Divided We Stand

In my most recent unscientific survey from Cornfield Polls, trust was the thrust.

Not many participated, but from the results it is clear that we remain deeply divided.

So what are we to do?

Does it matter whether we are buying into facts or fiction?

Are Americans doomed to what the Scripture refers to as “believing a lie and being damned?”

Was the Apostle Paul right when he wrote about “ever learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth?”

From the Cornfield, our 16th and perhaps greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, cited the words of Christ when he intoned, “A house divided cannot stand.”

How can we as a nation hope to stand when we remain so divided even over whom to trust?

Politics Roundup: March 20 – 26, 2017

politicsroundup

Welcome to the weekly compilation of the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the comings and goings from the alternate world of reality – politics!

Confield Polls: Whom Do You Trust?

Monday, 3/20/17:

Criminal investigation!

Cloud over presidency!

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a criminal investigation into the possibility of collusion between members of the campaign of President Donald Trump and the Russian government.

Comey acknowledged that the FBI does not ordinarily discuss ongoing investigations, but said he’d been authorized to do so given the extreme public interest in this case.

This work is very complex, and there is no way for me to give you a timetable for when it will be done,” Comey told the House Intel Committee.

FBI Director James Comey confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee today not only the investigation, but also that there was no proof that former President Barack Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower on then candidate Trump.

This was also confirmed by National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers, who also appeared before the committee.

Both Directors further denied that the British spy agency, GCHQ, was in any way involved with surveilling Trump Tower.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said today that following the Directors saying there was no bugging of Trump Tower, the White House has not changed its position and no apology to President Obama will be offered.

Democrats quoted extensively while questioning Comey and Rogers from the dossier prepared by a former British undercover agent.

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch was grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee today as his confirmation hearing got underway.

We’re here today under very unusual circumstances,” California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying that Gorsuch was nominated only because of the “unprecedented treatment” of US Appeals Judge Merrick Garland, who had been President Obama’s choice to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the court.

Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick J. Leahy called that decision to not give Garland a vote “an extraordinarily blockade” and “one of the greatest stains on the 200-year history of this committee.”

Consider the nominee on the merits – nothing else,” Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn urged his colleagues.

President Trump’s job approval rating fell to a new low of 37% in the latest Gallup tracking poll, which was released on Sunday. Of respondents in the poll, 58% said they disapproved of Trump’s performance.

Former Indiana Senator Dan Coats has been confirmed as Director of National Intelligence.

State Politics: After immigration raids across the country and reports of White House deportation plans, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration has been canceled.

Global Politics: British Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50, the formal mechanism for starting negotiations for Britain to leave the European Union, on March 29, the Prime Minister’s spokesman has confirmed.

Germany on today dismissed as unacceptable an accusation by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan that Chancellor Angela Merkel is “applying Nazi methods” against Turks and Turkish officials in Germany.

Development of a President

Tuesday, 3/21/17:

A cloud of doubt is growing over the White House.

Can President Donald Trump be trusted to say what is truth and what is lie?

Will the issue of credibility impact the vote on Thursday in the House of Representatives on the American Health Care Act to repeal the Affordable Care Act?

Will the changes made late last night to the AHA sway reluctant lawmakers to vote with the President?

Did the President work the “Art of the Deal” when he went to the Capitol today and spoke with Republicans?

All these questions linger without answers.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey confirmed Monday his agency is investigating whether Russia tried to influence last year’s election, and “whether there was any coordination” between Russia and President Trump’s campaign.

That investigation started back in July, 2016.

Neil Gorsuch was grilled for the second day by the Senate Judiciary Committee as it weighs whether to put him forth for a full Senate vote to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Democrats attempted to nail Gorsuch down on his views and opinions on points of law, which he deflected.

Gorsuch vowed Monday not to forget the “modest station we judges are meant to occupy in a democracy.”

Stressing his independence, Gorsuch said today, “No man is above the law not even the President.”

I have no difficulty ruling against or for any party other than based on what the law and the facts of a particular case require,” Gorsuch told the Senators. “And I’m heartened by the support I have received from people who recognize that there’s no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge – we just have judges in this country.”

My personal views…I leave those at home,” the would-be Supreme Court Justice added later.

When asked by South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham if the President had asked him to vote to overturn Roe V Wade, the abortion legalization ruling, Gorsuch said, “Senator, I would have walked out the door.”

I think you’re a man of the law and I really want to congratulate the President for picking you,” ever-the-jokester, Graham told Gorsuch at his hearing. “Quite frankly, I was worried about who he’d pick. Maybe someone on TV.”

Among the changes made to the AHA were states would be stopped immediately from expanding Medicaid, older Americans would get more tax credits.

Also added was a provision to allow states to require work for Medicaid by able-bodied individuals.

The President told reluctant members of his own party today that if they vote against the AHA, that lawmaker may lose his or her seat in the 2018 congressional election.

The President of the United States came to us and said, ‘We made a promise to the American people and we need to keep our promises,’ ” said House Speaker Paul Ryan. “The President was very clear and he laid it on the line for us.”

Ryan said Trump did “what he does best – and that is to close the deal.”

The President just came here and knocked the ball out of the park,” Ryan added.

Last night in Louisville, Kentucky with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by his side, the President told a campaign-style audience of several thousands, “We want a very big tax cut, but cannot do that until we keep our promise to repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare.”

This is our long-awaited chance to finally get rid of ‘Obamacare.’ It’s a long-awaited chance. We’re going to do it,” Trump said.

President Trump has dropped 220 spots on the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires in the year since he ran for, and won, the White House.

Forty percent of Donald Trump’s fortune is tied up in Trump Tower and eight buildings within one mile of it,” Forbes said. “Lately, the neighborhood has been struggling (relatively speaking).”

California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters is doubling down on her calls for impeaching President Trump, tweeting today that it’s time to “get ready for impeachment.”

According to Reuters, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip his first meeting of the 28 NATO allies in April in order to stay home for a visit by China’s President and then go to Russia.

If true, the optics would not be good for the Trump Administration, which appears to favor ties with Russia more than its commitment to NATO.

The Prez says fear of his Twitter tweet wrath is sinking the career of footballer Colin Kapernick, which is why he remains an unsigned free agent.

The President today signed into law a bill that adds exploration of Mars as a NASA goal.

TAKE AWAYS from Monday’s House Intelligence Committee open hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers:

a.There’s no evidence of Trump’s accusation that Obama tapped his phones
b. The FBI is investigating connections between President Trump’s campaign associates and the Russian government
c. But the FBI is going to be VERY tight-lipped about the investigation
d. Democrats seem pretty sure associates with Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia
e. Republicans, meanwhile, want to focus on intelligence leaks to the press
f. Intelligence officials still don’t think there’s any evidence Russia’s meddling directly influenced votes

Get the details: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/03/20/six-big-takeaways-from-congresss-extraordinary-hearing-on-russia-president-trump-and-wiretapping/

First Daughter Ivanka now has an office in the West Wing.

The White House announced today that Ivanka will be taking on a larger advisory role within her father’s Administration but will not have an official position.

The Supreme Court decided today 6-2 to uphold a lower court’s ruling that then-President Barack Obama exceeded his legal authority with his temporary appointment of a National Labor Relations Board General Counsel in 2011.

In an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court said that under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, a person cannot serve as the acting head of a federal agency once the President nominates him or her to permanently serve in the role if it is a position that requires Senate confirmation.

Out-of-office, yet once again former President Obama was found to have exceeded his executive authority.

State Politics: Hoping to win support from upstate New York Republicans, House leaders late on Monday added a controversial proposal to their health care bill that would require New York State to absorb Medicaid costs from county governments.

In a 3-0 decision, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by the American Humanist Association, which said the practice by the Birdville Independent School District in Texas violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

The School Board may begin its sessions with prayer.

Global Politics: French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron raised expectations that he would defeat far-right rival Marine Le Pen in a two-round election scheduled for late April and early May during a debate last night.

We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation,” Brexit Secretary David Davis said about Great Britain invoking Article 50 on March 29. “The government is clear in its aims: a deal that works for every nation and region of the UK and indeed for all of Europe, a new, positive partnership between the UK and our friends and allies in the European Union.”

South Korean prosecutors today began questioning ousted former President Park Geun-hye in connection with the corruption investigation that got her ousted from office this month.

If the businessmen-turned-U.S. authorities thought that they would frighten [North Korea], they would soon know that their method would not work,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry said according to state news agency KCNA.

The regime “has the will and capability to fully respond to any war the U.S. would like to ignite,” Ministry added. “The US should face up to the situation…with its eyes wide open.”

France’s Interior Minister, Bruno Le Roux, has resigned amid an investigation into parliamentary jobs he gave his daughters.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Monday after a meeting at the White House that there are “better ways” for the United States to help beat back the Islamic State than sending combat troops.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sought backing from the Scottish Parliament today for her proposal to hold a new referendum on independence from the United Kingdom, the first formal step in a process resisted by the government in London, England.

The Trump Administration is considering sweeping sanctions aimed at cutting North Korea off from the global financial system as part of a broad review of measures to counter Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threat, a senior US official told Reuters Monday.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen launched the island’s first ever home-grown submarine project today in the face of what the government says are growing military threats from China.

Wednesday, 3/22/17:

All is quiet in the West Wing.

Quiet that is on the refuted allegation that former President Barack Obama ordered surveillance of Trump Tower and then candidate, now President, Donald Trump.

Meanwhile down the street, Democrats tried yet again today to shake Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsach to revealing his hand on how he would rule on a number of issues near and dear to the hearts of the left.

Gorsuch remained non-commital and unmoved, revealing nothing.

Respectfully, none of you speaks for me,” Gorsuch said. “I am a judge. I am independent. I make up my own mind.”

You better believe I expect judicial decrees to be obeyed,” Gorsuch said. He quoted an unnamed judge he called “one of his heroes”: “The real test of the rule of law is [whether] the government could lose in its own courts and accept those judgments.”

Tomorrow is the scheduled vote day on the American Health Care Act which would repeal the Affordable Care Act.

But will the vote happen?

Can the President and House Speaker Paul Ryan twist enough arms to get the 216 Republican votes it needs to move the bill to the Senate, where it faces a dubious outcome?

The White House made clear today, “There is no Plan B” if the AHA does not pass the House.

A Ukranian lawmaker released information Tuesday which he says proves that former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort laundered some $750,000 for former Ukranian strongman Viktor Yanukovych, who had to flee to Russia.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer pointed out today that Manafort’s activity was over a decade ago.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has information that incidental collection of communications, having nothing to do with the probe into Russian interference in the recent election, may have been picked up from individuals in Trump Tower before and after the election.

Nunes told reporters that communications of Trump transition officials – possibly including President Donald Trump himself – may have been “monitored” after the election as part of an “incidental collection.”

Nunes said the information on the Trump team was collected in November, December and January, the period after the election in which Trump was holding calls with foreign leaders, interviewing Cabinet Secretaries, and was beginning to sketch out Administration policy.

Nunes said the monitored material was “widely disseminated” in intelligence reports.

Nunes briefed the President on what he learned late this afternoon.

The House Oversight Committee has asked the White House and the FBI for documents regarding former Trump adviser Michael Flynn’s foreign contacts with Russia, Turkey and other sources, its Republican chairman and Democratic counterpart said today.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may be skipping out on his first NATO meeting, but President Trump plans to meet with NATO leaders for a summit in Brussels, Belgium on May 25.

Labor Secretary nominee Alexander Acosta faced his confirmation hearing today with support from Big Labor, suggesting a relatively smooth path ahead.

In prepared remarks, Acosta, who will be the first Hispanic member of Trump’s Cabinet if confirmed, vowed to work with Congress to help Americans get the training they need to get good, safe jobs.

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue will appear for a confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Secretary of Agriculture tomorrow.

Lieutenant General Jack Weinstein, who oversees the United States’ atomic weapons arsenal, has expressed concern over what he described as “much more aggressive” behavior by Russia in recent years, saying it justifies the need for a strengthened and modernized nuclear deterrent force in this country.

State Politics: Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a sweeping gun rights measure into law today that will allow concealed handguns at state colleges, some bars, government buildings and even the State Capitol.

An Oklahoma State Senator charged with hiring a teenage boy as a prostitute intends to resign as a lawmaker today, the Senator’s lawyer said on Tuesday.

Eighty people including George Soros, Steven Rockefeller and Abigail Disney wrote to lawmakers and New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo saying they and other top earners should pay more to support schools, roads, bridges and programs to help poor and homeless residents of the state.

An former Colorado GOP leader once said only Democrats committed voter fraud. Now he’s charged with voter fraud.

Global Politics: Scotland’s Parliament suspended its debate on authorizing the government to seek a new independence referendum after today’s attack on Britain’s Houses of Parliament which police said they were treating as a terrorist incident.

Mexico’s government on Tuesday warned Mexican companies that it would not be in their best “interests” to participate in the construction of President Trump’s border wall, though there will be no legal restrictions or sanctions to stop them if they tried.

Finding News

Thursday, 3/23/17:

Believer or skeptic?

Credibility is at the forefront.

Whom can you trust?

Who do you trust?

I’m President and you’re not,” is how President Donald Trump summed up the issue of credibility.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes apologized to the committee today for not sharing the information that members of the transition team working for then President Elect Trump were picked up in incidental collection after the election last November.

Democrats on the committee were not fully accepting of Nunes apology.

Nunes said, “It was a judgment call,” on why he spoke to the President before talking to the committee.

At the end of the day, sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you don’t,” Nunes added, noting he could not show the panel information that was given to him by a source.

Whatever information and documents Nunes saw which had him brief the President will be shared with the committee on Friday.

Ranking Member Adam Schiff told the committee and the press he had seen evidence which was more than “circumstantial” that members of the Trump campaign did coordinate with the Russians during the recent election.

If accurate, this information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been,” Schiff said. “The chairman also shared this information with the White House before providing it to the committee, another profound irregularity, given that the matter is currently under investigation. I have expressed my grave concerns with the chairman that a credible investigation cannot be conducted this way.”

Reports are out that there is evidence, found by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, linking members of the Trump campaign with coordinating the release of information harmful to the campaign of Hillary Clinton with Russian operatives.

Officials, cited in the reporting from CNN, said the information included human intelligence, business and phone records, as well as accounts of face-to-face meetings, but that it was not considered to be conclusive.

Democrats are more determined to get an independent commission to investigate the issue of Russian interference and possible Trump campaign collusion in the election.

Questions are swirling where the information is coming from about the surveillance and the evidence of coordination.

Some are saying the White House is the source while others are saying members within the intelligence community.

Up or down – what will it be?

Will the House of Representatives vote on the American Health Care Act to repeal the Affordable Care Act or will it balk?

A conference of the full Republican caucus was postponed this morning as House Speaker Paul Ryan with an assist from President Trump are trying to wrestle the 216 votes needed to pass the ACA.

At this moment all 24 members of the very conservative House Freedom Caucus are not onboard with the legislation. Four other Republicans are on the fence.

But can or will the Freedom Caucus ever be satisfied?

Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows announced after meeting a short time ago with the President in the White House, “No deal.”

Republicans can only afford to lose 21 votes. Democrats are standing united in opposition to the AHA.

The vote is in jeopardy.

With the House of Representatives set to vote on the American Health Care Act today or tonight, I have to say, like with the Affordable Care Act, I am not in favor of this new legislation to repeal the ACA.

This bill also is not beneficial to people like me and the American people in general, in my opinion.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said today that he will lead the filibuster of the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

I have concluded that I cannot support Neil Gorsuch’s nomination,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “My vote will be no and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”

Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Bob Casey, who faces re-election next year in a state Trump won, also announced his opposition. Casey said he had “serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch’s rigid and restrictive judicial philosophy, manifest in a number of opinions he has written on the 10th Circuit.”

Britons harshly criticized Donald Trump Jr. for tweeting criticism of London’s Mayor in the wake of yesterday’s attack.

