Politics Roundup: April 17 – 23, 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, 4/17/17:

Ready…

Set…

Wait!

The Administration of President Donald Trump warned North Korea not to test American resolve.

The Chinese warned North Korea not to launch a missile.

Kim Jung Un, Young Leader of North Korea, ignored all.

A missile fired.

Five seconds after launch it blew up.

Did US cyber wonks have something to do with the explosion?

At the DMZ (demilitarized zone) in South Korea, Vice President Mike Pence warned the North Koreans the “era of strategic patience is over” and the US will stop any attack that might come from the North.

Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new President in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” the Vice President said after delivering a statement to the media alongside Hwang Kyo-ahn, South Korea’s Acting President.

North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region,” Pence said.

Citing unprecedented declines of up to 70% in illegal crossings in some areas during the past two months, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly said the government’s focus on the border – from a deportation crackdown in the interior to the preparations for the construction of a wall – has altered traditional traffic flows.

Texas Republican Congressman Mike Conaway, who is heading up the House Intelligence Committee look into the Russian interference in last year’s election and possible collusion by members of the Trump campaign, has flown to Cyprus to see and obtain information that may be pertinent to the Committee’s investigation.

The Prez is going to Wisconsin tomorrow to speak at a local factory in Kenosha. The President will visit the headquarters of Snap-On, a tool manufacturer.

A Gallup poll out early today finds only 45% of Americans think the President keeps his promises, down from 62% in a poll taken in February.

President Trump and First Lady Melania hosted their first annual White House Easter Egg Roll today, continuing a 150-year Washington tradition.

OOPs!

Did I say that?

One Congressman must be asking himself.

A Wisconsin Congressman told a town hall attendee who was concerned about the elimination of online privacy protections that using the Internet is a choice – a statement that has since drawn criticism on social media.

The question posed dealt with recent action that allows internet service providers to sell personal information of internet users. Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner answered this way:

Nobody’s got to use the Internet. … And the thing is that if you start regulating the Internet like a utility, if we did that right at the beginning, we would have no Internet. Internet companies have invested an awful lot of money in having almost universal service now. The fact is is that, you know, I don’t think it’s my job to tell you that you cannot get advertising for your information being sold. My job, I think, is to tell you that you have the opportunity to do it, and then you take it upon yourself to make that choice. That’s what the law has been, and I think we ought to have more choices rather than fewer choices with the government controlling our everyday lives.”

State Politics: A federal judge put a hold on Arkansas carrying out eight executions this week.

The judge said the prisoners will probably succeed in proving the state’s proposed method of execution, lethal injection, is unconstitutional.

The state says it wants to execute the inmates before its supply of lethal injection drugs expires.

Leaders of America First Policies, a nonprofit that supports President Trump, told The Washington Post on Sunday that their group is launching a $3 million ad campaign to support a dozen Republican House members who backed the Republican healthcare plan.

Georgians in and around Atlanta, Georgia go to the polls tomorrow to fill the vacancy in Congress left when Dr. Tom Price became Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The Democratic challenger is mounting a strong run for the office which has been in Republican hands for decades.

The President this morning weighed in on the Georgia contest, tweeting, “The super Liberal Democrat in the Georgia Congressional race tomorrow wants to protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes!”

The primary includes 18 candidates – Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Republicans hope to force a June runoff with the GOP’s top candidate by keeping Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff below 50% of the vote.

Global Politics: Turkey has a new way of governing after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a close victory in a referendum to change the nation from a parliamentary to presidential system.

Turkey’s main opposition party today urged the country’s electoral board to cancel the results of a landmark referendum that granted sweeping new powers to the nation’s President, citing what it called substantial voting irregularities.

International observers who monitored the voting also found irregularities, saying the conduct of Sunday’s referendum “fell short” of international standards. It specifically criticized a decision Sunday by Turkey’s electoral board to accept ballots that did not have official stamps, saying that undermined safeguards against fraud.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel today urged Turkey’s President Erdogan to seek “respectful dialogue” within the country after his narrow win in a referendum extending his powers.

The (German) government expects that the Turkish government will now seek respectful dialogue with all political and social forces in the country, after this tough election campaign,” Merkel said in a statement issued jointly with Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

Ex-South Korean President Park Geun-hye was indicted this morning on abuse of power and bribery charges.

Javier Duarte, the fugitive former Governor of Mexico’s Veracruz State, has been arrested in Guatemala after a six-month international manhunt, Mexican authorities said Sunday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang voiced China’s opposition to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system at a regular briefing in Beijing, and also urged all parties to work together to maintain peace and stability in the region.

South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn and Vice President Pence today reaffirmed their plans to go ahead with the deployment of the system.

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said that leaders should listen to protesters who have taken to the streets demanding that President Jacob Zuma resign or be removed after a Cabinet reshuffle triggered damaging credit downgrades.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged North Korea today to refrain from taking further provocative actions, comply with United Nations resolutions and abandon its nuclear missile development.

Tuesday, 4/18/17:

Tax Day in America.

Democrats are making hay with today being the deadline for filing income tax returns to try and pressure President Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

Protests took place around the country Saturday.

Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton was shouted down and booed by constituents at a town hall meeting yesterday for defending the President not releasing those tax returns.

Will it force the President’s hand?

Doubtful.

The Prez in the meantime flew to Kenosha, Wisconsin today to speak to workers at the headquarters of tool maker Snap-On and push his Buy American, Hire American policy.

While there, the Prez signed an executive order urging federal entities to do their best to both buy American goods and hire American workers for government products.

The order also aims to curb what the Administration says are hiring abuses in a visa program used by technology companies

Speaking in Wisconsin, the President set sights on Canada and vowing to solve the dairy “war” with our northern neighbor.

At issue is cheaper Canadian milk coming into the Cheese State to make the product for which Wisconsin is known to the detriment of local dairy farmers, who are selling off cows and getting out the industry.

The President refused to confirm or deny that US cyber capabilities were responsible for the failed North Korean ballistic missile test over the weekend.

At odds?

The State Department raised concerns about the referendum over the weekend which changed Turkey’s governance from a parliamentarian to a presidential system.

The President called and congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the win and being a strong leader.

In Japan today, Vice President Mike Pence said the US would stand by Japan “100 percent” and keep pushing until North Korea curbs its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

President Trump “is determined to work closely with Japan, with South Korea, with all our allies in the region and with China to achieve a peaceable resolution and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Pence said.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly today bluntly challenged members of Congress critical of the Trump Administration’s aggressive approach to immigration enforcement to either change the laws or “shut up.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is now saying his August deadline for a budget was too optimistic and will not happen.

Less than a third of people in the US approve of the way House Speaker Paul Ryan is handling his leadership role in Congress, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Monday.

The poll found that 29% approve of his job and a majority, 54%, disapprove of his job.

The White House is considering eliminating the popular petitions site We the People.

State Politics: The Supreme Court stayed two executions in Arkansas after an Appeals Court overturned a federal judge’s stay of all eight executions set within the next 11 days.

In Georgia, voters are turning out to vote for which Democrat and/or Republican will fill the vacancy in Congress when Dr. Tom Price became Health and Human Services Secretary.

Jon Ossoff is expected to be the Democrat to get the nod.

The Republican field is crowded with no clear front-runner.

If no one gets at least 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff election in June between Republican and Democratic candidate.

President Trump got into the fray urging Republicans to turn out and specifically to defeat Ossoff.

Turns out that Ossoff does not live in the congressional district is hoping to represent.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey today moved up the election to fill the Senate seat vacated by now-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to December because she said the original plan to hold it in late 2018 was not soon enough to meet state law. The primary election will now be held on August 15 and the general vote will be December 12, Ivey’s office said.

A South Dakota lawmaker frustrated with what he views as inaction over a secretive polygamous sect’s outpost in his district wants legislators to look into the compound, including why no South Dakota birth or death records have been filed from there over the last decade.

Global Politics: Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s Deputy United Nations Ambassador, said the US focus on the North Korean nuclear program reflected a “gangster-like logic” that’s turning the Korean Peninsula into “the world’s biggest hotspot,” creating “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment.”

Turkey’s main opposition party on Monday called for election officials to nullify the results of a landmark referendum granting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers.

OOPs!

Or was it intentional?

On the same day that the world nervously watched North Korea stage a massive military parade to celebrate the birthday of the nation’s founder Kim Il Sung, and the press speculated about a pre-emptive U.S. strike, the US Navy put the the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, together with its escort of two guided-missile destroyers and a cruiser, more than 3,000 miles southwest of the Korean peninsula, which was more than 500 miles southeast of Singapore.

It definitely fooled the world and North Korea. The psychological effect was striking.

The number of people applying for asylum in Mexico has soared by more than 150% since Trump was elected President, according to Mexican data, as more Central American migrants seek to stay rather than take their chances in the United States.

France is apparently now being targeted for meddling by Russia in its presidential election in May as both Sputnik and RT are coming out with “news stories” in support of one of the candidates, which are in reality fake.

Wednesday, 4/19/17:

Debunked dossier.

That dossier released in the waning days of the 2016 election, prepared by an ex-British spy, was part of the basis for getting a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to monitor communications of former foreign policy adviser to the campaign of Donald Trump and ties to Russian officials.

The dossier had been widely panned as unreliable and much of the information unconfirmable, even by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey.

The Trump Administration notified Congress last night that Iran is complying with the deal reached by former President Barack Obama on its nuclear program.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, however, in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan that the Administration is reviewing the deal, which President Trump strongly criticized during his campaign, to determine whether it “is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

President Trump said Tuesday that his push for tax reform was “in very good shape.”

It’s going to make it much harder to pass tax reform with the president not releasing his tax returns because everything he proposes, people will say, I wonder if he’s doing it for the public, or for himself,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The Prez signed veterans healthcare legislation.

The bill expands the choice options for veterans to seek care from the doctor they choose and not be restricted to having to travel a distance or wait a long time to be seen by a Veterans Administration doctor in a VA medical center.

A new Harvard-Harris poll found that 57% of the public view the Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders favorably, making him the most liked politician in the country.

The next two most popular politicians among the public are Vice President Mike Pence and President Trump – each with 44% viewing them favorably.

White House Political Strategist Stephen Bannon, received the lowest favorability rating with only 16% viewing him that way.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions does not have a single US Attorney in place to lead his tough-on-crime efforts across the country.

Last month, Sessions abruptly told the dozens of remaining Obama Administration US Attorneys to submit their resignations immediately – and none of them, or the 47 who had already left, have been replaced.

Sessions is also without the heads of his top units, including the Civil Rights, Criminal and National Security Divisions, as he tries to reshape the Justice Department.

What’s the hold up?

President Trump on Tuesday said, “You always have to be concerned” about nuclear war when dealing with North Korea.

The Prez told CNN‘s Wisconsin affiliate WTMJ. “You don’t know exactly who you’re dealing with.”

Trump was talking about dictator Kim Jung Un of North Korea.

Now I’m put in a position where he actually has nuclear and we’re going to have to do something about it,” Trump added. “It’s a very, very tricky situation. Hopefully he wants peace and we want peace and that’s going to be the end determination, but we’re going to see what happens.”

The United States of America will always seek peace but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready,” Vice President Mike Pence told 2,500 sailors dressed in blue fatigues and Naval baseball caps on a sunny, windy morning aboard a carrier at the U.S. Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay, Japan today.

The Environmental Protection Agency said today it would reconsider a rule on emissions from oil and gas operations and delay its implementation, marking the Trump Administration’s latest effort to dismantle Obama-era environmental regulations.

The man who gave Hillary Clinton a run for her money in getting the Democratic nomination for President in 2016, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders had this to say as he sat next to the Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, “No, I’m an Independent,” when asked by MSNBC‘s Chris Hayes whether he now identifies as a Democrat.

If the Democratic Party is going to succeed – and I want to see it succeed – it’s gonna have to open its door to Independents,” Sanders continued. “There are probably more Independents in this country than Democrats or Republicans. It’s got to open its doors to working people and to young people, create a grassroots party. That’s what we need.”

Wonder what Perez was thinking?

The Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots visited the White House today, but some boycotted the event, including star quarterback Tom Brady. But one of those footballers who did come to the White House, Rob Gronkowski, crashed today’s press briefing.

My distant cousin, former President George H.W. Bush is back in the hospital recovering from pneumonia, but reportedly in good condition.

State Politics: Democrat Jon Ossoff came up short to win the 6th Congressional District of Georgia on Tuesday and will face a run-off with his nearest Republican contender, Karen Handel, in a runoff in June. Although Ossoff garnered 48.1% of the vote, he is expected to lose to Handel, a former Georgia Secretary of State, come June.

Had Ossoff reached 50% in yesterday’s plebiscite, he would be the first Democratic Representative from the 6th in almost four decades.

California will get to choose a new Congressman next year. Republican Chairman of the powerful Government Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz announced today he would not run for re-election in 2018.

Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske wrote in a letter Friday to DMV Director Terri Albertson that DMV workers had been accepting voting applications from non-citizens and forwarding them to the Secretary of State’s office. Cegavske said she had evidence non-citizens voted in the presidential election, but didn’t elaborate.

Florida Senate President Joe Negron said Miami-area Republican Senator Frank Artiles had asked to apologize on the Senate floor to Senator Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville. The Miami Herald reported that Artiles used a variation of the “n-word” during a private conversation at Tallahassee’s Governor’s Club with Democratic Senators Gibson and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale on Monday night.

Global Politics: Venezuelans have taken to the street in the capital of Caracas in protest of the socialist policies and lack of food, basic necessities, under President Nicolas Maduro. The protest is being described as the “Mother of All Marches.”

We’re scared but we’ve got to do this,” said Carmen Medina, a 55-year-old Venezuelan social worker in the middle-class district of El Paraiso, where demonstrators were beginning to gather. “We’re marching for the freedom of our country.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May won Parliament’s backing for an early election today, a vote she said would strengthen her hand in divorce talks with the European Union and help heal divisions in Britain.

India’s top court has ruled that senior figures in the governing BJP will be tried for criminal conspiracy over the destruction of a 16th Century mosque.

Turkey’s President Tayyip Recep Erdogan will meet President Trump in May ahead of a meeting of the NATO alliance, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said today.

North Korea seemingly sent a message to the United States by displaying parts of America in flames during a military celebration.

Thursday, 4/20/17:

BREAKING NEWS: The US is prepping to arrest Wikileaks founder Julian Assange even as Ecuador readies to kick him out of its Embassy in Great Britain.

Resurrection?

Back on the plate when members of Congress return this coming week will be another go at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

But will it take a back seat or claim shotgun as Congress has to deal with funding the government by next Friday?

Irony?

The Hoosier born-and-bred federal judge in California who presided over the Trump University fraud case has landed a routine deportation case involving a so-called Dreamer, who was deported when he presumably was immune from that action until 2018.

President Donald Trump took on Canada again today about the “dairy war” going on between the two countries as he railed against the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The President made his remarks when signing an executive order to investigate if foreign countries are involved in unfair trade practices hurting the American steel industry.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Wednesday denied that the Trump Administration misled the public last week by saying it was sending an aircraft carrier battle group to waters near North Korea to serve as a deterrent, when the ships were actually on the way to participate in joint maneuvers with Australia.

Tongues are wagging today after Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said there might be a new vacancy on the Supreme Court come summer.

I would expect a resignation this summer,” the Iowa senator said, according to the Muscatine Journal. Grassley’s comments came during a Q&A at a visit to Kent Corporation in Muscatine, Iowa.

Will it be swing Justice Anthony Kennedy?

Will it be the Court’s oldest Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

Then again, might it be Justice Stephen Breyer?

If either of the two liberal Justices, Ginsburg or Breyer, retire, it could cement a conservative bent to the Court for decades to come.

The President met today with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy.

During a news conference, the 2% of GDP, which member countries are suppose to pay to NATO was raised with Gentiloni by a reporter. The Prez said he wanted to know the Prime Minister’s response.

Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who announced he would not run again yesterday, as he mulls running for Governor, now is hinting he may not fill out his term through next year.

Chaffetz said in a text message: “My future plans are not yet finalized but I haven’t ruled out the possibility of leaving early. In the meantime I still have a job to do and I have no plans to take my foot off the gas.”

Will Democrats have a chance in the deep red, strongly conservative state?

Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has been tapped to be Ambassador to New Zealand.

State Politics: Arkansas’ effort to carry out a rush of executions before its supply of a hard-to-get lethal injection drug expires hit more setbacks on Wednesday, when the State Supreme Court granted a reprieve to inmate Stacey Johnson, who was scheduled to die today.

Separately, an Arkansas County Court judge blocked the state from using the drug vecuronium bromide, one of the three drugs in the state’s lethal-injection cocktail, putting all of the planned executions in limbo.

Democrats today launched a wave of attack ads against Jon Ossoff’s GOP opponent, Karen Handel, in the special election for the Georgia 6th House seat set for June, according to a new report.

Keep a watch what happens when Alabama conducts its special election for Senator with an August primary and December general to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Global Politics: General Motors said today that it had halted operations in Venezuela after the government seized its plant in the South American country. GM called the seizure of its local subsidiary, General Motors Venezolana, “illegal,” and vowed to “vigorously take all legal actions, within and outside of Venezuela, to defend its rights.”

ExxonMobil is seeking a waiver from US sanctions on Russia to pave the way for a joint venture with the Russian state oil company, Rosneft, to drill in the Black Sea, The New York Times reported.

A Moscow, Russia-based think tank, the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, is reported to have drawn up the plan to influence the US presidential election to throw the election to candidate Trump.

The Institute circulated the strategy papers in June and October, recommending that the Kremlin start a propaganda campaign to get US voters to elect a President who would be softer on Russia than the Administration of former President Barack Obama had been, and pushing voter fraud claims if Hillary Clinton beat Trump to undermine her power.

At least three people were killed, according to human rights groups, during the “Mother of All Marches” in Venezuela on Wednesday, bringing the death toll from recent protests to seven.

How long before Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is forced from office by the people?

North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States was looking at ways to bring pressure to bear on North Korea over its nuclear program.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, did not mince its words. “In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes,” it said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said during a visit to London, England the military option must be part of the pressure brought to bear on North Korea. “Allowing this dictator to have that kind of power is not something that civilized nations can allow to happen,” he said in reference to Kim Jung Un, the North’s dictator.

The United Nations Security Council today condemned North Korea’s latest failed missile test and demanded Pyongyang not conduct any more nuclear tests, in a statement that had been delayed as the United States and Russia sparred over language.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said today the United States should meet its own obligations agreed in a landmark nuclear deal in 2015 rather than making accusations against the Islamic Republic.

Russia’s Supreme Court has banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses from operating in the country, accepting a request from the Justice Ministry that the religious organization be considered an extremist group.

Iranian state TV says the clerical body charged with vetting candidates has disqualified former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from running in next month’s presidential election.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court today ruled there was insufficient evidence to order Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s removal from office over corruption allegations leveled by the opposition, but it ordered further investigations.

Friday, 4/21/17:

Free at last!

An Egyptian-American aid worker, Aya Hijazi, and her husband, Mohamed Hassanein, along with four other humanitarian workers are out of an Egyptian prison, where they had been falsely imprisoned, today.

The Administration of President Donald Trump had made the release of the woman and her compatriots a priority.

Those efforts paid off with the prison release after she had been arrested with the others in 2014.

This morning she met with the President in the Oval Office.

There are those grumbling and questioning if human rights issues were addressed with the Egyptian government or ignored in order to secure Hijazi’s release.

White House officials are pushing a new compromise version of the Republican healthcare bill in a bid to deliver on President Trump’s promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act before his 100th day in office, which comes a week from tomorrow.

Revisions aiming to please the conservative Freedom Caucus, such as eliminating guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions, could stoke more opposition from moderate Republicans.

Facing a partial government shutdown if Congress does not act by a week from today, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said any stopgap spending bill must include $1.3 billion to start construction of The Wall.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said any inclusion of money for The Wall could be a deal-breaker and lead to a shutdown.

President Trump on Thursday ordered his Administration to expedite an investigation into whether foreign steel imports were threatening national security.

This is not an area where we can afford to become dependent on other countries,” Trump said.

First court vote alert: Justice Neil Gorsuch, Thursday cast his first major decision – to allow an execution to move forward.

Gorsuch joined Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito to clear the way for Arkansas to execute a condemned inmate. They didn’t explain their decision.

Reality bites.

The Prez is finding out that you can say anything on the campaign trail, but getting action from Capitol Hill is a different story.

As the President faces his first 100 days, what he promised in a contract with the country to accomplish sounded great, but reality makes mince meat of those words.

Is President Trump giving too much independence to the military to act?

The President signed a bill into law on Tuesday that will improve weather forecasting and researching capabilities across the American weather enterprise.

How did I miss this?

See this one?

A twice-convicted Russian pedophile imprisoned in a heavily forested gulag some 500 miles from Moscow appears to be the man a controversial dossier says helped hack into Democratic National Committee computers last year. (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article145755049.html)

The House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s involvement in the 2016 US election, said today it had invited the Directors of the FBI and the National Security Agency to appear at a closed hearing on May 2.

Highlighting getting Gorsuch on the Supreme Court as a major accomplishment (which it is) in a tweet today by the President, I am reminded how his predecessor accented every speech over and over with “I got Bin Laden.”

Former President Barack Obama is stepping out of the shadows with a Monday town hall-style meeting with students at the University of Chicago will be followed by an awards ceremony in Boston; a series of public remarks as well as private paid speeches in the United States and Europe; and an appearance at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

OOPs!

Oh no he didn’t!

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he was “amazed” a federal judge on “an island in the Pacific” had put a hold on the President’s travel ban.

The backlash was immediate especially from America’s 50th state’s two Senators.

For the top enforcer of the Constitution in the nation to so malign a state by calling it some island sitting in the ocean is pathetic to put it mildly.

Explains the following of why Americans are so low on pols in the capital of the nation.

The view by Americans is not good of Washington DC, the President, the Speaker of the House and either Democrats or Republicans.

Trust is a major concern and splits along political affiliation.

Get the full Pew Research survey: http://www.people-press.org/2017/04/17/public-dissatisfaction-with-washington-weighs-on-the-gop/

State Politics: After the Supreme Court refused to issue a stay, Arkansas carried out its first execution in more than a decade last night.

A Republican-drawn map setting the boundaries of Texas’ statehouse districts violates the Constitution by intentionally discriminating against minority voters, a federal court ruled on Thursday – the third such ruling against the state’s voting laws in roughly a month.

Questions are swirling around why the powerful Republican Congressman from Utah, Jason Chaffetz, would give up his seat.

Chaffetz did not shed much light when he told Politico, “I don’t know exactly where these winds are going to take me. I just know that I wanted to explore those. And by making the announcement early, it helps on several fronts. I can pursue those opportunities and see what is out there.”

However, Chaffetz specifically denied any hint of scandal was in the wings causing him to decide to bow out of Congress. Many believe he may run for Governor of Utah in 2020.

Florida State Senator Frank Artiles, who used a racial slur and vulgar language in a conversation with two African-American colleagues, is resigning.

Global Politics: Yesterday’s terror attack in Paris, France has candidates for the Presidential Palace off the stump, but not off Twitter and the airwaves. Voting begins Sunday.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said today that Syria had dispersed its warplanes in recent days and that it retained chemical weapons, an issue he said would have to be taken up diplomatically.

The bottom line is, I can say authoritatively they have retained some (chemical weapons). It’s a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, and it’s going to have to be taken up diplomatically,” Mattis said.

South Korea said today it was on heightened alert ahead of another important anniversary in North Korea, with a large concentration of military hardware amassed on both sides of the border amid concerns about a new nuclear test by Pyongyang.

President Trump on Thursday praised Chinese efforts to rein in “the menace of North Korea,” after North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike.”

Beijing has demonstrated due enthusiasm for Washington’s newfound interest in a diplomatic solution and willingness to work more closely with it,” the state-run China Daily said in an editorial.

China’s Defence Ministry today denied reports that its bomber aircraft were on a heightened state of alert amid tensions over North Korea.

French centrist Emmanuel Macron is set to come out on top in the first round of France’s presidential election on Sunday as far right leader Marine Le Pen fell further behind him in an Elabe poll published today.

Venezuelans took to the streets again on Thursday, braving tear gas, beatings and bloodshed as they try to force President Nicolas Maduro to hold elections in the crisis-riddled nation.

Testing Trump will or sending a message?

For the fourth time in as many days, Russian bombers cruised close to the US coastline and were escorted away by US fighters.

Sunday, 4/23/17:

No worries.

President Donald Trump told The Associated Press in an interview Friday that “Dreamers,” young immigrants who were brought to America illegally as children, should not fear deportation because they are not being targeted.

Dreamers can “rest easy,” the President said, because his Administration is “not after the Dreamers; we are after the criminals.”

We’ll be having a big announcement on Wednesday having to do with tax reform,” President Trump said Friday, claiming his plan will offer businesses and individuals “a massive tax cut” that would be “bigger, I believe, than any tax cut ever.”

We are moving forward on comprehensive tax reform that cuts tax rates for individuals, simplifies our overly-complicated system, and creates jobs by making American businesses competitive,” a White House official said.

The Trump Administration denied ExxonMobil’s request for a waiver from US sanctions to work with Russia, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Friday.

President Trump on Friday fired Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a holdover from the Administration of former President Barack Obama.

President Trump announced in February he would skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which is scheduled for this coming Saturday.

