-Trump thing” by firing Comey.

If Trump were not guilty he would not be doing everything in his power to halt the investigation into his collusion with the Russians. There is no doubt whatsoever that if he had the authority, Trump would summarily fire every House and Senate member, regardless the party, involved in any committees investigating the pesky “Trump-Russia thing.”

Regardless whether Trump fires Mueller or not, it is glaringly apparent he is not going to allow any investigation to progress to get to the truth and there is only one reason why; he is guilty and like any mob boss he will do anything to just make the case go away.

Sessions’ DOJ Defends Trump’s Constitutional Violations

After learning there is another lawsuit against Trump for using the office of the presidency for profit (self-dealing), it is curious whether or not the Trump-Sessions Department of Justice will rush to defend the corrupt swindler again. That is precisely what happened the last time, and if the Sessions-led DOJ repeats what it said just three days ago, it will prove there is a serious malignancy in Trump’s administration, and likely the majority of the Republican movement.

Yesterday the Attorneys General of Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit asserting that Trump’s well-documented failure to separate himself from his businesses has undermined public trust and violated constitutional bans against self-dealing. The Maryland and D.C lawsuits fairly reiterate the charges in a lawsuit filed a few months ago in New York by a legal watchdog. In fact, the Trump Department of Justice recently filed a motion to dismiss that earlier lawsuit after spending months concocting a defense.

The real outrage in this insidious affair is that Trump’s Department Of Justice is rushing to defend what it knows is a constitutional violation, and likely “illegal.”  DOJ lawyers attempted to prove that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) had no “standing” to bring a lawsuit against Donald Trump because its claim of injury is unjustified.

CREW’s lawsuit was only filed to compel Trump to adhere to the U.S. Constitution and “divest” from his business empire and stop profiting from being in the White House. The legal watchdog is not seeking criminal charges or pecuniary damages; it just wants Trump to stop violating the Constitution by profiting from living in the White House.

The Department of Justice motion to dismiss also claimed that even if Trump “illegally” owns and profits from his business empire while in the White House, it is none of the courts’ business. Instead of the Judiciary Branch doing its job in deciding the merits of a lawsuit, the Justice Department lawyers say it is up to the GOP-controlled Congress to work it out.

The Trump DOJ also said that dealing with another lawsuit would be too much of an impediment on Trump’s ability to perform his presidential duties and would distract him from his busy schedule. The DOJ claims that one branch of government cannot force “such an impairment” on another branch.

CREW said it was still going forward despite the DOJ’s sleazy defense of Trump and its refusal to defend the Constitution. The group said:

It’s clear from the government’s response that they don’t believe anyone can go to court to stop the president from systematically violating the constitution. We heartily disagree and look forward to our day in court.

As CREW’s lawsuit noted, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and other countries have held state-sponsored events at Trump’s D.C. hotel, and other entities associated with foreign governments lend money to his businesses or lease space in his properties.

CREW asserted in its lawsuit,”because Trump-owned buildings take in rent, room rentals and other payments from foreign governments which may seek to curry favor with him, the president has breached the emoluments clause.”

It is noteworthy that Trump has indeed been very “favorable” to Kuwait, Turkey and particularly Saudi Arabia as of late;  including keeping them off his “Muslim majority nation” travel bans because there are mutual investments involved.

It is abominable that instead of upholding, supporting or defending the U.S. Constitution, the one Trump violated the day he swore to uphold the Constitution, the Sessions-Trump Justice Department is defending the violator. And it is attempting to interpret the Constitution by claiming the Emolument Clause just doesn’t apply to Donald Trump because he is a businessman.

The cancer in Trump’s administration is endemic in the Republican Congress; they willfully refuse to support, uphold, and defend the U.S. Constitution. One is hard-pressed to identify even one Republican who is defending the Constitution from Trump’s violations and it is particularly disheartening that the Justice Department, the one agency expected to defend the Constitution, is attacking its legitimacy by defending Trump.

California Warns Trump To Keep His Tiny Hands Off Our Public Land

 

There are a couple of actions that the fascist bully Trump can’t comport likely because he surrounds himself with wimpy yes-men – similar to his business “empire” underlings and reality television show actors. Of course Trump will not tolerate not being worshipped like some kind of demi-god, and he particularly cannot accept being told no by anyone; both mostly due to his entitled rich-boy upbringing.

Americans learned what Trump thinks of the U.S. Constitution as it virtually “told him no” when the system of checks and balances prevented him from being a dictator; he doesn’t like it and it makes him very, very angry because it’s “archaic and bad for the country.”