You have to be kidding me?!” President Trump’s eldest son tweeted. “Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan.”

Trump misrepresented the quote.

Khan did not say that terror attacks were part of city life. He said that supporting police in terrorism preparedness was “part and parcel of living in a great global city.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has directed US diplomatic missions to identify “populations warranting increased scrutiny” and toughen screening for visa applicants in those groups,” according to diplomatic cables seen by Reuters.

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue faced a confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee considering his nomination as Agriculture Secretary today.

In Georgia, agriculture is one area where Democrats and Republicans consistently reached across the aisle and work together,” Perdue said.

State Politics: An Hawaii lawmaker who says she was pressured to give up her leadership post at the Statehouse after criticizing President Trump resigned Wednesday from the Republican Party.

As a Japanese-American whose grandparents had to destroy all of their Japanese artifacts and items and bury them in the backyard to avoid getting taken and interned, how could I not have said anything?” State Representative Ruth Fukumoto asked. “And how could my party have not said anything?”

Nevada on Wednesday became the first state to approve the Equal Rights Amendment decades after the deadline to enshrine in the Constitution that women and men are equal under the law.

Global Politics: Foreign Ministry Spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu said it had summoned Russia’s top diplomat in Ankara soon after a Turkish soldier on guard duty at a border post in Turkey was shot dead by sniper fire.

Muftuoglu told reporters today that Turkey had summoned the diplomat because Moscow was in charge of monitoring a cease-fire in the border area controlled by the Syrian Kurdish forces.

Turkey considers those Syrian Kurdish forces an extension of outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting Turkey.

French far right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is headed to Moscow for meetings with lawmakers less than a month before the French presidential election.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey warned Europeans on Wednesday that they would no longer be able to walk safely in the street if Western politicians continued with perceived provocations against Turkish leaders.

Friday, 3/24/17:

The battlelines have been drawn.

What traditionally has been the most bipartisan committee in the House of Representatives, the Intelligence Committee has divided into all-out warring factions along party lines.

After Committee Chairman Devin Nunes announced this morning that the next scheduled public hearing before the Intel Committee on Tuesday was cancelled, the Vice Chair or Ranking Member Adam Schiff came out to denounce the cancellation.

Even the announcement that former Campaign Chairman for President Donald Trump’s election Paul Manafort had agreed to speak to the committee was not enough to appease Schiff.

We don’t welcome cutting off the public access to information when we have witnesses who are willing to testify in an open session,” Schiff said.

Long-time friend and adviser to the President, Roger Stone, has now said he too would talk voluntarily to the committee. Stone added that he preferred it be in a public hearing.

A third Trump associate, Carter Page, has now agreed to voluntarily answer questions from the committee.

Republicans want closer scrutiny on leaks and unmasking of Americans.

Democrats want deeper investigation into any collusion there may have been between associates of Trump and Russian officials to interfere in the recent election and deny Hillary Clinton the presidency.

Maybe not the smartest move by the world’s most deliberate body, the Senate on Thursday voted 50-48 in favor of undoing former President Barack Obama Administration rules protecting internet privacy.

The legislation would make it easier for broadband providers to sell their customers’ usage information to other companies for advertising purposes.

Now it is up to the House to agree or reject.

As most of us political junkies expected, the House cancelled a vote last night to take up the American Health Care Act.

The votes were just not there to pass this first major piece of legislation backed by President Trump.

A vote is now scheduled today, but also looks in doubt.

The President tweeted out at very conservative Freedom Caucus members today that a vote against AHA would be a vote to continue providing abortion by Planned Parenthood.

There is a provision in AHA to strip funding from Planned Parenthood.

This is a big threat against conservatives using the abortion issue.

Will it work?

Apparently not.

A poll from Quinnipiac revealed yesterday that 57% of Americans object to the AHA. Only 17% approve of the AHA. The remaining 26% are unsure.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had to make the short trip from the Capitol to the Oval Office shortly after noon today to inform the President that he and his whip team could not twist the arms needed to pass the AHA.

The President demanded a vote by the House today to either approve or reject the AHA.

He warned that a rejection would mean the Affordable Care Act will stay as is in place.

Adding to the woes of the AHA, the latest score from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says that the deficit would only be cut by $150 billion instead of the $350 billion the initial version provided.

The number of people losing health insurance would remain at 24 million over 10 years.

Word a few minutes past 3:30 p.m. today was that the President saw the handwriting on the wall.

President Trump asked Speaker Ryan to pull the AHA from consideration on the House floor.

The Freedom Caucus could not be mollified, no matter the concessions.

With the removal of Essential Health Benefits, Republicans lost their moderates making passage of the AHA impossible.

Will the failure to vote on and pass the AHA doom Ryan as Speaker?

Some in the White House are already blaming Ryan for the failure.

I will not sugarcoat this. This is a disappointing day for us,” Ryan said.

Over and over, Ryan repeated, “These are the growing pains of governing.”

The Speaker in his news conference following pulling the AHA said the House would now move on to tax reform.

The President reiterated his thoughts the best thing for health care was to allow the ACA “to explode.”

Obamacare will explode,” the President said. “This year will be much worse.”

FBI Director James Comey was at the White House today, days after he confirmed his bureau is investigating ties between associates of President Trump and Russia.

The reason for the meet is not known.

President Trump has selected Tennessee businessman Bill Hagerty as his nominee to become the next Ambassador to Japan, the White House announced Thursday.

According to a Quinnipiac University survey released today, 66 percent of those polled favor an independent commission to look into ties between the President’s campaign and Russian officials, and 29 percent do not.

President Trump won an important victory today as a Virginia federal judge refused to block his revised travel ban against six predominantly Muslim countries, even though the directive remains on hold due to federal court orders in two other states.

Within a day of Rex Tillerson’s swearing in as Secretary of State, the State Department’s climate change website began to change.

The changes signal a shift away from leading international climate actions that the former Obama Administration pursued and a pivot toward a more passive role.

The Justice Department is investigating California Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter for possible campaign finance violations, an allegation the lawmaker dismisses as inadvertent mistakes. The House Ethics Committee is also investigating Hunter.

State Politics: Trying to put pressure on sanctuary cities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are targeting their raids to strike in those municipalities who have voice opposition to President Trump’s stand on illegal aliens.

A federal judge in Texas said a raid in Austin was retaliation for a local sheriff’s decision to not work with ICE.

ICE denies that.

Global Politics: Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 88, was freed today from imprisonment, six years after he was ousted from his three-decade reign by Arab Spring protesters.

The Toronto District School Board, which runs Canada’s largest school system, said Thursday it would halt student trips to the US of A to prevent the students “potentially being turned away at the border.” This is in reaction to President Trump’s travel ban, which has been halted by two federal judges.

The United States has imposed sanctions on 30 foreign companies or individuals for transferring sensitive technology to Iran for its missile program or for violating export controls on Iran, North Korea and Syria, the State Department said today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin granted an audience to French far-right party leader Marine Le Pen in the Kremlin today, bestowing a level of international recognition that has so far eluded her in the countdown to France’s presidential election.

China is not militarizing the South China Sea, Premier Li Keqiang said today, although he acknowledged that defense equipment on islands in the disputed waterway had been placed there to maintain “freedom of navigation.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel does not fear that more countries will leave the European Union, she told a German newspaper as the bloc’s leaders prepare to celebrate 60 years of union on Saturday days before Britain files for divorce.

The United States warned South Sudan’s government on Thursday that preventing humanitarian aid workers from reaching parts of the war-torn state that are suffering famine could “amount to deliberate starvation tactics.”

Sunday, 3/26/17:

Who is to blame?

That is the name of the game now reverberating throughout Washington DC and the nation after the spectacular failure of even getting a vote on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Lawmakers are in their home districts this weekend.

Republicans are having to explain why after seven years, the party could not deliver.

President Donald Trump is taking the road of Pontius Pilate and seemingly washing his hands of the colossal failure of “the closer” to wrangle a deal out of his own party’s recalcitrant members.

On to tax reform and other issues, the President and House Speaker Paul Ryan declared on Friday.

But for former Democratic presidential candidate who gave Hillary Clinton a run for her money, Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders is staking claim to now being the time to move full-steam-ahead on universal health care.

We have got to have the guts to take on the insurance companies and the drug companies and move forward toward a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program,” Sanders said on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes Friday night. “And I’ll be introducing legislation shortly to do that.”

Vice President Mike Pence is sounding bullish on America and hoping Americans will follow his lead.

Businesses and consumers haven’t been this confident in years and by some measures more than a decade,” Pence said. “Folks, the era of slow growth is over and a new era of American growth and jobs has already begun.”

Question: Will House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes still be Chairman by April Fool’s Day?

Texas Republican Congressman Ted Poe put in his walking papers Saturday with the Freedom Caucus and resigned.

In order to deliver on the conservative agenda we have promised the American people for eight years, we must come together to find solutions to move this country forward. Saying no is easy, leading is hard, but that is what we were elected to do. Leaving this caucus will allow me to be a more effective Member of Congress and advocate for the people of Texas. It is time to lead,” Poe added.

Time to Govern

Boris Epshteyn, a Trump Administration official who manages several media surrogates for the President and is a high-profile surrogate himself, is expected to resign his post, perhaps for a less prominent role in the White House, multiple reports are suggesting.

Violence broke out at a Make America Great Again rally south of Los Angeles, California, in Huntington Beach on Saturday as supporters of President Trump scuffled with counter-protesters.

OOPs!

Or was it?

Watch @JudgeJeanine on @FoxNews tonight at 9:00 P.M.,” President Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

When the Judge came on, she promptly blasted Speaker Ryan, calling for him to resign.

He failed to deliver the votes on his health-care bill,” Judge Jeanine Pirro said, insisting the de facto demise of the bill “is not on President Trump” because “no one expected a businessman to completely understand the nuances…of Washington.”

The President said Friday he is 100% behind keeping Ryan as Speaker – but was this a backhanded way to cut Ryan?

State Politics: California Democratic Governor Jerry Brown had this warning for President Trump, “We do have something called the ninth and the tenth amendment. The federal government just can’t arbitrarily for political reasons punish the State of California, that’s number one. Number two, California is America. We’re 12 percent. We’re a key part. The export capital going into the Pacific. We’re the innovation capital, high tech, agriculture, 40 to 50 billion dollar industry. You don’t want to mess with California because you’re going to mess with the economy, and that could blow up in your face in a gigantic recession, and roll the Republicans right out of this town.”

Global Politics: Leaders of the 27 European Union nations that will remain in the organization following the United Kingdom’s forthcoming exit met Saturday in Rome on the occasion of the 60-year anniversary of the Treaty of Rome that established the European Economic Community, an EU forerunner.

Hong Kong’s chief executive election today ended with a victory for Carrie Lam, formerly the semiautonomous city’s second-highest official and the favored candidate of Chinese leadership in Beijing.

Lam will be Hong Kong’s first female chief executive.

Hong Kong, our home, is suffering from quite a serious divisiveness,” she said in her victory speech. “My priority will be to heal the divide.”

Thanks for viewing!

Time to Govern

This 64th day of the presidency of Donald Trump was not a good day for the President nor for Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan. The two top Republicans in the nation saw their first major piece of legislation never make it to the floor of the House for a vote.

The American Health Care Act, which aimed to fulfill a campaign promise of Republicans since 2010, or repealing the Affordable Care Act was swept into the corner like unwelcome dust.

This legislation was not one which I could support. As I noted in Kernels From the Cornfield on Wednesday: 

With the House of Representatives set to vote on the American Health Care Act today or tonight, I have to say, like with the Affordable Care Act, I am not in favor of this new legislation to repeal the ACA.

This bill also is not beneficial to people like me and the American people in general, in my opinion.

However, the drama which played out this week gave light to a situation that could impede the ability of the President and the Congress to actually govern for the next two to four years.

The Freedom Caucus, made up of the ultra-conservative members of the GOP, many who were elected as a revolt to the ACA back in 2010, were elected to be the cabal of no to block Democratic President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats in Congress.

Their job was to be the voice of opposition to all things coming from the White House. Most of these members of the House have never been in a position to vote for legislation backed by a Republican in the White House.

Their mindset is to automatically be against anything proposed and backed by the Oval Office. This was on full display this week as members of the Freedom Caucus were brought in and out of the White House to cajole with the President and House leadership.

The ultra-conservatives demanded and received. Yet, it was never enough. There was always a new demand.

At last the President and Ryan said, “Enough. Let’s vote.”

Pushing only brought more opposition.

In the meantime while trying to coddle the ultra-conservatives, the Republicans were losing the moderates in states where the very control of the House hinged.

The moderates were feeling maligned about Medicaid and the loss of the Essential Health Benefits. Two items necessary for their re-election in 2018 and keeping the GOP in charge of the lower chamber of Congress.

The Freedom Caucus did not care. It was all or nothing and once they had it all, they wanted more. It is time to learn to govern.

Freedom Caucus, you are no longer the opposition, but the part of the party in power that must show the American people you understand that sometimes to get – you have to give.

It is called being a responsible government.

From the Cornfield, sadly I do not know if these 30-40 members of Congress will be able to wrap their heads around the concept.

Compromise is how you govern.

Saying only “No” makes you “Do Nothing.”

Development of a President

From his descent down the stairs at Trump Tower in New York City to his election to the Oval Office in the White House in Washington DC, Donald Trump’s journey and development from a businessman and reality television star to President of the United States:

That Thorny Immigration Issue

Trump Effect Or How to Throw an Election

Polls – Should We Care?

Presidential Preference Poll Results

Trumping Trump

The Not-So-Sweet 16

Desert Poll Results

One All-Star in Top 10

Where Do They Stand? Anybody?

Stunt to Serious Contention

Fall Beckons, Time to Prune

2nd Real Debate!

Political Sea Ebbs & Flows

Pluck the Political Tares

Candidates Versus Moderators

The GOP Family Feud

Wake Up Republican Base

Campaigning Versus Reality – Rhetoric Can Be Dangerous

Trump 3rd Party Threat – Historical Evidence

Debate Take-Aways

Cornfield Polling Results

Bare-Knuckles Brawl

No-Show Wins

Bare Knuckles Brawl

An American Revolution

Wannabes Punch, Weave, Jab

Trump Effect Redux

Reality TV Election Season 1

The Evolution of Donald Trump

Person Versus Persona

The Race Is On

Race for the White House

No Electoral Majority – Then What?

Trump’s Choices

Indiana’s Stars Are Shining

Making the Right Choice

Grandpa and Trump

‘I Can’t Hear You!’

Qualified to Be President

And Therein Is the Problem

Debate Changes Little

Voters Face Dilemma

Second Debate Another Draw

Voters Only Hope

Final Debate Another Draw

On November 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump won 307 electoral votes and the presidency defeating Hillary Clinton.

Mr. President Elect, You Are Wrong

Peaceful Transition

Baited

Children of Liberty Rising

Finding News

From the Cornfield, and today, this 20th day of March, 2017, we are witnessing a public hearing by the House Intelligence Committee with the Directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency into whether members of President Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians to throw the 2016 presidential election.

Thus has been the development of a US President.

Politics Roundup: March 13 – 19, 2017

politicsroundup

Welcome to the weekly compilation of the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the comings and goings from the alternate world of reality – politics!

Tune Out Reality Show Presidency

Monday, 3/13/17:

Lie of the year?

Nobody will be worse off financially,” if the Republican healthcare plan is passed, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price.

Breitbart, of all sources, is saying that Price’s statement is the “lie of the year.”

On tenderhooks as the nation waits to hear from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to say how many people may lose healthcare coverage under the GOP plan.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn said the CBO should focus on health care affordability rather than the number of insured.

President Donald Trump said today that number of healthcare plans available would go “up, up, up” while the cost of healthcare insurance would go “down, down, down” under the Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The Prez did add that it will take time for the market to take effect and may take two or three years for people to see the savings.

