Politics Roundup – December 19 – 25, 2016

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, 12/19/16:

Today is the day.

All 538 Electors gathered in state capitols and the District of Columbia to formally cast ballots for the 45th President of the United States of America.

So far, the hopes of those wanting mass defections to deny Donald Trump the presidency are being dashed in a big way.

The official results will not be released until January 6, 2017 when revealed and confirmed by the House of Representatives.

Ultra-liberal film maker Michael Moore said he would pay the fines of Electors who choose to be “faithless” and not vote for Trump.

President Barack Obama, in his last press conference before leaving for Hawaii for Christmas, said that when the told Russian President Vladimir Putin to “cut it out” when he pulled Putin to the side back in September that there was no more Russian attempts to interfere in the election process.

However, Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile said Russian hackers kept trying to hack into the organization’s computers “daily, hourly” until after the Nov. 8 election.

Naming Names:

Secretary of the Army – Vincent “Vinnie” Viola, owner of the Florida Panthers, former U.S. Army infantry officer and the founder and chairman of Virtu Financial

Trump finally spoke with reporters on Sunday, but only off-record.

It looks like outgoing North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory is coming to his senses.

McCrory is calling the State Legislature back to consider repeal of the infamous bathroom law. The controversial law has been very costly to the state.

Ahead of today’s vote by Electors in Georgia, an anti-Trump Elector was replaced by the GOP.

President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland will return to his Appeals Court post as of January 18, 2017.

On this Elector College vote day, it should be remembered that though Hillary Clinton won nearly three million more votes than Trump, Trump won 30 state elections compared to Clinton’s 20 states.

President Obama had this to say about the Electoral College, “There are some structures in our political system as envisioned by the founders that sometimes are going to disadvantage Democrats.”

The Prez also cautioned against blaming the system itself for the Democrats’ loss, noting that “if we have a strong message, if we’re speaking to what the American people care about, typically the popular vote and the Electoral College vote will align.”

Here is a good history of how the Electoral College came to be: https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/27fea733-07d2-34df-ac0e-a2439b059bf4/ss_why-our-presidents-are.html

Scuttlebutt: Sylvester Stallone has turned down an offer to be on the National Endowment of the Arts board.

In global politics:

The corruption trial of Choi Soon-sil, the jailed longtime friend of impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye began today.

While Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro may have put a halt for now on getting rid of the 100-bolivar note, the military had to be called out Sunday to quell violence of protesters to the President’s plan to change the currency.

Ireland with an assist from Apple is taking on the European Union over an order for the country to negate its laws and collect billions in taxes. Ireland says the EU is stepping on national sovereignty.

International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde has been convicted of negligence in a French court, but will not be subjected to any punishment.

Polish President Andrzej Duda is engaging in mediation talks with protesters to quell a third day of violence after he sought to restrict the rights of a free press.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani rolled out a “Bill of Rights” which included freedom of speech, right to protest and rights to fair trials.

The European Union formally extended sanctions on Russia over its continued operations against Ukraine.

Tuesday, 12/20/16:

It is official.

Donald J. Trump has secured the Electoral College vote with 304 ballots to become the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017.

That big push to get Electors to be “faithless” sizzled, burned and went up in smoke.

Only two Texas Electors balked and cast votes for other than Trump.

On the flip side, four Electors were “faithless” and refused to cast ballots for Hillary Clinton.

Looks like Michael Moore offering to pay the fines and that slick video by Hollywood stars along with the thousands of snail mail and death threats were all for naught.

Speaking of Hillary, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, happened to be an Elector in New York. Following casting his vote for his wife, the former Prez said it was not Hillary’s fault that she did not win, but that letter from Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey with an assist from the Russian government.

This has sparked a bit of a Twitter war between the two men, who did agree on one thing – President Bill called Trump to congratulate him on his victory on election night.

Both men also accused each other of knowing nothing. Prez Bill did say, however, that Trump knew how to get votes from “angry white men.”

