Politics Roundup – December 26, 2016 – January 1, 2017


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, 12/26/16:

Time with the family, the reason given.

Jason Miller has decided not to be the Communications Director for the Administration of President Elect Donald Trump. Miller, with a second child on the way, says he is devoting more time to his family. He said it would take too much time and energy which a new Administration will require.

Newly named White House Press Secretary designee Sean Spicer will add what were to be Miller’s duties to his own – at least for the time being.

The President Elect announced over Christmas weekend his intention to shutdown his personal charity foundation. Those plans, however, are on hold as the foundation is under investigation by the New York Attorney General.

Naming Names: None today

Scuttlebutt: Former disgraced and jailed Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is angling for a commutation from President Obama.

Former President Jimmy Carter is calling on Obama to recognize a Palestinian state before leaving.

The Obama Administration is eyeing $44.1 billion in “midnight regulations,” according to an analysis.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is submitting legislation to cut funding by the US of A to the United Nations unless the world body rescinds the resolution it passed Friday demanding Israel end its settlements in disputed territory such as the West Bank as well as in eastern Jerusalem.

President Barack Obama is making the rounds saying “goodbye” and reminiscing over the last eight years as well as his take on the recent presidential election.

The Prez is touting 15 million new jobs, a 4.9% unemployment rate and 74 months of consecutive job growth.

What you do not hear, though, is about the more than 1,030 seats lost in state legislatures across the country or the governors’ mansions won by the GOP or Democratic seats in Congress lost to Republicans.

What’s happened on the ground is that voters have been punishing Democrats for eight solid years — it’s been exhausting,” said South Carolina State Senator Vincent Sheheen, who lost two gubernatorial campaigns to Nikki Haley, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Ambassador to the United Nations. “If I was talking about a local or state issue, voters would always lapse back into a national topic: Barack Obama.”

The Prez also defended his vision of America on David Axelrod’s The Axe Files podcast, claiming he is confident “that if I had run again and articulated [this vision], I think I could’ve mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it.”

But that is not possible since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who won four terms. The President is now restricted to two terms and cya!

The Republican National Committee is in hot water over a letter it sent out for the Christmas holiday. Some are saying the RNC was comparing Trump to the birth of Jesus Christ.

The message in question:

Over two millennia ago, a new hope was born into the world, a Savior who would offer the promise of salvation to all mankind. Just as the three wise men did on that night, this Christmas heralds a time to celebrate the good news of a new King. We hope Americans celebrating Christmas today will enjoy a day of festivities and a renewed closeness with family and friends.”

As incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted, “Christ is the King. He was born today so we could be saved. Its sad & disappointing you are politicizing such a holy day.”

A CNN political consultant and former Democratic state legislator said today that the Obama Administration was free of scandal, without contradiction from any CNN journalist – Solyndra, Fast & Furious, Benghazi, private email server by Secretary of State, beer-gate, tarmac meeting to name a few.

Do any of these ring a bell?

In global politics: Fearful the United Nations may move to vote and declare Palestine a state, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reaching out once more to President Elect Trump.

China has established diplomatic relations with former allies of Taiwan, Sao Tome and Principe, dishing out a black eye to the island, the Chinese say is a province in rebellion.

Argentina’s Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay is stepping down.

Czech President Milos Zeman said, “Today, almost no one doubts the connection between the migration wave and terrorist attacks.”

Tomorrow is the day when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes history by visiting Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

I am visiting Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to commemorate victims as the prime minister of Japan, as the representative of the Japanese people,” Abe told reporters at Tokyo’s Haneda airport.

We must not repeat the horror of war ever again. Together with President Obama, I would like to express to the world this pledge for the future and the value of reconciliation.”

OOPs! Pakistan’s Defense Minister was fooled by a fake news report that Israel was planning a nuclear retaliation and promptly tweet a warning to Israel: “Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh (Islamic State). Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too.”

Tuesday, 12/27/16:

Vision for peace in the Middle East.

No, we are not talking about the incoming Administration of President Elect Donald Trump, but rather the outgoing Administration of President Barack Obama.

24 days.


Middle East peace.

Secretary of State John Kerry is planning to speak on the Administration’s vision, when the bags should be packed and offices vacated.

