Politics Roundup: February 6 – 12, 2017

politicsroundup

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

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

Monday, 2/6/17:

Stand or fall?

Will the temporary ban on immigrants from seven countries be upheld or will the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agree with a federal judge in Washington State and block the executive order of President Donald Trump?

Is there an equivalency between the US and Russia?

What is fake and what is real?

This third week of the Trump Administration is awaiting the answers on these and many other questions.

Ninety-seven companies, including tech giants Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter, filed an amicus brief on Sunday opposing President Trump’s executive order on immigration, saying it was discriminatory and hurt businesses joining the argument of Washington and Minnesota ahead of the hearing by a 3-member panel of the 9th Circuit.

Immigrants make many of the nation’s greatest discoveries, and create some of the country’s most innovative and iconic companies,” the companies said in the brief.

In his typical fashion, Trump tweeted about the judge who barred his EO, “If something happens blame him and court system.”

President Trump said in an interview broadcast on Fox News that Vice President Mike Pence would lead a commission investigating his claim of massive voter fraud in the November elections.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on CNN‘s State of the Union that there was “no evidence” that there was enough fraud to have changed the election result, “and I don’t think we ought to spend any federal money investigating that.”

The Prez spoke for the first time to a major gathering of the folk in uniform today at Central Command in Florida.

In measured tones, speaking from a script, the Prez affirmed his support for our military forces and his commitment to provide them with the necessary equipment to defeat Islamic terrorism.

But the Prez also blasted the media, without substantiation, of covering up terror attacks.

It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. In many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that,” Trump said.

President Trump spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday evening and agreed to join a meeting of NATO leaders in May in Europe.

Mr. President, just because polls or news articles are negative about you does not constitute the criteria to make them “fake news.”

Put on your big boy pants and take the heat.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi vowed today to fight what she called the President’s “massive con” to dismantle the Dodd-Frank financial law.

Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California is already calling for impeachment of the President who has only been office for three weeks.

Waters wants Trump impeached over his free speech.

Senate Democrats took the floor today, which they plan to hold for at least 24 hours, to delay a vote on Betsy DeVos to be the next Education Secretary.

OOPs!

In an interview Sunday with the Detroit Free Press, Dan Adamini, the Secretary of the Marquette County, Michigan Republican Party, had to apologize after suggesting in his social media posts there should be a Kent State type of crackdown on violent protests like the one that erupted at a university in California last week.

Adamini tweeted Thursday after violent disturbances at the University of California-Berkley shut down plans for a senior editor at the far-right website Breitbart to speak on campus, “Violent protesters who shut down free speech? Time for another Kent State perhaps. One bullet stops a lot of thuggery.”

Maybe it’s time for an intervention, but not just for Adamini, but other Republicans and Democrats as well unable to accept Trump is President of all of us.

Global Politics: Queen Elizabeth II today marks her 65th anniversary on the throne, becoming the first British monarch in history to celebrate her Sapphire Jubilee.

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far right National Front party, hopes to ride the populist wave that resulted in Brexit and Donald Trump’s election all the way to the French presidency.

The election is in April.

The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow of Great Britain has told Members of Parliament he is “strongly opposed” to allowing President Trump to address both houses of Parliament when he comes to the UK on a state visit later this year because of his “racism and sexism.”

So much for an address to the English people by the President when he visits.

Meanwhile Russia’s Kremlin is demanding an apology from Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly for calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “killer.”

We consider such words from the Fox TV company to be unacceptable and insulting, and honestly speaking, we would prefer to get an apology from such a respected TV company,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian conservative allies threw their weight today behind her quest for a fourth term, putting aside a long-running argument over her migrant policies as Germany prepares for a national election in September.

Experts from Russia, Turkey, Iran and the United Nations have started a technical meeting in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, to discuss in detail the implementation of the Syrian ceasefire agreement, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry said today.

Tuesday, 2/7/17:

Standoff.

Will President Donald Trump win in his fight to keep his executive order barring temporarily people from seven countries from entering the US of A?

Will the States of Washington and Minnesota be found to have standing and prevail with a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to continue blocking the President’s EO?

We may know the answer after 6 p.m. (ET) today.

New Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly took the blame today before a congressional committee for the rough rollout of the EO.

President Trump on Monday accused the media of choosing not to report on terrorist attacks.

It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported,” Trump told senior commanders at the U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, in Florida. “And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.”

Mr. President, the media is covering terror attacks.

Yes, there are some attacks that are under-reported, but still reported.

After pulling an all-nighter, Democrats had to accept that there would be a vote on Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education.

History was made when Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm DeVos.

Senator Jeff Sessions had to wait for a confirmation vote to become Attorney General to cast a vote for DeVos or scuttle her nomination.

A vote to confirm Sessions is slated for tomorrow.

We are going to be done legislating with respect to healthcare and Obamacare this year,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told a news briefing.

The question is how long does it take to implement the full replacement of Obamacare,” Ryan said, indicating that that could take longer.

We are going to be going out and talking about what our plan is. We hope to get this done as fast as possible,” Ryan said.

Over the weekend, the President said it may take until 2018 to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

OOPs!

Secretary of Labor designee Andrew Puzder employed an illegal alien for years.

My wife and I employed a housekeeper for a few years, during which I was unaware that she was not legally permitted to work in the US.,” Puzder said in a written statement Monday. “When I learned of her status, we immediately ended her employment and offered her assistance in getting legal status. We have fully paid back taxes to the IRS and the state of California and submitted all required paperwork.”

Will this torpedo his confirmation?

The US Army Secretary could make a decision on the final permit needed to complete the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline as soon as Friday, the government’s lawyer told a Washington, DC, court Monday.

California leaders pushed back on Monday against President Trump’s claim that the state is “out of control,” pointing to its balanced budget and high jobs numbers in the latest dust up between the populist Republican and the progressive state.

Global Politics: The protests in Romania continue, even though the government rescinded its decriminalization of corruption.

Seems the Romanian President, who is being investigated for corruption, is now trying to push through legislation in the Parliament to decriminalize the scandal, which would give him a “get out of jail” card.

The Israeli Parliament passed a law retroactively approving Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.

China and Iran, two countries that top President Trump’s enemies list, are pushing back against his tough talk this week with showy and provocative military drills.

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines angrily dressed down more than 200 police officers on national television today, presenting them with a thorny ultimatum: Resign or be shipped off to a terrorist hotbed known for beheadings and attacks on police stations.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas today called a new Israeli law legalizing dozens of Jewish outposts built on private Palestinian land an “attack against our people.”

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said about Trump’s interview with Fox‘s Bill O’Reilly, “We are thankful to (Trump) for making our life easy as he showed the real face of America.”

Jovenel Moise was sworn in today as Haiti’s President for the next five years after a bruising two-year election cycle, inheriting a chronically struggling economy and a deeply divided society.

Wednesday, 2/8/17:

Stand, split or slam.

Will President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban on people from seven countries stand up to scrutiny?

Will the three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals split the baby and give a little to both the Prez and to the States of Washington and Minnesota?

Will the judges slam the gavel down and let the federal court judge’s block of the executive order causing the heartburn remain in place?

Out of order.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was officially silenced by the Senate on party lines last night for violating Rule 19 and “impugning a sitting Senator.”

Warren tried from the Senate floor to read a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. In the letter, Sessions was called out by name, contrary to Senate rules to not refer to a Senator personally, but as “the gentleman” or “the gentlewoman” instead.

Prior to being silenced, Warren was warned that if she continued she was violating the rule. Warren chose to ignore the rules and was officially barred from continuing to speak or to speak on the Senate floor for the rest this session.

Warren later took to Facebook Live to read the full letter, garnering over 2 million viewers.

Many see Warren as the best hope for Democrats to take back the White House in 2020.

Some now are turning this into a male Senator silencing a female Senator to make it an issue of men versus women. This morning male Democratic Senators are reading from the letter and not being censured.

The howls of sexism are growing.

The gag came as Democratic Senators for the second night in a row took the Senate floor in protest. This time Democrats spoke for more than 24 hours against the confirmation vote of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to become Attorney General.

As we go to press, the Senate is beginning the confirmation which is expected to pass along party lines with Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, up for re-election in a red state, to side with Republicans.

Are White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s days numbered?

Mr. President, what are you thinking?

During a meeting at the White House with county sheriffs, Trump said he would “destroy” the career of a Texas State Legislator who had proposed restrictions on seizures of property belonging to suspected criminals.

Do you want to give his name?” Trump asked Rockwall County, Texas, Sheriff Harold Eavenson after he complained about the Legislator. “We’ll destroy his career.”

It may have drawn laughter in the room, but it’s not playing well in Peoria.

The military is looking to lease space in Trump Tower, according to a report Tuesday by CNN.

A military spokesman told the news network that space in the skyscraper will likely be needed to support the new commander-in-chief when he stays with his wife, Melania, at their penthouse home.

The space is necessary for the personnel and equipment who will support the POTUS at his residence in the building,” Lieutenant Colonel J.B. Brindle told CNN.

President Donald Trump and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed to cooperate in the fight against jihadists in Syria, in their first phone call since the new US leader took office, Ankara said today.

Not smart, Mr. President.

While addressing a meeting with sheriffs and police chiefs from across the nation this morning, the Prez defended his travel ban by going after the three 9th Circuit Appellate Judges deciding the fate of the temporary block of his executive order by a federal judge in Washington State.

I don’t want to call a court biased, so I won’t call it biased,” the President said at a gathering of the Major Cities Chiefs Association in Washington DC. “Courts seem to be so political and it would be so great for our justice system if they could read a statement and do what’s right.”

Is First Lady Melania Trump trying to cash in on being FLOTUS?

Is it legal or moral?

US Embassies could ask visa applicants for passwords to their own social media accounts in future background checks, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Tuesday.

State Politics: A North Carolina court temporarily blocked a new state law today that stripped the new Democratic Governor of some of his powers and passed by Republican-controlled Legislature in the waning days of the former Republican Governor.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger said in a joint statement the “judges are not legislators, and if these three men want to make laws, they should hang up their robes and run for a legislative seat.”

The GOP lawmakers are not happy that Governor Roy Cooper appointed several members of his cabinet before the Legislature came back from recess and want to remove those appointees.

Global Politics: German central bank chief Jens Weidmann on Tuesday rejected a Trump Administration allegation that Germany was helping its companies by keeping currency values low.

Germany is the leading economy of the euro zone, and no longer has its own currency that it directly controls, but Trump trade council head Peter Navarro said the euro was “grossly undervalued” and functioned as an “implicit deutsche mark.”

Weidmann said that German exporters are doing well “because they are well positioned in world markets and convince people with innovative products.”

Yemen, engaged in a civil war, has withdrawn permission for the US to conduct special operations in the country after civilians were killed in the first such operation under President Trump. Several civilians were killed in the raid, which also killed a member of SEAL Team 6, Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a law decriminalizing some forms of domestic violence.

The legislation, known as the “slapping law,” downgrades a first offense of domestic violence that does not cause serious injury, making it just an administrative offense with a fine of up to about $500, up to 15 days in jail or up to 120 hours of community service.

A Russian court today found opposition leader Alexei Navalny guilty in the retrial of a 2013 fraud case, which formally disqualifies him as a candidate for President next year.

South African troops are being deployed in an unprecedented security lockdown of Cape Town’s parliamentary precinct for President Jacob Zuma’s annual state-of-the-nation address that’s taking place in the face of mounting opposition to his leadership.

The battle over Scotland’s constitutional future is now “a virtual dead heat” with support rising for independence as Britain prepares to leave the European Union, according to a new poll released today.

Voters in presidential elections in Somalia are gathering in a high security compound in the capital Mogadishu to choose a new leader for the unstable East African state.

Thursday, 2/9/17:

Huckster-in-Chief?

Is CNN‘s John Berman right?

Has the White House become the new Home Shopping Network?

Top Presidential Adviser KellyAnne Conway goes on Fox News, telling the American people to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff.”

This comes after proud papa, President Donald Trump, tweeted from both his personal Twitter account and the official POTUS account ridiculing high-scale retailer Nordstrum for dropping the First Daughter’s clothing line from its inventory for lagging sales.

By the way, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Conway has been counseled over her blatant plug for the Ivanka line.

Jeff Sessions was confirmed and now has been sworn in as the Attorney General.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, without calling out the President personally, told Democratic Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal that remarks critical of judges were “demoralizing” and “disheartening.”

The Prez pushed back saying Blumenthal did not state the Judge’s position correctly.

Many pundits believe that Gorsuch may have strengthened his position to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court with Democrats by showing his independence and willingness to criticize the President, even though he did not specifically call out the President.

Arizona Republican Senator and Chair of the Senate Armed Forces Committee John McCain and the Prez are having their own public spat over the raid in Yemen which resulted in the loss of a Seal Team Six member’s life.

Officials in Yemen said the government had not withdrawn permission for future US commando raids, as The New York Times reported, although it will have to approve any new US ground missions in advance.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the President to withdraw the nomination of Andrew Puzder to be Secretary of Labor, citing his record as a business executive and his position on labor issues.

They ought to withdraw Mr. Puzder before he further embarrasses this Administration and further exposes the hypocrisy of President Trump, who says one thing to the American worker and does another,” said Schumer about Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which runs Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

So who is winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the American public?

The White House?

The national press corps?

A poll conducted by Emerson College found the Administration is considered truthful by a slim majority, 49% versus 48% of registered voters who said it was untruthful. By way of comparison, only 39% of registered voters view the media as truthful with 53% saying the news media is dishonest.

Ouch!

Senior defense and intelligence officials have cautioned the White House that a proposal to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization could endanger US troops in Iraq and the overall fight against the Islamic State, and would be an unprecedented use of a law that was not designed to sanction government institutions.

Will 2020 be a redux of 2016?

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren appears to be already running to face the President when he runs for re-election in 2020. And it looks, following a tweet from the 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, Warren may be getting early backing from the former First Lady.

With Republicans Senators censuring Warren on Tuesday, but allowing male colleagues to read from the same letter which brought the hammer down on Warren, it appears the war between the sexes has been revved up for the presidential contest in four years.

State Politics: Mississippi lawmakers are advancing a proposal to add firing squad, electrocution and gas chamber as execution methods in case a court blocks the use of lethal injection drugs.

House Bill 638 is a response to lawsuits filed by “liberal, left-wing radicals,” said House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, a Republican.

Global Politics: Reports are coming out that terrorists and other bad subjects are taking advantage of Venezuela’s willingness to provide passports to allow the jihadists to travel around the globe.

A Venezuelan passport can grant entry into more than 130 countries without a visa – including 26 countries in the European Union (but not the US).

Venezuelan officials deny the claims.

The lower house of the United Kingdom’s Parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill to authorize starting the official process of leaving the European Union.

The bill goes next to the unelected House of Lords, which is expected to vote in early March.

Once both houses of Parliament have approved, Prime Minister Theresa May can trigger Brexit by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which spells out the rules for exiting the trading bloc.

Kenya’s high court today blocked a government plan to close the Dadaab refugee camp, the largest in the world.

South Africa’s Parliament descended into chaos today, with opposition lawmakers denouncing President Jacob Zuma as a “scoundrel” and “rotten to the core” because of corruption allegations and then brawling with guards who dragged them out of the chamber.

A list released by the US Treasury department showed the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was one of 5,411 individuals to renounce his American citizenship in 2016.

Friday, 2/10/17:

Stands!

The temporary restraining order barring implementation of President Donald Trump’s executive order placing a travel ban on seven countries has been upheld unanimously by the 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The President vows to fight on.

What the Administration can do:

1. Appeal to the full 9th Circuit
2. Appeal to the Supreme Court
3. Return to the District Court Judge
4. Codify the ban with the Congress
5. Rewrite the Executive Order

The question about the EO’s constitutionality was not decided. The merits and substance of the EO has yet to be debated and decided.

Hot water for two top aides to the President.

The House Oversight Committee is asking the Government Ethics Office to look into whether Presidential Adviser KellyAnne Conway violated the law by plugging the clothing line of First Daughter Ivanka in an appearance on Fox News on Thursday morning.

National Security Adviser nominee Michael Flynn is accused of violating the 18th Century Logan Act for talking about impending sanctions with the Russian Ambassador before Trump was sworn into office.

Also at issue is if Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence, which then was the reason Pence went on national television to say Flynn told him he did not talk about sanctions with the Ambassador.

Flynn is now saying he cannot remember if the sanctions were brought up or not with the Ambassador.

The State of Washington, which brought the suit along with the State of Minnesota, is claiming complete victory.

A Virginia federal judge offered a blistering critique of the Trump administration’s travel ban today, citing a “startling” lack of evidence that travelers from the seven Muslim-majority countries represented a specific national security threat.

Turn-about – The President reconfirmed the commitment of the US of A to the “one China policy” while talking with the Chinese President on the phone on Thursday.

This goes a long way in thawing the icy relations that have developed since Trump was elected.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson discussed relations with China with White House officials on Thursday, and reportedly rejected Trump’s suggestion that Taiwan could be used as a bargaining chip in broader talks with China.

President Trump told airline and airport executives on Thursday that he was interested in a proposal to remove the US air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration’s control, and put it under a private nonprofit corporation.

Congressman Dr. Tom Price was confirmed by a divided Senate as Secretary of Health and Human Services last evening.

Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz was shouted down and off the stage at townhall in Utah last night. Other GOP lawmakers faced similar protests as progressives flexed their muscles across the country.

The Prez, for the second time since being elected, had a sit-down today with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

At a news conference with Abe, the Prez said he would be putting out some type of new security measure next week, but would not go into any specifics.

The two leaders will spend their weekend together in Florida talking and playing golf. Their wives will be joining them also.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos encountered protesters this morning outside a Washington DC middle school and found her way barred as she tried to enter through a side door, forcing her to retreat into a government vehicle as a man shouted “Shame!” DeVos later was able to attend the planned event at the school.