Instead of attending the Nerd Prom, the Prez will hold a rally in Pennsylvania, the White House announced on Saturday.

President Trump continues to have record-low approval ratings with the general public, but he is maintaining his core base of supporters, finds a Washington Post/ABC News poll released today in advance of the 100-day mark of Trump’s presidency on April 29.

The big questions facing the coming week when Congress returns from being out among their individual constituents is whether:

1. a government shutdown is avoided come Friday night
2. a health care reform bill can be passed

Another pressing question is if a spending bill is passed and does not include money specifically for The Wall, will the Prez veto the bill and shutdown the government?

A revealing and troublesome response from the Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly:

There are so many aspects to this terrorist thing,” Kelly said on CBS NewsFace the Nation today. “Obviously you got the homegrown terrorists. I don’t know how to stop that. I don’t know how to detect that. You got other terrorist threats that come across the border.”

“It is a big problem,” Kelly said. “It is – you know, depending on where you sit is where you stand on this, It is a big threat. Is it the number one threat? I think it’s the most common threat. Unfortunately there are other similar-type terrorist threats that could come from outside the border. You know, the CIA, NSA, all the great men and women of DOD are doing a great job keeping them away from the homeland.”

The appeal I would make on the homegrown threat is if you see something, say something,” Kelly continued. “Whether you’re a parent, a sibling, an imam. And this extends frankly…to white supremacists and that kind of terrorism as well. If you see a young man or a young woman going down that path where they’re always on these kind of websites or saying things at church or in a mosque that are clearly disturbing, then tell someone about it so that we can help that kid, young man or woman, before they break the law.”

Kelly also said about the North Korea problem, “The instant they get a missile that can reach the United States and they have a weaponized atomic device, a nuclear device on it, we are at grave risk as a nation.”

The Democrats are feuding among themselves over whether you can be a Democrat and pro-life. The issue came to the forefront after a local mayoral candidate, who is pro-life and registered as a Democrat, affiliation was questioned by some fellow Democrats, who happen to be abortion-rights advocates.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has waded into the dispute.

Pelosi says that it’s absolutely possible for someone to be a member of the Democratic Party and also be against abortion.

I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive — my family would say aggressive — position on promoting a woman’s right to choose,” told Chuck Todd on NBC‘s Meet the Press today.

DNC Chair Tom Perez and Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders received backlash this week from abortion-rights groups since they scheduled a rally with a mayoral candidate in Omaha, Nebraska, who previously supported an abortion-related ultrasound bill.

Speaking of Democrats, what’s up with 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton?

Hillary’s making the rounds and sounding like she is ready for another go around with the Prez, while still not admitting her own, personal shortcomings for why she did not win a majority of Electoral College votes.

Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party shares average Americans’ concerns according to a new poll:

The White House announced today that President Trump will have dinner Thursday with the US Supreme Court.

State Politics: The North Carolina State Board of Elections reported 508 cases of voter fraud during the 2016 election. The vast majority were by active felons. The fraudulent votes represented a small fraction of the 4.8 million ballots cast. The report didn’t include any evidence of coordinated fraud, and many of the voters claimed to be confused about their eligibility. This was not enough to effect the outcome of any of the races.

Faced with three deaths linked to faith healing in the county over the last four months, Idaho’s Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue has launched a campaign to change the law, and remove any religious exemptions for the legal obligation to seek medical care for children.

Global Politics: French citizens headed to the polls today in the first round of presidential elections.

No one candidate was expected to take an outright majority; rather, four candidates are in contention to make it to the second round: far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, center-right François Fillon, centrist Emmanuel Macron, and far-left populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The top two candidates will face each other for the prize on May 7.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen advanced today to the runoff in France, remaking the country’s political system and setting up a showdown over its participation in the European Union.

The euro spiked against the dollar on today as early results from the French election showed Le Pen and Macron advancing to the runoff.

The United States will proceed with an agreement with Australia to help resettle refugees, Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday.

President Trump has made it clear that we’ll honor the agreement – that doesn’t mean we admire the agreement,” Pence said.

The arrangement requires the US to accept up to 1,250 refugees, many from Iran and Syria, from their present location in offshore detention centers in Australia. In return, Australia will accept refugees from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Now that we possess mighty nuclear power to protect ourselves from US nuclear threat, we will respond without the slightest hesitation to full-out war with full-out war and to nuclear war with our style of nuclear strike, and we will emerge victor in the final battle with the United States,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said on Saturday in a commentary that North Korea wouldn’t hesitate to launch a preemptive strike if provoked.

The US has now gone seriously mad. It is mulling frightening the DPRK and achieving something with nuclear strategic bombers, nuclear carriers, etc. However, the army and people of the DPRK will never be browbeaten by such bluffing,” it said, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic Republic of Korea.

President Trump will host members of the United Nations Security Council at the White House tomorrow.

Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is serving this month as the President of the Security Council, a role that rotates each month among the five Permanent members: the U.S., Great Britain, France, China and Russia. There are 15 members of the group, but the others, right now including Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay are non-voting members.

Thanks for viewing!

Politics Roundup: April 10 – 16, 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, 4/10/17:

Mixed signals?

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday on Fox News Sunday that the US might take further military action against the Syrian government, but would not try to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on its own.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said President Donald Trump’s Administration’s top priority in Syria was still defeating the Islamic State.

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said defeating ISIS is the top priority, but “we don’t see a peaceful Syria with Assad in there.”

Which is it?

Or is it both?

Then today in his daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on three occasions mentioned that not only chemical weapons, but the barrel bombs, commonly used by the Syrian regime and Russian aircraft on rebels and civilians, were also a red line to the President.

Spicer indicated the US may act if the barrel bombings continue.

Thoughts turned to Russia ahead of Tillerson’s meeting in Russia tomorrow.

I hope Russia is thinking carefully about its continued alliance with Bashar al-Assad, because every time one of these horrific attacks occurs, it draws Russia closer into some level of responsibility,” Tillerson said on ABC’s This Week.

I think what we should do is ask Russia, how could it be, if you have advisers at that airfield, that you didn’t know that the Syrian air force was preparing and executing a mass murder attack with chemical weapons?” McMaster said on Fox News.

History was made today with the swearing in of Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice.

Another bit of history was made with Gorsuch taking the bench since he is the first Justice who once served as a law clerk for a sitting Justice, Anthony Kennedy, and also serve with that Justice, who mentored the new Justice.

Gorsuch promised to be a “faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great nation.”

The Trump Administration’s proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency budget are deep and wide-ranging.

It seeks to shrink spending by 31 percent, to $5.7 billion from $8.1 billion, and to eliminate a quarter of the agency’s 15,000 jobs.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said today he is ending an Obama-era partnership with independent scientists that aimed to improve the reliability of forensic science, as longstanding concerns remain about the quality of such evidence in court cases.

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney will this week send a memo to federal agencies instructing them to prepare for future cuts to funding and staff, according to a new report.

State Politics: New York will soon be the first state in the nation to make college tuition free for middle class students at two-year and four-year public colleges.

Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed for the plan earlier this year, finding success in the budget passed over the weekend by the State Legislature.

With the federal government vastly expanding who is considered a priority for deportation, the California State Senate approved a bill last week that increased protections for immigrants.

The measure prohibits local law enforcement agencies from using resources to investigate, detain, report or arrest people for immigration violations.

Supporters say the law, essentially making California the country’s first “sanctuary state,” would prevent immigrants, who face no criminal charges, from being turned over for deportation.

If approved, the law could directly contradict federal directives, putting local law enforcement agencies in the difficult position of deciding whether to obey Sacramento or Washington.

Legal battles are considered likely.

Other states are considering similar legislation.

Alabama’s House Judiciary Committee began impeachment hearings today of Governor Robert Bilbray over his alleged adulterous affair with a former top political adviser.

Global Politics: Protesters in Venezuela want all seven Justices of the Supreme Court gone, after the court issued a ruling (later reversed) that would have transferred power from the National Assembly to the court.

The Islamic State warned that it planned more attacks, following taking credit for the dual church bombings in Egypt Sunday, saying: “The Crusaders and their tails from the apostates must be aware that the bill between us and them is very large and they will be paying it like a river of blood from their sons, if God willing.”

A bombing Sunday in Somalia came three days after the country’s new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (also known as Farmajo), declared war on al-Shabab, and shook up the leadership of the army, police, and national intelligence service to go after the Islamist extremist organization.

The target was Somalia’s newly installed Army Commander, General Ahmed Mohamed Jimale, outside the Defense Ministry in Mogadishu. The General escaped unscathed, but a minibus was hit, killing 15.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday that the isolated communist nation was “not frightened” by the US Tomahawk missile strike against Syria, or by the Navy carrier strike group the US has redirected toward the Korean Peninsula.

What happened in Syria once again taught a bitter lesson that…one can defend oneself from the imperialist aggression only when one has one’s strength,” a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said according to state media. “Any aggression should be countered with force only and we were entirely just when we have bolstered our nuclear force remarkably.”

Israel has closed its Taba border crossing to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula following intelligence suggesting an “imminent” terrorist attack, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said today.

We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was not originally scheduled to attend a wreath laying ceremony at a site where Nazi Germany committed a war crime, wiping out an entire village during World War II, but wanted to be present at the with the Foreign Ministers of Italy, Germany and the European Union.

This place will serve as an inspiration to us all.”

Tillerson’s remarks came after the US launched a missile strike on a Syrian airbase where chemical weapons are believed to have been launched last Tuesday in violation of international law.

France’s far-right presidential contender Marine Le Pen has prompted a major outcry by denying that the French government was responsible for the roundup of Jews in World War II.

Le Pen said Sunday on RTL radio “I don’t think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,”— a reference to the stadium where thousands of Jews were rounded up before being sent to Nazi death camps.

Turks will go to the polls on Sunday, April 16, to vote on constitutional amendments that would transform the country from a parliamentary democracy into a presidential system.

The Trump Administration will move forward with the sale of high-tech aircraft to Nigeria for its campaign against Boko Haram Islamic extremists despite concerns over abuses committed by the African nation’s security forces, according to US officials.

Tuesday, 4/11/17:

Policy?

What policy?

That’s the question around the world today.

What exactly is President Donald Trump’s policy on the situation in Syria?

Central Command’s General Joseph Votel said today that 57 of 59 targets were hit in the Tomahawk missle strike on the al Shayrat airbase.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said that 20 Syrian aircraft were destroyed in the attack.

Mattis said there is “no doubt” that the Syrian regime was behind the chemical attack.

Mattis also emphasized that defeat of the Islamic State is still the main goal of US involvement in Syrian.

The missile attack was separate and dealt only with violation of the 1925 Geneva Accord that outlawed use of chemical weapons, of which Syria was a signatory.

The President took to Twitter this morning to warn China that if it did not put the brakes on North Korea, the US would stop Kim Jung Un’s nuclear threat.

I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!” the Prez also tweeted.

The independent investigative unit of Congress, the Government Accountability Office, is reviewing the conduct of Trump’s transition to the presidency, including whether there were conflicts of interest or violations of protocol or security precautions.

During a visit to the US-Mexico border today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “This is a new era. This is the Trump era. The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch and release practices of old are over.”

President Trump’s proposed wall with Mexico will kick off in the San Diego, California border community of Otay Mesa, Customs and Border Protection confirmed Monday.

The Trump Administration has temporarily suspended the publication of weekly reports detailing cities and counties that fail to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement directives over concerns about the accuracy of those lists.

Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino is expected to step down from his seat to take on a new role in the Trump Administration.

Multiple sources told CBS News that Marino will head up the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) also known as the nation’s Drug Czar.

A group of 55 House lawmakers have delivered a letter to President Trump telling him he should get congressional approval if wants to expand US involvement in the Yemen civil war.

As U.S. Representatives, we take seriously the right and responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of force, or to refuse to do so, as mandated by the Constitution and the 1973 War Powers Resolution,” the bipartisan group of Representatives wrote. “We expect that any direct military actions pursued by the administration against the Yemeni Houthis be brought before Congress for consideration and authorization for approval before they are executed.”

The lawsuit between the Prez and a chef, who backed out of his contract to open a restaurant at Trump’s Washington hotel, has been settled.

President Trump is reportedly on pace to spend more on travel during his first year in office than former President Barack Obama spent on travel during all eight years he served.

OOPs!

Allusions or comparisons to Adolph Hitler are never a good move by politicians.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer is learning this first hand today following his attempt to say that Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad was more evil than Hitler by using chemical weapons on his own people.

Social media blew up even as Spicer made his remarks at today’s White House briefing.

First Spicer tried to say not even Hitler used chemical weapons in World War II, ignoring the Holocaust and the six million Jews gassed along with gays and Gypsies throughout Europe.

Then when in trying to worm his way out of the remarks, Spicer not only stepped in it deeper, but fell down, rolled in it and stood up with a stench that reached to high heavens by saying Hitler did not use the chemicals on his own people.