Trump is brandishing terms ahead of the investigations into the attacks in Germany and Turkey and mislabeling the attack in Switzerland, by saying all were acts of Islamic terrorism.

A federal judge unsealed the warrant used to look at emails on that laptop of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, estranged of husband of Clinton confidante, Huma Abedin. We still know nothing in the heavily redacted document.

The Trump Transition Team have inquired of State Department officials to disclose how much money it provides each year to international environmental groups.

In a new Politico/Morning Consult poll, only 32% of Americans believe Russia influenced the election. Another 44% said there was no influence while 24% said no opinion or unsure.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reveals 54% of Americans have either an uncertain or pessimistic and worried view of the incoming presidency of Trump compared to 45% who have an optimistic and confident view.

Although President Barack Obama has been unsuccessful in fulfilling a campaign promise made in 2008 to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, he is doing his best to empty the prison before Trump is sworn in on January 20. The Prez plans to relocate 17 or 18 detainees leaving a few more than 40 terrorist prisoners.

Soon-to-be First Sons Don Jr. and Eric Trump are using access to dear ole Dad as a way to raise money for a private charity.

A Texas-based non-profit recently formed by Trump’s two adult sons and two associates in Texas is already selling the opportunity to meet with President Trump — on the day after his inauguration — for as much as $1 million, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has nixed a new select committee to investigate Russian influence on the election.

Naming Names: None today

Scuttlebutt: Jovita Carranza of JCR Group is being considered for the position of US Trade Representative.

Jewish donors have sent a message to those wanting to be head of the Democratic National Committee: Support Palestinians at your own peril.

In global politics:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is dealing with more intense pressure following last evening’s truck attack on a Christmas market over her refugee policy.

Poland’s President and ruling party caved under pressure and will allow journalists to cover Parliament.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde will remain in her post even though a French court found her guilty of corruption.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila has refused to leave office, though his term expired last night and he lost election. In protests in the nation’s capitol today at least nine people have been killed.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is speaking out against a second vote on Scottish independence.

Wednesday, 12/21/16:

The Trump Transition Team has released the inauguration week schedule of President Elect Donald Trump.

You can get all the details: http://www.presidential-inauguration.com/

58th Presidential Inaugural Schedule of Events

Thursday, January 19, 2017
Wreath Laying Ceremony
Arlington National Cemetery
Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration
Lincoln Memorial

Ticket required for special viewing areas.
No ticket required for general public viewing areas.

Friday, January 20, 2017
Inaugural Swearing-in Ceremony
U.S. Capitol

Inaugural Parade
Pennsylvania Avenue

Ticket required for special viewing areas.
No ticket required for general public viewing areas.

Inaugural Balls
Ticket required – limited availability.

Saturday, January 21, 2017
National Prayer Service
Washington National Cathedral

An American man and woman with two young boys born in captivity are being shown in a video produced by their Taliban captors to attempt to influence incoming President Donald Trump.

The couple are being held prisoner in Pakistan for the past four years. The children have been born during this time.

Rather than acquiescing, the demands by the Taliban, which gave safe harbor to Al Qaeda, Trump will likely be more resolute in striking a hard line with the terror group.

Supporters of Hillary Clinton continue to blame Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey for her loss of the presidency. The charges have grown louder after the release yesterday of the affidavit for a search warrant of the laptop used by disgraced former Congressman Anthony Wiener and his estranged wife, Clinton confidante Huma Abedin, did not reveal the reason for Comey’s letter to Congress about finding emails of interest on the computer.

Clinton and her supporters, including former President Bill Clinton, refuse to accept any responsibility on the part of Clinton for her loss.

Don Jr. and Eric Trump are moving away from the event scheduled by a private charity in Texas, which they are board members, after word came out that as a fundraising stunt time with Trump on the day after inauguration could be had for a mere $1 million donation to the charity. Also nixed is a hunting trip with the Trump boys for half a million dollars.