I am deeply honored by any consideration that I may have received by Attorney General Sessions and President Trump for appointment as the Solicitor General, but I have asked them to discontinue any further consideration of me for that critically important position,” Supreme Court litigator Chuck Cooper said in a statement Thursday.

The hunt’s still going.

State Politics: Ohio Governor John Kasich on Friday delayed eight executions as a court fight continues over the constitutionality of the state’s lethal injection process.

Global Politics: Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied today marking the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Some marchers carried banners saying, “Thanks Mr. Trump for showing the real face of America.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said “inexperienced figures” in the U.S. and the region were “threatening Iran,” but “should know that the language of threats has never worked with Iran.”

Perhaps taking a cue from President Trump, Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad is calling reports of torture and indiscriminate killings by his regime “fake news.”

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, will be given a month’s notice to leave the Ecuadorian embassy if the country’s main opposition candidate wins the presidency in next week’s election.

A Peruvian judge on Thursday ordered former President Alejandro Toledo to spend up to 18 months in jail while prosecutors prepare criminal charges against him for allegedly taking $20 million in bribes from Brazilian builder Odebrecht SA. Toledo is not in country. The judge ordered a hunt to find and detain him, no matter what country he may be residing.

Sunday, 2/12/17:

Numbered?

Could National Security Adviser retired General Michael Flynn’s days be growing shorter in the White House?

Flynn says now he does not recall talking with the Ambassador from Russia about sanctions before President Donald Trump was sworn into office. Yet, both Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus went on the Sunday talk shows to say that Flynn told them he did not. The two then told reporters and the American people the sanction talk did not happen.

Now it comes out that Flynn did talk to the Ambassador about sanctions.

Are we seeing the rise of the Children of Liberty from progressives, the far left, disrupting town hall meetings with Republican Congress people across the country?

Is 2010 happening all over again, but not the Republican-leaning Tea Party, but as I am dubbing them, the Democratic-leaning Children of Liberty?

More than 200 protests in 45 states were held Saturday to oppose federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Add Sears and K-Mart to the retailers dropping Trump products from its inventory.

The national press corps and Democratic lawmakers are questioning openly and seriously whether the President is mentally stable.

Is this a lead-up to a move to impeach or remove the President from office?

The Prez hinted Friday on Air Force One that he may issue a new executive order tailored toward satisfying the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejection of his earlier EO and temporary travel ban on seven countries.

Will House Means and Ways Committee member, Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell, get his way using a 1924 law that allows the committee, which rights tax law, to review any tax returns it wants in order to examine the past 10 years of the President’s tax returns which he is loathe to share?

The question then will be if the committee will then share with the public the documents if Republicans allow Pascrell to have his way.

That law was used in 1974 when Congress looked at President Richard Nixon’s returns, and in 2014 when the Ways and Means Committee released confidential tax information as part of its investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s handling of applications for nonprofit status.

Is Stephen Miller the new power behind the throne in the White House?

Could Presidential Adviser KellyAnne Conway possibly be taking over Chief of Staff from Reince Priebus?

OOPs!

The Department of Education on Sunday tweeted a quote about the importance of education from the late W.E.B. Du Bois, the revered historian and civil rights activist who helped found the NAACP.

But the effort to highlight Du Bois’ famous words backfired—because whoever sent the Tweet misspelled Du Bois’ name.
Global Politics: Former Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected Germany’s President today, the 12th person to hold the largely ceremonial post in the post-war era.

German tennis has responded with outrage after the United States Tennis Association made the embarrassing error of playing the Nazi-era version of Germany’s national anthem during a Federation Cup tie in Hawaii.

Voters in Switzerland decided today to make it easier for young “third-generation foreigners” to get Swiss citizenship, agreeing to extend to about 25,000 people under age 25 access to the fast-track process now available to foreign spouses of Swiss nationals.

My Thoughts: Children of Liberty Rising

Thanks for viewing!

Children of Liberty Rising

Back in 2010, we were witnesses to people pouring out of their homes to attend town halls across the country to protest the enacting of the Affordable Care Act. These fiscal conservatives of all stripes were upset with the individual mandate, which required all Americans to purchase health insurance. These protesters found this as over-reach by the federal government.

The people soon congealed into a coherent force called the Tea Party. They flexed their muscle upsetting the Congress, governorships and state legislatures.

The Tea Party became a driving force in the Republican Party.

Today we are seeing the opposite side of the ideological and political spectrum out in force, railing against Republican lawmakers. Again at issue by many is the Affordable Care Act.

This time around it is to keep the ACA in place rather than repeal and replacing the law as promised by President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress.

The range of protests, however, is far beyond just the ACA. The people are in the streets, in the town halls with the full gamut of progressive peeves.

The question is whether we are seeing, what I call, the Children of Liberty or will those protesting go the way of the Occupy movement, which burned hot, then fizzled?

In full disclosure, I have to say that my own sons and their wives are divided. My oldest son and daughter-in-law are conservative in thought. My youngest son and daughter-in-law, in his own words are “bleeding heart liberal, sorry.”

I stand in between the two positions, agreeing with both and disagreeing with both.

Will these Children of Liberty be able to do what the Tea Party did in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016?

Will the divergent wants and desires be able to gel into a coherent political force and upset the status quo?

Or will these Children of Liberty soon lose interest and move on to the next shiny object by 2018?

From the Cornfield, it will be interesting to watch over the next two to four years to see if progressives will manage to become one or continue to pull against each other by trying to make their individual cause the priority.

Politics Roundup: January 30 – February 5, 2017

politicsroundup

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

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

Monday, 1/30/17:

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 8 p.m.

Tune in tomorrow for the much anticipated announcement of President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the vacancy at the US Supreme Court.

That vacancy, a result of the death nearly one year ago of Justice Antonin Scalia, could impact the course of US law for decades.

Is the President, as many talking heads are saying, moving the nation to authoritarianism?

Hollywood made clear its feelings about the executive order banning entry from seven nations at the Screen Actor’s Guild awards ceremony last night.

It was not positive.

The EO has already had parts blocked by federal judges, but not the entire order.

Homeland Security came out with a clarification Sunday night on the order, noting that those with green cards would not be barred entry, but subject to questioning.

The countries affected are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

In December 2015 former President Barack Obama signed into law a measure placing some restrictions on certain travelers from Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria. A couple of months later, Libya, Somalia and Yemen were added.

President Trump said the executive order he signed on Friday “is not a Muslim ban” but a move to prevent terrorists from entering the country.

Trump said he had “tremendous feeling” for the refugees fleeing Syria, but “my first priority will always be to protect and serve our country.”

The former President spoke out today on the EO causing all the stir.

In his statement, Obama voiced his support for the protesters. He noted, in his opinion, it was an attack on American values, with which he strongly disagreed with President Trump.

A group of State Department officials sent a memo to the White House expressing their dissent with the travel ban.

The American Civil Liberties Union took the Administration to court over the ban and won several stays over the weekend. The ACLU also benefited from the ban with a whopping $24 million in donations compared to the usual $3-$4 million per year in donations.

“Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning,” Trump tweeted. “Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage…..protesters and the tears of Senator Schumer.”

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson plans to sue President Trump over the EO that suspended immigration from those seven countries. Ferguson and 15 other Attorneys General, all Democrats, released a statement condemning the EO.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer pointed out today that the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are by law members of the National Security Council and will continue to be.

He also noted that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency was being added to the NSC, which was not an inclusion during the Administration of President Obama.

But why did the Prez appoint the White House Chief Political Strategist to the NSC?

Keeping his promises, the Prez signed another EO today to slash regulations by as much as 75%.

There will be regulation, there will be control, but it will be normalized control,” Trump said as he signed the order in the Oval Office, surrounded by a group of small business owners.

Former President George H.W. Bush was discharged from a Houston hospital today after being treated for pneumonia, his spokesman said.

Global Politics: I regret to announce via this statement that I have decided to not attend the Academy Awards Ceremony alongside my fellow members of the cinematic community,” Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian director of The Salesman, said Sunday.

The director is up for an Oscar. There has been much debate over if he would denied entry to the US for the ceremony.

Benoit Hamon, the most left-leaning of seven primary candidates, won the Socialist nomination for French President.

Iraq’s lawmakers today backed a “reciprocity measure” that would bar Americans from entering Iraq in retaliation for Trump’s banning of Iraqis from traveling to the United States. The vote is not binding and up to the Iraqi Prime Minister whether to enforce.

Britain takes a different approach to Trump on immigration restrictions but the United States is a close ally and an invitation for a state visit still stands, Prime Minister Theresa May said today.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein tweeted today insisting that “discrimination on nationality” violates international human rights codes.

The U.S. ban is also mean-spirited, and wastes resources needed for proper counterterrorism,” al-Hussein wrote.

Tuesday, 1/31/17:

Drum roll, please.

Will 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Justice Neil Gorsuch, please step forward.

In dramatic and presidential fashion, President Donald Trump announced his nominee to fill the vacancy on the bench of the Supreme Court this evening during prime time at 8 p.m.

Now, will the judge who won unanimous consent went appointed to the Appeals Court win with bipartisan support the seat on the nation’s highest court?

The selection of Gorsuch, 49, could impact jurisprudence for the next several decades.

Fired!

That was the message to Acting Attorney General Sally Yates late last night. The pink slip came after Yates put out a memo to Justice Department lawyers to not defend the executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Friday placing a temporary ban on people from seven nations coming into the US of A.

That EO sparked protests across the nation, which continue. Several federal judges have blocked portions of that EO.

A new Acting Attorney General Dana Boente, who was the US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, was named, who immediately rescinded the Yates memo and sent out his own affirming Justice would defend the EO.

The White House said in a statement that Yates “has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. … Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.”

The Chairman of the House Rules Committee Pete Sessions, a Republican, agreed with Yates’ assessment, however, noting the similarity “to an evaluation that we made and that was it did not appear to be specific in nature. It did not appear to maintain the continuity of an effort that could be understood and followed through on. … It did not look as complete and succinct as what I think I would’ve wanted.”

President Trump signed an executive order Monday that he said would deliver on his campaign promise to slash government regulations.

President Trump will leave in place former President Barack Obama’s 2014 order creating new workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, the White House said Monday.

President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBT rights, just as he was throughout the election,” the statement from the White House said.

Senate Democrats boycotted the Finance Committee preventing confirmation votes for Health and Human Services designee Dr. Tom Price and Treasury designee Steve Mnuchin.

Homeland Security Secretary Retired General John Kelly came out today to explain implementation of the temporary ban on entry to the US from seven countries. He emphasized it was not a a ban on Muslims.

Kelly said he was aware of the controversial EO and had known for over a year it would be coming, just not when. Kelly said he found out an exact day on Thursday, the day before the order was signed.

Elaine Chao, wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was confirmed today as Transportation Secretary.

Attorney General designee Senator Jeff Session will get his vote in the full Senate after his confirmation was approved by the Judiciary Committee on strict party lines 12-11.

Likewise the nomination of Betty DeVos to be Education Secretary moved from committee to the full Senate for confirmation as did Energy designee former Governor Rick Perry.

Congressman Ryan Zinke is moving forward as well as designee for Secretary of the Interior.

Trump replaced the Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday night with Thomas Homan, ICE Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations since 2013.

Another group sued the President in federal court in Virginia Monday. The group of 27 plaintiffs from across the U.S. — says the controversial EO signed on Friday “implements an impermissible religious gerrymander that divides foreign nationals, even those lawfully present inside the United States, into favored and disfavored groups based on their faith.”

The suit asks that the EO be totally blocked and ruled unconstitutional.

The Pentagon is compiling a list of Iraqi citizens who have worked with the US military and recommending that they be exempt from Trump’s temporary ban on visitors from Iraq and six other predominantly Muslim countries, according to military officials.

Another executive order today. This one is on beefing up cyber security in the US.

Meeting with pharmaceutical company execs today, the President vowed to get drug prices lower.

The Department of Homeland Security said today it will allow 872 refugees to enter the country after they were initially barred from flying to the US under the President’s executive order on immigration.

OOPs!

The man who appeared on CNN and was cheered by the Prez for his expertise on voter fraud turns out to be registered to vote in three states.

He was listed on the rolls in Alabama, Texas and Mississippi, according to voting records and election officials in those states. He voted only in Alabama in November, records show.

San Francisco, California filed a lawsuit today challenging the President’s executive order directing the federal government to withhold money from cities that have adopted sanctuary policies toward undocumented immigrants.

Global Politics: The United Nations Security Council, which will include new US Ambassador Nikki Haley, will discuss Iran’s ballistic missile test in violation of a UN resolution.

We hope that Iran’s defense program is not used by the new US administration… as a pretext to create new tensions,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a press conference.

The Austrian government has announced plans to ban the full-face Islamic veil in public, part of a raft of measures to contain the rise of the far-right Freedom Party.

The British Parliament will hold a debate on calls to cancel Donald Trump’s state visit due to be hosted by the Queen this year, after 1.6 million people signed a petition in support of scrapping or downgrading the invitation.

Wednesday, 2/1/17:

Salute!

Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, a 36-year-old from Peoria, Illinois, hero!

Owens was the first US casualty of the new Administration. He was killed during a weekend raid on an Al Qaida base in Yemen.

President Donald Trump, accompanied by First Daughter Ivanka, took Marine One to Dover Air Force Base this afternoon to honor the return of Owens remains.

Gloves are off.

Democrats boycotted for the second day the Senate Finance Committee to block confirmation votes on Dr. Tom Price and Steve Mnuchin for Cabinet positions.

Pushing back, Chairman Orrin Hatch suspended the rules and Republicans pushed through the votes to send the nominees for Heath and Human Services and Treasury to the full Senate for a vote.

Scott Pruitt’s committee confirmation vote was blocked today as Democrats boycotted the meeting for the Environmental Protection Agency designee.

In his meeting on Tuesday with pharmaceutical giants, President Trump had this to say, “For Medicare, for Medicaid, we have to get the prices way down. We’re also gonna be streamlining the process so that from your standpoint, when you have a drug, you can actually get it approved if it works instead of waiting for many, many years.”

Meanwhile in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrats mounted a strong objection to Senator Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General, but to no avail.

Sessions nomination now goes for a full Senate vote.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, during a CNN Town Hall, called Justice Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court “hostile.”

Some Democrats are aching for a very vigorous fight against the Gorsuch appointment. To most Democrats, Gorsuch is “stealing” the seat on the bench from DC Circuit Court of Appeals Justice Merrick Garland.

Garland was appointed by former President Barrack Obama, but was never afforded a hearing or vote by the Senate majority Republicans.

In a sign of his character, the first call Gorsuch placed following his nomination was to Garland.

When appointed to the 10th District Court by former President George W. Bush, Gorsuch received unanimous voice-vote approval by the Senate.

The Prez today urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to use the “nuclear option” if necessary to obtain Gorsuch appointment. The nuclear option would change the requirement of 60 votes to confirm a Supreme Court nominee to only a simple majority vote.

We have a Secretary of State.

Rex Tillerson was approved by the Senate today by all Republicans and four Democrats.

Chairman Jason Chaffetz, Republican Congressman from Utah, said on Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s possible conflicts of interest could be among the more than 40 items his House Oversight Committee investigates.

California Congresswoman Barbara Lee and the chairs of four Democratic caucuses in the House of Representatives are demanding President Trump remove his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, from the National Security Council, arguing that Bannon’s appointment to the group is “dangerous.”

The Prez kicked off the commemoration of Black History Month with a sit-down and listening session with a number of members from the black community.

National Security Adviser retired General Mike Flynn told Iran today that the US was putting the Persian nation on notice, following its ballistic missile launch over the weekend.

Education Secretary designee Betsy DeVos may be in trouble of winning full confirmation. Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski said on the Senate floor today they will not approve her confirmation.

This means that Republicans cannot spare another defection. As it is, the now 50-50 split will be broke and confirm DeVos by Vice President Mike Pence.

President Trump canceled a scheduled visit to the Harley-Davidson factory in Milwaukee due to the motorcycle maker’s fear of protests over his immigration and refugee ban, an administration official told CNN Tuesday. Harley-Davidson released a statement saying there was never a visit planned this week to any of its facilities.

That said, Harley-Davidson execs are meeting with the Prez in the White House on Thursday.

Over 900 career diplomats with the State Department have signed the memo to the new Secretary of State, voicing concern and opposition to the executive order on the temporary ban of travel from seven countries.

However, a poll that came out yesterday, following the disastrous roll-out of the temporary ban, found that the majority of Americans support the President’s executive order.

Washington, Massachusetts, Virginia and New York are becoming the first states to sue the Trump administration with filings announced this week over the executive order restricting refugees and immigration. All four have Democratic Attorneys General.

More about Gorsuch, the nominee to the Supreme Court: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/31/neil-gorsuch-supreme-court-nominee-five-things-to-know/97083588/

Another political cartoon that is spot on: http://theweek.com/cartoons/677406/political-cartoon-trump-promises-ban

Global Politics: Former United Nations leader Ban Ki-moon has decided not to run in an election expected later this year to replace President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached in December over a corruption scandal.

British lawmakers are scheduled to vote today on a bill that would give Prime Minister Theresa May permission to trigger negotiations on the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union by March 31.

French anticorruption police searched offices in the lower house of parliament on Tuesday as part of an investigation into whether presidential candidate Francois Fillon used public funds to pay family members for jobs they didn’t really do.

Romania’s governing Social Democratic Party shocked domestic and international observers Tuesday when it adopted an emergency measure to decriminalize official misconduct causing damage worth less than about $48,000.

Iran admitted today it had test-fired a new ballistic missile. Iran’s Defense Minister said the test did not breach the Islamic Republic’s nuclear agreement with world powers or a United Nations Security Council resolution endorsing the pact.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg today urged Russia to use its influence with pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine to halt what he called the worst upsurge in fighting in a long time.

Leftist independent Alejandro Guillier is tied with conservative Sebastian Pinera to win Chile’s 2017 presidential race.

António Guterres, the new UN Secretary General said today that border policies based on religion, ethnicity or race were “against the fundamental principles and values on which our societies are based.”

