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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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“
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