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the $1 trillion infrastructure plan being touted by the President Elect “sounded good to me.”

Schumer also said he would not oppose something simply because it is proposed by Trump.

Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew warned the Trump economic team about making too drastic of cuts in taxes, which would deepen the nation’s deficit.

Missouri Democratic Senator Clair McCaskill will be taking a seat on the Senate Finance Committee. California Democratic Senator Elect Kamala Harris will be joining the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Mending fences, the President Elect met with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim on Tuesday.

The State of Texas has officially removed Planned Parenthood from its Medicaid program.

The North Carolina State Legislature is meeting in special session to consider repeal of the infamous bathroom law today. But Republican lawmakers are refusing to caucus with their other party members, holding up the expected vote to repeal.

Naming Names:

National Trade Council Chair – Peter Navarro, a professor of economics and public policy at the Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine, author of Death by China
Special Adviser – Carl Icahn, billionaire investor, on overhauling federal regulations

An announcement of Press Secretary is expected any time. The front runner is Sean Spicer of the Republican National Committee.

Scuttlebutt:

FBI Director James Comey is mulling speaking out on why he sent the letters to Congress, which are being blamed on Clinton’s defeat in the presidential election.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says that Trump is leaving “drain the swamp” in the swamp and moving on.

In global politics:

The Obama administration on Tuesday added seven Russian businessmen, eight companies, and two vessels to the list of entities targeted with sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support of separatist rebels in Ukraine.

Russia announced today that all dialogue with the US of A is “frozen.” A spokesman said, “We do not talk to each other. Or we do it to a minimum.” But US State Department spokesman John Kirby disputes the Russian statement.

Could German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open arms policy to refugees sink her re-election bid in 2017?

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom has divested herself of some of her charity functions as the 90-year-old monarch is slowing down. The Queen and husband, Prince Phillip, 95, has also postponed Christmas travel plans due to both suffering with “heavy colds.”

Russia, Iran and Turkey have effectively boxed out the US of A in discussions and action on ending the bloody civil war in Syria.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined with President Barack Obama in placing offshore areas of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans off limits to drilling.

Indonesia’s Narcotics Agency chief seems to be mirroring Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, telling his agents, “Don’t hesitate to shoot drug traffickers, drug dealers and drug users.”

Israel and Sweden continue to be on the outs since the 2014 decision by the Scandinavian country to recognize Palestine.

Thursday, 12/22/16:

President Elect Donald Trump met with active military generals and admirals on Wednesday.

The President Elect also received a full Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) from the intelligence community directly rather than through incoming National Security Adviser retired General Michael Flynn. He followed up with another today.

The CEOs of Boeing and Lockheed Martin met with the President Elect at the Southern Trump Tower of Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida on Wednesday.

Following that meeting, Boeing’s CEO said that his company would lower the cost and keep the price down on a new Air Force One.

We’re going to get it done for less than that, and we’re committed to working together to make sure that happens,” said Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

Trump had said that if the cost was $4 billion to cancel the order for Air Force One.

Trump tried to strong-arm Lockheed Martin, but no word if the company will try to lower the cost of new F-35 fighter jets or not.

Trump spoke out against a now-postponed vote by the United Nations on a resolution demanding Israel halt and uproot settlements in the disputed West Bank. Trump called for a veto of the resolution by the US.

Naming Names:

Counselor to the President – Kellyanne Conway, the successful campaign manager for Trump and a pollster
In her position, Conway will continue her role as a close advisor to the president and will work with senior leadership to effectively message and execute the Administration’s legislative priorities and actions,” the Trump Transition Team wrote in a statement.
White House Press Secretary – Sean Spicer, Republican National Committee spokesperson
Strategic Communications Director – Hope Hicks, who served a similar role in the campaign
Director of Communications – Jason Miller, who served a similar role in the campaign
Director of Social Media – Dan Scavino, who served a similar role in the campaign

Senate Democrats released a list of requirements for nominees of the President Elect today.