The United Arab Emirates’ top diplomat came out in defense of Trump’s order temporarily barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Gulf federation’s Foreign Minister, said, “The is a temporary ban and it will revised in 3 months, so it is important that we put into consideration this point.”

Some of these countries that were on this list are countries that face structural problems,” he continued. “These countries should try to solve these issues…and these circumstances before trying to solve this issue with the United States.”

Thursday, 2/2/17:

Tough talk.

That is what now President Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail. And tough talk is what he is doing with both allies and foes.

Word has leaked out that the conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ended abruptly with disagreement over a deal worked out by former President Barack Obama to take in over a thousand refugees being kept on an island off the Australian mainland.

The call was scheduled for an hour, but lasted only about 25 minutes.

Trump has said he will go through with the deal with reservations, adding that he does not want to let into the US of A the next Boston bomber.

The refugees will have to go through “very extreme vettting,” according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Then there was the call with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto where the Prez is reported to have offered to send in US troops to help the Mexicans quell the cartels and other “tough hombres.”

Couple those phone calls with the statement by unconfirmed National Security Adviser Mike Flynn announcing publicly to Iran that the US was “officially putting Iran on notice.”

Attending the National Prayer Breakfast this morning, the Prez told the assembled group about his tough calls with foreign leaders, “Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it.”

Turning to religious freedom, the Prez told the attendees he would “destroy” the Johnson Amendment, named for then Senator and later President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Under the provision, which was made in 1954, tax-exempt entities like churches and charitable organizations are unable to directly or indirectly participate in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate.

Specifically, ministers are restricted from endorsing or opposing candidates from the pulpit. If they do, they risk losing their tax-exempt status.

Trump wants to repeal this provision.

The wall will be built where it’s needed first, and then it will be filled in. That’s the way I look at it,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Fox News in an interview. “I really hope to have it done within the next two years.”

On undoing the Affordable Care Act, the House Republicans pushed through a proposal seeking to scrap regulations intended to prevent coal mining companies from dumping debris into streams.

Republicans also voted to drop a rule requiring mining and drilling companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments.

Republicans said they were just getting started reversing Obama administration regulations, and that they will move on to address rules on fracking, federal contracting, guns, and other matters.

The Senate Environmental Committee, facing a second day of Democratic boycott, moved ahead with advancing Environmental Protection Agency Director nominee Scott Pruitt to a vote in the full Senate after the Republican leadership suspended the rules to vote unanimously with only GOP Senators to confirm.

Out of the hospital, former President George H.W. and former First Lady Barbara Bush will flip the coin at Sunday’s Super Bowl LI.

The Prez asked for prayers for new Apprentice host, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to get better ratings, in remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast.

The Arnold responded, “I got a great idea. Why don’t we switch jobs?”

Global Politics: It’s better that these things — these conversations — are conducted candidly, frankly, privately,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters about his conversation with President Trump on Saturday.

Turnbull also denied that Trump hung up on him as is being reported.

British lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill authorizing the government to start negotiations to leave the European Union.

Israel on Wednesday started clearing Jewish settlers from a West Bank outpost called Amona, while planning to build a new settlement for the displaced settlers on disputed land.

Iran has responded to Flynn’s warning that it was “on notice” today, saying it would “vigorously continue its missile” program and testing.

Colombia’s ELN rebels freed hostage ex-lawmaker Odin Sanchez on today, the government confirmed, clearing the way for peace talks next week.

The Zimbabwe pastor who fled to the United States after launching the popular #ThisFlag protest movement faces up to 20 years in prison for organizing protests against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe in New York.

The death on Wednesday of Congo’s opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi leaves opponents of President Joseph Kabila seriously weakened in their bid to force Kabila to quit power after he defied constitutional term limits to stay on last year.

Friday, 2/3/17:

Two weeks in and President Donald Trump has the lowest approval rating of any new President in modern history at this point.

A new CNN/ORC poll reveals only 44% approve of the job the President is doing, even though he is following through with his campaign promises.

Another 53% disapprove of his job.

This is indicative of the popular vote, which he lost, where the majority did not want him to be their President.

The 44% represent Republicans, independents and disillusioned Democrats, mostly in the Heartland and South.

Since the President’s travel ban took effect, 60,000 to 100,000 visas have been revoked to travelers from the seven countries named in the controversial executive order signed one week ago today.

The President signed another executive order today to begin unraveling the tangled web of Dodd-Frank enacted at the height of the Great Recession to reel in the finance industry.

A federal judge in Seattle, Washington today granted a nationwide temporary restraining order on Trump’s executive order made last week that temporarily barred entry to the United States to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.

A federal judge in Boston, however, also today declined to extend a temporary restraining order on the same EO.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria, Virginia ordered the federal government to give the state a list by Thursday of “all persons who have been denied entry to or removed from the United States.”

Any attack on the United States, or our allies, will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said at South Korea’s defense ministry, at the end of a two-day visit.

Mattis was clearly talking to Kim Jung Un and North Korea.

South Dakota Republicans just did something that backfired spectacularly for congressional Republicans earlier this year: They got rid of an independent ethics commission designed to watch over them.

Sunday, 2/5/17:

Point.

Counterpoint.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Sunday denied President Trump’s request for an immediate stay on a federal judge’s temporary block on enforcement of his immigration executive order.

The Court also ordered the State of Washington and the US Justice Department to submit arguments before Monday afternoon, before issuing a final ruling.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in “accordance with the judge’s ruling, DHS has suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the Executive Order entitled, ‘Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,'” including “actions to suspend passenger system rules that flag travelers for operational action subject to the Executive Order.”

The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” tweeted the President. “When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety & security – big trouble!”

The Prez added, “Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it’s death & destruction!”

That remark about “this so-called judge” has Republicans and Democrats alike crying, “foul.” Judges in the US of A are “real judges,” not “so-called.”

It is also getting cheers in some circles for doing as the Vice President said, “He was speaking his mind.” Supporters cite Trump’s plain talk as one of the reasons they voted for him to be President.

For the third straight weekend, protesters marched in a number of major US cities, as well as in cities abroad including London, Paris, and Jakarta.

“Well, I respect a lot of people but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him,” Trump said of Russian President Vladimir Putin, adding that Russia could be a valuable ally to the United States in the war on terror.

But he’s a killer, though,” Fox pundit Bill O’Reilly pushed back. “Putin’s a killer.”

Trump nodded, and said, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”

We are going to win the arguments because we’re going to take the steps necessary to protect the country, which the president of the United States has the authority to do,” Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News today, as he made his the rounds of the Sunday talk shows.

Vincent Viola, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Army, withdrew his name from consideration Friday, citing business dealings. Viola said it was too difficult to divest and cut his business holdings.

Make no doubt, repeal and replace is still the name of the game in Congress in dealing with the shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act.

If you’re going to repair the American health care system, and fix its problems, you have to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better: Patient-centered health care,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told Chuck Todd on NBC‘s Meet The Press. “And that is how you repair this health care system.”

A couple of studies suggest that the recent executive order on illegal immigrants who are criminals could net six to eight million undocumented individuals by including those “suspected” of committing crimes.

Global Politics: On second thought, Romania’s leaders are scrubbing a new order which decriminalized some government corruption. It will be back to all corruption bad after the people rose up in protest.

Thanks for viewing!

Politics Roundup: January 23 – 29, 2017

politicsroundup

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

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

Monday, 1/23/17:

The first full week of the presidency of Donald John Trump has begun after some missteps over the initial weekend.

The President met with business leaders this morning and promptly threatened them with a big penalty if they move jobs out of the US of A and attempt to ship products back to American consumers. But he also held out a carrot of less regulations and big tax cuts for keeping jobs in the US.

Union leaders from across the nation also met with the President today.

The Prez fulfilled a campaign promise by signing an executive order pulling the US out of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement and ordering renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Also signed by executive orders were: a federal hiring and pay raise freeze, a 5-year ban on lobbying and reinstating the ban on federal money going to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who promote or do abortions. NGOs operate overseas, rather than in the US.

Conversations between National Security Adviser retired General Michael Flynn and the Russian Ambassador are being investigated. The calls were being monitored by routine surveillance on the Russian Embassy staff.

This afternoon was the first official White House press briefing with new Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who had a very rocky weekend.

Spicer did not back down from his remarks on Saturday about the inauguration being the most watched in history. On other figures, he said he was providing the numbers which he had been given by an outside agency.

Talking about his Saturday press statement and future appearances before the press, Spicer told the reporters, “Our intention is never to lie to you. You’re in the same boat: I mean, there are times when you guys tweet something out or write a story and you publish a correction. That doesn’t mean that you were intentionally trying to deceive readers and the American people, does it? And I think that we should be afforded the same opportunity.

There are times when we believe something to be true or we get something from an agency or we act in haste because the information available wasn’t complete but our desire to communicate with the American people and make sure that you have the most complete story at the time, and so we do it. But, again, I think that when you look net-net, we’re going to do our best every time we can. I’m going to come out here and tell you the facts as I know them, and if we make a mistake, I’ll do our best to correct it.”

It is expected that Congressman Mike Pompeo will be confirmed by the Senate as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency this evening.

Secretary of State designee Rex Tillerson was approved today by the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on strict party lines. His full Senate confirmation is virtually guaranteed with Republican majority.

Republican Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine have put forth a replacement for the Affordable Care Act that allows states to choose to keep it if they want rather than going with a new, yet undecided, GOP healthcare plan.

The Prez is meeting with leaders from both chambers of Congress this evening from both parties.

Naming Names:

Secretary of the Air Force – Former Congresswoman Heather Wilson, who would be first Air Force Academy graduate to serve in the position

The US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by Texas seeking to revive the state’s strict Republican-backed voter-identification requirements that a lower court found had a discriminatory effect on black and Hispanic people.

The Court also turned down an appeal to overturn Alabama law that allows judges to impose the death penalty over the jury recommendation.

OOPs!

An Indiana Senator here in the Cornfield is eating crow.

State Senator Jack E. Sandlin is facing a social media backlash for a Facebook post that called the masses gathered for last weekend’s Women’s March “fat women out walking.” He took down the message but not before screenshots had been widely shared on Facebook and Twitter.

Sandlin’s full quote: “In one day Trump got more fat women out walking than Michelle Obama did in 8 years.”

Apparently there is an offensive post on Facebook that’s attributed to me about women in Washington marching,” Sandlin wrote after taking down the offending post. “Not sure how that ended up on my Facebook wall but that certainly does not reflect my opinion of women. People who know me will know that’s not my view.”

Global Politics: You will be assimilated or go home, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told immigrants.

In a full-page newspaper message, Rutte said “we have to actively defend our values” against people who refuse to integrate or act antisocially. Behave normally or go away.

Stepping up, China said it would reluctantly assume leadership of the world if Trump abdicates the traditional role of the US.

If anyone were to say China is playing a leadership role in the world I would say it’s not China rushing to the front but rather the front runners have stepped back leaving the place to China,” the Director General of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s International Economics Department Minister Zhang Jun said in Davos, Switzerland to the World Economic Forum. “If China is required to play that leadership role then China will assume its responsibilities.”

My Thoughts: Baited

Mr. President Elect, You Are Wrong

Tuesday, 1/24/17:

President Donald Trump on Monday promised business leaders that he would wipe out 75 percent of government regulations affecting their companies.

This morning he met with the heads of the three US auto makers: Ford, General Motors and Fiat/Chrysler. Excluded were the Japanese and Korean auto makers, who have significant US plants manufacturing vehicles in the US.

In Trump’s first official meeting with congressional leaders Monday evening, the President repeated the unsubstantiated claim that he would have won the popular vote if three to five million “illegals” had not cast ballots, according to several sources familiar with the meeting.

Looks like that the controversial Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines will proceed as the President signed an executive order approving those projects.

Embattled Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey can breathe easy. He will remain in place for the remainder of his 10-year term.

Global Politics: The Supreme Court of Great Britain ruled today that before the government of Prime Minister Theresa May proceeds with its Brexit plan, it must be approved by Parliament.

Wednesday, 1/25/17:

President Donald Trump put the Keystone and the Dakota Access pipelines back in play on Tuesday, but opened them up to renegotiation.

Trump said both projects would hinge on renegotiated terms, which would include such requirements as using American steel and building the pipes in the US.

If we’re going to be building pipelines in the United States, we’ll build the pipes in the United States,” Trump said.

Meeting with US automakers on Tuesday, the President promised to cut “unnecessary” environmental regulations to make it easier for them to build and expand US plants.

We have a very big push on to have auto plants and other plants, many other plants, you’re not being singled out … to have a lot of plants from a lot of different items built in the United States,” Trump told the executives.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday that the federal budget deficit is projected to begin rising again after seven years of declines. The shift is projected to add nearly $10 trillion to the federal debt over a decade.

Activities at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Agriculture, and the National Institutes of Health had the brakes put on yesterday by the President.

The Administration also imposed a temporary media blackout on the agencies, barring employees from external communication such as talking to reporters, publishing press releases, or posting to social media or agency websites.

Today is the day.

The President has signed an executive order to implement his promise to build a wall along the southern border.

He also issued executive orders to cut the number of refugees who can enter the US and temporarily blocked people from Syria and other “terror prone” countries from entering the country.

A lot of hay is being made over White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying the Prez actually believes that millions of people voted illegally, denying him of a win of the popular vote.

Today, the Prez tweeted out that he wants an investigation into the extent of voter fraud in the last election, which won him the White House.

There have been far too many Democratic elected officials and Democratic voters saying that the Trump presidency is not legitimate. Now, we have Trump putting gasoline on the fire by claiming he lost the popular vote because of millions of illegal votes.

After being labeled “fake news” by the President, CNN is out to prove that it is Trump who is the Faker-in-Chief.

Seizing on every opportunity to point out misstatements or less than factual tweets as lying, the network is making the President’s remarks of questionable origin the headlines and dominating story line, giving very scant attention to other real news about weighty issues.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has a new job as the US Ambassador to the United Nations after being confirmed by 96 of 100 US Senators on Tuesday.

A hacker warned the Prez to change the security settings on his Twitter account.

In another executive action, the President is trying to cut the legs out from under sanctuary cities around the nation by withholding federal funds.

Trump tweeted that if the “carnage” in Chicago, which has seen 42 killed since the start of the year, does not end soon he will “send in the Feds!”

Congress is not in the Capitol for the rest of the week.

Members of both parties are at annual gatherings to map out their legislative agenda for the year. In other words, there will be no more confirmations for the President’s Cabinet or any legislation passed until next week.

The Standing Rock Sioux are not backing down in their protest of the Dakota Access pipeline even though the new President authorized it to continue construction.

President Trump is legally required to honor our treaty rights and provide a fair and reasonable pipeline process,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault, who called Trump’s action “politically motivated.”

I will be making my Supreme Court pick on Thursday of next week,” the President tweeted.

OOPs!

You are a Secret Service agent and tasked with protecting the President no matter the risk.

So what do you do?

Announce to the world you won’t take a bullet for this President.

Wonder how her (yes, it was a female agent) job security is today.

OOPs! #2

The Prez is complaining about voters registered in two states and subject to voting fraudulently.

Does this go for a member of his inner circle as well?

Seems White House Senior Adviser Steve Bannon is registered to vote in both New York and Florida.

I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and … even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” the Prez tweeted.

Global Politics: Kuwait today hanged seven people, including a member of the royal family and a woman who burned dozens of people to death during a wedding party, state media said.

Speaking at the Parliament today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia has “no illusions that there will be a new reset with the US, we don’t have any naive expectations.”

Thursday, 1/26/17:

Cancel the meeting.

That was the tweet from President Donald Trump to Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto about the upcoming meeting between the two if Mexico is not willing to pay for “The Wall.”

Peña Nieto noted on Wednesday how the relationship between the two countries is essential to both nations in the Western Hemisphere.

Mexican politicians and historians pressured Peña Nieto to snub Trump, with some using Twitter to call Trump’s action “an offense to Mexico,” a “slap in the face,” and a “monument to lies.”

Peña Nieto said building a wall “far from uniting us, divides us.”

The Mexican President, not shying down, called Trump’s bluff.

He called and cancelled the meeting scheduled for Tuesday, January 31.

Peña Nieto did go on to say that he wanted to work with Trump to work out a plan that will be “mutually beneficial.”

Late this afternoon, the President said that he would impose a 20% tax on imports coming in from Mexico to reimburse the US for The Wall.

The Prez took his first trip on Air Force One today to talk to Republican lawmakers gathered in Philadelphia for their annual retreat to lay out their agenda for the year.

Also addressing the GOP solons was British Prime Minister Theresa May, who meets with the Prez at the White House tomorrow.

The President can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law. We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America,” the former POW and military advocate Senator John McCain, a Republican, said in a statement issued Wednesday morning.

Mr. President, talk of torture and black sites is not smart.

The President signed an executive order this afternoon to open an investigation into voter fraud and registration irregularities.

Great political cartoon today: http://theweek.com/cartoons/676022/political-cartoon-media-calls-trump-liar-not-obama

A number of long-term, top officials at the State Department were given walking papers today to allow Secretary of State designee Rex Tillerson to bring his own people, once he gets full Senate confirmation, as expected, next week.

Also out is the man appointed seven months ago to be head of the Border Patrol.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence announced yesterday it would investigate suspected efforts by Russia to influence the November elections.

First Daughter Tiffany Trump, First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner, Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin and Senior Adviser Steve Bannon – all have one thing in common. They are all registered to vote in two states.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has rolled out his replacement of the Affordable Care Act.

There is no excuse for waiting to craft an alternative until after we repeal Obamacare, and the Obamacare Replacement Act charts a new path forward that will insure the most people possible at the lowest price,” Paul said in a statement.

Congress will move legislation this year providing up to $15 billion to build a wall along the Mexican boundary, Republican leaders said at their retreat in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania today.

What they did not say is where the money would come.

The US Park Service seems to be as addicted to tweeting as the President. Difference is what the Park Service is tweeting is not making the Boss happy.