Breaking late: The CBO found 14 million will be uninsured by 2018.
Some 24 million fewer will be uninsured by 2026, according to the CBO.
The score further revealed a savings of $337 billion in the national budget.
The CBO also found the Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act bill to be budget neutral and can move forward as a reconciliation bill.

The Justice Department was given a deadline of today to submit to the House Intelligence Committee any proof of the President’s claim that former President Barack Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped during last year’s election.

At press time, Justice has not been forthcoming with any proof to back up the President’s claim.

The Prez met for the first time with his Cabinet today.

Trump announced the visit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been postponed until Friday due to the impending blizzard descending on the Northeast.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said today that President Trump plans to donate his salary at the end of the year – and that the Prez would like reporters to help him decide where to send that check to.

He kindly asked that you all help determine where that goes,” Spicer said during today’s press briefing.

On whether the repeal bill will get to the President’s desk, “We’re going to continue to work with members of the House and eventually the Senate,” Spicer said at the White House briefing.

I feel very good as the President continues to engage with members that we will have the votes necessary.”

The White House announced today a plan to sift through all agencies and departments to eliminated any positions, which no longer are functional or have a benefit to the public.

In other words, the President wants to streamline the Executive Branch into a sleek, well-oiled machine.

A woman questioned Spicer on Saturday in an Apple Store, asking him what is was like working for a “fascist.”

Talk about an understatement – did you hear KellyAnne Conway, top Presidential Adviser, tell CNN‘s Chris Cuomo this morning, “I’m not Inspector Gadget.”

Can I get a duh?

Racist?

Congressman Steve King, Republican from Iowa, praised the far right, anti-Islamitist candidate of The Netherlands Geert Wilders in a tweet and said that Wilders “understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

The backlash has been harsh.

From Speaker Ryan on down, King is getting denounced by both Republicans and Democrats.

State Politics: Dozens of 17-year-olds voted illegally across Wisconsin during last spring’s intense presidential primary, apparently wrongly believing they could cast ballots if they turned 18 ahead of the November general election, according to a report from the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Washington State today moved to block President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, filing a new complaint in federal court and asking a judge to stop the executive order from going into effect on Thursday

Global Politics: Over the weekend, The Netherlands barred a plane from landing, which was carrying the Turkish Foreign Minister, citing security concerns.

Then, they also stopped Turkey’s Family Affairs Minister from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan likened the moves to Nazism, which caused the Danish Prime Minister to take a possible meeting with Erdogan off the table.

Hosni Mubarak, who was overthrown as President of Egypt in an uprising in 2011, will be released from detention in a military hospital, the public prosecutor ruled today, his lawyers and judicial sources said.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she plans to trigger another independence referendum as the United Kingdom marches toward Brexit. Sturgeon said the vote could be held in autumn 2018 at the earliest.

Scotland voted to remain part of the U.K. at a referendum in 2014.

In a Reuters exclusive, Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, three sources said, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.

This is in protest of China’s claims to the entire South China Sea.

Tuesday, 3/14/17:

I am really excited by this analysis.”

Really?

That was what Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said in reaction to the release by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office of its scoring of the American Health Care Act.

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price said he “strenuously” disagreed with the assessment from the CBO.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney also refused to accept the numbers from the CBO.

That report found 14 million people would lose health insurance next year. An additional 24 million would lose insurance by 2026.

Premiums for health insurance would rise on average 15% over the next couple of years.

While a 64-year-old person would see the cost of insurance rise from $1,700 per year to over $14,000 per year, which is more than half the wages of $26,000 per year.

The only bright spot in the report was that over the next 10 years the AHA would reduce the national deficit by $337 billion.

The expected swelling of the ranks of the uninsured cast fresh doubts on President Trump’s promise that the GOP plan would provide “insurance for everybody.”

Democrats are smacking their lips in glee over the CBO report.

Like sharks, Dems are smelling blood in the water.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have conducted two press conferences within 24 hours to gloat about the CBO report and call on Republicans to rethink the AHA.

Republicans, who favor the AHA, are trying to point out there is a difference between having healthcare coverage or insurance and getting care for their health.

Those Republicans say that even with insurance under the Affordable Care Act, people cannot afford to see a doctor or get care.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stressed today during the daily press briefing that the CBO report only was about phase 1 of a three-part plan to repeal and replace the ACA.

The score is not an accurate portrayal since it does not take in parts two and three, Spicer pointed out.

Just because you have a card, doesn’t mean you get care,” Spicer pointed out.

Spicer also said that if the AHA does not pass and make it to the President’s desk the chance of repealing the ACA will be extremely difficult if possible at all.

The President’s goal is to provide coverage to every American,” Spicer said in response to CNN‘s Jim Acosta about the people who will lose coverage under the AHA.

It is starting to look that without major changes the AHA will not get the votes to pass the House and will definitely die in the Senate.

The Justice Department asked for and received an extension from the House Intelligence Committee to produce evidence that former President Barack Obama’s Administration was surveilling the campaign of then candidate Donald Trump and Trump Tower.

If Justice does not provide the information proving or disproving President Trump’s allegation by Monday, Chairman Devin Nunes said that the committee would subpoena the documents or tapes.

First Son-in-Law and Chief Adviser to the President Jared Kushner’s family business is set for a windfall from a Chinese insurance firm of more than $400 million.

The firm, Anbang Insurance Group, has agreed to invest a building owned by Kushner’s family. Kushner sold the building to his family as part of his divestment of interests to not appear in violation of conflicts of interest.

A Kushner spokesperson said: “Kushner Companies has taken significant steps to avoid potential conflicts and will continue to do so.”

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings sent the White House a letter warning them that Trump and his staff might be violating federal law when they delete tweets from the President’s official accounts.

The letter warns that tweets from both the @realDonaldTrump and the official @POTUS accounts “are likely to be presidential records and therefore must be preserved.” If those deleted tweets aren’t archived, then Trump and his staff could be violating the Presidential Records Act.

On Monday, Democrats wrote to Senate GOP leaders that they won’t accept any attempt to include funding for Trump’s proposed border wall in a spending bill necessary to keep the government open past April 28, according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post.

Given these and other concerns, we believe it would be inappropriate to insist on the inclusion of such funding in a must-pass appropriations bill that is needed for the Republican majority in control of the Congress to avert a government shutdown so early in President Trump’s Administration,” the Democrats wrote.

President Trump has given the Central Intelligence Agency new authority to conduct drone attacks against suspected militants, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing US officials.

Indiana health care consultant Seema Verma, a protégé of Vice President Mike Pence, was approved by a 55-43 vote, largely along party lines to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday.

OOPs!

Remember how former President Obama promised his Administration would be the most transparent in history?

The Obama administration in its final year in office spent a record $36.2 million on legal costs defending its refusal to turn over federal records under the Freedom of Information Act, according to an Associated Press analysis of new U.S. data that also showed poor performance in other categories measuring transparency in government.

And there’s more: https://www.yahoo.com/news/obamas-final-us-spent-36-million-records-lawsuits-075149807–politics.html

State Politics: A Texas lawmaker has proposed a bill that would fine men $100 every time they enjoyed self-gratification.

Talk about overreach and bedroom politics!

The lawmaker said her bill was a lesson in sarcasm in reaction to her male counterparts efforts to restrict women’s rights to abortion and healthcare.

South Dakota Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard signed SB 149 into law, granting publicly funded adoption agencies from allowing same-gender couples to adopt or foster children.

The South Dakota law also allows agencies to prevent single and divorced people, couples who engage in premarital sex, interfaith couples, and anyone else whose behavior or identity violates an agency’s “religious belief or moral conviction,” from adopting or being foster parents.

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed legislation on Monday tightening state law to require a unanimous recommendation by a jury before judges can impose the death penalty.

Global Politics: The United Kingdom’s Parliament Monday voted to give Prime Minister Theresa May the authority to proceed with pulling the country out of the European Union without further oversight of the lawmaking body.

David Davis, the Cabinet Minister responsible for negotiating Brexit, said lawmakers agreed “to get on with the job of leaving the EU and negotiating a positive new partnership with its remaining member states. … We are now on the threshold of the most important negotiation for our country in a generation.”

Turkey suspended high-level diplomatic relations with The Netherlands Monday.

Turkey said it would not permit the return of the Dutch ambassador to Turkey. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was barred from entering Holland on Monday, demanded, “Why this time am I a terrorist? Are the Turks living in this country terrorists?”

Companies may bar staff from wearing Islamic headscarves and other visible religious symbols under certain conditions, the European Union’s top court ruled on today, setting off a storm of complaint from rights groups and religious leaders.

Saudi Arabia launched a girls’ council – without any girls.

The top United Nations human rights official called today for tens of thousands of detainees to be released from Syria’s prisons and for torturers to be brought to court as part of a lasting peace.

Today in a sense the entire country has become a torture-chamber; a place of savage horror and absolute injustice,” said U. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein.

France’s rightwing presidential candidate Francois Fillon was charged today with several offences over a fake jobs scandal, including misuse of public funds, his lawyer said.

Malaysia will deport 50 North Koreans for overstaying their visas, the Deputy Prime Minister announced today, in an apparent exception to a departure ban imposed after the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, half brother of North Korea’s strongman Kim Jung Un.

A self-confessed assassin who testified to being in a “death squad” under Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte will soon file a case at the International Criminal Court accusing the President of crimes against humanity, his lawyer said today.

Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders has called for Turkey’s Ambassador to the Netherlands to be expelled in the wake of the row that erupted between the two countries over the weekend.

Wednesday, 3/15/17:

Whew!

The alternate universe of politics has more intrigue than the drama between Julius Caesar and Brutus on this Ides of March.

Reveal or don’t reveal – that is the question.

Will Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey inform Congress if there is an investigation into the Administration of President Donald Trump or the Trump campaign of 2016 or ties with Russia or Russian interference in the presidential election?

Or could it be that Comey remains mum?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said today that he had not informed or briefed the President on any wiretapping of Trump Tower or the Trump campaign.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes and Vice Chair Adam Schiff both said today that there was no evidence that Trump Tower was wiretapped by the previous Administration.

Nunes did leave the door open of the possibility of “incidental” conversations by Americans being picked up during surveillance of Russian targets.

I do believe there was no actual tap of Trump Tower,” Nunes said.

Schiff agreed.

Schiff did say he could not agree with the statement of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that there was no Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant that may have been issued.

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016, said today he expects FBI Director Comey to announce the FBI is investigating possible ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign, transition and presidential Administration.

Did the 2005 income tax partial return of the President really tell us anything as revealed by MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow?

Investigative journalist and tax specialist David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer winner, was mailed the two pages anonymously and discussed the return with Maddow on her show last night.

On CNN this morning Johnston said he would not be surprised that the President sent the return as a distraction.

The White House noted that “it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns,” slamming the “dishonest media” for making Trump’s taxes “part of their agenda” while Trump focuses on tax reform to “benefit all Americans.”

The first part of the accusation, about stealing, is true. The second part, about publishing, runs headlong into the First Amendment.

Trump earned more than $150 million in income and paid $38 million in taxes, after taking into account large scale depreciation for construction, it was noted on the 2005 return.

Will the White House pull its support of the American Health Care Act after it admitted that it could not pass the Senate?

Will Speaker of the House Paul Ryan change AHA to please the reluctant Senate?

Did ExxonMobil break the law when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was CEO of the oil giant and used the name “Wayne Tracker” on a private email account to talk with executives of the company about climate change?

Why is the Attorney General of New York investigating ExxonMobil and climate change?

This was not an alias used to discuss only climate change,” Exxon/Mobil spokesman Alan Jeffers said. “It was an account used for everyday business by senior executives who needed to reach” Tillerson.

The White House has instructed the State Department to cut 50% of the funding for United Nations programs, Foreign Policy reported Tuesday.

The President traveled to Ypsilanti, Michigan today to talk about the economy.

The Prez will conduct a campaign-style rally in Nashville, Tennessee this evening, where he will speak out about the AHA.

The White House is touting its budget, now being prepared, will be a “conservative blueprint.”

Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone says he believes his contacts with a Russian-linked hacker who took credit for breaching the Democratic National Committee may have been obtained through a special warrant that allows the government to collect the communications of people suspected of being agents of a foreign nation.

The Senate today voted 88-11 to end debate and move forward with a vote to confirm former Indiana Senator Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

Turns out that Moderates are not dead after all.

It is moderate Republicans and Democrats who are coming front and center in a Congress where the President is not an ideologue.

Moderates are the key to getting anything done in this Congress.

State Politics: The agency that protects Arkansas’ state Capitol and grounds now has the authority to operate in secret after the Governor let a Freedom of Information exemption become law without his signature.

The Texas Senate on Tuesday preliminarily approved a Republican-backed bill that would restrict access to public bathrooms by transgender people over criticism from Democrats who said it was unnecessary, discriminatory and economically destructive.

Global Politics: It’s election day in The Netherlands.

Will far-right candidate Geert Wilders upset incumbent Conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte?

Turkish Association of Red Meat Producers has ordered a consignment of prize Dutch cattle to be sent back to The Netherlands, saying it no longer wants to farm the cows due to the diplomatic crisis between the countries.

Tanzanian public broadcaster TBC has suspended nine staff after it aired a hoax story saying President Trump had praised President John Magufuli’s performance.

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines defiantly rebuked human rights groups and international organizations on Tuesday, pledging to continue his deadly antidrug crackdown despite mounting calls for a criminal investigation into his actions.

Human rights, United Nations, that’s fine. If you have complaints, O.K. You want to file charges, fine. Look for evidence,” Duterte told a gathering of mayors in Manila, the capital.

But still, I will kill you,” he warned the criminals and drug users who have been the focus of his crackdown.

According to a CNN report, Russia is now trying to get a foot hold in Libya.

Finding News

Thursday, 3/16/17:

Blocked yet again!

Once again a travel ban imposed by President Donald Trump has been blocked from taking effect.

This time two federal courts stepped in – one in Hawaii and one in Maryland. A third federal judge in Washington State has yet to rule on yet another challenge to the President’s most recent travel ban. 

The courts cited the President’s language while a candidate as the main reason for putting a halt to the ban, which was to take effect shortly after midnight.

A budget with no chance of passing was released today by the White House.

President Trump called it a “conservative blueprint.”

With major slashes to the Departments of State, Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development, and a third of the funding cut for the Environmental Protection Agency, House Republicans will tear the proposal apart and come up with a different animal altogether to submit to the full House for consideration.

Also cut were monies for public broadcasting and the arts.

President Trump on Wednesday ordered a review of tough automobile fuel-efficiency standards imposed by the Administration of former President Barack Obama.

The assault on the American auto industry is over,” Trump told cheering union workers in Michigan.

The House Budget Committee moved the American Health Care Act on to the full House for a vote. There is still at least one more committee to vote before the bill actually lands on the floor for members to accept or reject.

Now that we have our score we can make some necessary improvements and refinements to the bill,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said, referring to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the effect on the number of those covered by health insurance and what the GOP proposal would cost.

Arizona Republican Senator John McCain accused fellow Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul of “working for” Russian President Vladimir Putin because Paul is against Montenegro joining NATO.

Paul shot back that McCain is “unhinged” and a reason for term limits.

CBS is reporting that even before Donald Trump was inaugurated, landowners along the border reportedly began receiving letters from the Justice Department informing them that the federal government wants their land to build a fence (The Wall), that it intends to acquire their land and the amount of compensation the government is offering.

In an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on his claim about Trump Tower being “wiretapped” the President said that the administration “will be submitting things” to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence “very soon.”

The President added that he “will be, perhaps speaking about this next week” and predicted that “you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

This is in direct contrast to what the Intelligence Committees in both the House and Senate are saying.

Chairman Richard Burr and Vice Chair Mark Warner of the Senate Intelligence Committee announced today there are “no indications” that “any element” of the US government was involved in surveilling Trump Tower before or after the 2016 election.

A similar statement was made yesterday by House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes and Vice Chair Adam Schiff.

Schiff suggested today that the Prez may have revealed classified information while talking with Carlson last night and acknowledged that the Central Intelligence Agency had been hacked.