According to a poll from Suffolk University/USA Today, the majority of Democrats want a new face to run for President in 2020.

But if they have to choose from known party celebs, they prefer Vice President Joe Biden, who will be 78 years young by the next election.

That same poll found that 62% of Democrats and independents do not want Hillary Clinton to run again.

President Barack Obama has ended a program that tracked Arab and Muslim men, the basis for the registry which the President Elect has talked about on the trail.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is set to perform at the inauguration of Trump.

The Radio City Rockettes will be taking part in the celebration.

As previously announced, America’s Got Talent phenom Jackie Evancho will be singing the national anthem.

There will be three inaugural balls instead of 10 as there was in 2008 and 2012.

The President Elect tweeted today that the US needs to expand its nuclear capabilities “until such time the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

Will the US Privacy Board be the first casualty in the Trump presidency?

Team Trump floated the idea of a 5-10% tariff on foreign-made goods produced by American companies abroad.

Trump tweeted, “Someone incorrectly stated” that he was no longer using the phrase, “drain the swamp.” Trump said, “Actually, we will always be trying to DTS.”

OOPs! Looks like Newt Gingrich missed the mark and landed in the swamp.

A man was removed from a JetBlue flight after he began hurling insults at Ivanka Trump Kushner as she traveled with husband Jared and children to Hawaii for the Christmas holiday.

The Kushners were slumming it and flying commercial.

Scuttlebutt: His mustache may have sunk former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton’s chances of landing the #2 spot at Foggy Bottom.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch when apprised that FBI Director James Comey was going to send a letter to Congress about new found emails relating to the investigation into a private server used by Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, chose not to stop him.

Fearing a “quagmire” Eric Trump will no longer solicit for charity events.

As unfortunate as it is, I understand the quagmire. You do a good thing that backfires,” Eric said.

Colorado’s Secretary of State has referred the state’s “faithless” Elector to the state’s Attorney General for investigation.

The City of Charlotte, North Carolina kept its part of a deal with the State of North Carolina and repealed its anti-discrimination ordinance. The State Legislature, however, failed to hold up its end of the bargain.

A special session called to repeal the controversial and expensive bathroom law ended in logger heads with the law intact.

In global politics:

United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said Wednesday that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte should be investigated for murder after boasting that he once “personally” killed three drug suspects.

Outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said that if South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment is upheld by the Constitutional Court, he wants to the nation’s next President.

Ghana’s President Elect Akufo-Addo will have to wait until January 10 before the country’s Supreme Court rules on legal objections from the defeated President of the election results.

The United Nations voted to set up a panel to prepare for Syrian war crimes cases.

Before Trump called for expansion of US nuclear capabilities, Russian President Vladmir Putin earlier today called for an expansion as well.

We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems.

We must carefully monitor any changes in the balance of power and in the political-military situation in the world, especially along Russian borders, and quickly adapt plans for neutralizing threats to our country,” Putin said.

Friday, 12/23/16:

Broken bromance?

Looks like playing nice is coming to an end between President Elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The two men have been going back in forth in what looks like a display of testosterone concerning the nuclear power of each others country.

Trump said that if Putin wants an arms race to bring it on – the US will win. This has caused some stir from Capitol Hill to the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom. The chattering class is nearly apoplectic.

But then Putin sent Trump a letter calling for constructive relations between the two countries.

Trump’s response was that he hoped that would happen and an alternate path would not have to be taken.

On the issue of Israeli/Palestinian relations, Trump posted to Facebook, “Peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations.”

This came after the President Elect called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at Israel’s request to ask him to postpone a vote in the United Nations Security Council on a resolution condemning and demanding Israel stop and shut down construction of settlements in the disputed West Bank.

The vote was conducted today after four other nations requested it.

Not caving to pressure, President Obama allowed the vote to proceed, as the US abstained. Thus the resolution passed ordering Israel to end its West Bank settlements.

Fallout has already begun, coming from both Republicans and Democrats.