Ethicists are not happy.

The Trump Organization’s Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, reportedly doubled its initiation fee to $200,000 effective January 1, less than three weeks before President Trump’s inauguration. The $14,000 annual dues remain unchanged.

Former President Barack Obama’s former ethics lawyer, Norm Eisen, said the move was a “not very subtle” attempt to exploit Trump’s power.

This type of naked profiteering off of a government office is what I would expect from King Louis XVI or his modern kleptocratic equivalents, not an American President,” Eisen said.

Researchers and analysts have granted the United States a sobering new moniker: “Flawed democracy.”

The study goes on to say Trump “was not responsible” for a problem that had “a long gestation.”

The U.S. has been teetering on the brink of becoming a ‘flawed democracy‘ for several years,” the study added, “and even if there had been no presidential election in 2016, its score would have dipped.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is already threatening court action if the President follows through with cutting off federal funds to “sanctuary cities.” Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles added his threat of suing as well this morning.

States are lining up to limit the constitutional rights of people to protest. From the Cornfield with a proposed law to stop protesters “by any means necessary” to a North Dakota lawmaker wanting to legalize “accidentally running over” protesters.

If some Texas state lawmakers have their way, expect to see the Appeals Court and the Supreme Court keeping busy and most likely ruling unconstitutional several proposed laws in the Lonestar State.

Global Politics: The highest-ranking North Korean defector in years said Wednesday that the days of Kim Jong Un’s regime in the isolated communist nation are “numbered.”

The Mexican peso fell against the US dollar following the announcement of the cancelled meeting between the two Presidents.

Gambia’s President Adama Barrow finally returned home today, solidifying his position as this country’s first new commander in chief in two decades after a political crisis that sent the previous ruler into exile.

The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May’s government will push its draft law to trigger the start of the Brexit process through the House of Commons within two weeks in a rush to stick to her March 31 deadline.

Devastating reports of growing violence against a Muslim minority group in western Myanmar have prompted humanitarian groups to call for urgent foreign intervention, even as Myanmar’s government denies the mounting allegations.

Friday, 1/27/17:

Shut up and listen to what the people are saying.

That was the message from controversial Presidential Senior Political Strategist Steve Bannon to the national press corps.

Naturally, the media is only focusing on the first part, vowing to not shut up.

And the national press wonders why Americans in the Heartland do not trust them and believe they are out of touch with the common folk.

As I wrote the other day the national press corps is being Baited.

The spat between President Donald Trump and Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto has increased the danger of a trade war between the Trump Administration and Mexico, one of America’s third largest trading partner.

Then again, today the US and Mexican Presidents were on the phone speaking with one another for about an hour or so.

Both Presidents without backing down said the talk was constructive.

In his first meeting with the head of a foreign government, following tradition, which was British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump came across – gasp – presidential, on subject and on script.

There was the commitment to NATO. And even though Trump sees nothing wrong with water boarding, he said he deferred to Defense Secretary retired General James Mattis on the issue, which Mattis says no to doing.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke in person today to the 44th annual March for Life in the nation’s capitol. Pence is the highest US official to ever speak to the gathering.

The Vice President told the gathered marchers that, “Life is winning again in America.”

On the 20% tax on Mexican goods entering the US floated as a way for Mexico to pay for The Wall, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted, “Simply put, any policy proposal which drives up costs of Corona, tequila, or margaritas is a big-time bad idea. Mucho sad.”

With the President ordering a gag on tweeting by government agencies, employees are setting up personal, alternative Twitter accounts to tweet what they want – mostly in opposition to their new Boss and his ideas.

Can’t wait for President Trump to call us FAKE NEWS,” an anonymous National Park Service employee posted on the new Twitter account @AltNatParkService. “You can take our official twitter, but you’ll never take our free time!”

New US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told US allies today, “If you don’t have our backs, we’re taking names.”

The Prez will talk by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday. Questions are swirling about what the two world leaders will discuss.

Later this afternoon, the Prez went to the Department of Defense to talk to those who work in the Pentagon.

Contrary to his performance last Saturday before the Wall of Stars commemorating those in the CIA who lost their lives in defense of the nation, in front of the wall at DoD, Trump was quite respectful and not self-absorbed.

There are new vetting measures in place for refugees and others wanting to come to the US of A from foreign countries.

I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don’t want ’em here,” Trump declared. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”

When questioned by the press following his meeting with May, Trump said that it was “very early” to talk about lifting sanctions against Russia. His counterpart, May, stated flatly until Russia gets out of Ukraine and Crimea the sanctions will remain.

Your tutorial on presidential actions: https://gma.yahoo.com/president-orders-memos-stop-them-154705257–abc-news-topstories.html

Miami-Dade, Florida is breaking with other sanctuary cities on illegal immigrants. Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the city/county government will comply with the ban on sanctuary cities imposed by President Trump.

Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson on Thursday signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, banning dilation and evacuation, the most common second-trimester abortion procedure.

A new twist on the bathroom law outrage from the State of Kansas. Lawmakers there are wanting the gender identity to be determined by a person’s chromosomes.

Global Politics: I am delighted that the new Administration has made a trade agreement between our countries one of its earliest priorities,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a speech at a Republican Party retreat in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Thursday ahead of her meeting with President Trump today.

May said a deal could demonstrated to frustrated working class voters that backed both her and Trump that “free markets, free economies, and free trade can deliver the brighter future they need.”

Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defense doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and TV personalities are joining the bellicose chorus. It all looks as if the world is preparing for war,” former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev stated in an opinion piece in Time magazine on Thursday.

Gorbachev added the most pressing challenge the world faces today is reversing the “militarization of politics.”

Russia’s Parliament voted 380-3 on Friday to decriminalize domestic violence in cases where it does not cause “substantial bodily harm” and does not occur more than once a year.

Sunday, 1/29/17:

A firestorm ignited!

President Trump signed two new executive orders Friday.

One focused on “the protection of the nation from foreign terrorist entry” and the other mandating “a great rebuilding” of the military.

The first one, according to the President, will set up “new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists” out of the US while giving priority to Christian refugees.

The order bans U.S. entry from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia for 90 days; suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days; and caps the number of admitted refugees in the 2017 fiscal year at 50,000.

The second order regarding the military outlines a plan for “new planes, new ships, new resources, and new tools for our men and women in uniform,” the President said.

On the immigration ban from the top Democrat in the Senate:

These orders go against what America has always been about. The orders make us less humanitarian, less safe, less American,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said during his regularly scheduled news Sunday morning conference in New York as he announced that his colleagues were working on new legislation.

We’re demanding the president reverse these executive orders that go against what we are, everything we have always stood for,” Schumer said.

By giving preference to Christians over Muslims, American religious leaders are saying the executive order on immigration and refugees pits one faith against another.

This comes follows the President telling the Christian Broadcast Network that he plans to provide preferential treatment for Christian refugees.

On Saturday, the Prez spoke with five world leaders – Shinzo Abe of Japan, Angela Merkel of Germany, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Malcolm Turnbull of Australia and François Hollande of France.

On the phone call between Trump and Putin, both sides described the conversation as constructive, with a White House statement characterizing it as covering “a range in topics from mutual cooperation in defeating ISIS to efforts in working together to achieve more peace throughout the world including Syria.”

Russia’s statement added more detail, saying the presidents discussed terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nuclear proliferation, North and South Korea, and Ukraine.

The 2020 campaign begins: In a Thursday night interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said the media coverage of Trump should resemble reporting on any other politician.

Booker argued that liars should be called “liars” and propaganda should be called “propaganda.”

I don’t understand why the media is treating Donald Trump with such kid gloves. These are not ‘untruths.’ These are not ‘alternate facts.’ These are lies and propaganda,” Booker said.

We have seen the president of the United States and his officials repeatedly lying to the American public and pushing out … what could be called propaganda to mislead the public. He needs to be called on it, and we as the American public should not accept a president that routinely lies blatantly to the American people.”

Booker similarly called Trump a “repeated liar” and “propagandist” in a conversation with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Thursday night.

Remember Joe Wilson and the State of the Union Address, by chance?

Presidential Political Adviser Steve Bannon has been appointed to the National Security Council.

Arizona Senator John McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, called Bannon’s placement on the NSC a “radical departure from any national security council in history.”

The statement from the White House on Friday in commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day is being slammed because it did not use the term “Jews” or “Jewish” at any time.

On social media there is talk of uprising and revolution, not to mention California moving ahead with an attempt at Calexit.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will not be charged in connection with the Bridgegate scandal, the Bergen County prosecutor’s office said in a letter Friday, because there is insufficient evidence to show in court that Christie knew in advance about the plot to close several lanes of the George Washington Bridge as retribution against a local mayor who did not endorse Christie for re-election.

Global Politics: The chancellor regrets the entry ban imposed by the US government against refugees and nationals from certain countries,” spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

She is convinced that even in the necessarily resolute battle against terrorism it is not justified to place people from a certain origin or belief under general suspicion.”

The German government “will now examine the consequences” of the ban for German citizens with dual nationality, he added.

A partial vote count shows hard-left candidate Benoit Hamon winning the presidential nomination for France’s ruling Socialist Party, comfortably beating ex-Prime Minister Manuel Valls in a primary runoff vote.

Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki was killed in a plane crash on Thursday, raising doubt over who will take over his blockbuster graft investigation into dozens of politicians.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday tweeted, “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada

Thanks for your view!

Politics Roundup: January 16 – 22, 2017

politicsroundup

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

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

Monday, 1/16/17:

In four short days, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America.

There are some, notably Democratic Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who are saying that Trump will not be a legitimate President due to Russian interference in the election.

Trump reacting has set off a firestorm with more than two dozen Democratic Congresspersons saying, along with Lewis, they will not attend the inauguration on Friday.

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on Sunday called on President Obama to “step up” and urged Democrats to accept Trump’s victory.

Adding to all the uproar leading to the inauguration, the President Elect and the current Director of the Central Intelligence Agency are in a feud after Trump said that Director John Brennan may be the source of leaking the scurrilous dossier of unverified, and in some instances debunked, gossip about Trump.

Now that he’s going to have an opportunity to do something for our national security as opposed to talking and tweeting, he’s going to have tremendous responsibility to make sure that U.S. and national security interests are protected,” Brennan said on Fox News Sunday, warning that Trump’s impulsivity could be dangerous.

Spontaneity is not something that protects national security interests,” Brennan declared.

Over the weekend, Trump told The Washington Post he is working on a healthcare plan to offer “insurance for everybody.”

Trump also said he would drive down health care costs by forcing drug companies to negotiate on prices in Medicare and Medicaid.

Democratic legislators spread out across the country this holiday weekend to push back on Republican plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Trump, in another weekend interview, said he would consider lifting sanctions on Russia in exchange for a new deal on reducing the nuclear arsenal.

Trump warned that he would impose a 35 percent border tax on cars exported to the U.S. from a plant BMW plans to build in Mexico, during an interview with a German magazine.

With this being the week leading to the inauguration, it should be noted that Trump won 2,626 counties across the nation while Democratic rival Hillary Clinton won 487 counties across the country. Yet Clinton did win the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, winning only 20 counties with Trump getting the rest.

Trump has Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel scratching heads after he compared trust for her and trust for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. The President Elect said he would trust both, but wait and see how long that trust lasted.

Though saying how much he respected Merkel, Trump went on to pan her refugee policy.

Merkel is up for re-election this year.

China is also pushing back on Trump’s position that Taiwan is a negotiable issue.

Russia is both upset and pleased with Trump. Pleased over his calling NATO obsolete and the possibility of easing sanctions, but not so happy with other remarks from Congress and the US intelligence community.

Martin Luther King III, son of the slain civil rights leader whom we honor today, met with the President Elect at Trump Tower today to talk about voting rights.

When both men came down the elevator, neither spoke to the news media.

A few minutes later, King did speak after reporters followed him down the hallway shouting questions.

The goal is to bring America together,” King said. “America is great, but we need to make America greater.”

Things get said on both sides in the heat of emotion,” King said in reference to the squabble between Trump and Lewis.

When we roll up our sleeves and work together, there is nothing Americans can’t do,” King summed up.

Comedian Steve Harvey is getting slammed for agreeing to sit at the table with Trump and his Administration to find workable solutions to inner cities issues and concerns.

Naming Names: None today – outstanding is Secretary of Agriculture

Scuttlebutt: Monica Crowley is out as part of the National Security Team after reports revealed she plagiarized many passages in her book.

Is Andrew Puzder, tapped for Secretary of Labor, thinking of backing out?

White Sox fan and outgoing President, Barack Obama, paid homage to the long-suffering, now winning World Champion Chicago Cubs in the White House today.

Should the three states which commemorate the birth of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and the federal holiday honoring The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior on the same day, change the date for Lee?

The three states are: Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Global politics: A South Korean special prosecutor’s office on Monday said it was seeking a warrant for the arrest of Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee in connection with the influence peddling scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the President Elect’s view on NATO and criticism that allied members weren’t paying their fair share has “caused astonishment.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that even though Trump’s positions had been well known “I think we Europeans have our fate in our own hands.”

I’m personally going to wait until the American president takes office, and then we will naturally work with him on all levels,” Merkel told reporters.

We are going to move away from, I guess, a kind of Twitter diplomacy, and then into a reality,” said Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen, adding that reality could be “perhaps more difficult than what is going on on Twitter.”

“We expect continuity from the new U.S. administration. Trump must maintain this leadership role, to ensure security, stability and peace,” Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said.

It is clear that we are discussing this issue all the time,” Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said at the European Union meeting in Brussels, Belgium.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has confirmed the arrest of the son of a leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) separatist movement over his alleged involvement in a deadly blast late last year.

Oman said today it accepted 10 inmates from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay ahead of President Barack Obama leaving office, part of his efforts to shrink the facility he promised to close.

Tuesday, 1/17/17:

Three days.

The countdown is on to the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.

Not everyone is happy.

From Democratic lawmakers to global leaders, rancor is the word.

More than four dozen Democratic Congresspersons are now boycotting the swearing in ceremony.

Democratic New York Congressman Jerold Nadler, who is boycotting the inauguration so as not to “normalize” Trump, said that Trump will be an illegitimate President, but not an illegal President.

For the record, Georgia Congressman John Lewis also boycotted the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001 because the Supreme Court stepped in and ruled on the Florida recount.

China’s President showed up at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to defend globalization and push back on Trump’s plans to put America first.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is speaking out in defense of Trump and blaming the outgoing Administration of President Barack Obama of trying to delegitimize the presidency of Trump before he takes the oath.

Trump when he came to Moscow… wasn’t any kind of political figure, we didn’t even know of his political ambitions,” Putin said, responding to a journalist’s question at a news conference.

Does anyone think that our special services chase every American billionaire? Of course not, it’s just completely ridiculous.”

More Cabinet appointments face grilling by the US Senate.

Some of those nominees, such as Congressman Dr. Tom Price the designee for Health and Human Services Secretary is being hit with violation of ethics allegations.

Price is alleged to have purchased stock in a medical device company then turned around in days to introduce legislation favorable to that company.

Did Price break the law?

Can his nomination be saved?

Price faces Senators tomorrow as will Commerce designee Wilbur Ross.

Up for confirmation hearings today are Education nominee Betsy DeVos and Interior designee Congressman Ryan Zinke.

The nation is evenly split 48% each whether Trump will be a good or bad President.

Heading to the inauguration, Trump’s approval rating is only 40%.

The Democratic National Party has been huddled in Phoenix, Arizona hoping for a resurrection as the members hear from candidates to chair the party, which is currently rudderless.

Outspoken Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage thinks Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis needs a refresher in history and be thankful for Republican Presidents.

But LePage may also need to re-read history.

He got some points wrong.

Security personnel and police agencies are bracing for nearly a million protesters during the inauguration weekend in Washington DC.

Trump will place his hand on both his family Bible and the Abraham Lincoln Bible when he is sworn into office.

Naming Names: None today – outstanding is Secretary of Agriculture

Scuttlebutt: Could incoming First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner be the person tapped to bring peace between Israel and Palestine?

The President Elect thinks Kushner has the chops to win a deal that has eluded Administrations for decades.

Global Politics: Controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened over the weekend to impose martial law to prosecute his deadly war on drugs.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh today declared a state of emergency, citing foreign interference in a presidential election he lost to opponent Adama Barrow last month.

The declaration was necessary “due to the unprecedented and extraordinary amount of foreign inference in the December 1 presidential elections and also in the internal affairs of The Gambia,” Jammeh said on state television.

Ukraine has filed a case with the United Nations International Court of Justice accusing Russia of sponsoring “terrorism” and demanding Moscow pay damages for the shelling of civilians and the downing of Flight MH17, the court said today.

Canada’s Ethics Commissioner has opened a probe of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over his lavish post-Christmas vacation at the private island of billionaire philanthropist and spiritual leader the Aga Khan.

Wednesday, 1/18/17:

Two days.

The countdown is on to the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.

But it is the commutation of the prison sentence of national security documents leaker Chelsea Manning which is dominating the headlines.

Late on Tuesday, President Barack Obama commuted the 35-year sentence of Manning to seven years, causing outrage from not just Republicans, but Democrats, the military and the intelligence community.

In his last press conference before leaving office on Friday, this was the top subject braced by the national press corps of Obama.

Wikileaks founder and fugitive from justice Julian Assange said last week he would submit to extradition to the US if Manning’s sentence was commuted. The problem is there is no known indictment or extradition request by the US for Assange.

The President also pardoned James Cartwright, the former Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who pleaded guilty in October to a single charge of making false statements to federal investigators in 2012 when he was questioned about leaking top secret information on US efforts to cripple Iran’s nuclear program to two journalists.

This decision has been roundly applauded.

The full list of clemency from Tuesday: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/01/17/along-with-chelsea-manning-here-are-the-other-people-who-received-pardons-and-commutations-from-obama/

Expect another round of clemency Thursday during Obama’s last day in office.