What is President Obama thinking?

Perhaps the key is in what he said to David Axelrod how, if he had been able to run for a third term, he would have beat Trump.

Is this a shade of President Bill Clinton’s actions on the way out of the White House in 2000 before George W. Bush became President?

Naming Names:

Presidential Assistant, Homeland Security & Counter-Terrorism – Thomas Bossert, former member of President George W. Bush Administration, focus will be on cyber-security
Special Representative for International Negotiations – Jason Greenblatt, Chief Legal Officer for The Trump Organization

Scuttlebutt: The power and influence of Vice President Elect Mike Pence may be less than previously believed once he is sworn in on January 20.

In global politics:

Israel said Monday that it would move ahead with plans for 5,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, even though a United Nations Security Council resolution condemned the building of Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas.

Israel is not backing down on its claim of “ironclad” evidence that the Obama Administration aided and abetted in the pushing for, writing and vote on the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s construction of settlements in disputed territory.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte says his anti-drug program, killing drug dealers and users, is his effort “to protect the next generation.”

Wishful thinking on the part of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi who said on state television that it will only take three months to rid the country of the Islamic State.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has declined to name the majority Social Democratic Party choice of Sevil Shhaideh as Prime Minister, which would have made her the country’s first female Muslim Premier.

The Yemeni government has agreed in principle to a revised roadmap to end the political and military coup by Houthi rebels.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the rounds of cemeteries Monday to lay wreaths in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in a historic first following the sneak attack by the Japanese Imperial Navy on December 7, 1941, which launched the US into World War II. Today he met with President Barack Obama to mourn the loss of life at the national memorial.

Wednesday, 12/28/16:

Secretary of State John Kerry, with only three weeks left in office, outlined a plan for peace in the Middle East today.

Kerry pressed the need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Friends need to tell each other the hard truth,” Kerry said as he defended the abstention in the United Nations Security Council vote on the condemnation of settlements in the disputed territories in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The vote in the United Nations was to preserve the two-state solution,” Kerry went on to say. “A two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy.”

If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both,” Kerry said. “Settlement expansion has nothing to do with Israeli security.”

Expounding, the Secretary said that the “settler agenda is defining the future of Israel.”

Kerry asserted that “no American Administration has done more” to support Israel than the Administration of President Barack Obama.

The Secretary of State strongly denied Israeli claims that the US was behind the settlement resolution. The Israelis say they have “ironclad” evidence of US collusion on the resolution.

Kerry put the blame of continued violence in the Middle East on Lebanon-based terror group Hamas, which also is the political power in the Gaza Strip.

President Elect Donald Trump tweeted Israel, “Stay strong, Israel.”

As to the President Elect, Kerry noted that US allies “won’t be swayed or intimidated by a tweet.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly denounced Kerry’s remarks in his own press conference this afternoon.

Netanyahu said his nation is looking forward to being able to work with the incoming Administration of Donald Trump.

We don’t need to be lectured by foreign leaders,” Netanyahu responded to Kerry.

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham along with 97 of their colleagues are out to prove to Trump that Russia was involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other party individuals and affiliates.

The President Elect is taking credit for the rise in consumer confidence and the boom in the stock market.

Trump tweeted: “The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index for December surged nearly four points to 113.7, THE HIGHEST LEVEL IN MORE THAN 15 YEARS! Thanks Donald!

Think that legal action in the scandal over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State is over?

Think again.

The US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia says the case involving the email server is very much alive.

Because the complaints sought recovery of emails from all of the former Secretary’s accounts, the FBI’s recovery of a server that hosted only one account does not moot the suits,” the opinion stated.

Speaking of Clinton, don’t believe she will fade like a flower on wallpaper.

I believe it is our responsibility to keep doing our part to build a better, stronger, and fairer future for our country and the world,” Clinton wrote on her official Facebook page.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez is calling information being sought by the Trump Transition Team as “illegal.”

Naming Names: None today

Scuttlebutt: The Obama Administration is closing in on punishment of Russia for the election hacks.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is already raising speculation that she has begun a run for the White House in 2020.

Talk is New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is also eyeing the Oval Office in 2020.