New evidence reveals that former National Security Adviser retired General Michael Flynn worked for several Russian clients and was paid more than $50,000.

Five judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals indirectly chastised the President for making personal attacks and impugning the integrity of sitting federal judges, who ruled against his travel ban.

Senior Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan is President Trump’s nominee to take over the #2 role at the Pentagon as Deputy Defense Secretary, the White House announced today.

Other Defense nominees are:

* David Norquist to become Under Secretary of Defense, Comptroller. Norquist is a partner with Kearney and Company, a Certified Public Accounting firm.
* David Joel Trachtenberg to become Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Policy. Trachtenberg is president and CEO of Shortwaver Consulting, LLC, a national security consultancy.
* Kenneth Rapuano to become Assistant Secretary of Defense, Homeland Defense and Global Security. Rapuano is senior vice president and director of the studies and analysis group at the ANSER Corporation.

The #2 for the National Security Agency was also announced, who is Dina Powell, who has been the President’s Senior Counselor for Economic Initiatives.

State Politics: State and federal probes of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fundraising will not result in criminal charges for the Mayor or others acting on his behalf, prosecutors said today.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said the facts were insufficient to successfully argue a provable violation of election laws in part because the parties relied on the advice of attorneys. But he said the actions appear to be “contrary to the intent and spirit of the law.”

Global Politics: So much for the far right take-over of Europe.

Geert Wilders placed a distant second in yesterday’s election of a new Prime Minister in The Netherlands. The incumbent Conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte, easily won re-election.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today called for North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile programs, saying the isolated communist nation “need not fear” the US.

Tillerson, speaking after meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, Japan, said that it was time for a “new approach” to reining in Pyongyang’s “dangerous and unlawful” nuclear weapons program, because 20 years of efforts to denuclearize North Korea have failed.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today accused the European Union’s top court of starting a “crusade” against Islam after a ruling allowing European companies to ban employees from wearing religious or political symbols including the Islamic headscarf.

An opposition lawmaker filed for Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s impeachment at the Philippine Congress today, citing a “conflict of interest.”

Friday, 3/17/17:

Apology!

The White House had to apologize to Great Britain overnight after Press Secretary Sean Spicer read a statement from a Fox News commentator accusing the British equivalent of the National Security Agency, GCHQ, of being used by former President Barack Obama to surveil Trump Tower and then candidate Donald Trump in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

The Brits soundly denounced the statement as “utterly ridiculous” and false.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMasters and Spicer both had to reach out their British counterparts and issue a formal apology last night and promise the statement would not be used and spoken again by the Administration.

Then there was the meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Trump today.

No statements from either the President or Chancellor when they posed for a photo op when first meeting in the Oval Office. No handshake between the two. Judging body language, the tension between the two world leaders is still very much alive.

Following their meeting, the President pressed that the US would seek fair trade deals with Germany and around the world.

He also reaffirmed the US commitment to NATO and working for a peaceful solution to the Ukraine and Russian dispute.

The Chancellor stressed that trade was good for the world and the US along with globalization. Merkel also said that Germany would contribute its 2% of GDP to NATO by 2024.

We held a conversation where we were trying to address also those areas where we disagree, but we tried to bring people together … (and) tried to find a compromise that is good for both sides,” Merkel said.

The President would not respond to the claim that British intelligence assisted the former Administration in surveilling Trump Tower, other than to say to talk to Fox News.

Trump attempted a bit of humor by saying that perhaps he and the Chancellor had something in common with the previous Administration.

Merkel’s cell phone was hacked by the NSA, which led to a testy time between former President Barack Obama and the Chancellor when it was revealed.

The President came out this morning to say he is “100% behind” the American Health Care Act. He said changes are being made to make it palpable to Republican members of Congress.

The Prez also said that the Affordable Care Act is on “respirator” and dying.

Obamacare is dead,” the President pronounced.

In a meeting this morning the President and GOP leadership said they had agreed to make work a requirement for Medicaid recipients.

No one should get too excited by the budget proposal from the White House released on Thursday.

Congress will dice it up and will little resemble what the President submitted as a “guideline.”

As Kentucky Republican Hal Rogers, a member and former Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, pointed out, “While we have a responsibility to reduce our federal deficit, I am disappointed that many of the reductions and eliminations proposed in the president’s skinny budget are draconian, careless, and counterproductive.”

In other words, do not expect the meal to be served to any way follow the recipe from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the Trump Administration has no desire to “enter into trade wars.”

Mnuchin made the remarks after speaking with Germany’s Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, on the eve of his first meeting with other ministers from the Group of 20 leading global economic powers.

Irish media and its folk are slamming everyone from President Trump to Vice President Mike Pence to House Speaker Paul Ryan for missteps in trying to honor Ireland and Saint Patrick on Thursday when Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny made the annual trek to Washington DC.

First, the VEEP used terminology no self-respecting Irish person says, by offering a “top of the morning” to the Prime Minister at breakfast.

Then you have the Prez using a “proverb“, which he said was Irish, but questionably came from an African poem, when speaking at lunch with the Prime Minister.

This was followed by a toast from Ryan with a lame pint of Guinness without the necessary dark ale with a foamy head.

At least no one had their “Kiss me, I’m Irish” pins on display.

As if the Secret Service has not been embarrassed enough the past few years, including last Friday when the jumper managed to elude agents and detection for 15 minutes before being apprehended, now the report yesterday, the agency lost a laptop with information about the Prez, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pope Francis.

The Secret Service confirmed in a statement on Friday that a laptop issued by the agency was stolen and that an employee was “the victim of a criminal act.”

The Department of Justice has complied with the request from leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and Judiciary Committees seeking information related to surveillance during the 2016 election,” a Justice Department spokeswoman said via email.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has warned that if Republicans push for money to build “The Wall” be included in the resolution to raise the debt ceiling, Democrats will allow the government to shut down.

“If they put those poison pill amendments in and try to shove them down the American people’s throats, of course they might be responsible for shutting the government down,” Schumer told reporters during a leadership press conference.

Other Democratic Senators said in a letter, “If Republicans insist on inserting poison pill riders such as defunding Planned Parenthood, building a border wall, or starting a deportation force, they will be shutting down the government and delivering a severe blow to our economy.”

Jewish organizations are calling for the resignation of Trump aide Sebastian Gorka, after reports that Gorka has ties to a far-right group in Hungary. Gorka denies membership or association with the group.

State Politics: Florida Governor Rick Scott Thursday removed State Prosecutor Aramis Ayala from the trial of an accused cop killer after she said she would no longer seek the death penalty in first-degree murder cases.

I am deeply concerned about reports from some of our trial courts that immigration agents appear to be stalking undocumented immigrants in our courthouses to make arrests,” California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye in a letter Thursday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly wrote. “… Courthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country’s immigration laws.”

(More: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/03/17/california-chief-justice-to-ice-stop-stalking-immigrants-at-courthouses/)

Global Politics: Germany and China are cozying up when it comes to free trade, as President Trump threatens to cut Beijing off.

After they spoke on the phone Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to “together fight for free trade and open markets,” Agence France-Presse reported.

If being an apartheid state means committing inhumane acts, systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, then Israel is guilty, a United Nations panel has determined in a new report.

Sunday, 3/19/17:

Tomorrow could be showdown day when Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey appears before an open session of the House Intelligence Committee.

Comey is expected to refute the claim by President Donald Trump that former President Barack Obama order the tapping of Trump Tower.

Another big story to watch on Monday is when Neil Gorsuch begins his confirmation hearing before the Senate to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Will Democrats block his nomination or wait until the President gets a chance to nominate another Justice to the nation’s highest court and third branch of government?

Great Britain is still not happy with the claim its GCHQ spy agency was involved in tapping Trump Tower.

That claim has been denied as “utterly ridiculous” by the United Kingdom, but President Trump seemed to stand by the allegation made by a Fox News talking head when appearing at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.

Merkel also did not seem pleased when the President attempted to joke about the issue citing how Merkel’s own phone had been tapped by the National Security Agency during the previous Administration.

The Justice Department sent a statement, as requested, to the House and Senate Intel Committees on Friday saying that it had no proof to back up the President’s claim that then President Obama ordered the tapping of Trump Tower.

Former Democratic National Committee Chair and former CNN contributor Donna Brazile admitted Friday that she did in fact provide questions to the Hillary Clinton campaign prior to a debate with her opponent Bernie Sanders.

House Speaker Paul Ryan continues to tweak the American Health Care Act to make it more of a win when the full House votes on the measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Thursday. At present time, it appears that 14 GOP lawmakers in the House are definite “No’s” while another 11 are on the fence and leaning toward a nay vote. 

Among the proposals being worked into the bill are a work requirement for the Medicaid program for the poor, as well as boost tax credits for older, lower income people.

We think we should be offering more assistance than the bill currently does,” for lower-income people age 50 to 64, Ryan said of the tax credits for health insurance that are proposed in the legislation.

The Senate Intel Committee has asked Roger Stone, long-time friend and adviser to the President, to preserve any documentation of contact with Russians.

A majority of young adults – 57% – see Trump’s presidency as illegitimate, including about three-quarters of blacks and large majorities of Latinos and Asians, a GenForward poll found.

A slim majority of young whites in the poll, 53%, consider Trump a legitimate President, but even among that group 55% disapprove of the job he’s doing, according to the survey.

We are going to have tax reform after we get healthcare completed,” White House Press Secretary Spicer said in an interview with the Irish paper, Independent. “I think we are looking at late spring to summer.”

George Conway, the husband of White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, has reportedly been picked to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Division, a prominent role that would see him responsible for defending President Trump’s immigration executive order in court.

Supporters of Meals on Wheels showered the nonprofit organization in online donations – over $100,000 over a two-day period – in response to the White House’s budget proposal to defund dozens of social programs, the nonprofit organization said Saturday.

State Politics: The Texas Attorney General, who sued to keep a Bible verse on a school door, is upset that Muslim students are using a prayer room at a high school.

All sorts of folks use it,” the school district in question spokesman Chris Moore told The Washington Post on Saturday. “Muslims pray, Baptists pray, Catholics pray, Buddhists pray, Hindu students pray.”

Regardless, Moore said, said the room would be open for prayer as usual come lunchtime Monday – as it has for many years.

Global Politics: “You said that China-U.S. relations can only be friendly. I express my appreciation for this,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “The joint interests of China and the United States far outweigh the differences, and cooperation is the only correct choice for us both.”

North Korea successfully conducted a “high-thrust engine test” of “historic significance,” the totalitarian nation’s state media reported today.

Germany refuted a claim by President Trump in a tweet Saturday that the country owes a debt to NATO and the US of A for its defense.

There is no debt account at NATO,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement, noting that German military “spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against [Islamic State] terrorism.”

Reaction in Germany on the Chancellor’s meeting with the President: “Not warm, but not distant,” wrote the left-leaning newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung in its online edition on Saturday.

It could have been a lot worse,” Germany’s mass-circulation daily, Bild, wrote of the relationship that is the cornerstone of the NATO alliance and vital to global security.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said today he would not be intimidated by an impeachment complaint and threats of an international lawsuit for his anti-drug crackdown and added that he’d rather have criminals dead even in the “thousands or billions” if they threaten law enforcers than see his men killed.

Alejandro Guillier, a veteran journalist who launched the weekly TV show Zero Tolerance, is in the running and moved to #2 for the presidency in Chile. Guillier is in a strong position to represent the ruling Nueva Mayoría (New Majority) coalition in the presidential poll on November 19.

Tit for tat?

The Russian Parliament has ordered a probe into the US media interference in Russian politics.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, appearing at a gathering of economic ministers and central bankers from the 20 largest economists, rebuffed multiple entreaties from German officials to include in the meeting’s joint statement language stressing the importance of free trade and that it should be conducted in a “rules based” manner, following existing standards and agreements.

India’s governing party on Saturday appointed a Hindu cleric, Yogi Adityanath, who has been accused of stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment, to lead the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, a turning point for a government that has, until now, steered clear of openly embracing far-right Hindu causes.

Thanks for viewing!

Finding News

As a self-professed news and political junkie, I am having serious issues with getting my daily fix.

Years ago I tuned out to MSNBC and Fox News due to having to wade through both networks extreme ideological bent, which colored and camouflaged the actual news. Trying to get an objective report on the national, world and political stages was too difficult when wading through all the mire.

This left me one option – other than relying only on local news reports, which still are the most reliable on state and local issues. That option was the center left broadcast by CNN.

That choice worked well for the past eight years – until the election of the Reality Show President Donald Trump.

While it has been a ratings bonanza for CNN, the network has become the alternate programming with Reality Show News.

Even when there is real breaking news in the country or around the world, CNN remains focused on what appears its reality show script of disrupting and discrediting the President.

So what am I to do to find news – real news – not news in a reality show format?

Currently the network has tunnel vision on one issue – the wording, “wiretapped.”

With the President and Congress working on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, with a proposed presidential budget, with a confirmation hearing looming for a Supreme Court pick, with saber rattling on the Korean Peninsula – every news story comes back to the theme of the day – the President’s unsubstantiated claims that former President Barack Obama “wiretapped” Trump Tower.

Nothing else seems to matter to CNN.

I am having to rely more and more searching through online websites to find what is actually happening in the world and even in our own country.

The chattering class are decrying the loss of real news, the reliance and acceptance of the public of “fake news.”

But who is to blame?

All three major news networks share the blame as they have moved from reporting to opinion interspersed by anchors and journalists.

As Jack Webb used to say, “Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts.”

Report the story without embellishment.

Give us the who, what, when, where, why and how and leave your own take behind.

From the Cornfield, are we truly in for four or eight years of a Reality Show Presidency and Reality Show News?

Forget finding Nemo, I want to find the news.

Politics Roundup: March 6 – 12, 2017

politicsroundup

Welcome to the weekly compilation of the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the comings and goings from the alternate world of reality – politics!

Monday, 3/6/17:

Say it ain’t so!

That’s the request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the Justice Department about President Donald Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama or his Administration ordered the tapping of Trump’s phone line in Trump Tower.

The White House has called for an investigation into the allegation by Congress.

A spokesman for Obama has denied the charge.

The long-awaited new travel ban was announced this morning by Homeland Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The new version avoids singling out Syrian refugees for an indefinite ban.

The order removes Iraq, a key partner in the fight against the Islamic State, from the travel ban.

It also exempts people who already have green cards or valid visas.

The new ban will be phased in with an effective date of March 16.

A new CNN/ORC poll has found that 65% of Americans want a special prosecutor appointed to look into the Russian influence in the recent election and any ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Another 32% are happy to let Congress investigate.

USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll had similar results with 58% wanting an independent investigation and 35% content with congressional investigation.

The President continues to get high marks on the #1 issue of concern with Americans – the economy. The approval ticked up from 54% to 55% in the CNN poll.

A new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds Republicans are far more likely to cite a culture grounded in Christian beliefs and the traditions of early European immigrants as essential to U.S. identity.

Democrats are more apt to point to the country’s history of mixing of people from around the globe and a tradition of offering refuge to the persecuted.

Can Americans agree on anything?

When given the chance to chastise a Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana for making an off-color comment about Presidential Adviser KellyAnne Conway sitting on the couch in the Oval Office, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gave him a pass and turned the unacceptable comment back on the President.

Apparently with Pelosi, what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander.

The Congressman has now apologized.

After a discussion with people I know and trust I understand the way my remarks have been received by many,” Richmond said in a statement, according to reports. “I have consistently been a champion for women and women’s issues, and because of that the last thing I would want to ever do is utter words that would hurt or demean them.

I apologize to Kellyanne Conway and everyone who has found my comments to be offensive.”

What did Richmond say?

I really just want to know what was going on [in the Conway photo], because I won’t tell anybody and you can just explain to me that circumstance, because she really looked to me familiar in that position. Don’t answer – and I don’t want you to refer back to the 1990s,” Richmond said, addressing his joke to South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott, who had made remarks just prior to Richmond’s.