Obama in his press conference cited that Manning had served nearly seven years of her sentence, was adjudged and found guilty, admitted to her crime in comparison to the National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden who did not apply for clemency and who took refuge in Russia.

I feel very comfortable that justice has been served,” Obama said.

The notion that the average person who was thinking about disclosing vital, classified information would think that it goes unpunished, I don’t think would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served,” Obama said.

The Prez gave an emphatic shout out to maintaining a strong press corps working in the White House’s West Wing.

Obama also gave this advice to his successor to be sure he is not surrounding himself with only “yes men.”

The outgoing President does not plan to walk in the steps of his predecessor and go quietly away.

President Obama said he would speak out when core values of all Americans are at risk. Primarily he zeroed in on any effort to suppress access by all to the voting booth.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s pick for the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, failed to pay more than $15,000 in payroll taxes for a household employee, he admitted in a statement to the Senate Budget Committee.

I have come to learn during the confirmation review process that I failed to pay FICA and federal and state unemployment taxes on a household employee for the years 2000-2004,” Mulvaney informed the committee.

Will this end Mulvaney’s aspirations in the Trump Administration?

Health and Human Services nominee Congressman Dr. Tom Price came under fire on a number of issues, but primarily over his purchase of stock in a medical device company days before introducing legislation which directly impacted that company.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 45 percent of Americans now say the Affordable Care Act is “a good idea,” the highest approval level since the poll first asked the question in April 2009. Forty-one percent of Americans say the health care law is “a bad idea.”

Twenty-six percent of Americans said they had a “great deal” or “quite a bit of confidence” that the GOP would find a suitable replacement, while 50 percent said they had “very little” or no confidence.

Price was hit hard by Democratic Senators today in the first of two Senate committees he must face before a vote on his confirmation, which will probably not happen until February.

Led by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Democrats tried to get Price to commit to Trump’s stump pledge to not cut or touch Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Price danced.

The Trump Administration would only support legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act if it doesn’t “pull the rug out on anyone,” Price told the committee.

Also appearing for hearings today were Commerce designee Wilbur Ross, Environmental Protection Agency Director nominee Oklahoma Attorney General Steve Pruitt and United Nations Ambassador designee South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

When America fails to lead, the world becomes a more dangerous place. And when the world becomes more dangerous, the American people become more vulnerable,” Haley told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Russia is trying to show its muscle,” she said. “We cannot trust them and need to continue to be cautious.”

We need to continue to be strong back, show what this administration will be,” she said. “We are not OK with what happened in Ukraine and Crimea and what is happening in Syria. But we do need their help in ISIS,” she said, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

As Attorney General, Pruitt has sued and still has pending suits against the EPA.

Science tells us that the climate is changing, and that human activity, in some manner, impacts that change,” Pruitt told the Environment and Public Works Committee in the opening statement of his confirmation hearing Wednesday.

The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue, and well it should be,” Pruitt said.

Interior nominee Congressman Ryan Zinke told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday that climate change is “not a hoax,” but there is debate as to “what that influence is [and] what we can do about it.”

I’m pro-trade. But I’m pro-sensible trade, not trade that is detrimental to the American worker and to the domestic manufacturing base,” Ross told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

I think I’ve probably had more direct experience than any prior cabinet nominee has had with unfair trade in the steel business, in the textile business, in the auto parts business and other sectors,” Ross said.

Ross said the North American Free Trade Agreement, involving the US, Canada and Mexico, “is logically the first thing for us to deal with.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed his Republican colleagues for ramming through the appointees of the President Elect for what he termed as a “Swamp Cabinet” which was filled with billionaires.

Democrats are taking issue with the inability to adequately question and address their concerns with the nominees as the GOP, in their opinion, is rushing through the confirmation process.

Naming Names: None today – outstanding is Secretary of Agriculture and several Under Secretaries in all departments

Scuttlebutt: Whew! None worth mentioning today.

The President Elect is writing his own inaugural speech, which is expected to last about 20 minutes.

My distant cousin, former President George H.W. Bush, is in the hospital after being admitted for shortness of breath on Saturday. Bush 41 took a turn for the worse and now is recovering in the intensive care unit.

Later today, America’s Grandmother, Barbara Bush, was also admitted to the hospital for observation.

It is not yet known if the hospital stay of his parents will alter plans of my other cousin, former President George W. Bush, attending Friday’s inauguration of Trump.

Global Politics: Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room,” China’s President Xi Jinping said in his first Davos, Switzerland World Economic Forum appearance. “Wind and rain may be kept outside, but so is light and air.”

Hours before the end of Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh’s mandate, legislators voted to extend his term by three months, and Special Adviser Mai Ahmad Fatty warned in a Facebook post that “those who resist peaceful change effective 12 midnight tonight shall face definite consequences, to their peril. Anyone with firearms tonight shall be deemed a rebel, and will certainly become a legitimate target.”

Gambian President Elect Adama Barrow has vowed to take office on Thursday regardless of whether Jammeh leaves. “Our future starts tomorrow,” Barrow was quoted as saying in a tweet, adding that his supporters made history when they elected him in December.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Vice President Joe Biden cited Iran and China among “the greatest threats” to the democracies built in Europe and the United States, but, he said, “I will not mince words. This movement is principally led by Russia.”

We again urge the relevant side in the United States not to allow the Taiwan authority to send a so-called delegation to the United States to attend the presidential inauguration and not have any form of official contact with Taiwan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing.

China’s position has already accurately and unmistakably been given to the US Administration and Trump’s team.”

Thursday, 1/19/17:

One day.

The countdown is on to the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.

But the pomp has already begun.

The first official inaugural event was shortly after 3 p.m. today when the President Elect and Vice President Elect Mike Pence placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery.

This was followed by a concert at the Lincoln Memorial with a dinner later this evening.

Sean Spicer, the incoming White House Press Secretary, gave his first press briefing today along with Pence.

Two nominees faced a grilling before Senate committees today: Steve Mnuchin for Treasury and former Texas Governor Rick Perry for Energy.

For over four hours today, Mnuchin was grilled by an often contentious Senate Finance Committee, acquitting himself admirably.

When questioned over whether he was using the Cayman Islands to avoid paying taxes, “In no way did I use [offshore entities] to avoid U.S. taxes,” Mnuchin said. “I can assure you I pay all my taxes as was required.”

On buying a bank when the 2008/2009 fiscal collapse was happening, “I have been maligned as taking advantage of others’ hardships in order to earn a buck,” Mnuchin told lawmakers. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

During an exchange with Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown over his role in homeowner foreclosures, Mnuchin pushed back at the senator.

If you know [the answer], why did you ask me?” Mnuchin said. “It seems to me with all due respect that you just want to shoot questions at me.”

Perry said he may have to take back his suggestion from 2012 about getting rid of the Energy Department. Seems Perry did not know that Energy also maintains the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking,” Perry said in his opening statement. “In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”

Perry admitted that climate change is real and said, “The question is how we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth.”

Wilbur Ross, the Trump pick for Commerce, had to let an employee go after he learned that employee is in the country illegally.

At least 50 people will be staying over from the Obama Administration, at least until replacements can be selected, to maintain continuity of governance, the Vice President Elect said.

OOPs!

Seems a prestigious Washington law firm represents not only Health and Human Services designee Congressman Dr. Tom Price, but also CNN. The firm inadvertently sent a request for a retraction from one client to the other, when it was plain there was a conflict of interest.

That retraction request from Price to CNN has now been retracted.

The Women’s March on Washington has spread to 57 countries around the globe.

Naming Names: Secretary of Agriculture – Sonny Perdue, former Governor of Georgia

Scuttlebutt: Some folk are grumbling because a group of Girl Scouts are taking in the feeling of doing their civic duty and marching in tomorrow’s Inaugural Day Parade.

In his final act (as of now) as President, Obama commuted the sentences of 330 drug law offenders.

Without fanfare, Trump has paid the $25 million settlement in the Trump University fraud lawsuit.

Global politics: British Prime Minister Theresa May said today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the United Kingdom would continue to be a “world leader” on trade after its exit from the European Union.

Friday, 1/20/17:

Inauguration Day!

Donald John Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America.

Today Americans and the world witnessed the peaceful transition of power.

Today a new chapter began in the American story.

My take: Peaceful Transition

Sunday, 1/22/17:

When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

That played out across the country and around the globe on Saturday. The “Women’s March” descended on Washington DC and in Democrat-controlled, big cities throughout the nation to protest the presidency of President Donald Trump.

Protest marches also erupted in major world cities such as London, England and Paris, France.

But not all women were represented.

In fact conservative women and pro-life women were uninvited to participate. Pro-life women were specifically told to stay away. They were not welcome.

Only pro-choice, liberal women were allowed in this “Women’s March,” which did not represent all women.

Reportedly 1.6 million women in the US of A participated.

President Trump, wrongly, was focused on crowd size at his inauguration rather than more pressing matters.

When the Prez went to Central Intelligence Agency headquarters and stood before the wall honoring the agents who lost their lives in protecting our country, rather than focus on their memory and service, Trump was mostly spoke on crowd size and his ongoing feud with the national press corps.

This should not be.

Focus, Mr. President.

The President did have this to say, however, to the CIA members, “I am so behind you. You’re gonna get so much backing. Maybe you’re gonna say, please, don’t give us so much backing, Mr. President, please, we don’t need that much backing.”

Had he stopped there rather than adding this, he would have been fine:

I have a running war with the media, they are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth,” he said. “They sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. The reason you are the number one stop is exactly the opposite.”

New White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was sent out in his first White House briefing to deliver this message:

The new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, insisted Saturday that Friday’s inauguration hosted “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” He accused the media of “intentionally” framing photos of the event to make the crowd look smaller, “to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall.”

These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong,” Spicer said.

There was good news for First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner, who will play a key role in the Trump White House:

We conclude that [the federal anti-nepotism statute] does not bar this appointment because the president’s special hiring authority … exempts positions in the White House Office” from the ban, the opinion tells Trump. The 14-page document was prepared by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Daniel L. Koffsky, who is “a longtime career lawyer at Justice,” as Politico reports, and not a Trump appointee.

President Trump will meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May in the Capitol on Friday. This is traditional to meet with our closest and strongest ally.

When I sit down [with Trump], I think the biggest statement that will be made about the role of women is the fact that I will be there as a female prime minister,” May said. “Whenever there is something that I find unacceptable, I won’t be afraid to say that to Donald Trump.”

Although she did not watch the inauguration Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel did note about developing a relationship with the new President, the “trans-Atlantic relationship will not be less important in the coming years than it was in past years. And I will work on that. Even when there are different opinions, compromises and solutions can be best found when we exchange ideas with respect.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto each expressed a desire to strengthen their countries’ respective ties with the U.S, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement he looks forward to working with Trump “to restore prosperity to the middle class.”

During his inaugural address, Trump told the nation, “This moment is your moment. It belongs to you. January 20, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.”

After confirming Defense Secretary James Mattis on Friday evening by a 98-1 vote, the Senate approved the nomination of retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security, 88-11.

Vice President Mike Pence swore in both men the same night.

Hours after he was sworn in on Friday, President Trump signed an executive order making it his administration’s official policy “to seek the prompt repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, a change requiring congressional action.

The new Prez also froze all pending regulations; announced the new administration’s plan to develop a missile defense system to protect the U.S. against Iran and North Korea; and indicated its intent to eliminate the Climate Action Plan as well as a Housing and Urban Development program to reduce certain mortgage fees.

In a sign of a new sheriff in town, the Trump Team promptly took down former President Barack Obama-era issue pages on the White House website covering civil rights, climate change, LGBT rights, and health care. New pages tout issues like “An America First Energy Plan” and “Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community.”

A reporter for The New York Times inaccurately tweeted that the Trump Administration had removed the bust of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office, which set off a firestorm.

The President has already put his mark on the Oval Office. Gone are the red drapes of Obama and in their place are gold ones, which resemble the signature Trump gold decor.

Trump reacted to the protest on Saturday in typical fashion with a tweet, “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”

Later today, the President tweeted, “Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don’t always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.”

Organizers of the march are hoping it is the genesis of a liberal Tea Party movement that will retake state legislatures and governors’ offices across the country.

The one unifying factor seemed to be opposition to the President, while the marchers differed widely on a range of issues.

Will it become a movement with real political impact or fizzle like the Occupy movement?

In one of his first executive orders, the President gave agencies affected by the Affordable Care Act the authority to waive or delay implementation of any part of the law that would “impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden” on individuals, insurers, drug companies and so on.

It also promotes the creation of a system to allow the sale of insurance across state lines, something Republicans have said will increase competition in the health care market.

What did Senior Presidential Adviser Kellyanne Conway actually mean when she pushed back at Chuck Todd on NBC‘s Meet the Press this morning talking about “alternative facts?”

We will be starting negotiations having to do with NAFTA,” Trump said at a swearing-in ceremony for his top White House advisers. “We are going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border.”

The US will not be sending a representative to the peace talks between the Syrian regime and rebels, spearheaded by Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Trump Counselor Kellyanne Conway stated today that Trump will not release his tax returns,” WikiLeaks posted on Twitter.

Send them to: https://wikileaks.org/#submit so we can.”

Speaking on ABC‘s This Week, Conway said the President “may stop enforcing the individual mandate“, the driving force of the ACA.

Before swearing in the senior staff at the White House today, the Prez told them, “This is not about party. This is not about ideology. This is about country. It’s about serving the American people.”

We’re not here to help ourselves,” Trump told his advisers.

So many people are dependent on us,” he said, such as veterans, the unemployed, military service members, victims of crime and young people.

We will face challenges. But with faith in each other and faith in God we will get the job done. We will prove worthy of this moment in history. It may very well be a great moment in history.”

Is the President considering a new war in Iraq?

Now I said it for economic reasons,” Trump said while introducing Representative Mike Pompeo, his pick to lead the CIA. “But if you think about it, Mike, if we kept the oil, you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place, so we should have kept the oil. But, okay, maybe we’ll have another chance.”

It is that last sentence that have people scratching their heads.

Global Politics: “2016 was the year the Anglo-Saxon world woke up,” Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, said, referencing Brexit and Trump’s win. “I am sure 2017 will be the year the people of continental Europe wake up.”

More than 15,000 Romanians, including President Klaus Iohannis, protested across Romania Sunday against controversial decrees that will pardon corrupt politicians and decriminalize other offenses.

Thanks for viewing!

Baited

There has been considerable press about how President Donald Trump can be baited by a tweet. This first was pointed out by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in her failed bid to win the White House.

The national press corps has seized on that point with a certain glee.

This was pointed out on some of the Sunday talk shows after a New York Times reporter wrongly tweeted that the new Administration had removed the bust of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office. The bust is and was there.

But while I agree the Prez does seem to be apt to take the offense to the slightest dig in a tweet, the national press corps is also easily baited by Trump and the new Administration.

The corps seems intent on answering and defending each time the President, his Press Secretary or any surrogate says anything hitting at the low esteem in which the national press is held by the American people. Members of the journalistic class cannot help themselves from going defensive and responding, which plays right into the hands of the President.

It further amplifies in the minds of the readers and viewers that there must be some kernel of truth to whatever charge. To borrow from William Shakespeare, methinks the press doth protest too much.

Then there is the issue of tone, which is usually combative and dismissive in a condescending way by those working inside the Beltway. To those of us in the Heartland, the attitude of the national press reflects what the President says about them being elitists, out-of-touch with every day Americans.

Yes, the national press corps should be vigorous in reporting the news and holding the new Administration and President accountable for the words spoken, the actions taken. At the same time, the national press needs to get out of their bubbles and reconnect with the reality of we, the people, living in the vast expanse of the nation.

Members of the press say they are not at war with the President, yet the way some label the President and his staff as “ridiculous” as NBC‘s Chuck Todd did on Meet the Press this morning, only serves to alienate the public and solidify a line of defense around the President – even if he is wrong.

To people in the Cornfield, it looks like the national press corps has declared war on the President.

How long will the national media continue to be baited?

How long will the White House press corps keep swallowing the dangling worm, hook, line and sinker?

From the Cornfield, journalists covering the White House and the President need to return to Journalism 101 and step out of the story. The national press have violated this basic tenet and in almost every report become part of the story.

Journalists need to become objective reporters of the news and not the center of the story.

Peaceful Transition

Today we are witness to an historic event unlike any other.

For the 44th time in nearly 230 years, we watched the peaceful transition of power from one President to the next President.

Contrast what is happening in Washington DC today to what is happening across the Atlantic Ocean in the West African nation of Gambia.

In that nation a President who came to power in a military coup in 1994 is refusing to leave after he was defeated in an election by the people. The new President was sworn into office in neighboring Senegal.

Last night Senegalese troops moved into Gambia to force the defeated by the voters President from office. Three other West Africa nations also have troops poised to assist.

Back here in the US of A, even though about 1/3 of the Democrats in the House of Representatives boycotted the inauguration of Donald John Trump as the 45th President of the United States and nearly a million protesters marching on the Capitol, the reins of power were handed over by President Barack Obama to his successor without troops or riots.

This is more than just an American tradition. It is the embodiment of what it means to be America. This transferal of power is the very essence that makes our nation, who it is.

Politics, ideological differences, angst over the outcome of the election all pale compared to the significance of this day which is the life blood of our great nation.

From the Cornfield, you may disagree with the politics, the ideology, the party – another right as Americans – but what matters is that we are all Americans.

Congratulations to President Donald J. Trump!

Politics Roundup: January 9 – 15, 2017

politicsroundup

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

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

Monday, 1/9/17:

Will President Elect Donald Trump follow through with a news conference on Wednesday following the farewell address of President Barack Obama on Tuesday night?

The Prez is expected to offer up some “admonitions” to his successor.

How can Trump resist responding to being told what to do and not to do?

There is no way the President Elect will miss an opportunity to push back on the Obama “admonitions” with no better avenue than at a news conference.