Trump Tower was evacuated on Tuesday after a bag, which turned out to be filled with children’s toys, caused a stir.

This set off a Twitter war between the City of New York and the Trump Team over the cost of security and who will foot the bill.

Speaking of Twitter, White House Press Secretary designee Sean Spicer says that once President, Trump will not be giving up his account, but will tweet on.

Trump is expected late this afternoon to make a “positive” announcement on the economy.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Kelly Ward has been picked to head up a redistricting project backed by former Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama.

Clean energy rules will remain intact after Ohio Governor John Kasich vetoed a measure to scale back the rules.

Colorado is moving from being a caucus state to a primary state after Governor John Hickenlooper signed legislation authorizing the change.

In global politics: Argentina’s ex-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and 11 others has been indicted for the second time for corruption.

OK, we did it, Russian sports officials admitted about doping of its athletes in the Sochi Games in 2014. “It was an institutional conspiracy,” said Anna Antseliovich, the Acting Director General of Russia’s national anti-doping agency.

The City of Jerusalem, Israel has put on ice its vote on new construction in the eastern part of the city as international politics play out.

Turkey is claiming it has proof the US-led coalition forces have supported terrorists groups, including the Islamic State, in Syria.

The US is denying supplying shoulder-to-air missiles to the Syrian opposition.

On visiting the World War II Pearl Harbor memorial of the USS Arizona, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe commented, “It was a place that brought utter silence to me.”

Abe also said, “The world needs the spirit of tolerance and the power of reconciliation now.”

The Sultan of Sokoto, Nigeria has rejected opposition to a bill that would provide equality to men and women with inheritance rights.

Iran’s Defense Minister says that US-led coalition forces have “no real intentions in fighting” the Islamic State, thus Iran will never coordinate with the US to end the Syrian civil war.

Thursday, 12/29/16:

Payback has started.

President Barack Obama gave Russia its come-uppance over that country’s attempts at interfering in the US election today.

Four officers of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, were named and sanctioned.

The names and images of the alleged actual hackers were also sanctioned and released.

Some 35 Russian operatives were given 72 hours to leave the US of A.

Two Russian diplomatic compounds were ordered to close in New York and Maryland. Those sites will be off-limits to Russia as of noon tomorrow.

Both the GRU and the FSB, also an intelligence service, and three Russian companies were also sanctioned.

These actions were taken to respond to Russian harassment of American diplomats and actions by the diplomats that we have assessed to be not consistent with diplomatic practice,” an Administration official told Reuters.

President Elect Donald Trump had this reaction Wednesday ahead of the White House action today placing sanctions on Russia and expelling personnel:

Russia released a statement saying it will conduct similar steps on US diplomats and companies.

The relationship between the US of A and Israel cannot get much more strained following Secretary of State John Kerry denouncing the Jewish State for its continued construction in disputed territory in the West Bank.

Kerry said the issue was killing the chance for peace in the Middle East.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted, saying Kerry’s speech was “obsessively focused” on settlements while only paying “lip service to the unremitting Palestinian campaign of terrorism” against Israel.

Netanyahu said he was looking forward to working with Trump “to mitigate the damage this resolution has done.”

The criticism of Kerry’s speech is not just coming from Israel, but also from members of Congress – both Republicans and Democrats.

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer remarked on Kerry’s speech, “While he may not have intended it, I fear…his speech and action at the UN has emboldened extremists on both sides.”

President Elect Donald Trump announced on Wednesday some 8,000 new job openings coming for American workers.

Of those jobs, Trump said 5,000 were jobs being brought back from oversees by Sprint from other countries. The other 3,000 were from a new company, One Web.

Sprint has clarified that most of the jobs would be new positions and not jobs cut overseas and brought back to the Us. Sprint also noted these jobs are part of what was announced earlier this year.

President Obama designated two sites – Bears Ears Buttes in southeastern Utah and Nevada’s Gold Butte – as national monuments on Wednesday.

The moves were seen as a way for Obama to protect public lands and waters from development as time runs out for him to seal his environmental legacy before leaving office in January.

Native American tribes and others have been pushing to protect the areas for years, but some locals and Republican lawmakers call it a federal land grab.