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with four other Democratic Senators, prior to the vote, urged the President to veto the resolution.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the US abstention, “absolutely shameful” and a “blow to peace.”

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has pledged to present legislation to limit funds to the UN following passage of the settlement resolution.

Arizona Senator John McCain called the vote “marks another shameful chapter” in the UN’s dealings with Israel.

Palestinians naturally saw the vote as a “victory for international law, a victory for civilized language and negotiations and a total rejection of extremist forces in Israel.”

Trump remarked, “Things will be different after January 20th.”

Putin is also putting the blame squarely at the door of Democrats for the loss of Hillary Clinton of the presidency and of losses in the Congress and state houses across the US of A.

This is something Democrats seem loathe to admit – their own shortcomings.

Democratic Senators had wanted tax returns from Secretary of State designee Rex Tillerson, but Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Corker said that ain’t happening.

In an attempt to save taxpayers money, the President Elect asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet fighter jet to Lockheed Martin’s F-35.

Naming Names: None so far today.

Scuttlebutt: President Barack Obama is planning a major speech in Chicago, Illinois in the waning days of his Administration in January. Details not known, but it is being billed as a farewell speech.

Reportedly, Secretary of Health and Human Services designee Dr. Tom Price traded more than $300,000 in share of healthcare companies.

As of now, only one former President will be attending the Trump inauguration on January 20 – Jimmy Carter, the 92-year-old, 39th President.

Washington State has fined its four “faithless” Electors who refused to cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, $1,000 each.

The Trump Transition Team wants information from the State Department on “gender-related staffing, programming, and funding,” raising questions over whether the incoming Administration will slash US efforts promoting women’s equality worldwide.

The so-called “A” list celebrities are all wanting tixs to the inauguration,” Trump tweeted. “But look what they did for Hillary, NOTHING. I want the PEOPLE!

In global politics:

The United Kingdom’s Prince Charles warned Thursday that the “aggressive” attitude of rising populist groups toward people practicing minority religions had “deeply disturbing echoes” of the Nazi era of World War II.

The Israeli government is accusing President Barack Obama of working behind its back with the Palestinians in pushing the settlement resolution proposed by Egypt in the United Nations Security Council.

Traditionally the US has vetoed any such resolution in defense of Israel, but this time the President ordered abstaining on the resolution.

We knew that relations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama were strained, but this shows that relationship is strung tighter than a guitar string ready to pop.

A pro-Kurdish Member of Parliament in Turkey has been detained by police.

West African nations pledge to send troops if Gambia’s President continues to refuse to step down after losing the election by January 19, 2017.

Lawmakers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed in principle to a deal with President Joseph Kabila which will allow him to remain in office until the end of 2017, though his term ended Monday.

After the UN Human Rights Commissioner called for investigation into murder by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who admitted to the killings, said about the UN, “I will burn it down, if I go to America.”

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Mark

I am Mark Ivy, a born and bred Hoosier.
I am father to two wonderful sons, Dave and Kev, of whom I am very proud;
two terrific daughters-in-law, Anna and Hailey; three beautiful granddaughters, Dylan, Alaina and Amelia.

On May 9, 2017, my lung specialist hit me with the news I had maybe six months to live if the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the damage caused by the histoplasmosis described below, ran its normal course. I am now on hospice at home. Content and ready to cross over the river to the other side.

On September 2, 2014, I was diagnosed with disseminated histoplasmosis, a fungal infection, discovered by a biopsy of my larynx.
The infection is fatal if left untreated. For 2 1/2 years I lived under a death sentence being misdiagnosed
with a non-specific bacterial infection which left my right lung a “dried up sponge” and non-functioning.
I was aggressively treated for the infection with antifungals.
The treatment ended October of 2015 and fortunately did not take two years.

I suffer from chronic Horton’s Syndrome. The effects vary widely causing various problems.
Statistically, Horton’s affects only 0.1% of the population. Major depression also attacks me regularly.

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