Trump “is not denying that entities in Russia were behind this particular hacking campaign,” said incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

After the President Elect took to Twitter to hit GM and Ford over car manufacturing in Mexico, Fiat Chrysler said Sunday that it would spend $1 billion to modernize two plants in Warren, Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio, in an expansion that will create 2,000 jobs.

Hearings begin this week on the President Elect’s nominees to his Cabinet.

On Tuesday, embattled Senator Jeff Sessions will be grilled on his quest to become Attorney General.

Will Democrats find a way to block Sessions?

Also facing the music will be John Kelly the designee for Homeland Security Secretary.

The US Navy is cheering Trump wanting to increase its number of ships. The Navy has submitted a proposal for a 355-ship expansion.

Naming Names:
Senior Presidential Adviser – Jared Kushner, son-in-law of the President Elect

Kushner has been “consulting with the Office of Government Ethics regarding the steps he would take,” his lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said, and would “resign from his position at Kushner Companies and divest substantial assets in accordance with federal guidelines.”

Ex-CIA Director and former security adviser to Trump James Woolsey  had some advice for the President Elect:

Trump should re-evaluate his use of Twitter with “fresh eyes” after the inauguration, because “governing in 140 character transmissions is a lot harder,” Woolsey said.

OOPs!

There will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars,” Trump told The New York Times in an interview. “All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.”

The Washington Post checked and seems the DC stores say they have plenty of frocks from which to choose for the balls.

Talk about your double standard – Vice President Elect Mike Pence and family go to the theater and get booed and a lecture. Bill and Hillary Clinton go to the theater and get standing ovations.

In accepting her Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Golden Globes last night, Meryl Streep let loose with both barrels at the President Elect. Trump shrugged off her remarks calling her another “liberal movie people.”

Did Meryl Streep go too far when she put down the vast number of Americans who watch football and mixed martial arts?

Did Trump go too far by saying Streep was “over-rated” as an actress?

Kentucky junior Senator Rand Paul told CNN today that he will be rolling out a replacement to the Affordable Care Act within the next two days to be voted on at the same time the ACA repeal vote is taken.

Kentucky has passed two abortion restriction bills, which Governor Matt Bevin says he will sign into law. One requires a doctor to perform an ultrasound and show it to the mother before the procedure. The other forbids abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy – with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Add Kentucky to the list of more than half the states that is now a “right-to-work” state.

Indiana’s former Governor as of today who will be Vice President in another 11 days along with his family, two cats and rabbit rode in style after Vice President Joe Biden sent Air Force Two to pick up Mike Pence to move to Washington DC today.

Thanks to @usairforce for a great flight to Washington, DC with Karen, Charlotte, Oreo, Pickle and our rabbit, Marlon Bundo,” Pence tweeted.

President Obama is finally admitting that losses in Congress, Governor’s Offices and state legislatures may have been partly his fault.

I take some responsibility on that,” the president told ABC’s This Week. “I think that some of it was circumstances.”

Global politics: Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died Sunday after suffering a heart attack.

The Associate Press in an exclusive is reporting: Iran is to receive a huge shipment of natural uranium from Russia to compensate it for exporting tons of reactor coolant, diplomats say, in a move approved by the outgoing U.S. administration and other governments seeking to keep Tehran committed to a landmark nuclear pact.

Peace talks are underway in Geneva, Switzerland to reunited the divided island of Cyprus, which has been split between Greek and Turkish sections for decades after winning independence from the United Kingdom in 1960.

Reports are seeping out of Iran that Ebrahim Raisi, 56, is being groomed to succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 77, upon his death.

Singapore wants its troop carriers back after they were seized in November by Hong Kong. “They are protected by sovereign immunity even though they were being shipped by commercial carriers. They are immune from any measures of constraint abroad. They cannot legally be detained or confiscated by other countries,” Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said

Tuesday, 1/10/17:

BREAKING NEWS: Russian operatives have compromising information on President Elect Donald Trump to undermine his presidency. The information was passed on by the intelligence chiefs to Trump and to President Barack Obama last week in an addendum to the intelligence report into the Russian hacking during the recent US election.

Set loose the lions!

Confirmation hearings for nominees to fill the Cabinet of President Elect Donald Trump began today.

Up first was Senator Jeff Sessions, the pick for Attorney General.

Following was Retired General John Kelly to fill the chair at Homeland Security.

In a first, New Jersey junior Senator Cory Booker is testifying in opposition to Sessions for the Justice Department. Booker asserts that Sessions is not capable of “ensuring the fair administration of justice” for all. Booker will be testifying on Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

As Sessions began his appearance before the committee this morning, he said in his prepared remarks, “I abhor the Klu Klux Klan and all it represents.”

Sessions also pledged to protect the rights of the gay community and the rights of women.

Several protesters at Sessions’ hearing were led out by Capitol Police without direction from Chairman Chuck Grassley other than his opening of the hearing when he stated that such would happen. Among the protesters were fake KKK members.

The AG nominee vowed to tell the President “No” when warranted. He also promised to uphold and execute all laws, even those which he voted against while a Senator.

Grassley asked Sessions about how he would approach the issue with Hillary Clinton and her use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State. Sessions said he would recuse himself from any questions that may rise concerning the Clintons, including the Clinton Foundation.

Sessions noted that he would not, as current Attorney General Loretta Lynch, defer the concerns about the Clintons, but would officially recuse himself.

While Sessions said that he would follow the law when it comes to abortion, he also said he believed that Roe V Wade violated the Constitution.

Unlike one of his predecessors AG Eric Holder, Sessions said that not defending laws is not permissible unless it cannot be defended.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, with eye on a future run again for the White House, ran down a litany of silence by Democrats on the Judiciary Committee when, in Cruz’s view, the Obama Administration did not follow or uphold the law.

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal asked Sessions to consider recusing himself from voting on Cabinet appoints to avoid an appearance of conflict of interest.

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, Senators from both sides of the aisle seemed to infer that the FBI may be currently criminally investigating one or more political campaigns and the possible collusion with the Russian government to influence the recent presidential election. Director James Comey refused to confirm or deny such an investigation is underway.

When asked in the Judiciary Committee by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin that if such an investigation was underway if he would recuse himself from such case, Sessions said he would have to wait and see.

The hearing on Sessions is still on going.

The hearing in the Senate Homeland Security Committee for Kelly is just getting underway as Kernels goes to press.

Oh, and President Barack Obama is delivering his farewell speech to the nation from Chicago, Illinois tonight. More on this tomorrow.

After meeting with the President Elect in Trump Tower on Monday, Alibaba head Jack Ma has pledged 1 million jobs for the US of A.

Ma said Alibaba would accomplish the goal by supporting 1 million small businesses, particularly in the Midwest, and helping them sell agricultural products and other goods and services in China and the rest of Asia through its sales platform.

Should a painting by a high school student, who won an annual national art contest sponsored by the US Congress, which depicts police officers as pigs be allowed to hang in the halls of Congress?

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act may not be as simple as Republicans had hoped it would be. There may not be the necessary votes in the Senate to pass repeal without a replacement bill ready and in place to take effect.

House Speaker Paul Ryan came out today on repeal and replace of the ACA at the same time.

It is our goal to bring it all together concurrently,” Ryan told reporters after meeting with House Republicans behind closed doors. “We’re going to use every tool at our disposal through legislation, through regulation, to bring replace concurrent along with repeal, so that we can save people from this mess.”

During a town hall meeting, hosted by CNN Monday night, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders would not rule out another run in 2020 for the Oval Office. If he does run and win, Sanders would be 79 when he took office.

OOPs!

When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell objected to a letter from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to hold up the hearings on nominees to the Cabinet for the Trump Administration until vetting letters were returned to the Office of Government Ethics, McConnell did not recognize it was the same letter with a few word changes he had sent in 2009 to then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, asking the same.

With the sands in the hour glass flowing out quickly, President Barack Obama and his Administration are working feverishly to overhaul police departments in Chicago, Illinois and Baltimore, Maryland before Trump is sworn in as President. Both cities have been found wanting by the US Justice Department in police relations with minority citizens.

Secretary of State John Kerry says that contact with the Trump Transition Team has been very shallow.

Kerry said talking about the transition, “It’s going pretty smoothly because there’s not an enormous amount of it.”

The nation’s top intelligence officials are facing questions today about a report that fingered the Kremlin in hacking during the presidential campaign from members of Congress.

With no job in the White House coming and losing popularity at home, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is turning his focus to the national drug epidemic.

The confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos has been postponed until next week. DeVos is one of the nominees who has not completed her questionnaire from the OGE.

Naming Names: None today

Scuttlebutt: Marie Osmond is letting it be known that if asked, she would be happy to perform at any inauguration events for President Trump.

Global politics: The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Muslim girls must swim with boys in school-run classes even though their religion frowns on the mixing of the genders in such a manner.

According to USA Today: Ghanian new President, Nana Akufo-Addo, had barely claimed his nation’s presidency before becoming embroiled in a social media brush fire after swiping lines from two US Presidents in his own inaugural address.

From President George W. Bush, Akufo-Addo said, “I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building your communities and our nation.”

From President Bill Clinton, Akufo-Addo went on, “Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. Ghanaians have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. And we must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us.”

Wednesday, 1/11/17:

Does Russia have compromising information, perhaps even videos of adulterous behavior, of President Elect Donald Trump?

If so, does this explain his behavior toward Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in the world?

Were surrogates for Trump meeting regularly through the campaign season with Russian agents?

Allegations about Russia and Trump were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election given to President Barack Obama and Trump last week.

The information came from a former British intelligence operative considered credible by US intelligence officials, although it has not been verified.

Want the breakdown of what BuzzFeed published and CNN first reported: https://qz.com/882677/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-donald-trump-golden-showers-intelligence-report-claimed-by-the-russians/

Vice President Elect Mike Pence and incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer all too to task both Buzzfeed and CNN for reporting on the alleged Russian attempts to compromise Trump. Pence also called out some in the mainstream media for continuing to try and delegitimize the presidency of Trump.

Trump refers to the report as “fake news.”

For the first time since July, the President Elect conducted a full-blown press conference today.

Trump said today that he did believe it was Russia doing the hacking during the presidential campaign and election. He also said there were others as well.

As to hidden videos, Trump denies he would act out in compromising activities when leaving the country because he is expecting hidden cameras. He added he is also a “germaphobe.”

Although Trump has said he would like to get along with Putin, “I doubt that I will,” the President Elect said.

I have no deals in Russia. I have no dealings with Russia. I have no loans with Russia,” Trump told reporters.

He added he had no pending deals in Russia. Trump said he turned down a $2 billion deal in Dubai.

The only ones concerned with my tax returns are you, reporters,” Trump responded about releasing his tax returns.

The President Elect noted that under current law he is exempt from conflict-of-interest laws. He pointed out he could run his organization and be President, but did not think it was fair.

Trump has signed documents divesting himself of all management of the Trump Organization to sons, Don Jr. and Eric.

Sheri Dillon, attorney for the President Elect, laid out how Trump will separate from his business in the interest of running the nation.

Daughter Ivanka will also be resigning from all positions and authority with the Trump Organization.

There will be no new foreign deals during Trump’s tenure. Domestic deals must be vetted and approved by the White House Ethics Adviser. Pending deals are being ended.

Foreign governments who stay in Trump hotels will have their hotel bill payments sent not to Trump’s own personal account, but the US Treasury.

The President Elect vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act “simultaneously.”

Whether it’s a tax or payment, Mexico will reimburse us for the wall,” Trump said about who would pay for the wall on the southern border. Trump added he did not want to wait to start building the wall.

Within about two weeks after the inauguration, the President Elect plans to nominate his pick to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

CNN‘s Jim Acosta and Trump got into a shouting match up until Trump ended it by calling Acosta and CNN, “fake news.”

From today’s presser, it appears that CNN is in the doghouse, as is Buzzfeed, and will likely not be interviewing Trump or asking questions at press conferences in the near future.

Intelligence agencies are vital and very, very important,” Trump said.

CNN‘s Jake Tapper noted that the network did not publish any of the 35-page dossier which Buzzfeed put out, which the network also called “irresponsible.”

Wiping away tears, President Obama said “goodbye” to the nation he has led for eight years last night in an address from Chicago, Illinois, where his political career began.

The Prez warned economic inequality, racism, and hardline anti-immigrant sentiment threatened to weaken US democracy.

We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others,” Obama said, “when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.”

There have been moments throughout our history that threatened to rupture that solidarity — the beginning of this century has been one of those times,” the Prez said. “A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but they’re testing our democracy as well.”

Regardless of the station we occupy, we all have to try harder,” Obama said. “We all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do, that they value hard work and family just like we do, that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.”

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy, to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours,” he said. “Because for all our outward differences, we in fact all share the same proud title: the most important office in a democracy, citizen.”

This struck me as one of the outgoing President’s best lines:

“If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.”

Among those submitting Rex Tillerson’s name before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the consent hearing for the position of Secretary of State were former Senator Sam Nunn and former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio came down hard on Tillerson.

From his questioning, it was not apparent if Rubio would vote for or against Tillerson’s confirmation.

Tillerson said Russia should be held accountable for its actions and NATO allies are right to be alarmed by Russia’s behavior.

I would leave things in the status quo so we are able to convey this can go either way,” Tillerson said in response to a question on whether he thought right now is the right time to lift sanctions on Russia.

It is Day 2 for Attorney General nominee Senator Jeff Sessions before the Senate Judiciary Committee when New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and civil rights icon Georgia Congressman John Lewis speak out against the nominee.

Louisiana Representative Cedric Richmond compared witnesses speaking on the second day of the confirmation hearing for Sessions was the equivalent of asking him, Booker and especially Lewis to “go to the back of the bus.”

This brought up the specter of Jim Crow laws which Lewis fought against in Selma, Alabama and throughout the South.

Naming Names:

Secretary of Veterans Affairs – David Shulkin, current Under Secretary for Health at the Veterans Administration

Vaccine Policy Study Chair – Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a member of the political dynasty, has been asked to head a commission to investigate “vaccine safety and scientific integrity.”

President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies and he has questions about it,” said Kennedy.

Scuttlebutt: Army leaker Chelsea Manning is on the President’s short list to have her 35-year sentence for leaking classified material commuted.

The US Supreme Court has delayed a lower court’s order that North Carolina redraw its congressional districts by March 15 while the Court considers accepting an appeal to the ruling.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey said that state political campaigns were hacked by the Russians, but not the Trump campaign nor the Republican National Committee.

Global politics: The South Korean Special Prosecutor’s office has summoned Samsung Group leader Jay Y. Lee for questioning in connection with the influence-peddling scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

North Korea now has enough plutonium to make 10 nuclear bombs, South Korea said today.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski has been mocked on Twitter for saying he had a meeting with the representative of a nonexistent country as part of Poland’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.

Waszczykowski told reporters while there on Tuesday that he had meetings with officials from nearly 20 countries, including some Caribbean nations “for the first time in the history of our diplomacy. For example with countries such as Belize or San Escobar.”

There is no San Escobar.

After being warned by China not to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen when she made a pit stop in Texas on her way to South America, both Texas Governor Greg Abbot and Texas Senator Ted Cruz met with her Sunday.

Then Abbot made a mistake.

Tsai gave Abbott a Taiwanese vase and he gave her a clock with the Texas state seal. It turns out that was a faux pas — not because it wasn’t a lovely clock, but because, Taiwan News reports, “in Chinese culture the phrase ‘giving a clock’ is a homophone with ‘attending a funeral,’ and therefore symbolizes an untimely demise for the recipient.”

Japan is trying to find a way that will allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate and allow his son to rise to the throne. This would be the first abdication in 200 years since current law prohibits abdication.

Thursday, 1/12/17:

Is an announcement that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are being investigated by the Office of Inspector General into the investigation of the Hillary Clinton email server another attempt to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the presidency of Donald Trump?

The head of the Office of Government Ethics was not impressed with the plan President Elect Donald Trump announced on Wednesday of how he would separate from his business empire.

OGE chief Walter Shaub said Trump’s plan, continuing to profit from his business while President is “wholly inadequate.”

Shaub went on to say that it is “meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective” to stop running the business without selling and putting assets in a blind trust.

We can’t risk the perception that government leaders would use their official positions for professional profit,” Shaub said.

During his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing, Secretary of State designee Rex Tillerson said he did not oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement Trump has condemned, although Tillerson said he questioned “whether the agreement that was negotiated serves all of America’s interests the best.”

Tillerson also called Russia’s Ukraine invasion “illegal,” which Trump has not done.

Florida Senator and former presidential rival Marco Rubio criticized Tillerson for not condemning Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines for their human rights records.

Rubio has not decided whether he will vote to confirm Tillerson.

If Rubio does not vote for the designee, Tillerson’s nomination could flounder in the Senate committee.

Senate Democrats are asking the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate if Tillerson lied to Congress yesterday when he said that Exxon Mobil did not “directly lobby” against sanctions on Russia.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called Trump Tower last night to assure the President Elect that it was not the intelligence community which had leaked the information about a report commissioned by anti-Trump Republicans and Democrats.

That 35-page report was compiled by a former MI-6 operative alleging the Russian government has incriminating information, audio and video of Trump.

One of the allegations in that report which has already been debunked is about Trump’s long time ally and legal counsel, Michael Cohen. Cohen was accused of  being out of the country meeting with Russian agents.

Turns out it was someone else with the same name.

BBC correspondent Paul Wood said Wednesday there are multiple sources, not only the report of the former MI-6 officer, supporting the conclusion that Russia has potentially compromising material on the President Elect.

I got a message back that there was allegedly more than one tape, not just video, but audio as well, on more than one date, in more than one place, in both Moscow and St. Petersburg,” Wood said, but “Nobody should believe something just because an intelligence agent says it.”

Did New Jersey Senator Cory Booker launch his 2020 presidential campaign when he spoke out against fellow Senator Jeff Sessions bid to be Attorney General?

Retired General James “Mad Dog” Mattis faced the Senate Armed Forces Committee today to answer questions on whether he was suited to be the next Secretary of Defense.