Spicer said that Assad was worse because he dropped chemical bombs in the middle of village.

Sean, hate to tell you, but those gassed in the concentration camps – NOT Holocaust centers – many happened to be Germans.

OOPs!

Let’s hope members of Congress, the members Allegheny College has already honored – Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. John McCain – the women of the Senate, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham – let’s hope that they and others of goodwill will lead in restoring harmonious work ways,” said 84-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an address at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania on Monday as she accepted the Prize for Civility in Public Life, honoring her and late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Lindsey, we had no clue! LOL

State Politics: Alabama’s Governor Robert Bilbray resigned from office last night as he faced impeachment and was booked into jail on charges of corruption over an alleged affair with a former top staffer.

Kansans are voting today to fill the vacancy in Congress when Congressman Mike Pompeo moved to the Central Intelligence Agency to be its Director.

President Trump even weighed in with a robocall to keep the seat in GOP hands even though Pompeo won by 2 to 1 and the Prez won by over 30% points.

Georgians are also voting next week to fill the vacancy left by Dr. Tom Price from Representative to become the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

A Federal judge in Texas ruled for second time Monday that Republican lawmakers designed the state’s strict voter ID law to discriminate against Democratic-leaning minority voters.

Once one of the nation’s most popular, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is now the most unpopular governor in the US, a new poll finds.

Global Politics: North Korean state media warned today that the isolated communist nation might launch a nuclear attack on the US over any indication of a preemptive attack by a US Navy strike heading toward nearby waters in the western Pacific.

Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the US invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theatre but also in the US mainland,” North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.

This goes to prove that the US reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase,” a spokesman for the North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said, according to state news agency KCNA.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is comparing the current accusations on the Syrian regime using chemical bombs on its own citizens a false claim similar to the US claim of weapons of mass destruction as a pretext to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Putin said the accusation is a pretext to go after dictator Bashar al Assad.

The US is countering that the Russian are covering up chemical weapons and attacks for the Syrian regime and even insinuating Russia was complicit in last week’s attack on Khan Sheikhoun, Syria.

However, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer pointed out there is no consensus in the intelligence community on Russian complicity at this time.

Facing growing pressure from the US and the western world, Syria and North Korea are renewing their ties of friendship saying in a message, the two rogue nations were “conducting a war against big powers’ wild ambition to subject all countries to their expansionist and dominationist policy and deprive them of their rights to self-determination,” KCNA reported.

The two peoples of Syria and the DPRK are as ever struggling for their rights to self-determination and national sovereignty and the security and prosperity of their countries,” it added, using the initials for the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Iran joined the Russians in rejecting the US version of why it attacked a Syrian airbase last week and doubling down on their expressions of support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

A fleet of North Korean cargo ships is heading home to the port of Nampo, the majority of it fully laden, after China ordered its trading companies to return coal from the isolated country, shipping data shows.

Wednesday, 4/12/17:

In or out?

Are the days numbered for White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Political Strategist Steve Bannon?

Will Spicer’s apology for his comparison of Bashar al Assad being worse than Adolph Hitler be enough to save his bacon?

I let the President down,” Spicer lamented.

Did Bannon lose out to First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner?

A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant was issued to keep tabs on former foreign policy adviser Carter Page, when President Donald Trump was running to become President.

Page was being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a possible agent for Russia.

Page never met with Trump nor did he have a formal role in the Trump campaign. Page was, however, cited by then candidate Trump as being one of his advisers on world affairs.

Page, who previously worked as an investment banker in Moscow, Russia has not been charged with a crime, but the investigation into his contacts offered a clear sign of early suspicions that Trump associates were in contact with Russian agents at a time when US officials believe Russia was trying to tip the election to Trump.

After a review of the same intelligence reports brought to light by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides have so far found no evidence that Obama administration officials did anything unusual or illegal.

In a surprise move, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today. The meeting was not scheduled and was not expected to occur.

Tillerson is in Russia meeting with his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, urging the Russians to drop support for Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad and show the evidence that Syria was behind the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria one week ago today.

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, speaking to the Security Council today, warned Russia that it was isolating itself from the rest of the world every time it continued supporting Assad when he “dropped another barrel bomb” on his own people.

The Prez earlier in an interview mentioned the use of barrel bombs by the Syrian regime as well.

Earlier this week Spicer had said that barrel bombs also crossed the President’s personal red line on retaliation.

Haley also said that Iran was “dumping fuel on the fire” of the Syrian civil war, which has raged for six years now.

Haley demanded Russia “get chemical weapons out of Syria.”

There are actions by the Assad regime we will simply not tolerate,” Haley said.

The President said about Assad, “This is an animal.”

Are we going to get involved with Syria? No,” the Prez said. But, he added, “I see them using gas…we have to do something.”

Point – Counterpoint:

LevrovWe have seen no proof the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on its own people
TillersonWe have incontrovertible proof the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on its own people

Both Tillerson and Levrov said that the relations between the two nuclear powers were at their lowest in decades.

There is a low level of trust between our two countries,” Tillerson said candidly.

Still, the Russians agreed to reinstate the deconfliction agreement to prevent an accidental confrontation as both countries fly over Syria.

President Trump said he will be taking action after North Korea’s President Kim Jong Un threatened to nuke US war ships.

We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier,” Trump told the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. “We have the best military people on Earth. And I will say this: he is doing the wrong thing.”

The President met in the White House today with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The Prez said that NATO is “no longer obsolete.”

A change of mind, the President has decided not to label China as a currency manipulator.

The federal hiring freeze imposed by President Trump in January is slated to be lifted Wednesday, but agencies won’t be allowed to hire willy-nilly, the President’s chief budget officer said.

What we’re doing tomorrow is replacing the across-the-board hiring freeze that we put into place on day one in office and replacing it with a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan,” said Mick Mulvaney, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

FYI: Under an obscure Internal Revenue Service rule, the tax returns of the President and Vice President are automatically audited, every year, no exceptions.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson was trapped in an elevator while touring a housing project in Miami, Florida for about 15 minutes today.

Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort is registering as an agent of a foreign government for work he did a few years ago for the Ukrainian government.

Great Britain’s Daily Mail and the Mail Online website today apologized to First Lady Melania Trump and agreed to pay her an undisclosed settlement over an article they published last year about her work as a professional model that suggested she had worked as an escort.

State Politics: From Alabama Lieutenant Governor to Governor, Kay Ivey saved the state $90,000 a year her first day on the job by accepting the resignation of the Director of Faith-Based Services.

That man is also happens to be the husband of the woman disgraced Governor Robert Bentley is accused of having an affair which led to his resignation this week and pleading guilty to misdemeanor corruption charges.

What is in the water in North Carolina?

After the big loss the Tar Heel State suffered over the “bathroom law,” you would think that Republican legislators would have learned.

Not so!

Three GOP lawmakers have submitted a bill to defy the Supreme Court ruling making marriage of same-gender couples legal in all 50 states.

The bill would not allow any marriage except man and woman, citing the Bible as authority, which in itself is a constitutional no-no.

By seven points, Ron Estes beat back his Democratic opponent in a Kansas special election to keep the seat in the House of Representatives, vacated by Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, in GOP hands on Tuesday.

An angry crowd in South Carolina chanted “you lie” to Representative Joe Wilson at a town hall Monday, using the Republican Congressman’s own infamous line against him, which he was rebuked for saying at a State of the Union Address to former President Barack Obama.

The Alabama Senate voted 24 to 4 on Tuesday to allow the Briarwood Presbyterian Church, a megachurch located in suburban Birmingham, to break with precedent and establish its own police force. The bill now moves to the House.

Global Politics: Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today unexpectedly filed to run in the country’s May election, potentially upending a race that many had predicted to be won by moderate President Hassan Rouhani.

The level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not become better but most likely has degraded,” Putin said in an interview broadcast today by state television channel Mir.

We have seen very alarming actions recently with an unlawful attack against Syria,” Lavrov said to Tillerson, referring to the 59 Tomahawk missiles Trump launched at a Syrian air base to punish Assad for using chemical weapons. “We consider it of utmost importance to prevent the risks of replay of similar action in the future.”

South Korea’s Acting President, Hwang Kyo-ahn, has warned of “greater provocations” by North Korea and ordered the military to intensify monitoring.

Lee Duk-haeng, South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman, said South Korea, the United States and “other countries” were coordinating closely.

Japan announced two of its warships may join the US “armada” off the coast of the Korean Peninsula.

For the eighth time today, Russia vetoed a resolution in the United Nations Security Council condemning Syria for its war crimes – this time for last week’s chemical bombing.

However, following the meeting of Tillerson with both Putin and Levrov today, the United States and Russia agreed to work together on an international investigation of a Syrian chemical weapons attack last week that prompted retaliatory American missile strikes.

Washington blames Russia’s ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Moscow says Syrian rebels are responsible.

China abstained from the UN vote today.

In a phone call today on the North Korean nuclear threat, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed to President Trump that China “advocates resolving the issue through peaceful means,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

During the call, Xi told Trump that China remains “willing to maintain communication and coordination with the American side on the issue of the peninsula.”

Xi told Trump on the call that the Syria issue “must continue to move towards a political solution“, and that “any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said today it was “irresponsible and even dangerous to take any actions that may escalate the tension.”

All relevant parties should exercise restraint and keep calm, easing tensions instead of provoking each other and adding fuel to the fire,” he said at a regular press briefing.

China’s Global Times newspaper, which sometimes reflects the thinking of China’s leadership, said a new missile test by North Korea would be a “slap in the face of the US government” and that Beijing would not “remain indifferent.”

Presumably Beijing will react strongly to Pyongyang’s new nuclear actions,” it said, adding there was increasing popular support for “severe restrictive measures that have never been seen before.”

On Monday Montenegro became the 29th member of NATO.

Thursday, 4/13/17:

Key, “Changes” and enter President Donald Trump.

Change was the key word on Wednesday as several policies espoused on the campaign trail seemed to give way to the reality of world events.

OOPs!

The Prez during one of his interviews said the dollar was “too strong.”

This set off a firestorm of selling US currency, dropping the dollar’s value.

It’s very, very hard to compete when you have a strong dollar and other countries are devaluing their currency,” the President said.

Trump said he was open to reappointing Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen.

The President praised the Export-Import Bank, which he mocked last year, telling The Wall Street Journal the agency is “a very good thing, and it actually makes money.”

To get Democrats to work with him on health care, President Trump threatened to withhold $7 billion in cost-sharing payments for the Affordable Care Act.

ObamaCare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money,” Trump said. “What I think should happen and will happen is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called Trump’s strategy “cynical,” saying the President was “threatening to hold hostage health care for millions of Americans, many of whom voted for him.”

The Trump Administration is exploring ways to put together a nationwide deportation force, something President Trump promised during his campaign, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing an internal Department of Homeland Security assessment.

President Trump signed legislation today erasing an Obama-era rule that barred states from withholding federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

Americans are unsure of the President’s ability to deal with North Korea:

Sixty-four percent of Republicans think that President Trump should publicly release his tax returns, according to a survey conducted by Global Strategy Group.

Things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia. At the right time everyone will come to their senses & there will be lasting peace!” the President tweeted today after noting yesterday that relations between the two nations are a low point.

Virginia Congressman Dave Brat, one of the conservative Freedom Caucus leaders whose resistance helped undermine the Republican health care proposal last month, says White House and congressional negotiators are close to a compromise that he predicts will pass the House in the next three weeks.

Within a few weeks, I think DC is going to be a little bit shocked,” he said in an interview with Capital Download. “We’re going to get to yes.”

State Politics: North Carolina Republican General Assembly member, Larry Pittman from Cabarrus County, this week called President Abraham Lincoln “the same sort (of) tyrant as Adolf Hitler,” according to the Charlotte Observer.

As I asked yesterday, what is in the water in the Tar Heel State?

Pittman made the comparison on Facebook while responding to a commenter who was critical of legislation the lawmaker has introduced that seeks to bring an end to same-sex marriage in North Carolina, the Observer reported.

And if Hitler had won, should the world just get over it?” he added. “Lincoln was the same sort if (sic) tyrant, and personally responsible for the deaths of over 800,000 Americans in a war that was unnecessary and unconstitutional.”

Shaking My Head

Global Politics: There is a possibility that North Korea is already capable of delivering (via missile) a warhead containing sarin,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a Parliamentary Diplomacy and Defence Committee, referring to the poison nerve agent.

Opinion polls show around a third of France’s 45.7 million voters might abstain, an unprecedented number in a country with a long tradition of high turnouts.

Even among those who intend to vote, about one third have yet to make up their mind on how to cast their ballot.

The presidential election is in May.

The detention of a prominent feminist academic for criticising the Ugandan President on Facebook has been widely condemned by human rights groups.

Friday, 4/14/17:

Brink of war?