The Utah Attorney General is planning to sue the President over the designation of Bears Ears Buttes as a national memorial.

My office is working closely with the governor’s office, federal and state legislators, and San Juan County to file a lawsuit challenging this egregious overreach by the Obama administration,” AG Sean Reyes said in a statement late Wednesday after Obama’s announcement.

Naming Names: None today.

Scuttlebutt: The President Elect plans to write his own inaugural speech.

Trump is holding out naming his Agriculture Secretary in hopes of finding a Hispanic to fill the slot. Then again he could fill the Veterans or Trade Representative slot with a Hispanic.

Do not expect an announcement soon on who Trump will nominate to the US Supreme Court to fill the vacant seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

So is the transition going smoothly or not so smoothly?

If you followed tweets and comments to the press of the President Elect on Wednesday, it looks like maybe a bit of both are at work.

The incoming Sheriff of Bexar County, Texas had to get a restraining order against the outgoing Sheriff for interfering with the transition.

Global politics: Israel’s Attorney General has opened an investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on accusations of bribery and fraud. Reportedly the investigation began silently nine months ago.

Palestinians are seizing on Kerry’s speech to say they are ready to rejoin peace talks with Israel, if the Jewish State ends its settlement program construction.

Bangladesh has formally protested Myanmar firing on its citizens on the Bay of Bengal.

Friday, 12/23/16:

Get out!

No, stay and bring your children to the Kremlin for the New Year’s Eve celebration.

First, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued expulsion orders to 35 American personnel and their families in reaction to the US expelling 35 of Russia’s operatives and their families on Thursday.

Then President Vladimir Putin reversed that order and invited the children of the Americans to see the fireworks and Christmas programs in the seat of Russia’s government.

Putin said he would wait until President Elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20 before his country reacts to the US actions, which also closed two diplomatic compounds in the US.

No word yet whether the order to close the Anglo-American School of Moscow in response to the US sanctions has been lifted by the Russian President.

For his part, the President Elect said yesterday it was time to “move on to bigger and better things.” He also said he would meet with intelligence officials next week on the issue of retaliation for the alleged Russian hacks.

Great Britain is not falling in line with Secretary of State John Kerry, who gave a scathing speech on his vision of peace in the Middle East this week.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesperson responded to Kerry labeling Israel’s government as “the most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by its most extreme elements,” by saying, “We do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally.”

In an unusually sharp public rebuke of Obama’s top diplomat, May’s spokesman said that Israel had coped for too long with the threat of terrorism and that focusing only on the settlements was not the best way to achieve peace between Jew and Arab

Stating the obvious, Trump White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had this to say, “I think the thing you’ve seen with Donald Trump is that … he doesn’t look to the past and say, ‘I’ve got to conform to these precedents.'”

Naming Names: None today.

Scuttlebutt: A Washington DC restaurant that has a mural of US Presidents will not be adding Trump to the mural as it did for other Presidents through the years once in office. The owners are claiming there’s no money in the budget for the update.

A New York supporter and co-chair of Trump’s state campaign is fighting to retain his seat on the Buffalo School Board after some insensitive remarks about President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama.

President Obama will make a play with members of Congress on Wednesday to try and protect his main domestic legacy, the Affordable Care Act, from being repealed.

Following through, Arizona Senator John McCain has set the date for a hearing to probe the alleged Russian hacking during the recent election for next Thursday.

The “Deploraball” may not be the place to be the night before inauguration. The alt-right is splitting between those in favor of inclusiveness and those who are decidedly white nationalists.

Organizers have even started offering refunds in light of the squabble between the factions.

A federal judge is not going to allow a top-secret report on the US torture program to disappear into the dustbin of history. The judge has ordered the Obama Admi0nistration to turn it over to his court’s top secret storage site.

The beat goes on – the line-up for the Inaugural Parade:

A Virginia lawmaker is proposing that porn be named a public health hazard.

We’ve got to say, ‘This is a problem,’” Delegate Robert G. Marshal said in an interview Thursday. “Before smoking was identified as a problem, at least the recognition that it led to certain pathologies was a starting point to put restrictions on it. . . . If you recognize it as a problem, then you’re going to try to find ways to solve it within the framework of the statutes we can pass and the institutions we have.”