State Politics: Republican legislators in multiple states have introduced bills and supported ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid, the public program that covers low-income Americans.

I feel so strongly it’s the right thing to do,” says Susan Concannon, a Kansas Republican State Legislator. “We have citizens who are uninsured and hospitals that are suffering.”

Global Politics: North Korea on Monday ordered Malaysia’s ambassador to leave the country in retaliation for the expulsion of Pyongyang’s envoy from Malaysia over the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the Kuala Lumpur Airport.

The European Union is considering its own nuclear weapons deterrent program which make France’s nukes responsible for protecting the continent.

Germany’s Chancellery today hit out at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for likening a German ban on rallies by his ministers to “Nazi practices“, calling the comparison “absolutely unacceptable.”

Former French Prime Minister Alain Juppé, who lost Les Républicains’ primary election last November to François Fillon, said it was too late for him to save the party, which is riven with political scandal and the prospect of defeat.

In his first critical remarks directed at President Trump since he took office, Cuban President Raul Castro termed Trump’s trade policies “egotistical” and Trump’s plan to build a wall along the Mexican border “irrational.”

Tuesday, 3/7/17:

Obamacare Lite?

That is how Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul is terming the repeal and replacement plan released last evening by Republicans in the House of Representatives for the Affordable Care Act.

This was a key promise during the 2016 election by Republicans from House Districts, Senate seats and the Presidency.

Four Republican Senators have already raised concerns.

The “architects” of the plan are labeling the bill as “Obamacare Gone.” The official name is The American Health Care Act which I guess will be called AHA.

Heath and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price made an appearance at today’s White House press briefing to present a strong endorsement of the AHA, explaining the bill is patient centered, allowing patients and their doctors to make decisions.

Read more below.

President Donald Trump is floating a deal to Planned Parenthood: Stop providing abortions, and the administration will maintain funding for other women’s health services.

There is an opportunity for organizations to continue the important work they do in support of women’s health, while not providing abortion services,” Trump said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood has already nixed the deal.

Planned Parenthood has always stood strong against these attacks on our patients and their ability to access the full range of reproductive health care. We are glad that the White House understands that taking away the preventive care Planned Parenthood provides is deeply unpopular and would be a disaster for women’s health care,” said PP President Cecile Richards.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson is in hot water after equating slavery with immigration in a speech to HUD staff on Monday.

Carson said, “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder, for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”

The Doctor has since clarified his remark.

Carson said in a Facebook post after his speech that immigrants and slaves went through “two entirely different experiences.”

Democratic lawmakers on Monday called on President Trump to release visitor logs for the White House and the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, to “provide assurances that your administration is listening to the voices of all Americans, not just friends and donors.”

US Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who was nominated by President Donald Trump to become Deputy Attorney General – the #2 spot at the Justice Department – testified at his confirmation hearing today that he would “defend the integrity and independence” of the department.

What Rosenstein would not do, to the consternation of Democratic Senators, was commit to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the Russian interference in the recent election and any ties between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

If I were confirmed, I would need to familiarize myself with the facts, I would need to consult with experts in the department,” Rosenstein, the top federal prosecutor for Maryland, told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I’m not aware of any requirement for me to recuse at this time. But as a lawyer I would need to know what I am recusing from.”

Republican Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, on CNN this morning said that people need to decide between buying the newest iPhone and obtaining health insurance.

The Congressman is drawing heat from liberals over the remark and praise from conservatives.

Correcting the record on what the Prez tweeted this morning that 122 detainees from Guantanamo Bay were released by the previous Administration and are back on the battlefield, Spicer had to give the right information.

Obviously the president meant in totality, the number that had been released on the battlefield – that have been released from Gitmo since individuals have been released,” Spicer told reporters. “That is correct.”

Of that number 113 were released by President George W. Bush, not President Barack Obama as tweeted.

President Trump jumped back into the debate over drug pricing otoday, sending pharmaceutical stocks down again with a tweet promising to lower medicine costs for American people.

State Politics: Alabama legislators are meeting today to decide whether to impeach Governor Robert Bentley, after it was revealed last year incriminating audio of the Gov with a former married female aide.

Global Politics: North Korea barred Malaysians from leaving, and Malaysia responded with tit-for-tat travel restrictions for North Koreans.

Nuclear-armed North Korea said today its missile launches over the weekend were training for a strike on US bases in Japan, as global condemnation of the regime swelled.

Under United Nations resolutions, North Korea is barred from any use of ballistic missile technology. US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Twitter that the world “won’t allow” North Korea to continue on its “destructive path“.

China’s Foreign Ministry called the Dalai Lama a “deceptive actor” today, after the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said in an interview that Chinese hardliners have parts of their brains missing.

A new United Nations report describes South Sudan as teetering on the edge of genocide and experiencing ethnic cleansing, a stark portrayal of a nation whose crises now include famine.

Hungary’s Parliament today approved the automatic detention of all asylum-seekers in container camps at the borders, sparking “deep concern” at the UN’s refugee agency.

Turkish, Russian and US military chiefs held talks today in the southern Turkish city of Antalya to discuss regional issues including Iraq and Syria, the Turkish Army said.

My Thoughts: Tune Out Reality Show Presidency

Wednesday, 3/8/17:

Irked and exasperated” is how former President Barack Obama is being described in reaction to the tweet from President Donald Trump over the weekend accusing his predecessor of ordering the bugging of Trump Tower.

The President stands by his allegation.

California Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced that the first public hearings into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any collusion there may have been with the Trump campaign will be on Monday, March 20.

That investigation will also include the latest claim by the Prez of Obama-ordered wiretapping, which is not substantiated.

Two Senators, from both sides of the aisle want the Justice Department to come out and say if Trump’s wiretap claim is fact or fiction.

We request that the Department of Justice provide us copies of any warrant applications and court orders — redacted as necessary to protect intelligence sources and methods that may be compromised by disclosure, and to protect any ongoing investigations – related to wiretaps of President Trump, the Trump Campaign, or Trump Tower,” wrote Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. “We will be glad to review any such applications and orders once they are disclosed, and proceed as appropriate with the oversight the President has requested.”

Graham said this evening that if he does not get a response from the Justice Department, he would move to get a subpoena to comply.

President Trump has wasted no time reaching out to reluctant Republican Senators to get onboard with passing the GOP repeal and replacement legislation of the Affordable Care Act, the American Health Care Act, which I call AHA.

In a tweet last night, the Prez reached out to “my friend” Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who has called the proposed bill, “Obamacare Lite.”

I don’t think it’s ever going to arrive in the Senate. I think it’s dead on arrival in the House,” Paul said.

Tonight, the President is having dinner with Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his wife.

The Prez is taking it on the road to sell AHA to the American people.

This comes after he warned Republicans in Congress that failure to pass a repeal and replace bill will lead to a “bloodbath” in the 2018 congressional election.

House Speaker Paul Ryan hammered in the point today by reminding his fellow GOP legislators that every Republican from the President on down ran on a pledge to repeal and replace the ACA.

This is the choice we face. Are we going to stay with Obamacare…or are we going to do what we said we would do,” Ryan said following a private GOP gathering to try and wrangle reluctant lawmakers to get onboard with the AHA.

Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan griped, “The leadership message is take it or leave it.”

Last evening, Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan said he is filing his own “clean” bill to repeal Obamacare, rather than the GOP leadership’s “Obamacare in a different form.”

I don’t think that the Planned Parenthood defund should be in the ACA bill that we’re dealing with. Just don’t think so,” Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said.

The Club for Growth and Heritage Action along with FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity came out in opposition to AHA. These are all conservative, Republican-backing organizations.

The nation’s largest advocate for seniors, AARP, came out against AHA.

What’s all the fuss about?

ReadTheBill.GOP and find out.

Cuts to the Coast Guard and Transportation Security Administration?

Reportedly $1.3 billion is being bandied about by the White House to cut from the Coast Guard to start construction on The Wall.

Not all Republican legislators are happy with the idea.

Leading Senate Democrats on Tuesday sent a letter urging Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt not to scrap new vehicle fuel efficiency rules.

Hawaii has filed suit against the latest travel ban announced Monday. Federal Judge Derrick Watson set the hearing for March 15.

To be sure, the new executive order covers fewer people than the old one,” Neal Katyal, a lead attorney for Hawaii, told CNN, but it still “suffers from the same constitutional and statutory defects.”

Speaking at Boston College today, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey made it clear he will fill out his full 10-year term.

You’re stuck with me for another six and a half years,” Comey quipped.

A new USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll found that 60% to 30% of those polled disapprove of Trump’s temperament, and 59% say he tweets too often.

As far as policies go, the President split evenly 46% to 46% approval versus disapproval.

A trio of watchdog groups has asked the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York to investigate whether President Trump has received payments or other benefits from foreign governments through his business interests in violation of the US Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced today that the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn will take place on April 17, the day after Easter.

OOPs!

All the hubbub over Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson referring to slaves as immigrants may have over the top.

Turns out that former President Barack Obama also mixed the wording.

In December 2015, then-President Obama made similar comments during a naturalization ceremony at the National Archives.

Obama did not specifically say “slaves” during his speech, but instead mentioned “those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily” who “in their own way were immigrants themselves.”

The former Prez’s full remark was:

And perhaps, like some of you, these new arrivals might have had some moments of doubt, wondering if they had made a mistake in leaving everything and everyone they ever knew behind. So life in America was not always easy. It wasn’t always easy for new immigrants. Certainly it wasn’t easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily, and yet in their own way were immigrants themselves. There was discrimination and hardship and poverty. But, like you, they no doubt found inspiration in all those who had come before them. And they were able to muster faith that, here in America, they might build a better life and give their children something more.”

State Politics: What is up with the push for statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico?

While the movements are alive, it appears that the momentum has slowed to a crawl.

In Texas, after nearly a full day of testimony from hundreds of witnesses, most in opposition, the controversial “bathroom bill” cleared its first legislative hurdle early this morning, when the Committee on State Affairs voted 7-1 to recommend the bill to the full chamber.

A high priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s, Senate Bill 6 would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools and colleges and government buildings that correspond to their “biological sex” as listed on their birth certificate.

It also would prohibit local jurisdictions, like cities and counties, from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances permitting transgender people from using public bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Drink up on the Lord’s Day if you live in Minnesota.

Minnesota residents will be able to purchase alcohol on Sundays from liquor stores for the first time in the state’s history this summer after Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill to legalize the sales.

Global Politics: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called on world leaders to help ease Somalia’s worsening hunger crisis, saying that six million people in the African nation – nearly half the population – need aid.

China has granted preliminary approval for 38 new Trump trademarks, paving the way for President Trump and family to potentially develop a host of branded businesses from hotels to insurance to bodyguard and escort services, public documents show.

So much for all of that hardline talk by the Prez on China.

A senior official in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards today accused the United States of provoking tensions after two separate incidents in the Persian Gulf last week.

China warned of a “head-on collision” today unless North Korea stops launching banned missiles and the United States and South Korea halt their joint military exercises.

The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming toward each other, with neither side willing to give way,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Beijing at his annual news conference for the opening of the National People’s Congress, China’s Parliament.

The question is: Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?” Wang said. “Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply brakes on both trains.”

Thursday, 3/9/17:

Will Mexico pay for The Wall?

Uh, no,” chuckled Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Honest politicians?

What’s next?

House Speaker Paul Ryan defended the Republican repeal and replace health care legislation today with graphics and in depth analysis. With his sleeves rolled up and coat off, Ryan pushed hard to explain the benefits of the AHA (American Health Care Act) and the detriments in keeping the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate Intelligence Committee wants to talk with former and current aides to President Donald Trump about any contact with Russian officials or knowledge about interference by the Russians in the 2016 election. If the aides will not come voluntarily, members of the committee are ready to use subpoena power.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said measuring the effect of human activity on the climate is “very challenging” and that “there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact” of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

So, no, I would not agree that (carbon dioxide) is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” Pruitt told CNBC‘s Squawk Box, contrary to the opinion of climate scientists, including those in NASA.

House Rules Committee Chairman Texas Congressman Pete Sessions is not happy with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer telling the press on Wednesday that there would be “open rule” deliberations in committee on the AHA.

He [Spicer] can be in his lane, and I can be in my lane, but he’s in my lane now…I did not pre-clear that and he did not call me,” Sessions said, adding that he knows Spicer and considers him a “fine young man” nevertheless.

A big priority of the President Trump is repairing the deteriorating infrastructure in the US of A.

That infrastructure was given a near-failing grade of D-plus by an engineering association today, a repeat of a rating. The rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is unchanged from its last report card in 2013, suggesting that only minor progress had been made in improving public works.

This could help the Prez to push Congress to fund the $1 trillion he wants to fix what is broken.

The Trump Administration is weighing a deployment of up to 1,000 American soldiers to Kuwait to serve as a reserve force in the fight against Islamic State as US-backed fighters accelerate the offensive in Syria and Iraq, U.S. officials told Reuters.

Two Education Department rules put in place by the former Administration of President Barack Obama have been nixed by Congress and now move to the Oval Office for the President’s signature.

One ruled detailed how public schools must carry out laws meant to ensure they are meeting the needs of all students.

The other rule required states to issue ratings for teacher-prep programs, and poorly performing schools would be penalized by being ineligible for some federal aid.

The White House Ethics Office is not happy that the President chose not to punish Presidential Adviser KellyAnne Conway for jokingly plugging First Daughter Ivanka’s clothing line on Fox News.

The Ethics Office has issued a rebuke to the Oval Office.

Tomorrow marks the halfway mark in the President’s First 100 Days.

Former Utah Governor, former presidential candiate and former Ambassador to China for former President Barack Obama, Jon Huntsman has accepted an offer from President Trump to be the US Ambassador to Russia, Politico reported Wednesday.

Israeli Ambassador nominee David Friedman has moved out of committee and on to a Senate confirmation vote.

What’s all the fuss about?

ReadTheBill.GOP and find out.

State Politics: Washington State is joining Hawaii in requesting an injunction against the new travel ban issued earlier this week by the Trump Administration.

Global Politics: Things are getting testy between Germany and Turkey.

We want to do everything in order to prevent conflicts emanating from the domestic situation in Turkey from being carried into our coexistence here,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, addressing Turks living in Germany. “Let us continue, wherever possible, to promote and further improve our way of living together. This is a matter close to our hearts.”

In Ankara, the Turkish capital, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was less conciliatory, accusing Germany of meddling in Turkey’s internal politics, a move he called “a grave mistake.”

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency is reporting that the country’s Revolutionary Guard has successfully tested a ballistic missile.

Some of Egypt’s major cities have been paralysed by rare protests in response to a cut in bread subsidies.

The country’s Ministry of Supply reduced the state-sponsored provision of bread of up to 4,000 to 500 loaves per bakery, according to local news reports.

Friday, 3/10/17:

Foreign agent.

Former National Security Adviser retired General Michael Flynn filed paperwork on Thursday that he acted during the waning days of the 2016 election as an agent of NATO ally Turkey.

Flynn did not disclose this earlier when he should have.

A bonanza of over a half million dollars was paid out to Flynn’s consulting company by Turkey for its services.

Vice President Mike Pence says this proves that the firing of Flynn by President Donald Trump, after it came to light Flynn lied to the Vice President, was the right decision.

The White House Press Corps asked over and over today if it “raised a red flag” during the transition when Flynn said he had a Turkish client.

The White House position is it told Flynn to seek private counsel on the matter, but did not know that client was the government of Turkey.

An “odd” computer link between the Trump Organization in Trump Tower and Russia’s Alfa Bank is and has been under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

What that means, no one is saying at the moment.

FBI Director James Comey met with the Gang of 8 in a secure location in the Capitol Building Thursday to brief the legislators on the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election and contacts between the Russians and the campaign of the then candidate Trump.

But no one is talking and nothing is yet known.

However, today the Vice Chair of the House Intelligence Committee said there is still no evidence of wiretapping of Trump Tower.