All eyes are on North Korea as it commemorates its most sacred holiday, the birthday of the nation’s late founder and grandfather of the Young Leader, Kim Jung Un.

Did President Donald Trump send the right message to Un to keep the North Korean dictator from doing anything rash?

Or did the President prime the pump for an eruption of war?

The Prez is monitoring the global situation this Easter weekend from Mar-A-Lago along with some of the top people in his National Security Council.

The US is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior US intelligence officials told NBC News.

The White House is not commenting on the NBC report.

Talking about adding fodder to the fire, British spy agency GCHQ gave the US the first alert about possible ties between then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian operatives, The Guardian reported Thursday.

GCHQ and other European intelligence agencies intercepted communications between Trump associates and known or suspected Russian agents as early as late 2015 and passed on the information to US officials.

The White House won’t make public the logs of visitors to the White House complex, breaking with the practice of President Trump’s predecessor.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $31 million in the first three months of the year, setting a record for the group’s typically sluggish early cash chase.

Observers say New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is already acting like a presidential candidate for 2020, increasingly positioning himself with party leaders, aiming his message at middle-class angst and touting measures such as free tuition as an example of the kind of big ideas he can accomplish.

He’s running. It’s pretty clear,” said University of Maryland political scientist Robert Koulish, who said the second-term governor appears to be positioning himself as a hybrid: a centrist in the mold of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton who supports social policies championed by liberals like Sanders. “Maybe he’ll present himself as a progressive who gets things done.”

State Politics: Republican Arizona Senator Jeff Flake Thursday faced off with angry constituents at a town hall, fielding questions about repealing ObamaCare and the Supreme Court.

Senator, my question is: when are you going to choose your country over your party?” one attendee at the Mesa, Arizona event asked.

Global Politics: China warned today that rising tensions over North Korea must be calmed before they reach an “irreversible and unmanageable stage.”

Lately, tensions have risen…and one has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said. “If a war occurs, the result is a situation in which everybody loses and there can be no winner.”

South Korea said that a nuclear test or intercontinental ballistic missile launch by North Korea would be a “strategic provocation” that would provoke a “powerful punitive measure.”

North Korea accused the US of “seriously threatening peace” by sending “huge nuclear strategic assets” to the region.

Vice President Mike Pence is traveling to South Korea Easter Sunday.

We don’t know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhoun,” Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad told Agence France-Presse in his first television interview since the bombing by US fighters in retaliation for last week’s regime chemical attack. “Were they dead at all?”

France’s presidential election race looked tighter than it has all year today, just over a week before voting opens as a new opinion poll put the four leading candidates only 3% points apart.

Sunday, 4/16/17:

Cooler heads seem to be prevailing on this Easter Sunday.

North Korean Young Leader Kim Jung Un did attempt to test fire a ballistic missile early today, but it exploded within five seconds of launch.

So far President Donald Trump has not ordered any type of retaliatory action for Un defying his warning and that of Un’s only real ally, China.

National Security Adviser General H.R. McMasters flew to Afghanistan to meet with Afghan officials today.

McMaster met President Ashraf Ghani and other senior Afghan officials to discuss security, counter-terrorism, reforms, and development, according to a statement on the palace’s Twitter account.

The stakes are high,” said McMaster. “This is really the modern-day frontier between barbarism and civilization.”

McMaster said, “It’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.”

President Trump asserted today that China was working with the United States on “the North Korea problem.”

Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!” Trump tweeted.

Vice President Mike Pence, in South Korea today, told American and South Korea service members that North Korea’s latest “provocation,” a failed missile launch shortly before his arrival in Seoul, laid bare the risks they face.

Your willingness to step forward, to serve, to stand firm without fear, inspires the nation and inspires the world,” Pence told the troops.

Lamenting the election of President Trump, Senator Bernie Sanders had this to say today about the Democratic Party and the voter turnout in 2016:

So many of our people are giving up on the political process. It is very frightening. In the last presidential election, when Trump won, we had the lowest voter turnout over – in 20 years. And in the previous two years before that, in the midterm election, we had the lowest voter turnout in 70 years,” Sanders continued. “We’re going to be fighting to see that the Democratic Party becomes a 50-state party. You can’t just be a West Coast party and an East Coast party.”

Keep your eyes on Presidential Adviser Gary Cohn, former Goldman Sachs CEO and registered Democrat.

Tomorrow the traditional Easter Egg Roll will take place on the lawn of the White House.

President Trump and the Republican National Committee together raised $42.6 million toward the 2020 race in the first quarter of 2017, Federal Election Commission reports reveal.

State Politics: Republicans kept a Kansas seat in the House of Representatives this week and former Democratic presidential contender and independent Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders is not so happy.

Sanders said today that Democrats should’ve done more to support the party’s candidate, James Thompson, during the special House election in Kansas last week.

It is true that the Democratic Party should have put more resources into that election,” Sanders told host Jake Tapper on CNN‘s State of the Union. “But it is also true that he ran 20 points better than the Democratic candidate for president did in Kansas.”

This Tuesday, Democrats are trying to pick up a seat held by Republicans for decades in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Global Politics: Turks go to the polls today to approve or disapprove of granting the presidency more power, moving Turkey from a dominant parliamentary system to a strong presidential system of governance.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pushing the measure which would ensure he remains in office for at least another decade.

Under the new proposal, the President would be able to dissolve the legislature, rule by executive order, and gain new authority over administrative and judicial appointments.

Erdogan celebrated what he said was a clear result in the referendum to grant him sweeping new powers, but opponents said they would challenge the vote count which gave a narrow 51.3% lead to Erdogan’s supporters.

China is seeking Russia’s help to cool surging tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, the country’s Foreign Minister has told his Moscow counterpart, after Beijing warned of possible conflict over North Korea.

The European Union is set to inflict a double humiliation on British Prime Minister Theresa May, stripping Britain of its European agencies within weeks, while formally rejecting the Prime Minister’s calls for early trade talks.

Odebrecht SA, the Brazilian engineering company at the center of a historic corruption scandal in that country, paid out a total of about $3.3 billion in bribes in the nine years through 2014, according to testimony cited by local media on Saturday.

A yellow fever outbreak is tearing through Brazil leaving thousands dead in its wake – thousands of monkeys, that is.

Thanks for viewing!

Politics Roundup: April 3 – 9, 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, 4/3/17:

Countdown!

The codes are being loaded for the “nuclear option” set to blow up the Senate later this week over the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has rallied his fellow Democrats to filibuster the vote even though three Senators are voting with Republicans.

If Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hits the button, the way business is conducted in the World’s Most Deliberative Body will be changed forever.

The Senate Judiciary Committee along party lines voted to move Gorsuch confirmation to the full chamber for a vote.

President Donald Trump signaled McConnell to do whatever is necessary to assure Gorsuch’s position on the nation’s highest court.

Hoosier Republican Senator Todd Young had this to say about Gorsuch, “In Judge Gorsuch, President Trump found an individual who embodies the characteristics most Hoosiers are looking for on our nation’s highest court. I’m proud to say that I will be voting to confirm him on the floor of the U.S. Senate.”

The President met with the Egyptian President today, a man who had been banned in the White House by former President Barack Obama. Trump assured the Egyptians that the US would continue to be a strong ally and partner.

On Wednesday, the King of Jordan will visit the White House.

Thursday and Friday are already making news ahead of the visit from the Chinese President at Mar-A-Lago for a two-day powwow with the President.

A big topic between the Prez and Xi Jinping may be North Korea.

First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner traveled with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford on a surprise trip to Iraq.

The Washington Post is reporting, The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials. (More on this: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/blackwater-founder-held-secret-seychelles-meeting-to-establish-trump-putin-back-channel/2017/04/03/95908a08-1648-11e7-ada0-1489b735b3a3_story.html)

Bloomberg is reporting, White House lawyers last month discovered that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter. (More on this: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-04-03/top-obama-adviser-sought-names-of-trump-associates-in-intel)

The Prez is donating his first quarter salary as POTUS to the National Park Service.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear an appeal in May over a Hawaii federal judge’s order that blocked President Trump’s revised travel restrictions on people from several Muslim-majority countries.

The Trump Executive Orders to-date: http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/here-s-full-list-donald-trump-s-executive-orders-n720796

State Politics: The Kansas House failed by a narrow margin Monday to override Republican Governor Sam Brownback’s veto of a bill that would expand Medicaid to thousands of low-income Kansans.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican who not only supports work requirements and premium payments, but also a new additional condition: to make applicants undergo a drug test if they’re suspected of substance abuse, if the person wants Medicaid.

Global Politics: British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said today that the sovereignty of Gibraltar would not change as part of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said his government was surprised to see British leaders “losing their cool” over Gibraltar.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders called for calm, saying, “You can now see how difficult the divorce is.”

Both of the main candidates, including the incumbent President, are declaring victory in Sunday’s election in Ecuador. The divide between the two was only 3% with 96% of the vote counted.

Conservative Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic won Serbia’s presidential election on Sunday by a huge margin, confirming his domination of the Balkan country as he pursues a delicate balancing act between Europe and Russia.

The Presidents of Russia and Belarus said today they had resolved all disputes over energy, signaling a rapprochement at a time when both leaders are grappling with street protests and the threat of new Western sanctions hangs over Minsk, Belarus.

Tuesday, 4/3/17:

Front burner?

Could it be after announcing that the Republican Administration will move on to tax reform and infrastructure, health care insurance reform is once more in the forefront of things to do?

White House officials, spearheaded by Vice President Mike Pence, met with members of the conservative Freedom Caucus on Monday in a bid to jumpstart stalled talks on replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Freedom Caucus’ Chairman Mark Meadows said the Administration of President Donald Trump had offered a “solid idea” that could lead to a compromise to get past GOP infighting that caused the bill to fail last month.

The Department of Homeland Security Monday announced steps to crack down on fraudulent use of H1B visas.

President Trump has signed the law that repeals protections forcing internet service providers to get a person’s OK before collecting and sharing data.

A wrong move in my opinion.

President Trump blasted critics on Monday for focusing on his associates’ communications with Russia, saying the “real story” was the former President Barack Obama Administration’s “crooked scheme” to find damaging intelligence on Trump before last year’s presidential election.

No – it is both.

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice said she did nothing wrong in unmasking American names in intelligence reports.

The allegation is that somehow the Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes, ” Rice said in an exclusive interview with NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell. “That’s absolutely false.”

First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner travelled with the top US General Joseph Dunsford to an Iraqi base 10 miles from Mosul today, and voiced hope the city’s eventual recapture from Islamic State would be “a victory for the world.”

Speaking to the North America’s Building Trades Unions today as well as to CEOs from the construction industry, the Prez vowed only to approve “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects.

Trump told the group, “If you have a job that you can’t start within 90 days, we’re not going to give you money for it…because it doesn’t help us.”

In an interview on CBS This Morning, Chelsea Clinton was asked whether she thinks her mother, Hillary Clinton, would run for public office again.

Oh, I have no idea. I don’t think so,” Chelsea said. “I think right now she’s focused on her book. She’s focused, thankfully, on her grandchildren. She’s focused on what she can do to help support work that she’s been engaged in for longer than I’ve been alive, around children, around women, around families.”

State Politics: The Justice Department on Monday asked a judge to delay until at least the end of June a hearing on a proposed agreement on reforms in the Baltimore, Maryland Police Department.

The request came shortly before Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered his department to review proposed overhaul deals with troubled police departments nationwide.

Ten states led by Democrats and a handful of national environmental groups sued the Trump Administration, claiming it’s violating federal law by delaying energy-efficiency standards intended to save Americans almost $24 billion.

The lawsuit is the latest challenge to the Trump Administration by groups of Democratic-led states seeking to slow the implementation of the President’s policy initiatives.

Global Politics: A US Navy aid unit has been told to leave Cambodia, the US Embassy said, in a new sign of the Southeast Asian country loosening links with the US as it strengthens ties with China.

Singapore’s Supreme Court recently ruled on a case that parents have a strong interest in “genetic affinity” with their children, one that can merit compensation if subverted.

The US has withdrawn funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an agency that promotes family planning in more than 150 countries. The State Department said the UNFPA “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”

Wednesday, 4/5/17:

End up in jail.”

That is the assessment of Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro about associates of the campaign of President Donald Trump when he was running for office in 2016.

Castro seems certain there was collusion by staffers of Trump and Russian officials to interfere in the presidential election.

White House Political Director Steve Bannon is no longer serving on the National Security Council’s Principals Committee as the President realigns the West Wing.

President Trump on Tuesday blamed the Syrian government for what appeared to be one of the deadliest chemical weapon attacks in Syria’s civil war.

Trump called the attack, which killed an estimated 72 people, “reprehensible.”

Trump, however, leveled his harshest criticism at former President Barack Obama.

“These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past Administration’s weakness and irresolution,” Trump said.