If confirmed, Mattis would need a congressional waiver to serve since he has not been retired for the statutory 7-year minimum.

The committee passed the waiver in a strong vote. Later this afternoon, the full Senate followed with approval of the waiver.

The House of Representatives is expected to follow suit.

Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo sat before the Senate Intelligence Committee as he was grilled on his ability to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

Dr. Ben Carson had to also answer questions from the Senate Banking Committee today to earn confirmation as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Pompeo was called on the carpet today about an op-ed he wrote, advocating the US government return to “collecting all meta-data,” by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.

The nominees for the Cabinet, thus far, seem to have no trouble with disagreeing with remarks made by the President Elect on the campaign trail.

Perhaps Trump selected these people for that reason – to disagree with him, persuade him and to lead the departments and agencies to which they have been nominated.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren tried to get Carson to promise that no one in the President Elect’s family nor Trump would ever receive any money from any contracts with HUD.

In answer to Warren, “It would not be my intention to benefit any American. It’s for all Americans,” Carson responded. “I will manage things in a way that benefits the American people.”

Some more of what Carson had to say to the committee today:

The programs that have been enacted in HUD over the years, you know, they’re good programs,” Carson said. “But in and of themselves they’re not bringing about the elevation of large numbers of people. And that’s what we’re looking for. We don’t want it to be a way of life, we want it to be a Band-Aid and a springboard to move forward.”

The place where there is a lot of money is the private sector. What we have to concentrate on is helping the private sector to recognize that, in the long run, the private sector does better when we develop our people,” Carson said.

In one for the bizarre, as the Intelligence Committee and Pompeo were talking and the subject of Russian hacking was invoked, the power went out in the room.

Vice President Joe Biden was surprised by President Obama today when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his more than a quarter of a century service to the nation in the Capitol.

The Senate voted last night to approve the first step in repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans have yet to settle on one replacement plan for the ACA.

Naming Names:

Cyber Security Head – Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Mayor, will serve in an unpaid position

Rudy Giuliani will be sharing his expertise and insight as a trusted friend concerning private sector cyber security problems and emerging solutions developing in the private sector,” the Trump Transition Team said in a statement.

Scuttlebutt: None

Global politics: German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned the European Union today it should not rely on “eternal” US support, as concern grows in Europe about Trump’s commitment to trans-Atlantic ties.

Israel’s top court has ordered the Western Wall’s ultra-Orthodox administration to explain why women are banned from leading prayers at the holy site, as sought in a petition.

A criminal investigation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that may involve discussion of a secret deal that would benefit him and a newspaper owner and gifts from a Hollywood producer could be serious enough to threaten his hold on power, analysts say.

Friday, 1/13/17:

The final week, the last seven days of the presidency of Barack Obama began today.

One week from today, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

In one of his last big moves, President Obama ended the “wet foot, dry foot” policy which granted legal residency automatically to Cubans escaping from the Castro dictatorship.

The policy has been in place in one form or other since the days of President John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Not everyone is happy with the policy change, including Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, who said it’ll only “tighten the noose” of the Castro regime around the neck of the Cuban people.

Trump could restore the policy once in office.

The Prez plans to conduct his last press conference on Wednesday, two days before handing the keys to the Oval Office to his successor.

Three sites were named national monuments by the President on Thursday.

One covers several square blocks in Birmingham, Alabama, that include the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four black girls were killed in a 1963 Ku Klux Klan bombing.

Another includes an Anniston, Alabama, Greyhound bus station where Freedom Riders were attacked in 1961.

The third commemorates a community built in Beaufort County, South Carolina, by freed slaves after the Civil War.

Obama also expanded the California Coastal National Monument, and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon.

Republicans moved ahead today with legislation aimed at dismantling Obamacare aka the Affordable Care Act. This come though there are concerns there is not a replacement yet for the healthcare program. Also of concern is the potential financial cost of repealing President Barack Obama’s signature domestic legislation.

Civil rights icon Georgia Congressman Democrat John Lewis says in his opinion the Trump presidency will not be legitimate due to Russian intrusions and interference in the electoral process.

Incoming National Security Adviser retired General Mike Flynn exchanged phone calls and texts with the Russian Ambassador to the US of A in December purportedly to set up meetings with Trump after the inauguration.

Democrats are suspicious since the contact was while President Obama was putting new sanctions on Russia.

The President Elect continued his protest of the unsubstantiated allegations in a dossier leaked to the national press in a tweet today, “It now turns out that the phony allegations against me were put together by my political opponents and a failed spy afraid of being sued … Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans – FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists.”

Late this afternoon, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced it is launching an investigation into Russian influence in US politics.

Including the election, inquiry will also be made into any contacts with both the incoming and outgoing Administrations, which may have been made with the Russians.

The committee has subpoena power and will use it when necessary.

The committee will also be looking into the allegations in the 35-page dossier.

In essence, every avenue that touches on Russia will be investigated, which puts fake news proliferation in the mix as well.

In separate closed-door session, the House and Senate were given intelligence briefings on the Russian hacking investigation today. Two hours was devoted to the Senate, but only an hour to the House, which left Democratic Representatives fuming.

Former Democratic National Committee Chair Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz confronted FBI Director James Comey following the briefing over the emails which led to her removal as the DNC chair.

The conversation became quite loud, echoing down the halls of the Capitol. Other Democratic lawmakers reportedly egged her on as she lambasted Comey.

During a town hall on CNN last night, House Speaker Paul Ryan assured an illegal immigrant she did not have to worry about a deportation force showing up at her door step.

Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub is being called on the carpet to face questions from Congress on his outspokeness and public airing of criticism of the President Elect and his plan to separate himself from his wide-ranging business interests.

In a letter, Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said that Shaub had “raised a bunch of eyebrows” by taking “a very aggressive stance on issues he’s never looked at.”

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Thursday that she sees no short-term “serious obstacles” for the US economy, but she warned of long-term threats posed by low productivity and growing inequality.

Linda Bean faced a backlash after a report that Bean, an L.L.Bean board member, had given $30,000 to the pro-Trump Making Maine Great Again PAC, exceeding limits on individual contributions in a single year.

Trump tweeted his support of Bean, “Buy L.L.Bean.”

Naming Names:
Public Liaison to Government Agencies and Businesses – Anthony Scaramucci, hedge fund founder and Trump campaign fundraiser

A total of $90 million has been raised for the Trump inauguration festivities.

Global politics: West African leaders have flown into the Gambia to make a final attempt to persuade Yahya Jammeh to step down when his presidential term ends next week.

International investigators have said for the first time that they suspect Syrian President Bashar al Assad and his brother are responsible for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, according to a document seen by Reuters.

Blocking Chinese access to islands in the disputed waters of the South China Sea would require the U.S. to “wage war“, an influential Chinese state-run tabloid said today, after US Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson suggested the strategy on Wednesday.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered free contraceptives be handed out to six million women in the country without access to them.

Sunday, 1/15/17:

Legitimacy has been put in question by Georgia Congressman John Lewis and other Democrats concerning the election of Donald Trump to be President.

Friday, the iconic civil rights leader told NBC‘s Chuck Todd in an interview for Meet the Press, aired today, that he did not think that Trump is a legitimate President because of Russian interference in the election process.

Trump reacted Saturday in a tweet that Lewis needed to concentrate more on serving the people in his congressional district.

It’s going to be very difficult. I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis said.

I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” he told Todd.

I think there was a conspiracy on the part of the Russians and others to help him get elected,” Lewis said. “That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not the open democratic process.”

Lewis will be sitting out and not going to the inauguration.

Several other members of Congress are also planning to boycott the swearing in of Trump. That number now stands at nearly 20 lawmakers not showing for the event.

Will that number grow?

Just because Lewis is a civil rights icon, is he not open to criticism?

Did Trump go too far by saying that the Atlanta, Georgia area Lewis represents is crumbling and “crime infested” and Lewis is “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results”?

Some Democratic talking heads are siding with Lewis and also saying that Trump will be an illegitimate President.

Some Democrats are also saying now that the election was not free and fair.

Meanwhile on Friday, Congress passed a budget while taking steps to end the Affordable Care Act.

The budget, which won Senate approval early Thursday, does not need the President’s signature.

The ‘Unaffordable’ Care Act will soon be history!” Trump tweeted Friday.

Republicans can now repeal the ACA using a procedural tool known as “budget reconciliation,” which allows repeal to pass with a simple 51-vote majority in the Senate.

The President Elect told The Wall Street Journal over the weekend, “If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?” Trump asked, though he noted he will not make any major changes “at least for a period of time.”

On how the confirmation process is going with his Cabinet nominees, Trump tweeted that his nominees “are looking good and doing a great job,” and insisted he wants them “to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine!”

On Saturday in protest of the incoming Trump presidency and his immigration policy, 2,000 people rallied on the National Mall in Washington DC.

Thousands of women from across the nation are descending on the Capitol today in protest of Trump and his Administration.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is jumping in to investigate the Russian influence in the recent election.

The committee will follow the intelligence wherever it leads,” a joint statement from Chairman Richard Burr and Vice Chair Mark Warner, Republican and Democrat respectively. “We will conduct this inquiry expeditiously, and we will get it right.”

This is all a distraction,” Vice President Elect Mike Pence said on Fox News Sunday about the ongoing flap over the Russian attempts to influence the recent presidential election, and “part of a narrative to delegitimize” Trump and his election victory over Hillary Clinton.

Naming Names: Inner City Initiative – Comedian Steve Harvey, working with Housing and Urban Development Secretary designee Dr. Ben Carson

It’s not my jump into politics, I ain’t going to pass a background check,” Harvey told the press after meeting with Trump in Manhattan Friday. “It’s just me following orders from my friend, President Obama, who said, ‘Steve,’ as he told everyone, ‘get out from behind your computers, stop tweeting and texting. Get out there and sit down and talk.’ I stepped from behind my microphone and I came and talked to the guy who is going to be the 45th president.”

Scuttlebutt: Jennifer Holliday has been booked to play a concert for the inauguration of Trump, but now she has backed out with an apology to the gay community.

My only choice must now be to stand with the Community and to state unequivocally that I WILL NOT PERFORM FOR THE WELCOME CONCERT OR FOR ANY OF THE INAUGURATION FESTIVITIES!” Holliday wrote in a letter to The Wrap. “I sincerely apologize for my lapse of judgement, for being uneducated on the issues that affect every American at this crucial time in history and for causing such dismay and heartbreak to my fans.”

Could the national press corps be losing its digs in the West Wing?

The President Elect had planned to visit the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in commemoration tomorrow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day.

That trip has now been cancelled.

Senior level transition sources told ABC News today the visit is off due to unspecified “scheduling issues.”

Or is it because of the feud with Lewis?

Global Politics: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday Trump’s promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a mistake which could hinder the Mideast peace process.

We are waiting to see if it happens. If it does it will not help peace and we hope it does not happen,” Abbas said during a trip to Vatican City.

China is pushing back after Trump said that the One China policy which has been in force since the days of Richard Nixon is open to negotiation.

China is saying it is not.

It is not up for negotiation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement. “There is only one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable region of China, and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing China.”

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo welcomed 4,000 U.S. troops to her country in a ceremony on Saturday. She hailed their arrival as “an important day for Poland, for Europe, for our common defense.”

Today diplomats from 70 nations — not including representatives of Israel, Palestine, or the incoming Donald Trump administration — are meeting in Paris “to officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Makes sense to me…NOT!

British Prime Minister Theresa May will detail her plan for Brexit, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, in a major speech Tuesday, urging her country to “unite to make a success and build a truly global Britain.”

Thanks for viewing!

Mr. President Elect, You Are Wrong

Mr. President Elect Donald J. Trump, you are wrong in ignoring, maligning and falsely accusing a member of the national press corps because you are miffed and transferring your hurt ego in a way which goes against the spirit of the First Amendment.

I watched the first press conference by the President Elect since July on Wednesday.

Often during the campaign at such events I thought the national press corps was biased or had a jaundiced attitude coloring their freedom of the press duties. But yesterday, it was the man who will be sworn in to the highest office of the land in eight days from today who slighted not only the press, but the American people.

Trump was rightly upset with Buzzfeed publishing an unsubstantiated dossier, which has already seen portions debunked, in its entirety on its web site in the false sentiment of being transparent.

Where Trump went wrong was singling out CNN and its reporter Jim Acosta and applying the breach by Buzzfeed to CNN and Acosta. Referring to the network and Acosta as “fake news” was completely false and inaccurate.

Yes, during the campaign, at times, CNN did have a holier-than-thou attitude that was unbecoming and often seemed to be personally combative with the President Elect and his surrogates. I wrote and complained about it at the time – ‘Fess Up, Brianna.

This was not that case.

The network rightly reported that there was a two-page addendum to the intelligence briefing Trump and President Barack Obama received last week which noted there were allegations that Russia had obtained information and date on the President Elect in hopes of compromising his presidency and casting its legitimacy in doubt.

CNN steered clear of the scurrilous allegations.

It is one thing to refuse to answer a question, you do not like. It is quite another to throw a reporter out and bar him or her from their constitutional right to report and gather information to inform the public.

From the Cornfield, Mr. President Elect, in this case, you do owe both Acosta and CNN, the American public, an apology.

You allowed your mouth to run off before your brain was in gear.

Politics Roundup: January 2 – 8, 2017

politicsroundup

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

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

Monday, 1/2/17:

What does President Elect Donald Trump know about the hacking into the Democratic National Committee and political operatives that we do not know?

Will he reveal, as promised, that information this week?

As Trump is sworn in on January 20, a new poll finds him at a low approval rating historically for incoming Presidents.

According to a Gallup survey, 46 percent of Americans, said they’re confident in Trump’s ability to handle an international crisis and 47 percent said they’re confident in his ability to use military force wisely.

The new Congress will be seated tomorrow with Republicans claiming a mandate to get things done their way.

President Barack Obama will deliver his farewell speech to the nation from Chicago, Illinois on Tuesday, January 10.

In Trump-like fashion, the Prez took to Twitter in a series of tweets defending and hoping to save his legacy.

Unexpected consequence?

Mexicans living in the US of A are sending home more money than ever since Trump won the election.

Naming Names: None today.

Scuttlebutt: The leading candidate to become Agriculture Secretary, so say “sources“, is ex-Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.

Could these Republicans cause trouble to President Trump after he takes office – John McCain, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, Marco Rubio and a sitting Governor John Kasich?

A traditionally black college in Alabama is getting grief over agreeing to play and march in the Inaugural Parade.

The move has lit up Talladega College’s social media sites with a sharp debate about the band’s decision to participate. Some people voiced strong opposition, while others support the band’s participation.

Who were the most interesting Governors in 2016?

Maybe these:

a. Maine Governor Paul LePage
b. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Ohio Governor John Kasich (The Anti-Trump Trio)
c. Montana Governor Steve Bullock
d. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley
e. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory

The reasons why: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/02/the-5-most-interesting-governors-of-2016-ranked/

Global politics: Israeli police are questioning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about corruption in his Administration.

Netanyahu had this to say about the probe, “We’ve been paying attention to reports in the media, we are hearing the celebratory mood and the atmosphere in the television studios and the corridors of the opposition, and I would like to tell them, stop with the celebrations, don’t rush. There won’t be anything because there is nothing.”

Danish police have arrested the daughter of impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, who is at the center of the influence-peddling scandal that has led to Park’s troubles.

Concern over the health of Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as she battles a “heavy cold” are ramping up.

Tuesday, 1/3/17:

Today is the first session of the 115th Congress.

How long before the Affordable Care Act is repealed?

News conference planned by President Elect Donald Trump for January 11, the day after President Barack Obama delivers his farewell address.

Will the presser happen?

House of Representative Republicans in a closed door meeting Monday night gutted the independent Ethics Committee, returning oversight to House leaders.

The move would also bar the panel from reviewing criminal matters involving members of Congress.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy opposed the move.

Not happy with the action was the President Elect, who tweeted that the House should focus on more pressing issues.

After the uproar and tweet from Trump, those rebels in the GOP backed off changes to the Ethics Committee, letting it stay pat, as the full House voted to keep it as it is.

The President Elect took on both North Korea and China in tweets, telling the isolated, rogue nation that it won’t get its intercontinental nuclear capability while pressing its much larger neighbor to put the screws to Kim Jung Un.

Trump also turned his ire on General Motors, warning the company that making cars in Mexico and selling them in the US of A had consequences.

GM responded the cars were mainly for the global market with very few being sold in the US.

Ford announced today it is creating 700 jobs in the US, but stressed it is not because of Trump.

The jobs were supposed to go to Mexico.

Trump had previously criticized the plan to build in Mexico by Ford.

Ford did admit that policies espoused by Trump were a factor.

The announcement came after Ford talked with Trump and Vice President Elect Mike Pence this morning.

Ford’s CEO in an interview with CNN‘s Poppy Harlow also said the move to invest in the Michigan plant was a “vote of confidence” in the President Elect.

Senator John McCain said a select committee exclusively to investigate Russian hacking will probably not be empaneled, but rather it will be standing committees investigating.

In an exclusive, Reuters is reporting that the Trump Transition Team has requested the Department of Homeland Security to assess all assets available for border wall and barrier construction.

Democrats in the US Senate do not have the numbers to stop Trump’s appointments to his Cabinet, but they do plan to slow down the process on at least eight of those appointments.

This first day of the new Congress and the Trump Effect is already having an impact even though he will not take office for another 17 days.

Naming Names:

US Trade Representative – Robert Lighthizer, former Deputy US Trade Representative in President George W. Bush Administration, a trade lawyer

Scuttlebutt: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is accusing President Obama of trying to “deligitimize” Trump’s election.

They’re trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House,” Assange said during an interview with Fox News‘s Sean Hannity airing Tuesday night, according to a transcript of excerpts from the network.

Global politics: South Korean President Park Geun-hye is refusing to testify in her impeachment trial.