After this week, Trump must hate California a bit more than he hates America or the U.S. Constitution because its Attorney General told the “big-time wrestling celebrity” Trump no. And, the Golden State’s AG likely really offended Trump because he issued a warning to the wanna-be dictator to keep his grubby teeny-tiny hands off California’s public lands; Trump already knows Californians don’t worship him so he really hates the Golden State.

California has already stood up to Trump regarding his nasty and illegal threats to withhold tax revenue over “sanctuary cities,” and defied his order to conscript local law enforcement officers into the Trump “round up and deport” agency. It is noteworthy that an important component of that “archaic system” that Trump wants gone, the federal judiciary, has ruled that Trump cannot withhold federal funds to a state. Of course that action infuriated the Trump.

Then California stepped up and became a surrogate for a responsible America in leading the global effort to combat climate change; including signing international pacts and setting climate and environmental policy with several foreign countries including China. No doubt Trump is stewing in his own outrage that California dares defy him, but that’s what happens when a so-called president exists to pander to the whims of the teabagger Heritage Foundation, the Koch brothers, and investor’s intent on commercial developments.

With news that Trump directed his Interior department to “review” public lands, national monuments, wilderness areas and national parks to prepare a massive giveaway to the fossil fuel and mining industry, California took issue and said California is not Mormon Utah; butt out of our lands.

California’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra sent a letter late last week to Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke informing him that California’s public lands are off-limits to Trump and his fossil fuel funders. Mr. Becerra wrote:

National monument designations protect the irreplaceable natural and cultural heritage that belongs to all Americans, ensuring that the haste or greed of one generation does not squander those gifts at the expense of future generations.

Any attempt by [the] Trump Administration to reverse decisions past Presidents have made to safeguard our most treasured public lands is as unwise as it is unlawful. I am determined to take any and all action necessary to protect the American heritage which has become part of our monument lands.”

The environmental group, 350.org agrees with California and issued its own statement alerting Trump that he is not making these moves due to a couple of decades worth of what Trump said is “egregious abuse of federal power going back to 1906.” Like the United States Constitution, Trump concurs with Utah’s Republican Mormons’, Cliven Bundy’s, the Koch brothers’ and Oathkeepers’ assertion that any system to designate protected public lands and national monuments is an outrage; especially when the fossil fuel industry and privateers want Americans’ “public land” for their personal profit.

The Executive Director of 350.org, May Boeve, issued a statement right after Trump called for a review to see which public  monuments and lands should be handed over to the Koch brothers first.

Zinke and the Trump administration want to gut the power of the Antiquities Act to shore up the fossil fuel industry.  On top of all the attacks on our climate, now we’ll have to defend our parks and monuments from Big Oil as well.”

It took longer than this author expected, but last month the Koch brothers, through dirty Don Trump, issued an anticipated executive order that targets 27 national parks, national monuments and forests, and wilderness areas for “special review;” a special review likely conducted by the Koch brothers.  Six of those 27 are in California and like all 27, the reviews are for the sole purpose of prioritizing which ones to open up to gas and oil drilling, mining and deforestation, and private development and in what order.

It has been an irritant to the Koch brothers, and particularly Utah Mormons, for years that the federal government legally owns public lands. Republicans argue viciously that the American people’s public lands really belong to fossil fuel, mining and logging industry and corporations interested in commercial development.

The six California monuments and parks the Koch brothers have their oil-drilling, mining and denuding eyes on are the Giant Sequoia, Mojave Trails, Berryessa Snow Mountain, Carrizo Plain, Sand to Snow and San Gabriel Mountains national monuments. Of course the greedy bastards want oil, but they also desperately want the Giant Sequoia land because it contains two-thirds of all the giant trees still remaining on the planet.

California is not alone in standing up to the Koch brothers, Trump and particularly Utah’s Republican Mormons. Two entities, Native American tribal leaders in Utah and the “Patagonia outdoor gear and clothing company” lodged their own warning to Trump and threatened to sue the White House over his executive order to confiscate public land and give it to the Kochs and commercial developers.

The California Attorney General Becerra reminded Trump in his warning letter that tiny-hands does not have the tyrannical power to give away the American people’s public lands to anyone. He flatly declared:

“Trump simply has no legal authority to question monument designations made by predecessor[s] under the Antiquities Act. Tellingly, no President has ever attempted to undo preservation of America’s historic, cultural, and scientifically valuable landscapes by revoking a monument designation.”

Mr. Becerra is right, of course, on both counts. Trump does not have legal authority to question or change designations going back generations or ten years ago. And yes, it is true: America has never had a tyrant in the White House acting solely on behalf of the Koch brothers or commercial developers. What is telling, though, and typically Republican of Trump is his lust to steal more from the American people to give away to the uber rich. He’s trying to steal their healthcare, then their retirement benefits and now their public lands. But for now, at least one state is saying keep your filthy little hands off our public lands.