The Gang of 8 is comprised of: House Speaker Paul Ryan; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer; House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes and Vice Chair Adam Schiff; Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr and Vice Chair Mark Warner.

The Justice Department on Thursday declined to confirm a White House claim made a day earlier that President Trump was not the subject of any investigation.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that “there is no reason to believe there is any type of investigation with respect to the Department of Justice,” or “that the President is the target of any investigation whatsoever.”

When a Justice Department spokesperson was asked, the answer was, “No comment,” if the Prez was a target of an investigation.

Makes you go, “Hmm.”

President Trump is singing a different tune today about the February job numbers. Previously he called those numbers “phony” and a “joke.”

Now he is embracing the good news.

Spicer quoted the Prez as saying, “They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.”

Amazon bestseller: Reasons to Vote for Democrats is a book of empty pages.

The White House is expected to nominate Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a conservative health policy expert, to lead the Food and Drug Administration.

A majority of Americans polled are against so-called “bathroom laws.”

The poll found 53% oppose laws requiring transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to their sex at birth, according to the the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted the poll.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recused himself from application decisions on the Keystone XL pipeline because he was the former CEO of ExxonMobil.

Speaking of Tillerson, word is that the press pool may not be joining him when he travels to Asia next week.

What’s all the fuss about over the Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act?

ReadTheBill.GOP and find out.

Oh, by the way, today marks the halfway point in the President’s First 100 Days.

OOPs!

Republican freshman Congressman Dr. Roger Marshall said that poor people “just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”

Oh no, he didn’t!

Yes, he did.

What was he thinking?

Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us,’ ” Marshall said in response to a question about Medicaid, which expanded under Obamacare to more than 30 states. “There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”

He didn’t stop there:

The Medicaid population, which is [on] a free credit card as a group, do probably the least preventive medicine and taking care of themselves and eating healthy and exercising. And I’m not judging; I’m just saying socially that’s where they are,” he told Stat News, a website focused on health-care coverage. “So there’s a group of people that even with unlimited access to health care are only going to use the emergency room when their arm is chopped off or when their pneumonia is so bad they get brought [to] the ER.”

Marshall has since clarified his remarks – but, most likely, too late.

State Politics: Then there were five.

The number of states suing to block the latest travel ban has risen from two to five. Add to Hawaii and Washington the states of New York, Massachusetts and Oregon. All five of the Attorneys General are Democrats.

Scuttlebutt has it that former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering running against the longest-serving Democrat in the Senate, Senator Dianne Feinstein, in 2018. Feinstein will be 85 when she runs again.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, 82, the longest-serving GOP Senator, told CNN he is planning to run for re-election next year, abandoning his plans to quit the chamber after four decades of service.

Global Politics: Impeached.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye has been removed from office after being found guilty of corruption.

An election will be held within 60 days to vote in a new President.

Two people died and about 30 were injured in clashes between protesters and police near the South Korean court, which impeached Park.

No matter the outcome of the presidential election, the US will continue its deployment of the missile air defense system, according to the Pentagon.

Leaders change over time, that’s not new,” said Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis. “We made an agreement with the Republic of Korea that this was a capability that they needed … This is something that is needed militarily. That agreement was reached and we remain committed to delivering on it.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order creating a joint command to mobilize 21 state agencies behind his bloody war on drugs, prioritizing “high-value” targets and going after all levels of the illicit trade.

The Presidents of Russia and Turkey are meeting in Moscow, Russia today to work on securing peace in Syria in a battle against terrorism.

Sunday, 3/12/17:

Vice President Mike Pence was in Kentucky Saturday trying to sell the Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The junior Senator from the Bluegrass State, Rand Paul, has called the repeal, “Obamacare Lite.”

Pence did manage to allay some of the concern of the state’s Republican Governor Matt Bevins, who is still not 100% sold.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office is expected Monday or Tuesday to release its score of the repeal legislation winding its way through committees of the House of Representatives as it journeys toward a full chamber vote before the end of April.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price defined success on NBC‘s Meet the Press as “more people covered than are covered right now, and at an average cost that is less. And I believe we can firmly do that with the plan that we’ve laid out there.”

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told ABC‘s This Week that the “truly indigent” will not lose out, as liberal interest groups charge.

Medicaid is still there,” Mulvaney said. “In fact, we think it’s going to be even better.”

Arizona Republican Senator John McCain has challenged President Donald Trump to put up or shut up about Trump Tower phone lines being tapped by former President Barack Obama or his Administration.

Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse reported Saturday that he was facing hacking attempts on “basically every device, every platform, personal and govt” following his recent criticism of WikiLeaks.

Sasse tweeted from his personal account:

Heads-up…
I’ve been critical of Assange & WikLeaks this week.
So…big surprise:
Am having multiple “password reset” attempts right now.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he can’t say how many people would lose coverage under the new legislation – and that it will be “up to people” to decide whether they want to purchase coverage.

Will some Republicans threaten to shut down government come Thursday’s deadline to raise the government’s debt limit so that it can pay its bills and avoid a potentially devastating economic crisis?

Roger J. Stone Jr., an off-and-on adviser to President Trump for decades, acknowledged he had contact on Twitter with Guccifer 2.0, the mysterious online figure that is believed to be a front for Russian intelligence officials.

The House Intelligence Committee asked the Executive Branch to provide by Monday any evidence to support President Trump’s claim that his phones were tapped at Trump Tower during the election, a senior congressional aide said Saturday.

State Politics: Federal judges on Friday found more problems in Texas’ voting rights laws, ruling that Republicans racially gerrymandered some congressional districts to weaken the growing electoral power of minorities, who former President Barack Obama set out to protect at the ballot box before leaving office.

Utah’s Legislature sent Governor Gary Herbert a measure lowering the state’s legal threshold for drunken driving to a .05 percent blood-alcohol content Wednesday.

The bill will make Utah’s DUI threshold the lowest in the nation if Herbert signs it into law as expected.

Global Politics: Impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye left the Blue House, South Korea’s presidential residence today, two days after a court removed her from office over an ongoing corruption scandal

Dutch politician Geert Wilders, in Dutch elections Wednesday, has a strong chance to come out on top, cementing the influence of a politician who wants to ban the Koran, shut down mosques and upend his nation’s sleepy political scene.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today warned the Netherlands it would pay a price for preventing top ministers from holding rallies ahead of a referendum on expanding his powers, as a crisis escalated with Turkey’s key European Union partners.

With a vote set for Monday on a bill granting United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May the authority to open divorce talks with the European Union, some Conservative lawmakers are pushing for the British Parliament to have a say on what happens if negotiations break down without an agreement.

If May refuses to bow to their demand, they may oppose her in the vote, according to lawmaker Alistair Burt, a former Minister.

Iraqi United Nations Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said Friday there was “no evidence” that Islamic State had used chemical weapons in Mosul, where the militants are fighting off an offensive by US-backed Iraqi forces.

Trump trademarks have now been granted by the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property, or IMPI for its initials in Spanish. Records show the last three were approved February 21, just over a month after Trump took office, and a fourth was granted last October 6, about a month before the US election.

Thanks for viewing!

Tune Out Reality Show Presidency

Americans appetite for reality show television seems to be insatiable.

The epitome of an attempt to satisfy that hunger happened on November 8, 2016, when Americans voted to put a former reality show host and business tycoon, Donald J. Trump, into the Office of the Presidency of the United States of America.

For well over a year, viewers were treated with  what seemed a non-stop trailer of what was to come with the Reality Show Campaign. Viewers licked their lips and chomped down on the feast being offered up with gusto. Even the national media was drawn into the frenzy. Continue reading Tune Out Reality Show Presidency

Politics Roundup: February 27 – March 5, 2017

politicsroundup

Welcome to the weekly compilation of the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the comings and goings from the alternate world of reality – politics!

BREAKING NEWS: Sometime over the weekend the FBI reached out to the Justice Department to ask President Trump to withdraw his claim that Trump Tower was wiretapped per CNN.

CORNFIELD POLLS: 
30 days in office – The President’s Job Performance?
40% – Very Satisfied 40% – Very Dissatisfied 20% – So-So

Monday, 2/27/17:

Budget release.

The White House will release a budget outline that calls for a major hike in military spending and spares cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

President Donald Trump in speaking to the nation’s Governors at the White House last night gave some general hints at what that budget would entail.

Defense spending will increase by around $54 billion under Trump’s proposal. Across the board there will be cuts, especially to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Not touched – Medicare and Social Security.

The Oscars were largely tame politically.

Other than a statement read from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who boycotted the show in protest of the US travel ban.

Farhadi’s film won for Best Foreign Language Film.

Secretary of the Navy nominee Philip Bilden, citing his business interests, has withdrawn his name for consideration for the post.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of California pushed back on national press corps claims he was asked to “knock down” stories about contact between Russia and the Trump Administration.

Nunes said he has not been provided any evidence of ongoing contact between the Trump campaign or Administration and the Russians.

Ranking Democratic Member of the House Intel Committee California Congressman Adam Schiff spoke later saying the investigation has not really started and at this point there is no evidence because it has not yet been provided.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, after huddling with the Prez, came out on the White House lawn to announce that the leadership was in step with the President on his budget ideas.

Breaking silence, my cuz, former President George W. Bush spoke on NBC‘s Today Show this morning.

I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We needed the media to hold people like me to account,” Bush told Today in an exclusive interview. “Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power.”

It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves,” he said.

I am for an immigration policy that is welcoming and upholds the law,” Bush said when asked if he favored or opposed the policy.

Congress spent at least $14.7 million on taxpayer-funded foreign trips in fiscal year 2016, a 24% increase over the year before, according to Congress’ own accounting.

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News 44% of Americans approve of President Trump’s job performance, while 48% disapprove, making him the first President of the post-World War II era with a net negative approval rating in his first gauge of public opinion.

Yet at the same time, the poll found people liking and open to his policies.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said, “No” to a request to postpone an appeal from the Administration on the President’s travel ban which is currently on hold by a federal judge.

Do not forget that the first address to a joint session of Congress by the Prez will be broadcast live during prime time tomorrow night.

State Politics: Democratic lawmakers in at least 30 states are either unveiling or highlighting legislation this week aimed at President Trump’s working-class voters, in a nationwide coordinated rebuttal to the agenda the President will outline in his first joint address to Congress tomorrow night.

Global Politics: French market jitters eased on today after new polls showed independent French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron gaining strength, and narrowing the gap with far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen.

Tuesday, 2/28/17:

An A for action.

C or C+ for messaging.

That’s the way President Donald Trump graded himself after a bit more than a month in office.

Tonight’s the night.

The President will present his first address to a joint session of Congress during prime time.

The White House is billing tonight’s speech as one of optimism about the nation’s future.

One of the programs on the chopping block in the proposed budget from the Prez is for foreign aid, which accounts for about 1% of the overall federal budget. But some 120 generals and admirals are urging the President to keep the money for diplomacy rather than having to “buy more bullets,” as Defense Secretary James Mattis testified to Congress while still in uniform a few years ago.

Hiring an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents is not so easy under the current standards to become part of the force that protects the nation’s borders.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said at a news conference that the “budget blueprint” details are just a framework, but a full budget will be outlined in May.

Democrats, along with Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, are calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from any and all investigations into whether the Trump campaign or Administration had contacts with Russian officials.

At least one Democratic lawmaker, California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, is skipping the joint session.

Another Democratic legislator, New York Congressman Eliot Engel, says he will not sit on the aisle and will not shake the President’s hand.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling on her members to be civil and maintain decorum during tonight’s presidential speech.

OOPs!

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos seems to think that historically black colleges are a result of choice rather than the reality the colleges sprang up in response to Jim Crow laws which kept blacks out of state colleges.

State Politics: Supporters of President Trump held rallies in cities across the nation on Monday in a bid to counter what participants described as unfair criticism at protests against Trump at airports, town-hall meetings, and public squares. About 150 people attended a gathering in Denver, Colorado.

“I’m getting a lot of comments from the leftists about, ‘Your crowd’s not going to be as big as our crowd,’” said retired teacher Betty Blanco. “I didn’t know it was a contest.”

The Justice Department Monday filed a motion to withdraw a key objection to a 2011 Texas voter ID law that is one of the toughest in the nation, dropping the President Barack Obama Administration’s claim that the legislation is intentionally racially discriminatory.

Global Politics: The heir apparent, Lee Jae-yong, to Samsung has been charged by prosecutors in South Korea with bribery and embezzlement in the corruption case that has lead to the impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye.

Russia on Tuesday cast its seventh veto to protect the Syrian government from United Nations Security Council action, blocking a bid by Western powers to impose sanctions over accusations of chemical weapons attacks during the six-year Syrian conflict.

China backed Russia and cast its sixth veto on Syria. Russia had said the vote on the resolution, drafted by France, Britain and the United States, would harm U.N.-led peace talks between the warring Syrian parties in Geneva, which began last week.

Chinese state media has reacted with anger and threats of boycotts after the board of an affiliate of South Korea’s Lotte Group approved a land swap with the government that will enable authorities to deploy a US missile defence system.

Wednesday, 3/1/17:

Address success.

President Donald Trump, partisanship aside, is getting high marks today for his first address to a joint session of Congress.

The President laid out an optimistic view for the future of the nation as we eye the 250th anniversary of the birth of the US of A in nine years from now.

The Prez opened his speech condemning “hatred and evil in all its forms,” referring to the recent rash of anti-Semitic activities and the shooting of two Indian men in Kansas, one who died.

A third man was wounded trying to defend the two immigrants from the gunman.

The speech was short on specifics, but enough to give Republicans in Congress a fuzzy feeling that the right person was in the White House and could promote their agenda.

Democrats were polite, but not satisfied with the President’s speech. Most sat on their hands, literally, as the President spoke to the nation.

The only area where there seemed to be support from the opposition was when the President spoke of a $1 trillion infrastructure program.

The President proposed the US move from a family-based immigration system to one that is merit-based, where those being welcomed into the country be judged by their skill-levl and education instead.

Uncharacteristically, the only tweet from the Prez this morning were two words, “Thank you.”

The President hinted in conversations with news anchors on Tuesday that he is open to the idea of providing Dreamers, children brought to the country illegally by their parents, a path to citizenship and a path to legal residence for the otherwise law-abiding immigrants who are undocumented.

A key line from last night’s presidential address: “We are one people, with one destiny,” the President said. “The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.”

Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear sans tie, sitting in a diner in Lexington, Kentucky, provided the Democratic response to the President.

In his folksy manner the Governor took the President to task over his efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The Governor also lamented the divisive language of the President.

Real leaders don’t spread derision and division,” Beshear said. “Real leaders strengthen. They unify… and they offer real solutions instead of ultimatums and blame.”

The highlight of the night was not about politics or policy.

The highlight was the tribute paid to fallen Navy Seal Ryan Owens, who lost his life in a raid in Yemen.

When the new travel ban is announced, do not expect to see Iraq on the list.

A CBS poll found that 83% of Republicans approved of the President’s speech, but only 24% of Democrats were favorable. Overall of those who watched and listened to the speech some 76% approved while 24% disapproved.

Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke has been confirmed as Secretary of the Interior.

Why did female lawmakers wear white during last night’s presidential address?

The Democratic women were paying homage to both failed candidate Hillary Clinton and the women’s suffrage movement.

President Trump will not sign a revised travel ban executive order today, CNN is reporting, despite expectations he would do so.

This is to allow the President to bask in the positive reception he has received for his speech to Congress last night.

Oprah Winfrey has signaled she is interested in making a run for the White House in 2020 to remove Trump from the Oval Office.

My Thoughts: Which Donald Trump is in the White House? You tell me: Person Versus Persona

State Politics: The Supreme Court today handed a partial victory to voters who accused Virginia’s Republican-led legislature of trying to dilute the clout of black people at the ballot box, throwing out a lower court’s endorsement of how a series of legislative districts were drawn.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is expected today to endorse a measure that would see the state honor Confederate General Robert E. Lee and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on different days rather than jointly, his office said.