President Trump said today that the chemical attack in Syria was “horrible” and “an affront to humanity.”

These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated,” the President warned.

While still casting aspersion on former President Barack Obama on not following through with his “red line“, President Trump said, “It is now my responsibility. I carry that responsibility with honor” to react on Syria gassing its own people.

My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very, very drastically,” the President said.

King Abdullah II of Jordan met with the Prez today at the White House, ahead of the meeting tomorrow and Friday with Xi Jinping of China at Mar-A-Lago.

Senate Democrats began their filibuster of Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vows to confirm Gorsuch Friday – one way or the other.

Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley ended his all-night Supreme Court protest this morning, yielding the Senate floor after more than 15 hours.

Bipartisan negotiations involving as many as 10 senators hoping to avoid a floor blowup over the Senate rules and Gorsuch have collapsed, setting up a partisan showdown.

Tomorrow head for the bomb shelters.

Republicans are ready to launch the “nuclear option“, changing the way the Senate conducts business forever.

McConnell said Tuesday that the “legislative filibuster” is safe from being blown to smithereens.

A Quinnipiac poll found that 52% of Americans are embarrassed to have Trump as President.

The Islamic State released a statement on Tuesday on what it thinks of President Trump, saying he is an “idiot who does not know what Syria or Iraq or Islam is.”

The Prez told The New York Times that he thinks that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice may have committed a crime when unmasking names of his campaign associates caught up in incidental collection.

The Prez also defended Bill O’Reilly against charges of sexual harassment.

Progress on a healthcare bill have “stalled” in talks between Republican conservatives and moderates, who had hoped to patch up differences this week.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told a Senate panel today that apprehensions of undocumented immigrants along the US-Mexico border was below 17,000 in March, marking the least migration since at least 2000.

Two Democratic Senators want the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers to explain the agency’s decision-making that ultimately paved the way for completion of the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Those documents which both House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes and Ranking Member Adam Schiff saw are being withheld from the entire committee by the White House.

Get ready for a fight that may lead to a government shutdown by month’s end.

State Politics: Chicago, Illinois Mayor Rahm Emanuel appeared on CBS This Morning today to discuss his new proposal, which would require students to develop a post-high school plan before receiving a diploma.

In a memo issued Tuesday, federal District Judge Howard Sachs said he is issuing a ruling which will invalidate Missouri’s requirement that doctors who perform abortions must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and that clinics meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery.

Global Politics: Russia denied today that Syrian President Bashar al Assad was to blame for a poison gas attack.

The Russians said it would continue to back Assad.

This sets the Kremlin on course for its biggest diplomatic collision yet with President Trump’s White House.

Israel’s Parliament voted in favour of a controversial law against illegal constructions that detractors say will mostly target Arab homes built without required, but hard-to-get, permits.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte faced criticism today for defending adultery by a powerful political ally.

An increasing number of female officials, teachers and students have been wearing the Atlas and other traditional dresses following a recommendation by the Central Asian country of Tajikistan’s government.

The authorities have campaigned against Arab-style head and face coverings like the hijab as part of a crackdown that has also included forced beard shavings.

The government claims that over a thousand Tajiks have joined the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and points to “foreign” Islamic clothing as “being a sign of radicalization“, said Edward Lemon, a researcher at the Harriman Institute of Columbia University in New York.

Thursday, 4/6/17:

Sidelined.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes stepped aside from the probes into Russian interference and possible collusion by associates of President Donald Trump during his campaign today.

Texas Congressman Mike Conaway will now lead the investigation.

Nunes is facing ethics complaints that he may have inadvertently disclosed classified information during some of his press briefings on the investigation.

The Senate headed into a showdown over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch today.

Republicans were unable to break the Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch during a vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell then pushed the button and launched the “nuclear option,” which changes the rules to allow for a simple majority to confirm Supreme Court nominees.

The option was employed a few years ago by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to all other appointments, but did not apply to the Supreme Court nominees.

This paves the way for Gorsuch to be confirmed and take his place on the high court bench with tomorrow’s confirmation vote.

For now, the legislative filibuster remains a part of Senate rules.

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced today an amendment, which would revive the failed American Health Care Act, by lowering costs for health insurance while protecting insurers covering people with pre-existing conditions. The plan calls for the creation of high risk pools to offset the cost for patients with pre-existing conditions.

The majority of House Freedom Caucus members will vote for a Republican health care bill if changes offered by the White House are included in the legislation, the head of the conservative group of House Republicans said today.

The Prez is meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mar-A-Lago today and tomorrow.

The meeting is expected to focus on the North Korean nuclear threat as well as testy economic issues facing the Presidents.

The President is considering limited, targeted military response to Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians, which also killed babies and children. See below for more information.

A crime reduction task force created by Attorney General Jeff Sessions will review how the Department of Justice enforces marijuana laws, among other things, according to a memo Sessions issued Wednesday to 94 US Attorneys.

Could the days be numbered for White House Political Director Steve Bannon?

First Son Donald Junior told a gun club meeting last night that he was considering running for Governor of New York.

The younger Donald said he had caught the political bug working on his father’s campaign.

Whether Junior jumps in to the 2018 race in the Empire State seems doubtful at this time, but 2022 is not that far off.

State Politics: The Alabama Ethics Commission says Governor Robert Bentley may have violated state ethics and campaign finance laws.

The case has been sent to a district attorney. If he’s charged and convicted, Bentley could face fines and jail time.

The Alabama State Legislature may reconsider whether to impeach Bentley after it failed to do so earlier this year.

The Florida State Legislature is considering a bill to apologize to victims of abuse and neglect at the former state-run Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, a reform school in the Florida panhandle that closed in 2011.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is halting payments to Amtrak following a second derailment at New York City’s Penn Station that is causing headaches for commuters in the nation’s busiest rail hub.

A coalition of 17 states filed a legal challenge Wednesday against efforts by President Trump’s Administration to roll back climate change regulations, deepening a political rift over his emerging energy policies.

Global Politics: The Dalai Lama consecrated a Buddhist monastery in India’s disputed northeast border region on today, triggering an angry reaction from China.

China’s Foreign Ministry said the visit by the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, “severely harms China’s interests and the China-India relationship.”

The spokesman for President Vladimir Putin tells The Associated Press that Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad is not unconditional.

Syria’s armed forces “did not and will not” use chemical weapons, even against jihadist groups, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said today.

Aung San Suu Kyi has denied security forces have carried out ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, speaking to the BBC after the United Nations Human Rights Council agreed to investigate allegations of rape, murder and torture against the Myanmar Army.

A Malaysian Member of Parliament said girls as young as nine were “physically and spiritually” ready for marriage, as the Muslim-majority Southeast Asian country passed a law on sexual offences against children without criminalizing child marriage.

Nauru President Baron Waqa says Australia’s controversial policy of sending asylum seekers to his impoverished Pacific island nation is “working well.”

Friday, 4/7/17:

Retaliation!

Between 8 and 9 p.m. (ET), while having dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Donald Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles to strike the al-Shayrat airbase north of Damascus, Syria on Thursday.

The target was the airstrip from where the deadly chemical weapons were launched that killed nearly 90 people, including nearly two dozen children, in Idlib.

The missile strike was limited, targeted and precise to let Syria and the world know there was a new sheriff in town, who would not tolerate a brutal regime committing war crimes against his own people.

In giving the order to strike, the President and the US acted alone, but were not alone in support.

Most western world leaders backed the President’s decision as did the Japanese and such Middle Eastern nations as Israel and Saudi Arabia.

In opposition were only Russia, Iran, China and North Korea.

Russia was given a one-hour’s notice of the strike. About a dozen members of Congress were consulted. Leaders of allies such as Great Britain, France, Canada and Australia were notified in advance.

Broad support of the President from across the aisle in both chambers of Congress. Support came from former officials of the Administration of former President Barack Obama, who opined they wished that Obama had done similar in 2013 when Bashar al Assad, the dictator of Syria, crossed the then President’s “red line.”

From pundits and military analysts, the support for the US hitting Shayrat was nearly universal.

There are those who say any more action will require the consent of Congress with a new authorization for the use of force (AUF).

The Pentagon is investigating whether Russia may have been complicit in the chemical attack in Syria on Tuesday.

Officials say a drone belonging either to Russia or the Syrian government was seen just before the attack, and it returned later to bomb the hospital where patients were being treated, perhaps an effort to hide evidence.

On a personal note, I agree with the limited, targeted strike to let Syrian strongman Assad know that war crimes will not be tolerated.

President Trump pressed President Xi to do more to curb North Korea’s nuclear program and help reduce the gaping US trade deficit with Beijing in talks, even as he toned down the strident anti-China rhetoric of his election campaign.

The message of Thursday night’s missile strike was also to North Korea and China that the US would do what was necessary to rein in the rogue state if it continued to launch missiles and pursue its nuclear ambitions in violation of United Nations resolutions.

That message was apparently received and understood by President Xi.

The White House is taking steps that could open up new areas of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans to offshore oil and gas drilling, according to multiple individuals briefed on the proposal.

Tennessee State Senator Mark Green has been tapped to become Secretary of the Army. The West Point graduate is a physician and the CEO of an emergency department staffing company.

State Politics: California Governor Jerry Brown declared his state’s historic, four-year drought is officially ended.

This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” Brown said. “Conservation must remain a way of life.”

Global Politics: President Trump’s decision to fire 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base late Thursday puts Washington and Moscow “on the verge of a military clash,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, labeling the strike “really sad for [Russia’s] now completely ruined relations” with the U.S. and “good news for terrorists.”

The world is waiting for the Russian government to act responsibly in Syria,” Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, replied. “The world is waiting for Russia to reconsider its misplaced alliance with Bashar Assad.”

Not only did Russia condemn the missile strike, but said it was suspending an agreement to minimize the risk of in-flight incidents between US and Russian aircraft operating over Syria.

The two leaders had positive and productive meetings,” said a statement from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer about the meeting at Mar-A-Lago between the President and President Xi. “The two presidents reviewed the state of the bilateral relationship and noted the importance of working together to generate positive outcomes that would benefit the citizens of both countries.”

China’s official newspaper said the summit went “as well as it could,” editorializing that “Beijing and Washington have so far managed to do well in preventing conflicts,” which “shows confrontation is not inevitable.” Another state-run outlet said the summit indicated a new “pragmatic relationship” between the two nations.

Venezuela’s embattled socialist government stepped up its campaign against the opposition by banning Henrique Capriles, two-time presidential candidate and governor of Miranda state, from holding public office. The opposition responded by calling on Venezuelans to step up protests.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reacted with outrage to US cruise missile strikes on a Syrian military air base, calling them an “unjust and arrogant aggression” that would only increase his government’s determination to “crush” militant groups in Syria, according to the state news agency.

Sunday, 4/9/17:

Priority.

The main goal of President Donald Trump remains the defeat of the Islamic State and a distorted Islamic ideology spreading terror around the world. But the status of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad is also a target, but not the highest aim.

Getting [Bashar al-Assad] out is not the only priority,” United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley told Jake Tapper this morning on CNN‘s State of the Union in response to Tapper’s question about whether regime change is official US policy.

So what we’re trying to do is obviously defeat [the Islamic State]. Secondly, we don’t see a peaceful Syria with Assad in there. Thirdly, get the Iranian influence out. And then finally move towards a political solution…but we know that there is not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Saturday likewise said the US “can’t put up with” Assad, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson named defeating ISIS as the Trump Administration’s top priority in Syria.

Reportedly, President Trump has scrapped the tax plan he campaigned on and is going back to the drawing board in a search for Republican consensus behind legislation to overhaul the tax system.

Administration officials say it’s now unlikely that a tax overhaul will meet the August deadline set by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

White House Political Strategist Steve Bannon and First Son-in-Law and “Has the Ear of the President” Jared Kushner met. The pair agreed to “bury the hatchet” over their differences, in a bid to stop infighting that has distracted from President Trump’s message.

This came after the two powerhouses were corralled by White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus Friday night in what could be termed a “come to Jesus meeting.”

K. T. McFarland has been asked to step down as Deputy National Security Advisor to the President after less than three months.

McFarland is expected to be nominated as Ambassador to Singapore, according to a person familiar with White House personnel moves.

State Politics: The Alabama Supreme Court Saturday ruled the state’s lawmakers can proceed with impeachment proceedings against embattled Governor Robert Bentley, who has been accused of misuse of power in an effort to conceal his alleged affair with an aide.

Bilbray admits to inappropriate conversations, but denies an affair and illegal activity.

James Thompson, the Democrat running to fill the House seat vacated by Trump Administration appointee Mike Pompeo as Central Intelligence Agency Director, is seeing a last-minute fundraising surge in the days before Tuesday’s unexpectedly competitive Kansas special election.

The surge in donations shows a groundswell of support for Thompson, the first Democrat to face voters in a federal election since Donald Trump won the presidency in November. The Democratic Party, however, is staying away from the race.