Global politics: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis names Sorin Grindeanu Prime Minister.

Israel issued warnings of possible terror attacks on Westerners in India.

The Nigerian Senate postponed a vote on the controversial Election Amendment Bill until January 5.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will transit through Houston and San Francisco during a January visit to allies in Latin America. China is calling for the US to block Tsai from entering the US of A.

Rwanda is barring witchcraft from soccer after one of its players stopped a game to dig up “bad juju.”

An Argentine appeals court is ordering an investigation be reopened on whether former President Christina Fernandez covered up Iran’s role in the bombing of a Jewish center in 1994.

Sunday, 1/1/17:

President Elect Donald Trump tweeted out this message on New Year’s Eve:

Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly. They just don’t know what to do. Love!

Rather than sing at the Trump inauguration, a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has resigned.

In her resignation letter to the choir’s director, the female member wrote that by performing at the January 20 inaugural, the 360-member choir will appear to be “endorsing tyranny and fascism.” She says she feels betrayed by the choir’s decision to take part.

The Choir Director Eric Hawkins disagrees.

The choir’s tradition of presidential performances isn’t “implied support of party affiliations or politics” but a “demonstration of our support for freedom, civility and the peaceful transition of power,” Hawkins said.

Trump’s advice to keep hackers from sensitive information:

You know, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way. Because I’ll tell you what: No computer is safe.”

The President Elect continues to doubt that Russia hacked into the political process during the election, saying, he had knowledge of “things that other people don’t know” about the hacking, and that the information would be released this coming week.

The Democratic National Committee demands Attorney General designee Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions recuse himself from voting on his own confirmation for withholding information.

Naming Names: None over the weekend.

Scuttlebutt: George Conway, husband of Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, is being considered as Solicitor General.

Texas may not have learned from the financial damage to North Carolina. The state is considering its own bathroom bill.

Reports that private schools in the Washington DC area are “dissing” White House Counselor to the President designee Conway, may be, let us say a bit “exaggerated.”

An interesting article about the newly-elected Governors to watch this year, including the Cornfield’s own Eric Holcomb, who is succeeding Vice President Elect Mike Pence into office: http://www.ozy.com/2016/the-newly-elected-governors-to-watch-in-2017-including-the-next-pence/74400

A Texas federal judge has blocked transgender health protections in the Affordable Care Act.

A South Carolina lawmaker has been charged with domestic abuse after his children are heard on a 911 call screaming, “Daddy, just stop.”

The Republican legislator is being charged with first-degree criminal domestic violence and pointing a firearm at a person. If convicted, the felonies could send him to prison for up to 15 years.

After the North Carolina State Legislature with aid from the outgoing Republican Governor Pat Mcrory stripped the newly installed Democratic Governor Roy Cooper of much of his power, a state judge has stepped into the fray to restore some of the lost power.

The judge temporarily blocked a law by Republican lawmakers stripping Cooper of control over elections. The judge ruled that the risk to future free and fair elections justified the temporary block and said he plans to review the law more closely Thursday.

North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin also could appoint a three-judge panel to hear Cooper’s challenge to the law’s constitutionality.

Global Politics: The United Nations passed a resolution which calls for “rapid, safe and unhindered” delivery of humanitarian aid throughout Syria. The UN also endorsed scheduled peace talks in Kazakhstan, to which President Barack Obama has not been invited, but President Elect Trump has been.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is calling his demonetarization policy a “historic purification ritual.” Meanwhile the country is in chaos over the money switch.

After three days of detention, Turkey has released a Wall Street Journal reporter.

The government and opposition have reached an agreement over the impasse caused by President Joseph Kabila refusal to leave office in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kabila will remain in office until elections, which must take place before year’s end.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he is ready to work with Trump on a two-state solution for peace in the Middle East.

Burundi Minister of the Environment and Water Emmanuel Niyonkuru was assassinated in the capitol.

Queen Elizabeth II missed New Year’s church service due to her battle with a “heavy cold.”

North Korean despot Kim Jung Un is threatening to test an intercontinental ballistic missile soon.

South Korea’s impeached President Park Geun-hye maintains her innocence and says she was “set up.”

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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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