Global Politics: Cheering crowds welcomed King Salman Wednesday as he began the first visit by a Saudi monarch to Indonesia for almost 50 years, seeking stronger economic ties with the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

Francois Fillon said Wednesday he would not abandon his bid for the French presidency despite facing charges in an expenses scandal dubbed “Penelopegate” after his wife.

Thursday, 3/2/17:

He lied – or did he?

Could revelations that Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with the Russian Ambassador to the US of A during the campaign season lead to another castaway from the Administration of President Donald Trump?

That Ambassador is considered to be the #1 Russian spy in our country.

It has been discovered that when Sessions told Minnesota Senator Al Franken during his confirmation hearing that he did not talk with any Russian officials, that was not entirely accurate.

Sessions, as a Senator, spoke with the Russian Ambassador at least twice – but not on behalf of the Trump campaign, the Attorney General said today.

Even Republicans are calling for Sessions to at least recuse himself from any and all investigations that may connect with Russia.

The powerful Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, says Sessions should recuse himself now.

The #2 in the House, California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the Majority Leader, said that if necessary Sessions should recuse himself.

GOP Congressman Darrell Issa of California has been calling for a special prosecutor for over a week now.

Sessions said today he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan said that he, nor anyone in the Congress, has received any proof that anyone in the Trump campaign or any American colluded with the Russians to effect the outcome of the presidential election.

Ryan went on to say that if Sessions becomes the subject of an investigation he should recuse himself.

Several Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, say Sessions lied to Congress and should resign. Pelosi also charged that Sessions violated attorney ethics rules, insinuating Sessions be disbarred.

The top elected Democratic official in the country, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, called today not only for Sessions to resign, but for the immediate appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate any ties between the Trump Administration and campaign with the Russian government.

Schumer also called for an investigation into Sessions by the the Inspector General.

Pelosi charged today that House Republicans are hiding their replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act in the basement of the Capitol.

Pelosi said the Republicans are not allowing the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to score the replacement bill.

Reportedly, officials of the former Administration of President Barack Obama moved quickly to maintain and store away evidence of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Those officials also are reported to have spread the word to whomever they could that the documents existed and those contacts between the campaign and Russia.

Documents and intelligence information was reportedly sent to top Democrats on various congressional committees allegedly pointing to campaign workers and Russians having ongoing contact throughout the election season.

Ten US officials told NBC News that so far, no significant intelligence information has been found in laptops, cell phones, and hard drives seized in last month’s counterterrorism raid in Yemen, contrary to statements made by the White House and highlighted by the President during his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.

Speaker Ryan gave a strong condemnation of anti-Semitism today on behalf of the entire House of Representatives.

Another delay in the emergency travel ban to keep terrorists from getting  a beach hold in the US from those seven unstable countries, identified as not capable of providing information necessary for proper vetting of refugees.

Dr. Ben Carson was confirmed today as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry was confirmed to be Secretary of Energy today as well.

Nice article on four potential investigations into the Trump Administration: http://www.sfgate.com/aboutsfgate/article/Your-cheat-sheet-to-four-potential-investigations-10971580.php

State Politics: All eyes are on the nation’s capitol rather than on statehouses across the country.

Global Politics: British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Government suffered its first defeat over its Brexit plan when the House of Lords voted 358-256 in favor of an amendment to the government’s draft plan for leaving the European Union.

The change would protect the right of the three million European Union immigrants in the United Kingdom to stay after Britain leaves the trading bloc.

A United Nations commission has found that both sides in the civil war in Syria committed war crimes during the retaking of Aleppo.

Sweden plans to bring back military conscription to counter Russia’s military buildup in the Baltic Sea, in a move that underscores how tensions are mounting along Europe’s borders with the nuclear superpower.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has vowed to stamp out nepotism as staff abandon his rival Francois Fillon over an investigation into payments to his wife.

Friday, 3/4/17:

Recused!

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself Thursday evening from any and all investigations into the Russians attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and any possible ties to the campaign of President Donald Trump in his quest to win the White House.

For Democrats, recusal is not enough.

Nothing short of Sessions’ resignation will placate the opposition.

Coming to light is that more than Sessions and disgraced, fired former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn, who was dismissed for lying to Vice President Mike Pence, had contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Turns out two other Trump aides as well as First Son-in-Law and Presidential Adviser Jared Kushner also met the Ambassador.

The White House describes Kushner’s meeting at the Trump Tower in New York City, New York as a meet-and-greet.

Democratic lawmakers who say they have never met the Russian Ambassador are having to correct themselves as tweets and photos are coming out of those meetings.

The issue is not about whether anyone meets with the Ambassador from Russia or any country, but over why members of the Administration are not being forthcoming about having met.

Remember Al Qaeda?

The Trump Pentagon sure has not forgot about the terrorist group which attacked the US on 9-11.

Air and drone strikes are intensifying in Yemen on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in part from information garnered during the deadly raid last month in which Navy Seal Ryan Owens lost his life.

Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul mounted an unsuccessful hunt through the nether areas of the Capitol on Thursday in search of the elusive GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The Democrats second in command in the House of Representatives, Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, also joined in the hunt, stopping to do a soliloquy to a bust of Abraham Lincoln.

President Trump promised “one of the largest” defense spending increases in U.S. history, speaking aboard a next-generation Naval aircraft carrier, the Gerald S. Ford, in Virginia Thursday.

The President’s visit to a school in Florida today to push his desire for more school choice has been overshadowed by ongoing revelations over who may have met with the Russian Ambassador and in the Administration or campaign.

A proposal being tossed about in the West Wing would separate mothers from children as they are caught trying to cross the southern border from Mexico. The idea being to deter mothers from bringing their children illegally to the US of A.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who during his confirmation hearings repeatedly vowed to promote human rights as a core American value, alarmed human rights advocates when he did not appear in person to present the State Department’s annual human rights report, released today.

State Politics: As Governor of Indiana, Vice President Mike Pence frequently used a private AOL email account to conduct public business, including corresponding with top advisers about homeland security matters, the Indianapolis Star reported Thursday.

However, Pence did not violate any guidelines, regulations or state laws in use of the email account.

Global Politics: The European Parliament on Thursday lifted the parliamentary immunity for Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front, over tweets she posted in 2015 showing killings by Islamic State militants.

French prosecutors have accused Le Pen, now a leading candidate for the French presidency, of “dissemination of violent images,” a crime punishable with up to three years in prison.

Ri Jong Chol, a suspect in the murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader, said in Beijing that he was a victim of a conspiracy by Malaysian authorities attempting to damage the honor of North Korea.

President Trump will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House later this month.

A Mexican Congressman tweeted photos of himself at the top of a 30-foot portion of the Mexico-U.S. border wall this Wednesday to prove a point to President Trump.

I was able to scale it, climb it, and sit myself right here,” Braulio Guerra, a Congressman from Quer taro, said in a video. “It would be simple for me to jump into the United States, which shows that it is unnecessary and totally absurd to build a wall.”

Sunday, 3/5/17:

Trump Tower tapped?

That’s what President Donald Trump is claiming, but offering no proof to back up his accusation.

Trump is saying that prior to his election, former President Barack Obama “ordered” a wire tap be placed on communications in Trump Tower in New York City, New York.

First off, no President has this authority.

Could there have been a Federal Bureau of Investigation tap?

Good possibility as the FBI continues to probe the influence of Russia on the recent presidential election as well as contact between the Trump campaign and Russia.

A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” Obama representative Kevin Lewis said. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told NBC‘s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press this morning that there was no Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant authorizing a wiretap on Trump Tower.

Clapper went on to tell Todd there also was no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The President tweeted out a call for Congress to investigate whether there was or was not a tap on Trump Tower.

On Saturday, Trump supporters organized “Spirit of America” rallies drawing hundreds in 28 states and Washington, DC.

Counter-protesters showed up in many locations, with taunts and fist fights breaking out between the two groups at least in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Berkeley, California.

Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Friday announced the suspension of expedited processing for the H-1B visa, a temporary residency option for graduate-level workers in STEM fields including mathematics, medicine, and computer science.

The President was far from happy when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself on Friday from any investigations into the alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign as well as Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

There have been more than 90 regulations that federal agencies and the Republican-controlled Congress have delayed, suspended or reversed in the month and a half since President Trump took office, according to a tally by The New York Times.

OOPs!

Uh-oh, The Associated Press published the current email address of Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen.

The Veep demanded an apology.

The AP has removed the address from its article about Pence’s use of his AOL email account while Indiana Governor.

State Politics: An Oklahoma lawmaker who once likened Islam to cancer required Muslims to answer several written questions – including, “Do you beat your wife?” – before agreeing to meet with the three students who requested an interview.

Republican state Rep. John Bennett’s office distributed the questionnaire on Thursday as the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations organized its annual Muslim Day at the Capitol.

Global Politics: North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol was expelled from Malaysia Saturday in connection with the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Saturday, Mexico opened legal defense centers at its consulates in all 50 US states in response to President Trump’s hardline immigration policy.

A diplomatic rift between Turkey and key European nations deepened Sunday as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany of “Nazi practices,” days after a local authority prevented a Turkish minister from addressing a rally.

Under-pressure French conservative Francois Fillon apologized to his supporters today for the fake jobs scandal that threatens to sink his presidential bid, but said he was sure he would be proved innocent.

Thanks for viewing!

Politics Roundup: February 20 – 26, 2017

politicsroundup

Welcome to the weekly compilation of the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the comings and goings from the alternate world of reality – politics!

My Words of Wisdom: Politics is like WWE Raw
Governing is like 60 Minutes

Monday, 2/20/17:

BREAKING NEWS: PRESIDENT TRUMP ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF ARMY LIEUTENANT GENERAL H.R. MCMASTER AS NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER AND RETIRED LIEUTENANT GENERAL KEITH KELLOGG AS CHIEF OF STAFF FOR THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL IN AN IMPROMPTU ANNOUNCEMENT FROM MAR-A-LAGO, FLORIDA BEFORE FLYING BACK TO WASHINGTON DC AROUND 3 P.M. TODAY.

Disconnect.

Wow!

What a week I have missed as I once more found myself in the hospital.

President Donald Trump conducted a wide-ranging, rambling press conference, which people in the Heartland seem to applaud while the national press corps and the chattering class are scratching their heads and discombobulated.

Vice President Mike Pence is shoring up ties in Europe.

Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis is re-enforcing US commitments in the Middle East and the war on the Islamic State.

A hunt is on to find a new National Security Adviser.

The candidates for the job reportedly included Trump’s acting adviser, retired Army Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, as well as former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster and Lieutenant General Robert Caslen, the Superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point.

One Cabinet nominee, Andy Puzder, is out for Labor and new nominee named.

The battlelines are drawn between the national press and the White House.

Both sides are right and both sides are wrong.

People are taking to the streets this Presidents’ Day in “Not My President” protests. Which is oxymoron to what we are – the United States of America.

It runs contrary to the idea of “one President at a time.”

Have these protesters renounced their citizenship?

Have these protesters made plans to leave the nation?

Like it or not until the next election or some other unforeseen outcome, agree or disagree with him, Trump is President of the United States of America and all of its citizens.

We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil,” Mattis told reporters after arriving in Iraq on an unannounced visit today.

Vice President Pence told European Union officials today that the Trump Administration wants to “deepen our relationship” with the 28-nation trading bloc.

The Administration is working on a new pause in immigration, according to the President at a “campaign” rally in Melbourne, Florida over the weekend.

Speaking of campaign, reportedly the Prez has already filed for re-election in 2020.

Trump’s not planning going anywhere.

There are those prognosticating a mental burnout, calling for impeachment, calling for invoking the 25th Amendment by the Vice President and Cabinet declaring Trump unfit.

Another rough-and-tumble presidency was that of the 7th President of the US of A, Andrew Jackson.

Here is an interesting look at the similarities with between Jackson and Trump: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/trump-election-has-parallels-to-andrew-jacksons-presidency/2017/02/20/974b70d2-f745-11e6-aa1e-5f735ee31334_story.html

State Politics: New Jersey get ready. Funnyman turned talk radio host, Joe Piscopo, says he may run for Governor.

I’m very serious about it,” Piscopo said. “I’ve never been more serious about anything in my life.”

Global Politics: No, Sweden is not a hotbed of terrorist activity, though crime is up a tad – but not because of the refugees that have poured into he country.

People were not reassured,” said Daniela Schwarzer, Director of the German Council on Foreign Relations. “They think that Trump is erratic and incalculable.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ran a death squad that killed many people, including a journalist and a pregnant woman, when he was mayor of a southern city, a retired policeman who claimed to be part of the group said today.

North Korea’s Ambassador to Malaysia today denounced the country’s investigation into the death of the exiled half brother of North Korea’s ruler, calling it politically motivated and demanding a joint probe amid increasingly bitter exchanges between the once-friendly nations.

Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, has died in New York, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement today.

The hand-picked candidate of Socialist President Rafael Correa took the lead in preliminary results from Ecuador’s presidential election Sunday, and was just under the threshold needed to win outright and avoid a runoff against his nearest rival.

Iran today criticized what it said was coordination between Israel and regional rival Saudi Arabia, describing attempts to create an “international atmosphere” against Tehran.

Yemeni rebels have abducted a dozen local staff working for the Norwegian Refugee Council in the Red Sea district of Hodeida, a minister and local sources said today.

Tuesday, 2/21/17:

Get ready, a new travel ban may be out this week, if not today.

The same seven nations will be targeted, but the White House says it the new order will be compliant with the rulings of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the federal judges across the country.

The new order, according to a draft obtained by the Associated Press, would only bar entry to those without a visa and who have never entered the United States before.

Unlike the original order, people from those countries who already have permanent U.S. residency (green cards) or visas would not face any restrictions.

Provocateurs are finding out they do not have carte blanche to say anything and get away with it.

Just ask Milo Yiannopoulos.

As noted in Breaking News on Monday, active duty Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster has been named as National Security Adviser by President Donald Trump.

McMaster is getting praise from across both sides of the political aisle.

On those “Not My President” rallies on Presidents’ Day, “While we acknowledge that Donald Trump holds the current title, the policies he’s trying to put in place are not the beliefs shared by the majority of the people,” said Nova Calise, a TV production manager and an organizer of a New York rally.

After postponing his visit last month, the President toured the National Museum of African American History today.

This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms,” the President said. “The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”

The national press corps and others have blasted the President for not coming out more forcefully in denouncing anti-Semitism before today.

At issue in part has been a question from a Hasidic Jewish reporter last week to the Prez about the uptick in activity, which the press corps said the President did not answer.

Today watching and listening to that reporter, the reporter’s reaction was different. He thought the President did respond and correctly. He also, contrary to the negative reaction to today’s statement by Trump, thought it was forceful and appropriate.

That reporter also said he was less concerned with what the Prez said and more about what actions the President may be taking out of the light to stem racism and anti-Semitism.

What a disconnect compared to the principal reporter!

Oh – and Hillary Clinton chided the Prez today in a tweet for not coming out sooner and more forcefully to condemn anti-Semitism.

The blueprint for the Trump Administration immigration program was released today.

Membership in the Democratic Socialists of America, founded in 1982, has surged since Trump’s election on November 8, putting the movement in a position to make inroads on the Democratic Party’s energized left.

The membership gains are fueled by supporters of Bernie Sanders, who mounted a vigorous challenge for the Democratic presidential nomination last year.

Vice President Mike Pence on Monday said both he and President Trump support a “free and independent press.”

But you can anticipate that the president and all of us will continue to call out the media when play fast and loose with the facts,” Pence said during a news conference Monday from Brussels, Belgium.

The truth is that we have in President Trump someone who has a unique ability to speak directly to the American people, and when the media gets it wrong, I promise you, President Trump will take his case straight to the American people to set the record straight.”

State Politics: Anti-vaccine parents in Texas are taking heart with a President who questions if there is a link between autism and childhood vaccines. They are making their case known to the Texas State Legislature.