With dispirited Republican voters on one side and a fired-up liberal base on the other, Democrats are hoping to use the April 18 special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District as a model for how to convert Trump’s unpopularity into votes in future contests.

It’s a high-profile race for a seat that used be held by Newt Gingrich and which was recently vacated by former Congressman Tom Price, who joined Trump’s Cabinet as Health and Human Services Secretary.

Global Politics: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have spoken on the phone and agreed that recent US airstrikes in Syria were unacceptable and violated international law, the Kremlin said today.

The two leaders also called for an “objective, unbiased investigation” into the incident involving chemical weapons which killed more than 100 people last week in Idlib province, Syria, the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.

Earlier on today North Korea vowed to boost its defenses following the US strikes in Syria.

A foreign ministry official told the country’s state-run news agency that the airstrikes proved that it needed to protect itself against Washington.

The recent US military attack on Syria is an action of warning,” the report said, according to The Associated Press. “We will bolster up in every way our capability for self-defense to cope with the U.S. evermore reckless moves for a war and defend ourselves with our own force.”

On Saturday British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced he had canceled a planned trip to Russia because of fast-changing developments in Syria.

Amid rising tensions between Moscow and Washington, Johnson said Saturday the situation in war-torn Syria had “fundamentally” changed following a chemical weapons attack on civilians and the US airstrikes targeting a military airfield.

Responding to Johnson’s announcement, Russian Foreign Ministry representative Maria Zakharova described his reasons as “absurd,” according to Russian news agency Interfax.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared a three-month state of emergency in Egypt following twin church bombings that killed dozens of people in two cities today.

Sisi announced the “state of emergency for three months” in a defiant speech at the Presidential Palace after a meeting of the National Defence Council.

Somalia’s new military chief survived a suicide car bomb attack today just moments after he was sworn in with a mandate to launch a new offensive against Islamic extremists. Thirteen people were killed the attack.

Iraq’s influential Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to “take a historic heroic decision” and step down, to spare his country further bloodshed.

Sadr, who commands a large following among the urban poor of Baghdad and the southern cities, is the first Iraqi Shi’ite political leader to urge Assad to step down.

Thanks for viewing!

Politics Roundup – March 27 – April 2, 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, 3/27/17:

Deep Throat Redux?

Cloak and dagger activiities?

The House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes sneaking away from his own staff, changing cars, ending up on the White House grounds to meet his source the day before informing President Donald Trump about the unmasking of individuals associated with his Transition Team following the election?

Now news today that First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner will meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee about three meetings with Russians, including a representative of one of Russia’s largest banks, which was subjected to sanctions.

What does this all mean?

Cancelling of Intelligence Committee meetings are also raising eyebrows.

The Democrats are actively calling for Nunes to resign.

The President announced today the creation of The White House Office of American Innovation, described as a “SWAT team of strategic consultants.”

The new committee will be headed by Kushner

All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays,” Trump said. “I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.”

The President is expected to issue an executive order on Tuesday reversing many of former President Barack Obama’s regulations aiming to fight climate change.

It will cover polices affecting nuclear power as well as domestic production of oil, coal, and natural gas.

Before the week’s out, Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling or face a government shutdown.

Democrats in the Senate have already been calling for a shutdown.

Will the Freedom Caucus confront the President again over the debt ceiling, as they have in previous years?

Hear about the latest stunt from Democrats in both chambers of Congress?

They have introduced the M.A.R.A.L.A.G.O. Act to get logs of who is visiting the President in Florida at Mar-a-Lago.

Defunding of sanctuary cities for non-compliance with federal law on immigration was announced today by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions announced that it would be the policy of the Justice Department to deny department grants to “sanctuaries,” and possibly to fight to strip existing funding from them as well.

(More on this: http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/3/27/15076576/sanctuary-cities-jeff-sessions-trump-explained)

The President’s approval rating keeps going down instead of going up. 

Turns out after the fail of the American Health Care Act, 29% of likely voters “strongly approved” of Trump while 46% “strongly disapproved,” Rasmussen Reports found.

State Politics: A complaint has been filed calling for a criminal investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the top law enforcement officer in the nation.

Nearly two dozen people from five states are accusing Attorney General Jeff Sessions of lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his communications with the Russian government and subsequently trying to cover up that lie, according to a complaint sent to the Department of Justice.

Global Politics: Prosecutors in South Korea have gone to court to obtain an arrest warrant of ousted President Park Geun-Hye on charges of taking bribes and leaking confidential information.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s re-election bid got a boost Sunday when her center-right Christian Democrat Party won a state election that was widely seen as a test of her support.

The United States, Britain and France are among almost 40 countries boycotting talks on a nuclear weapons ban treaty at the United Nations, according to Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the world body.

Nine leaders of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement turned themselves in to police today, the day after the territory selected a conservative, pro-Beijing politician as its next leader.

NATO plans to spend 3 billion euros ($3.24 billion) to upgrade its satellite and computer technology over the next three years as the Western military alliance adapts to new threats, a senior official said.

Tuesday, 3/28/17:

Recuse or resign.

That is the demand from Democrats to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

Nunes said he is not going to do either. He said the investigation into Russian influence in the last election and any ties to the campaign of then candidate Donald Trump would be investigated fully under his leadership.

Nunes dismissed the calls from Democrats, whom he said, “want me to quit because they know that I’m effective at getting to the bottom of things.”

Some Republicans such as Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain are not so sure Nunes is the man for the job.

But for now, Nunes still has the support of House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The President tweeted that Congress should turn its attention to any ties between former President Bill Clinton and former Oval Office rival Hillary Clinton and the Russians instead of focusing on him and his associates.

President Donald Trump told the Environmental Protection Agency today to start the legal process necessary to rewrite former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which aimed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from electricity by 32% by 2030.

The White House said Trump’s order will increase the nation’s “energy independence” and restore thousands of coal mining jobs.

The cost of 62 miles of The Wall?

$1 billion.

The House Republican leadership team today vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act in spite of last Friday’s spectacular failure to get a vote on the House floor.

The President may have moved on to tax reform, but the GOP conference wants to keep working behind the scenes on repealing and replacing the ACA.

Did constituents give lawmakers an earful over the weekend?

Even some of the Freedom Caucus members are saying that they may consider finding an ACA repeal bill.

It is being reported that fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was blocked by the White House from speaking to the House Intel Committee.

The White House denies this.

The top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, asked the government ethics watchdog on Monday to review comments by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plugging The Lego Batman Movie, a film one of his companies produced, for a possible ethics violation.

State Politics: The “gentleman’s agreement” between Attorneys General across the country has been scrapped after Democratic Attorneys General have gone to the forefront in opposing the policies and going to court to sue the Trump Administration.

Republican Attorneys General are now going to work to unseat their Democratic counterparts.

The GOP AGs have also filed friend-of-court briefs in support of the President’s travel ban in opposition to the Dems who are blocking it in court.

My Congressman here in the 8th District of the Indiana Cornfield, Dr. Larry Buschon, had this to say about the non-vote on the American Health Care Act last Friday.

On Friday, the American Health Care Act was pulled from the House floor preventing a vote on the legislation from occurring.

While I believed the bill wasn’t perfect, I was prepared to vote to begin the process of repealing and replacing of Obamacare, which is a promise I made the constituents of Indiana’s Eighth Congressional District.

Unfortunately, a small group of Republicans chose to side with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats by preventing passage of this first step in that process, even after receiving significant policy changes during the negotiations with President Trump. That’s incredibly disappointing because their obstruction solidified Obamacare as the law of the land for the foreseeable future. Make no mistake, what happened last week rests on the shoulders of a handful of Republican members; and their constituents will hold them to account for reneging on their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

Buschon also said, “I agree it is time to make the tough decisions necessary to move the country forward and undo the damage of the last eight years. That’s why we were elected.”

Democratic lawmakers in some states are pressing ahead with efforts to protect birth control access, Planned Parenthood funding and abortion coverage in case they are jeopardized in the future.

Global Politics: A Russian court on Monday sentenced Alexei Navalny, a leading opponent of President Vladimir Putin, to 15 days in prison for resisting arrest, following his detainment at a protest demonstration over the weekend.

Scottish lawmakers backed plans by the nationalist government in Edinburgh to pursue a second independence referendum, setting up what may be a lengthy and acrimonious showdown within the United Kingdom in the midst of Brexit negotiations.

Democratic Republic of Congo’s government confirmed today that two bodies discovered by villagers were those of two United Nations investigators who disappeared this month in an area wracked by a violent uprising.

A German State Minister today accused Turkey of “unacceptable” spying on alleged followers of exiled preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames for a failed coup attempt last year.

It is notable with what intensity and ruthlessness the people living abroad are being investigated,” said Boris Pistorius, Interior Minister of the northern German State of Lower Saxony.

It’s intolerable and unacceptable,” he said at a press conference.

Wednesday, 3/29/17:

Investigate or not to investigate – that is the question.

Is the House Intelligence Committee still looking into the influence of Russia on the recent presidential election and whether there was any collusion between the campaign of Donald Trump and the Russians?

With all meetings cancelled by embattled House Intel Chair Devin Nunes, that question is buzzing through the hallowed halls of the Capitol today.

Nunes refuses to recuse himself though Democrats are pressing for him to do that. House Speaker Paul Ryan remains firmly on Nunes six, giving him cover.

Ranking Member Adam Schiff said, “We can’t conduct an investigation this way.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers reportedly refuse to meet with the House Intel members until the Dems and the GOP come to a meeting of minds and stop the bickering.

Health care insurance reform is still very much alive.

President Donald Trump told Senators last night at a dinner where he invited all 100 Senators to join him, “I know we’re going to make a deal on health care, that’s such an easy one.”

Speaker Ryan said, “I won’t tell you the timeline because we want to get it right.”

In what I think is a bad move, the House of Representatives followed suit with the Senate approving legislation taking away internet privacy allowing internet services providers to sell personal information. The bill is now on the President’s desk.

Hopefully, the President will veto the bill, but that is doubtful.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez is cleaning house at the DNC, requesting resignations of all employees by April 15.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate will confirm Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice a week from Friday, one way or the other. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer vows to filibuster Gorsuch’s confirmation.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will begin as soon as Monday privately interviewing 20 people in its ongoing investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 election as well as potential ties to the Trump campaign, Chairman Richard Burr and Vice Chair Mark Warner announced today.

We’re not asking the House to play any role in our investigation. We don’t plan to play any role in their investigation,” Burr said.

Over the last month we’ve seen some progress,” Warner said. Later, with a hand on Burr’s shoulder, he added: “I have confidence in Richard Burr that we together, with the members of our committee, are going to get to the bottom of this.”

FBI Director Comey attempted to go public as early as the summer of 2016 with information on Russia’s campaign to influence the US presidential election, but former President Barack Obama Administration officials blocked him from doing so, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Newsweek.

President Trump vowed today to step up efforts to combat the nation’s opioid addiction crisis. Trump said his administration wants “to help people who have become so badly addicted.”

First Daughter Ivanka becomes an official government employee, joining her husband, Jared Kushner, in serving as an unpaid adviser to her father in the White House.

Not only is the President not attending next month’s Washington Correspondents Dinner, the Nerd Prom, but White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and members of his staff also will not attend.

Speaking out today was First Lady Melania Trump at the International Women of Courage Awards.

The President has declined to throw out the first pitch Monday at the Washington Nationals’ game when baseball season opens, breaking a long-standing presidential tradition.

A lawyer for President Trump plans to file briefs seeking to delay a lawsuit filed by a former contestant on The Apprentice by arguing that the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause bars people from bringing state lawsuits against a sitting president, according to an article The Hollywood Reporter.

State Politics: This did not take long.

The City of Seattle, Washington has sued the Trump Administration over the President’s executive order that calls for cutting federal funding for so-called sanctuary cities and other jurisdictions that protect undocumented immigrants.

Global Politics: British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government today submitted a letter to the leaders of the European Union to formally begin the process to pull the United Kingdom out of the 28-nation trading bloc.

In a statement to British lawmakers, May said the kickoff of the process was “the moment for the country to come together.”

Prime Minister May’s government promptly denied the Scottish Parliament’s request for another independence referendum, saying it would be “unfair” to make people vote before they know what the United Kingdom’s relationship will be with the European Union after Brexit.

A Muslim organization in Norway has been criticised for hiring a communications officer who wears a full-face veil, or niqab. The Culture Minister, Muslim Members of Parliament and other Muslim organizations have condemned the Islamic Council of Norway’s move.

Israel said today it would cut $2 million from its already reduced contribution this year to the United Nations in protest at resolutions taken against it at the world body’s various forums.

US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is a “big hindrance in trying to move forward” to find an end to the country’s six-year conflict.