Because of our active outreach, President-elect Trump and U.S. officials are clearly aware of the gravity and urgency of the North Korean nuclear threat,” South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck told a briefing about Trump’s tweet warning to North Korea. “They are maintaining an unwavering stance on the need for sanctions on North Korea and for close cooperation between South Korea and the US.

China’s efforts in this regard are perfectly obvious,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news conference. “As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council we have proactively participated in relevant discussions on the North Korean nuclear issue and have jointly passed several resolutions with other parties.

This shows China’s responsible attitude.”

The United Kingdom’s Ambassador to the European Union has quit over disagreement about Brexit.

Best seller in Germany? Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

The Russian Navy will conduct war games with US ally, The Philippines.

Wednesday, 1/4/17:

With just over two weeks left in his tenure in office, President Barack Obama made the trek to Capitol Hill today to meet with Democrats to find a way to save his signature domestic legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

At the same time, Vice President Elect Mike Pence met with Republicans to strategize the dismantling of the ACA.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the first day of the 115th Congress fired the first salvo introducing a bill to start the process of tearing up the ACA.

Joining former President Jimmy Carter at the inauguration of President Elect Donald Trump will be former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Due to health concerns former President George H.W. Bush will not be at the ceremony.

After an uproar over the acceptance to play in the Inaugural Parade, Talledega College, the oldest and a traditional black college in Alabama, may not march after all. The school’s president says he’ll announce today whether the band will make the trip.

Six members of both the national and state NAACP were arrested in Alabama at the Mobile office of Attorney General designee Senator Jeff Sessions after staging a sit-in demanding the Senator withdraw from consideration for the top law enforcement office in the nation.

There should be no further releases from Gitmo,” Trump tweeted. “These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.”

So what does the White House announce?

President Obama plans to transfer more detainees from Guantanamo Bay before he leaves office.

New Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made it clear on Tuesday that Democrats would hold Trump accountable for his campaign promises. The top elected Democrat in the country also said he was hoping to find a way to work with the incoming Republican President.

The President Elect is still not convinced that Russia was involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and others. Trump even suggested the intelligence agencies are colluding in some way to alter the information pointing a finger at the Russians.

President Obama told dispirited Democrats on The Hill that voters will punish the GOP when they repeal the ACA. He also told the Dems that if the Republicans pass a bad healthcare law to call it “Trumpcare.”

The Prez also said that if the Republicans come up with something worse, “Don’t rescue them.”

Minority Leader Schumer, however, said the Dems were very “optimistic” about the ACA. Schumer said that Republicans are “stuck” and “have no idea how to replace Obamacare.” He also said that repealing the ACA would “blow a trillion dollar hole” in the deficit.

To repeal the ACA will make America sick again,” Schumer said as he played on Trump’s tag line of “Make America great again.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the ACA was a success.

Republican lawmakers came out of their meeting with Pence pumped up and ready to move on the ACA and their legislative agenda.

Pence said that repeal of the ACA was the “first order of business.”

It is looking more and more that it will be repeal and delay as Republicans figure out how to replace the ACA.

But Pelosi said, “To repeal and delay is an act of cowardice.”

While Republicans have little choice, but to repeal the ACA after winning elections on promises to do just that, finding a working solution to keep insurance for pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26 while gutting the rest is not going to be an easy row to hoe.

Of all people to cite, why is the President Elect trying to make Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a “credible” source?

The President Elect will receive his intelligence briefing on Friday from four of the intelligence chiefs – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan and National Security Agency Director Retired Admiral Michael Rogers.

Republicans in Congress has plans to use a little-used law to rollback many of the actions and regulations that President Obama has implemented since June – so-called “midnight regulations.”

Stream from the floor of the House of Representatives and pay a fine. That’s the backlash after Democrats used such a tactic last year to stream their sit-in on the floor to protest GOP non-action on gun control.

Naming Names:

Securities & Exchange Commission Chair – Jay Clayton, a Wall Street lawyer who defended banks over the financial meltdown of 2008
White House Public Outreach – Former Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault, who first worked in the White House as an asssistant to former Vice President Al Gore

Scuttlebutt: Did the Clinton Foundation use charity money to pay for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding?

The Washington Post cannot be certain:

We can’t really award Pinocchios here, since no specific person repeated this allegation. But we can fault the news reporting — and label this as a claim lacking any evidence. Readers (or their friends) who viewed this as the “last straw” about Clinton corruption need to be more careful consumers of the news.

Trump plans to pick William Hagerty as the next U.S. ambassador to Japan to replace Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy.

Bikers unite?

Not for the inauguration.

Three separate biker groups will have separate entries in the parade rather than a huge showing of biker pride.

Free pot for those attending the inauguration. At least that’s the plan of one pro-marijuana group, which have announced it will hand out free joints to the first 4,200 people they meet.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stopped swearing in ceremonies to ask the son of a new Congressman to stop wiping his nose with his sleeve.

Former US Attorney General Eric Holder will be working for the State of California to thwart any policies and actions by Trump, the state does not find agreeable.

Having the former attorney general of the United States brings us a lot of firepower in order to prepare to safeguard the values of the people of California,” Kevin de León, the Democratic leader of the California Senate, said in an interview. “This means we are very, very serious.”

Global politics: Indonesia suspended military cooperation with Australia after a handbook with what was considered offensive information to Jakarta, Indonesia was found at an Australian military base.

Military cooperation with Australian forces has been suspended temporarily due to technical matters,” Indonesian military spokesman Wuryanto told AFP without giving details, but added he hoped the problem would “be resolved soon“.

Thursday, 1/5/17:

Weakening intelligence?

Word is President Elect Donald Trump is looking at limiting the power of the Director of National Intelligence, even as he prepares to meet with intelligence chiefs on Friday to be briefed on the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other entities and individuals this past election cycle.

The view from the Trump Team is the intelligence world [is] becoming completely politicized,” an individual close to Trump’s transition operation said. “They all need to be slimmed down.”

Not the truth said incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

These reports are false,” Spicer told reporters on a conference call Thursday morning. “All transition activities are for information-gathering purposes and all discussions are tentative.”

He’s (Trump) committed to finding the best and most effective ways to do it,” Spicer said. “But I want to reiterate, there is no truth to this idea of restructuring the intelligence community infrastructure. It is 100 percent false.

Warning GOP lawmakers to be careful as they go about dismantling the Affordable Care Act, Trump fired off several tweets for his fellow Republicans to “be careful” because Democrats “own” the law and it “will fall of its own weight.”

The US Senate has not weighed in yet, but the House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday seeking to fast-track Republicans’ effort to undo “midnight rules” enacted by President Obama near the end of his term. The legislation would give Congress the power to kill dozens of such regulations at once.

The heads of intelligence agencies made their way to Capitol Hill today to testify before Congress about what they know about Russia’s involvement in the DNC hacking over the past year.

Senator John McCain, Senate Armed Services Committee Chair, welcomed the spy chiefs to the Hill.

McCain opened the hearing by praising the intelligence committee which has been criticized by the President Elect.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said a report, redacted, will be released to the public next week on the Russian attempts to influence the US election.

Clapper said the chiefs would not discuss any details with the committee today other than reaffirm the October consensus that Russia did hack the DNC and others.

The spycraft honchos did agree to talk in generalities about cyber security.

We stand actually more resolutely on the strength of that statement than we did on the 7th of October,” Clapper told the committee. He went on to say Russia’s hacking “did not change any vote tallies.”

McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham are preparing more sanctions to place on Russia.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says a replacement from Republicans for the Affordable Care Act will be rolled out this year.

For his part, Trump tweeted this morning: “It is time for Republicans and Democrats to get together and come up with a health care plan that really works — much less expensive & FAR BETTER!”

Naming Names:

White House Political Director – Bill Stepien, who was banished from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s inner circle after revelations in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal
Deputy Chief of Staff – Katie Walsh, the chief of staff for Reince Priebus at the Republican National Committee
Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative, Intergovernmental Affairs and Implementation – Rick Dearborn, chief of staff to Senator and Attorney General designee Jeff Sessions

Scuttlebutt: The Trump Transition Team has reportedly trimmed the list of potential nominees to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia from nearly two dozen conservative jurists to just three. The focus is on filling two vacancies instead of just one.

Talladega College of Alabama will march in the Inaugural Parade in the face of criticism.

We respect and appreciate how our students and alumni feel about our participation in this parade,” Talladega College President Billy Hawkins said in a statement Thursday.

As many of those who chose to participate in the parade have said, we feel the inauguration of a new president is not a political event but a civil ceremony celebrating the transfer of power,” Hawkins added.

Tennessee Republican Congresswoman Marcia Blackburn decided to use a Twitter poll to gauge the support in her district for repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

OOPs!

Of the respondents, 84% were against repeal.

Then again, the 8,000 people who voted may not all have been her voters. Seems the White House Deputy Press Secretary retweeted the poll to his 23,000 followers.

Vermont Senator and voice for the Democrats Bernie Sanders called on Trump to pledge, maybe through a tweet, to veto any measure to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

Former Virginia Democratic Congressman Tom Perriello says he is throwing his hat into the ring to be Governor, setting up a primary challenge to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s handpicked successor Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam.

Global politics: Former Mexican Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray, who lost his job for arranging the meeting with President Elect Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has been hired back as Foreign Relations Secretary.

Turkish officials are questioning the presence of U.S.-led coalition forces at an air base in southern Turkey over what they see as insufficient support for Turkey’s military operations against Islamic State in Syria.

Their presence (in Incirlik) is being questioned by our people and nation, and this issue is on the agenda of the government,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak told broadcaster A Haber.

South Korea has plans for a special unit to take out Kim Jung Un, the despotic leader of North Korea, if he launches nukes at the South.

South Korea has also put in place an officer to specifically monitor the tweets of Trump.

The JoongAng Daily reported: “The Korean government is still in the process of building ties with Trump and does not have a lot of insight into his foreign policies—like most of the world. His 140-character posts are currently the most effective insight into policies of the incoming administration.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro named Tareck El Aissami Vice President.

Friday, 1/6/17:

The House of Representatives and the Senate will meet in a joint session today to count the vote of the Electoral College then handing Donald J. Trump the keys to the White House.

But it may not be smooth sailing.

A handful of Democrats are planning to challenge the win by Trump in challenging the qualifications of some of the Electors, who cast ballots for the President Elect in the Electoral College vote on December 19.

One of those making the case is the #2 in the House of Representatives, Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, making a case that the Russian interference did impact the election.

Hoyer believes that the Russians and the letter from Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey were to blame for the loss by the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The Democratic House members who wanted to declare Trump ineligible were not able to find a Senator to go along with their objection, the joint session certified the vote tally.

President Elect Trump met with four heads of America’s intelligence apparatus today.

Prior to his meeting, Trump told The New York Times this morning that the search for Russians affecting the election was a “witch hunt.”

Did the head spies convince Trump of Russian complicity and orchestration of the hacks on the Democratic National Party and others during the election season?

President Barack Obama received the briefing on the alleged Russian hacks and dissemination of fake news on Thursday.

The second hand party which gave Wikileaks the hacked information have been identified.

Intercepts of missives in which Russian celebrate Trump’s win of the presidency and patting themselves on the back are part of the evidence pointing to Russia and its President Vladimir Putin as the culprits behind the hacks.

The Russians “felt pretty good about what they did,” a senior US official said.

Toyota is under Twitter fire from the President Elect for its decision to build in Mexico for the US market.

Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax,” Trump tweeted.

As Trump noted before the election in October, US taxpayers would pay for the wall on the southern border of the nation, then reimbursement would be made – one way or the other – by Mexico.

Trump tweeted this morning that “any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!”

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that Congress will vote to defund Planned Parenthood in the same bill being used to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The unclassified, read redacted, version of the intelligence report on the Russian hacking is being released this afternoon for the public to read for themselves.

I will publicly support a replacement if it is better, but I want to see it first,” President Obama said today about Republican efforts to repeal and replace his signature domestic legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

Breaking tradition, US Ambassadors appointed by the current Administration have until Inauguration Day to resign and move out of the embassies around the world.

In an interview yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden had some advice for the President Elect, “Grow up, Donald. Grow up.”

Naming Names: Director of National Intelligence – Dan Coats, former senior Indiana Senator

The Cornfield is well-represented in the incoming Trump White House:

Vice President Mike Pence, former Congressman and Governor
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, former Senator
Director of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Seema Verda, set up the Healthy Hoosier program expanding Medicaid in Indiana

Scuttlebutt: Defense Secretary designee Retired General James Mattis and the Trump Transition Team are feuding over who will be his deputies.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey has quit as an adviser to the Trump Transition Team since he is not being consulted and his advice would be ignored by Trump National Security Adviser Retired General Michael Flynn.

Senior Trump adviser KellyAnne Conway said today that part of the reason Trump and his team are pushing back on the issue of Russian impact on the election is that the issue is being used as a means to “delegitimize” the election and the Trump presidency.

Like a tsunami, a sea of women will wash over the nation’s capitol on Inauguration Day in protest of the Trump presidency.

The Senate Intelligence Committee announced today it will conduct an open hearing on Tuesday into the Russian hacking incident. Testifying will be: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers and FBI Director James Comey.

Team Trump has dumped the man who has voluntarily been the voice at every presidential inauguration parade since President Harry Truman’s in 1949.

Charlie Brotman, 89, received an email from the Team telling him he was out.

I was fired. I was destroyed the moment I read that,” Brotman said in an emotional telephone interview from his home in suburban Maryland. “I am heartbroken. I am the only person in the world to do that job for more than 60 years and now they found someone younger. I hope he knows what he’s getting into. There’s a lot more to it than just reading a script.”

The new announcer, Steve Ray, is 33 years younger and worked on the Trump campaign.

Add Virginia, like Texas, considering following in North Carolina’s disastrous steps and passing a bathroom law.

Another five states are also planning to enact a bathroom bill: Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina and Washington.

Global politics: Cuban strongman Raul Castro watched and saluted as troops marched and insulted President Barack Obama.

As the soldiers passed the reviewing stand their voices loudly chanted to Castro, “Commander-in-Chief, command us. Command over this land. We are going to make war if imperialism comes. Obama! Obama! With what fervor we’d like to confront your clumsiness, give you a cleansing with rebels and mortar, and make you a hat out of bullets to the head.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fabiola-santiago/article124836199.html

Soldiers in the Ivory Coast are staging mutiny in three cities demanding higher pay and bringing the threat of unrest back to Africa’s fastest-growing economy.

Protests against gas price increases up to 20% in Mexico has left two people dead and 700 under arrest.

Japan recalled its Ambassador to South Korea in protest of a statue commemorating Korean women forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War Two and that the statue violated an agreement to resolve the issue.

What to do with terrorists?

Czech President Milos Zeman urged citizens to arm themselves against a possible “super-Holocaust” carried out by Muslim terrorists. The Interior Minister has introduced a change to the Constitution to allow citizens to shoot terrorists with benefit of law.

Sunday, 1/8/17:

On Friday, the US intelligence community released its findings into the hack of the Democratic National Committee and others during the recent presidential election and other activities.

The report concludes that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” aspiring to “help President-elect Donald Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary (Hillary) Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

President Elect Donald Trump, following his intel briefing Friday, released a statement asserting “there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”

Then on Saturday morning, Trump tweeted, “Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched!

Read the report: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3254237-Russia-Hack-Report.html

The President Elect remains combative and defensive this morning, tweeting, “Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think that it is bad! We have enough problems around the world without yet another one. When I am President, Russia will respect us far more than they do now and both countries will, perhaps, work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!

Turns out the Trump Transition Team did not clear with nor ask for input from the Government Office of Ethics before submitting nominees for Cabinet positions, which have Democrats wanting to delay the confirmation process in the Senate.

Trump said that he is tasking his security team to come up with a plan to protect the US cyber community and how to respond to incursions within 90 days of taking office.

Placing blame, President Barack Obama says Vermont Senator and former presidential wannabe Bernie Sanders aided and abetted the unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act, his signature domestic legislation.

In the ‘dissatisfied’ column are a whole bunch of Bernie Sanders supporters who wanted a single-payer plan,” Obama said in an interview with Vox.

I don’t think I underestimated him (Russian President Vladimir Putin),” Obama told ABC News’s This Week. “But I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new information age, it is possible for misinformation, for cyberhacking and so forth, to have an impact on our open societies, our open systems, to insinuate themselves into our democratic practices in ways that I think are accelerating.”

The Prez is set to give his “farewell speech” to the nation from Chicago, Illinois on Tuesday night.

Naming Names: None over the weekend.

Scuttlebutt: Director of Strategic Communications for the National Security Council nominee Monica Crowley has been accused of plagiarizing more than 50 passages of her 2012 book, What The (Bleep) Just Happened.

Word is Donald Trump Jr, soon to be First Son, wants to make it easier to purchase gun silencers. Don Junior says it is a “health issue” for people with hearing aids and other hearing concerns.

Global Politics: British Prime Minister Theresa May said in an interview today her plan for Brexit, the United Kingdom’s intended departure from the European Union, will be revealed in the next few weeks.

Our thinking on this isn’t muddled at all,” May said. “Yes, we have been taking time. I said we wouldn’t trigger Article 50 immediately — some said we should.”

The breakup of the European Union in the relative near future is not inconceivable, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told Der Spiegel in an interview published Saturday.

Queen Elizabeth II is once more showing herself in public after dealing with a “heavy cold” through the holidays. The Queen was able to attend church this morning.

The Ivory Coast Defense Minister has been released after being held by soldiers who mutinied. The mutineers were joined by other troops across the country.

Following talks between a government delegation headed by Ivory Coast Defense Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi and representatives of the mutineers, President Alassane Ouattara announced he had agreed to some of the soldiers’ grievances but chastised them for sparking the unrest.

Nana Akufo-Addo was sworn in as Ghana’s president on Saturday.

The US Department of State issued a travel alert against visiting the tourist destination of Gambia on Saturday, and told those there to considering leaving, citing the risk of unrest as President Yahya Jammeh digs in despite losing an election.

NATO pilots have been engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with Russian fighters above the Baltic States.

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