Oh to be a fly: Ohio Governor John Kasich is tentatively scheduled to meet with President Trump this week.

Global Politics: Thousands of protesters rallied outside British Parliament Monday calling for lawmakers to oppose a planned state visit by President Trump. Though Members of Parliament are debating the issue vigorously, do not expect the invite to be rescinded.

Parliament does not have the power to cancel the visit and the government has defended it as an appropriate way to reaffirm the “special relationship” between the United Kingdom and the US.

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced Monday that the country is “increasing its support for family planning and safe abortion,” joining an international effort to raise money to offset President Trump’s ban on US funding for international groups that offer information on abortion.

Euro Zone Finance Ministers agreed Monday to start new bailout negotiations with Greece as soon next week.

China’s Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng appealed to the US Monday to avoid a trade war.

Cooperation benefits both, while confrontation can only hurt,” Gao said.

Very serious preparatory work is going on in the Kremlin, including a paper — seven pages — describing a psychological portrait of Trump, especially based on this last two to three months, and the last weeks,” said Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Fedorov, who said he has known Trump since 2000, when talking with NBC News.

Vote counting in Ecuador’s presidential election dragged into a third day today with ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno still just short of a definitive first-round victory and supporters and opponents of outgoing President Rafael Correa trading heated accusations.

Iran’s Supreme Leader called on Palestinians today to pursue an uprising against Israel, suggesting the Israeli government was a “cancerous tumor” that should be confronted until Palestinians were completely liberated.

“… by Allah’s permission, we will see that this intifada will begin a very important chapter in the history of fighting and that it will inflict another defeat on that usurping regime,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said.

Southeast Asian countries see China’s installation of weapons systems in the South China Sea as very unsettling and want to prevent militarization and urge dialog to stop “recent developments” from escalating, the Philippines said today.

Foreign Ministers of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) were unanimous in their concern about Beijing’s reclamation and militarization of manmade islands, Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said.

Wednesday, 2/22/17:

Not enough.

That is the sentiment from critics after President Donald Trump condemned anti-Semitism on Tuesday during a visit to the African American Museum of History and Culture.

Civil rights activists and other critics said Trump’s comments were too little, too late.

The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect called the President’s remarks a “pathetic asterisk of condescension” after his extended silence on the topic.

Denying that a deportation task force has been set up for mass deportation of illegal immigrants, this from the Department of Homeland Security:

All of those present in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention, and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”

New Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt had this to say to his regulators yesterday, “The only authority that any agency has in the executive branch is the authority given to it by Congress. We need to respect that.”

Democrats are out en masse similar to the Tea Party in 2010 taking on Republican lawmakers during town halls.

My take on the situation: Children of Liberty Rising

Remember when I wrote this one year ago: An American Revolution

Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, Rex Tillerson and John Kelly respectively, are traveling today to meet with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto to unruffle feathers.

The President is expected to revoke the guidance by the former Administration’s Education Department on transgender bathroom use in public schools across the nation. Press Secretary Sean Spicer noted on Tuesday that the President believes this is a states rights issue.

President Trump and his aides said today they will roll out a proposed budget, a revamped health care plan and a new tax reform package over the next two months.

The Prez will address his first joint session of Congress next Tuesday in prime time.

Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to a historic Jewish cemetery near St. Louis to condemn the recent vandalism that took place there.

From the heart, there is no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism,” Pence said.

A month into office and the Prez is seeing his approval number starting to rise to 48%, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll.

House Speaker Paul Ryan made his first ever trip to the U.S.-Mexico border today as tensions over immigration policies mount and the initial work towards construction of President Trump’s wall is set to begin.

Rank-and-file Republicans are more concerned about leaks to the media of conversations between Trump advisers and the Russian government than they are about the conversations themselves, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.

State Politics: A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked Texas from cutting off Medicaid money to Planned Parenthood over secretly recorded videos released by anti-abortion activists in 2015.

Global Politics: Ukraine is blocking the United Nations expressing condolences from the world body to the nation of Russia on the death of its UN Ambassador this week in protest of the Russian support of separatists in Eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Amnesty International lumped President Trump in with other world leaders like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

The human rights group said their “divisive fear-mongering” was a danger to the world.

Former President Obama didn’t escape Amnesty’s wrath, either. The group also smacked his human rights record, labeling his legacy of mass surveillance and drone strikes as a human rights failure.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who in the past wouldn’t even admit to a problem, just announced an increase in food vouchers after a new study showed that on average his people have lost 19 pounds in weight due to lack of nourishment.

Malaysian police today said they wanted to question a North Korean diplomat and an employee of the North Korean state-owned airline Air Koryo in the investigation of the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

I want to say clearly and emphatically that the government of Mexico and the Mexican people do not have to accept provisions that one government unilaterally wants to impose on the other,” Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told reporters at the Foreign Ministry.

We will not accept it, because there’s no reason why we should, and because it is not in the interests of Mexico.”

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday appointed his glamorous wife as first vice president, the latest move seen as tightening the family’s iron grip on the oil-rich Caspian nation.

Iceland’s President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson was forced to clarify his views late Tuesday on, uh, well, pineapple as a pizza topping. (Although ham was not mentioned, which is technically needed to complete the “Hawaiian.”)

I like pineapples, just not on Pizza. I do not have the power to make laws that forbid people to put pineapples on pizza,” Jóhannesson wrote on Facebook. “Presidents should not have unlimited power. I would not want to hold this position if I could pass laws forbidding what I don’t like. I would not want to live in such a country.”

Thursday, 2/23/17:

South of the border.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly traveled to Mexico to smooth ruffled feathers and rekindle more friendly relations with that nation.

As expected, the Administration of President Donald Trump rescinded the opinion of the former Administration of President Barack Obama that denied restroom use by transgender students to the gender with which the student identifies.

In its statement, the White House emphasized that restricting bathroom use was not covered by Title IX and was a states rights issue, not federal.

Not all Republicans, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, are happy with the transgender decision. DeVos did eventually give, however.

Florida GOP Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose son is transgender, blasted the change in policy.

This lamentable decision can lead to hostile treatment of transgender students and studies have shown that bullying and harassment can be detrimental to the emotional and physical well-being of teenagers,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement Wednesday. “Evidence has shown that acceptance of transgender students lowers their risk of suicide. Jared and I introduced our SNDA bill to prevent discrimination of transgender young people and we will re-introduce it because our country benefits when everyone is accepted and we live up to our nation’s promise of inclusiveness.”

The Justice Department of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is poised to take a firmer and more aggressive stance on marijuana use, which is still illegal under federal law.

That position will even play out in those states where voters have legalize such use.

What a difference one word can make.

The Prez called the current operation to remove violent illegal immigrants from the country as a “military operation.” If he would have only made that “military-style“, there would have been no reason for Kelly to stress in Mexico today that no military troops are or would be participating in any of the activity of the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Oh…and “The Wall” never came up during a press briefing from Mexico City by Tillerson and Kelly with their Mexican counterparts.

A new nuke race?

The Prez stated late today in an interview with Reuters that he wants to strengthen the US nuclear arsenal.

I am the first one that would like to see everybody – nobody have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.

It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack,” Trump said.

That new travel ban expected to be roled out this week has been pushed back to next week.

Reportedly, the White House asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation was asked to squash stories about members of the Trump Campaign having conversations with the Russians.

The FBI refused.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo today to the Bureau of Prisons rescinding the President Barack Obama Administration’s August 16 order advising the Bureau not to renew any contracts with private prisons.

Democrats are out en masse similar to the Tea Party in 2010 taking on Republican lawmakers during town halls.

My take on the situation: Children of Liberty Rising

Remember when I wrote this one year ago: An American Revolution

Speaking of Democrats, who will emerge as the new head of the Democratic National Committee when delegates vote on Saturday?

Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, one of the leading candidates to chair the Democratic National Committee, left open the possibility of pushing for the impeachment of President Trump, in a break with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi just days ahead of the DNC election, last night.

Thousands of emails made public Wednesday revealed that new Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt was tangled up with the oil and gas industry when he was Attorney General of Oklahoma, filing numerous suits against the EPA.

CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Convention, got underway today in the nation’s capitol.

Today White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Political Strategist Steve Bannon took center stage together with Bannon talking about being the fiery one with Priebus being the one who makes it work for the President.

Bannon describe the US role in the world as a “culture that deserves to be a nation.”

Tomorrow the Prez takes his turn at CPAC.

Politico found the Prez with a 48% favorable rate, but Quinnipiac found him with a 38% favorable rate today.

Personally, I think it falls somewhere in the middle and depends on which political party you identify as favoring.

State Politics: Discrimination is alive and well in the Diamond State. The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down an anti-discrimination ordinance in Fayettevillw, because it provided protections for the gay community.

A Colorado judge has blocked a college town’s law against women going topless, saying the law is likely unconstitutional.

If you have ’em, guess, flaunt ’em.

Global Politics: The hunt for the assassin of North Korea’s Young Leader’s half brother has now gone global.

Thousands are leaving the United States for Canada and immigration advocates say the political rhetoric of the Trump Administration is playing a role.

There exists among Mexicans worry and irritation about what are perceived to be policies that could be harmful for the national interest and for Mexicans here and abroad,” Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told a news conference, following meeting with Tillerson and Kelly today.

Mexico needs the United States, and the United States also needs Mexico, our countries will always be neighbors so the best thing would be to have agreements that work for both equally,” Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said.

North Korea has lashed out at its only international ally, China, accusing it of giving in to American demands.

This country, styling itself a big power, is dancing to the tune of the US,” the state-run news agency of North Korea said.

Argentina lawmakers launched a fresh conflict of interest case today against President Mauricio Macri, alleging airline routes were unfairly allocated to a company controlled by his family.

A relatively unknown medical doctor, Jack Guy Lafontant, was tapped to be Haiti’s new Prime Minister, tasked with steering the government’s legislative agenda through Parliament, President Jovenel Moise said late on Wednesday.

Friday, 2/24/17:

Blocked!

CNN and a few other news organizations were blocked today from covering and attending the White House Press briefing.

This is not good.

As I wrote before the inauguration: Mr. President Elect, You Are Wrong

And the Prez and White House are wrong today. Now the White House is saying that there was no press briefing, just a gaggle of  pool reporters.

Nothing ominous.

The fix is in.

If you paid attention to former House Speaker John Boehner in Florida yesterday, you heard him say that Republicans will not repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

What the GOP may do, however, is fix the healthcare law, Boehner said.

President Donald Trump spoke to the Conservative Political Action Conference today before an adoring crowd. This is the same crowd which booed him when he last spoke two years ago.

Now the Republican Party is the party of Trump and not Reagan’s nor Bush’s GOP.

Remember when I wrote this one year ago: An American Revolution

People attending CPAC could be seen waving small Russian flags emblazoned with the word “Trump” during President Trump’s speech.

Democrats are out en masse similar to the Tea Party in 2010 taking on Republican lawmakers during town halls.

Some of those confronting lawmakers are being stirred up by political activists, but there are also those constituents with genuine concerns.

My take on the situation: Children of Liberty Rising

A plan to deal with the Islamic State is expected to land on the President’s desk today from the Pentagon.

The Prez signed a new executive order today to roll back regulations on manufacturers.

Who is at fault?

The Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who told White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus that an article in the New York Times about members of the Trump campaign having constant discussions with the Russians was not accurate?

Or was it Preibus asking the Assistant FBI Director to tell the public what he told Priebus?

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the White House “didn’t try to knock the story down. We asked them to tell the truth.”

Following talks in Mexico City with his counterpart, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged, “two sovereign countries from time to time will have differences.”

Democrats have tapped former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear to deliver the party’s response to President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.

A Baltimore Orioles executive says he’d prefer President Trump not throw out a first pitch at Camden Yards without first apologizing for statements that could be viewed as problematic “from a race, ethnicity, religious, gender, disability” standpoint.

State Politics: The largest and busiest airport in Arkansas would no longer be named after the only president and first lady from the state if a bill introduced in the legislature on Thursday succeeds.

You have a president who was impeached for having an affair with an intern in the Oval Office and then disbarred,” said State Senator Jason Rapert, the bill’s author and one of the Arkansas Legislature’s most outspoken conservatives.

Democratic state senators in California on Thursday unveiled a series of bills designed to freeze in place President Barack Obama Administration-era environmental regulations in the event the Trump Administration moves to weaken them.

Global Politics: VX nerve agent, an internationally banned chemical weapon, was what was used to assassinate the brother of North Korea’s Kim Jung Un.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said the policies of President Trump could be “hurtful to Mexicans,” and that more talks were needed to “overcome the negative feelings that are prevailing now.”

Amid a presidential campaign that has been marred by scandal, conspiracy theories, and the specter of a new far-right leader, disillusioned French voters have called for an outsider to join the race: Barack Obama. A petition launched on Monday calls on the former US president to run in this year’s French elections, which will be held in April and May.

Sunday, 2/2617:

New face: the Democratic National Party.

By a vote of 235-200, on the second ballot, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez was elected the new Chair of the Democratic National Committee in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday.

Perez promptly named his chief rival, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, as his Vice Chair.

The recurring new theme for Democrats from the top down is: resistance.

Resistance to the President and his proposals, even if there are points of agreement.

Sounds like Republicans following the election of President Barack Obama in 2008.

We were united. And our unity is our greatest strength. And frankly our unity is Donald Trump’s greatest nightmare,” Perez said following his ascension.

We need a total transformation,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who backed Ellison, said on CNN‘s State of the Union.

We need to open up the party to working people, to young people and make it crystal clear that the Democratic Party is going to take on Wall Street, it’s going to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, it’s going to take on corporate America that is shutting down plants in this country and moving our jobs abroad,” he added.

No show.

President Donald Trump made known on Saturday that he will not attend this years Nerd Prom or White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Following barring some national news agencies from a gaggle with the White House Press Secretary on Friday, new security rules for the West Wing are being put in place to stop leaks.

The effort includes checks of both government-issued and personal electronic devices for White House staffers, according to Politico.

President Trump’s first budget proposal will spare big social welfare programs such as Social Security and Medicare from any cuts, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview broadcast today.

This Tuesday night, the Prez will deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress. It will be broadcast live during prime time.

State Politics: Governors are meeting in the nation’s capitol this weekend.

A major topic of discussion is what happens if and when the Affordable Care Act is repealed and all that Medicaid money is lost?

Republican Governors are grousing over the holes the loss will have in their state budgets.

GOP Governors intend to present Congress with a plan that they say would give states more flexibility to administer health coverage for poorer residents while protecting states from absorbing the costs of repealing the ACA.

Global Politics: French President Francois Hollande on Saturday took issue with an anecdote, which Trump shared in service to a point about fighting terrorism.

There is terrorism and we must fight it together,” Hollande said. “I think that it is never good to show the smallest defiance toward an allied country. I wouldn’t do it with the United States and I’m urging the US President not to do it with France.”

Parisian Mayor Anne Hidalgo previously responded Friday on Twitter, telling Trump she “celebrate[s] the dynamism and the spirit of openness of #Paris.”

Scheduled back-channel conversations between representatives of the United States and North Korea have been canceled, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, as the State Department retracted visa approval for the ranking foreign ministry envoy from Pyongyang, Choe Son Hui.

Iran’s former President Mahmud Ahmadinejad published an open letter to President Trump, welcoming his criticism of the US political system but taking issue with his visa ban and attitude to women.

Your Excellency (Trump) has truthfully described the US political system and electoral structure as corrupt and anti-public,” Admadinejad wrote.

Australia and Indonesia have restored full military ties less than two months after Indonesia suspended co-operation over “offensive” teaching material found at an Australian base.

A veteran opposition leader in Kyrgyzstan was arrested on corruption charges, security services said Sunday, as political tensions mount in the Central Asian country ahead of a November presidential poll.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: CORNFIELD POLLS: PRESIDENT AT 1 MONTH (HTTP://WP.ME/P6PQJU-AP)

Thanks for viewing!