I’m not going to go back into should Assad be in or out, been there, done that, right, in terms of what the US has done,” she told the Council of Foreign Relations. “But I will tell you that he is a big hindrance in trying to move forward, Iran is a big hindrance in trying to move forward.”

Thursday, 3/30/17:

The Senate Intelligence Committee began its hearings into the Russian interference in the 2016 election and any possible collusion with the campaign of President Donald Trump today.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and Ranking Member Adam Schiff met today to try and work out differences.

Will it be enough to jump start the stalled investigations into Russian meddling and possible collusion by Trump associates by the House?

The New York Times is reporting that two White House officials, including a member of the National Security Council, showed the still secreted documents to Nunes, which have resulted in all the rancor and uproar with the House Intel investigation.

One of the experts speaking to the Senate Intel Committee today revealed that during the primaries, Russians targeted Senator Marco Rubio for elimination from the presidential race.

Rubio noted today that members of his staff are still being targeted by Russians.

Schiff vowed today at a news conference that the committee will “not be distracted” from investigating the Russian meddling and “getting to the bottom” of what occurred in 2016.

Part of the reason active measures have worked in this US election is because the Commander-in-Chief has used Russian active measures at time [sic] against his opponents,” said Clint Watts of George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, talking to Senators about Russian activity to effect election outcomes.

Senate Intel Chairman Richard Burr pledged a “thorough, independent and non-partisan review” of evidence potentially tying Trump to Russia, a commitment echoed by Vice Chair Mark Warner.

If we politicize this process, our efforts will likely fail,” Burr said at the outset of today’s hearing.

The White House invited the heads of congressional intelligence committees investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election to view materials found by the National Security Council.

The President has laid down the gauntlet to the Freedom Caucus.

In a tweet the Prez told the ultra-conservative members of the House of Representatives to get onboard and back the Republican agenda or be prepared to fight in 2018.

The President is hinting at reaching out to Democrats if Republicans are unwilling to work with him to fulfill his promises and agenda.

House Speaker Paul Ryan voiced his concern that the Prez may indeed reach out to Democrats if stubborn Republicans cannot be corralled.

OOPs!

The Environmental Protection Agency criticized the Boss’ executive order on climate change policies.

A news release from the EPA included a quote attributed to Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, which actually was from Democratic Senator Tom Carper.

The offending quote:

With this Executive Order, President Trump has chosen to recklessly bury his head in the sand. Walking away from the Clean Power Plan and other climate initiatives, including critical resiliency projects is not just irresponsible – it’s irrational. Today’s executive order calls into question America’s credibility and our commitment to tackling the greatest environmental challenge of our lifetime.”

OOPs!

The Hawaii federal judge who blocked the new travel ban has now made his injunction indefinite.

The Gallup Daily Tracking Poll has the Prez at a super low 35% approval rating.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh is leaving her position.

Mark your calendar, Chinese President Xi Jinping will confab with the President at Mar-A-Lago April 6-7.

After Congress sent the President legislation putting a nail in internet privacy, allowing internet service providers to sell personal information and browsing history, funds are being set up to purchase the browsing history of those legislators who voted for the bill.

State Politics: After losing thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, the Republican-controlled North Carolina State Legislature went through with a “repeal” of its infamous “bathroom law.” It still bans communities from passing ordinances barring discrimination based on sexual and gender orientation.

Ohio Governor John Kasich signed an order today to fight the opioid addiction and overdose crisis in his state. The Governor’s order limits the amount of opiates primary care physicians and dentists can prescribe to no more than seven days for adults and five days for minors.

In addition to pill limits, Kasich said the new rules require doctors to provide a specific diagnosis and procedure code for every painkiller prescription they write.

Global Politics: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday rejected a central proposal made by British Prime Minister Theresa May in her letter officially launching the process of Britain’s exit from the European Union, saying that the EU would only negotiate the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the trading bloc after its departure was arranged.

Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, said there would be “no winners” from Brexit, and the coming two years of negotiations would focus on “damage control.”

Accusations that Russia interfered in last year’s US elections are “lies” used for “domestic American politics,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said today.

We said on numerous occasions and I reiterate that we are confident … and know for sure that opinion polls in the United States show that very many people are … friendly towards the Russian Federation, and I’d like to tell these people that we perceive and regard the United States as a great power with which we want to establish good partnership relations,” Putin said on a CNBC-moderated panel.

All those things are fictional, illusory and provocations, lies. All these are used for domestic American political agendas. The anti-Russian card is played by different political forces inside the United States to trade on that and consolidate their positions inside,” Putin said in Russian.

The Trump Administration informed Congress it plans to approve a multibillion-dollar sale of F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain without the human rights conditions imposed by the State Department under former President Barack Obama.

Taking a page from President Trump, Canadians running to lead the Conservative Party are calling for a wall between the US and Canada to stem the flow of immigration. They also want to deploy the Canadian armed forces to stop would-be refugees from entering America’s northern neighbor.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in Turkey, has confirmed a change in US policy toward Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad. Tillerson said that it will be up to the Syrian people to decide if it wants Assad as leader or to boot him from office. This differs from the previous policy demanding Assad leave office in any peace negotiations.

The Attorney General for the western Mexican State of Nayarit has been arrested in Southern California on charges of drug smuggling.

Friday, 3/31/17:

Innocent, I tell ya! I’m innocent. But give me immunity. I got a story to tell.”

That’s the hue and cry of former National Security Adviser retired General Michael Flynn offering to bare all to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

Forget about what he said during the presidential campaign that anyone seeking immunity must be “guilty” of committing a crime.

President Donald Trump tweeted out today that Flynn should not only testify, but seek for immunity.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the Prez was not signaling the Justice Department or the Intel Committees to give Flynn immunity, but rather for Flynn to do whatever is necessary to allow him to testify.

House Intel Ranking Member Adam Schiff went to the White House to look at information recovered by the National Security Council, following the White House invitation on Thursday to do so.

The Senate Intel Committee, however, is not wanting to go down the street to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The Committee told the White House to send the information directly to them.

In response to the White House letter, the Committee has asked the White House to direct the agencies that own the intelligence documents in question to immediately provide them directly to the Committee,” a Committee spokesperson said in a statement.

The White House says it will release details this evening about the personal finances of senior staff members.

Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate yesterday to approve legislation that will let states cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.

Two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, have signed on to voting for Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice.

Manchin, who frequently crosses the aisle to side with the GOP, said he found Gorsuch to be “an honest and thoughtful man,” and that he had “not found any reasons why this jurist should not be a Supreme Court Justice.”

The President today took on trade abuse signing two executive orders. The Prez said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will spearhead the effort to eliminate abusive trade practices which harm the US market and companies.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson affirmed that the US commitment to NATO was “rock solid” today, but also urged members to pony up what they owed the organization.

This is the first campaign that I can recall where my party did not talk about what it always stood for, and that is how to maintain a burgeoning middle class,” former Vice President Joe Biden said at an event at the University of Pennsylvania.

And the truth of the matter is you didn’t hear a single solitary sentence in the last campaign about that guy working on the assembly line making 60,000 bucks a year and a wife making $32,000 as a hostess in a restaurant and they’re making 90 grand and they’ve got two kids and they can’t make it and they’re scared.”

I can tell you that hostesses around here in the Cornfield make nowhere close to $32,000 per year.

State Politics: California and several other states honored Cesar Chavez by closing schools and state offices today, the 90th anniversary of the birth of a man who went from a grape and cotton picker to an enduring hero for laborers, Latinos and justice seekers of all kinds.

Farmworkers in four states also plan to march Saturday and Sunday in honor of Chavez, who died in 1993, and in protest of President Trump’s immigration policies.

Global Politics: The European Union has offered to start negotiations with the United Kingdom on a future free trade pact, but only if London first accepts EU demands on the terms of Britain’s exit from the 28-nation trading bloc.

Those terms include paying tens of billions of dollars, and securing residence rights for 3 million EU citizens living in the UK.

The Israeli Knesset approved the construction of new settlements in the disputed West Bank. This will be the first such settlements approved in 20 years.

Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-Hye has been arrested on corruption charges.

Right now, [North Korea] appears to be going in a very reckless manner…and that has got to be stopped,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said at a press conference in London today.

Ecuadoran voters will elect a new President Sunday, and one of the two candidates, the conservative former banker Guillermo Lasso, has pledged to evict the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the country’s embassy in London, England within 30 days of taking office.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to British Prime Minister Theresa May formally demanding that she allow a second referendum to be held on Scottish independence ahead of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

Venezuela’s powerful Attorney General on Friday rebuked the judiciary’s takeover of congress, breaking ranks with President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government as protests and international condemnation grew.

It constitutes a rupture of the constitutional order. It’s my obligation to express my great concern to the country,” said Luisa Ortega, usually considered a key ally of the Socialists who have ruled Venezuela for the last 18 years.

Gibraltar’s leader Fabian Picardo on Friday hit out at an European Union proposal to give Spain a say in the future of the British overseas territory post-Brexit, branding it “unnecessary” and “discriminatory.”

The South African rand plunged more than 5% after President Jacob Zuma sacked Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, a man widely seen as a competent manager of one of the world’s most important emerging economies.

Serbia Premier Aleksandar Vucic, is headed for a landslide victory in Sunday’s presidential election.

The presidency is weaker on paper than the premiership, but we see it highly unlikely that Vucic will stop dominating Serbia politically from the new post,” said Nate Schenkkan, Project Director at Washington, DC-based Freedom House, an independent organization that advocates for democracy. “That creates a situation like what we have right now in Turkey, where the president de facto runs the country, even though it is still a parliamentary system.”

Sunday, 4/2/17:

Follow the money.

That has been the line of investigation which has tripped many a person over the years.

It may be what sinks former National Security Adviser retired General Michael Flynn as well.

But not only Flynn, members of the campaign of now President Donald Trump could be caught up in the investigation of Russian meddling in the presidential election.

Financial disclosures released by the White House Friday evening revealed Flynn made at least $1.5 million from Russia Today and other Russian entities, previously unreported.

Flynn is shopping around his story, but so far the players – the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees – are showing no interest in paying out immunity to get that story.

Those financial reports also showed First Daughter Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner are worth at least $740 million.

Remember that time in band camp when everyone made a big issue about Mitt Romney being worth $250 million?

Ranking Member of the House Intel Committee Adam Schiff reviewed documents provided by the White House Friday. He was told these were the same documents which were viewed by House Intel Chair Devin Nunes.

Schiff said the documents need to be sent for review by the entire Committee.

Schiff said “I don’t think we can say anything definitively at this point” about the probes of Trump and Russia.

Now it is three – the number of Democrats who will vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

The Cornfield’s senior Senator Joe Donnelly has come out in support of Gorsuch.

Donelly’s fellow Hoosier Senator Todd Young, a Republican, has already endorsed Gorsuch.

After meeting with Judge Gorsuch, conducting a thorough review of his record, and closely following his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I believe that he is a qualified jurist who will base his decisions on his understanding of the law and is well-respected among his peers,” Donnelly said in a statement.

Not surprising since Donnelly is up for re-election in 2018 in Indiana, which went overwhelmingly for President Trump.

The President and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a vocal critic on the health care insurance legislation, played golf with the Prez today. Paul came away saying that he and the President were moving closer to an agreement on the issue.

About the President’s favorite toy – Twitter – United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley had this to say, “I don’t hear about them. I don’t talk about them. I don’t have them interfere in everything that I’m doing. And so, to me, it’s chatter I don’t focus on.”

Haley also noted, “I think the foreign leaders are picking up the phone and calling him if they have an issue. And that’s what they’re doing with me. If they have an issue, they’re calling me. They’re not sitting there texting me and saying, ‘What was this tweet about?’”

State Politics: Return to Camelot?

Looks like the Kennedy political dynasty is ready to make its presence known once again.

A Kennedy is running for Governor in Illinois and another is mulling a run in Connecticut. While cousin Massachusetts Congressman Joseph Kennedy III is a leading voice against the President’s moves to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Global Politics: The Venezuelan Supreme Court reversed its decision to strip the country’s legislature of power after widespread foreign and domestic protest.

The Court’s review came at the request of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who couched his critique of the original ruling in terms of “maintain[ing] institutional stability and the balance of powers.”

In a print interview, President Trump put the pressure on China to do something with the North Korean problem. The President warned that if China was not willing to put the thumb on the Young Leader Kim Jung Un, the US would solve the threat.

Trump told The Financial Times, “China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t. And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don’t it won’t be good for anyone.”

China’s President Xi Jinping will meet with the Prez Thursday and Friday at Mar-A-Lago.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s one-year-old government retained most of its seats in Myanmar by-elections today, but braced for symbolic losses in ethnic minority areas as results from the 19-seat poll trickled in.

Ecuador votes today in a presidential runoff to turn the page on a decade under radical economist Rafael Correa and decide whether the country will follow Latin America’s recent shift to the right.

Thanks for viewing!

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.