Politics Roundup: February 27 – March 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!

BREAKING NEWS: Sometime over the weekend the FBI reached out to the Justice Department to ask President Trump to withdraw his claim that Trump Tower was wiretapped per CNN.

CORNFIELD POLLS: 
30 days in office – The President’s Job Performance?
40% – Very Satisfied 40% – Very Dissatisfied 20% – So-So

Monday, 2/27/17:

Budget release.

The White House will release a budget outline that calls for a major hike in military spending and spares cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

President Donald Trump in speaking to the nation’s Governors at the White House last night gave some general hints at what that budget would entail.

Defense spending will increase by around $54 billion under Trump’s proposal. Across the board there will be cuts, especially to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Not touched – Medicare and Social Security.

The Oscars were largely tame politically.

Other than a statement read from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who boycotted the show in protest of the US travel ban.

Farhadi’s film won for Best Foreign Language Film.

Secretary of the Navy nominee Philip Bilden, citing his business interests, has withdrawn his name for consideration for the post.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of California pushed back on national press corps claims he was asked to “knock down” stories about contact between Russia and the Trump Administration.

Nunes said he has not been provided any evidence of ongoing contact between the Trump campaign or Administration and the Russians.

Ranking Democratic Member of the House Intel Committee California Congressman Adam Schiff spoke later saying the investigation has not really started and at this point there is no evidence because it has not yet been provided.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, after huddling with the Prez, came out on the White House lawn to announce that the leadership was in step with the President on his budget ideas.

Breaking silence, my cuz, former President George W. Bush spoke on NBC‘s Today Show this morning.

I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We needed the media to hold people like me to account,” Bush told Today in an exclusive interview. “Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power.”

It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves,” he said.

I am for an immigration policy that is welcoming and upholds the law,” Bush said when asked if he favored or opposed the policy.

Congress spent at least $14.7 million on taxpayer-funded foreign trips in fiscal year 2016, a 24% increase over the year before, according to Congress’ own accounting.

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News 44% of Americans approve of President Trump’s job performance, while 48% disapprove, making him the first President of the post-World War II era with a net negative approval rating in his first gauge of public opinion.

Yet at the same time, the poll found people liking and open to his policies.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said, “No” to a request to postpone an appeal from the Administration on the President’s travel ban which is currently on hold by a federal judge.

Do not forget that the first address to a joint session of Congress by the Prez will be broadcast live during prime time tomorrow night.

State Politics: Democratic lawmakers in at least 30 states are either unveiling or highlighting legislation this week aimed at President Trump’s working-class voters, in a nationwide coordinated rebuttal to the agenda the President will outline in his first joint address to Congress tomorrow night.

Global Politics: French market jitters eased on today after new polls showed independent French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron gaining strength, and narrowing the gap with far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen.

Tuesday, 2/28/17:

An A for action.

C or C+ for messaging.

That’s the way President Donald Trump graded himself after a bit more than a month in office.

Tonight’s the night.

The President will present his first address to a joint session of Congress during prime time.

The White House is billing tonight’s speech as one of optimism about the nation’s future.

One of the programs on the chopping block in the proposed budget from the Prez is for foreign aid, which accounts for about 1% of the overall federal budget. But some 120 generals and admirals are urging the President to keep the money for diplomacy rather than having to “buy more bullets,” as Defense Secretary James Mattis testified to Congress while still in uniform a few years ago.

Hiring an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents is not so easy under the current standards to become part of the force that protects the nation’s borders.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said at a news conference that the “budget blueprint” details are just a framework, but a full budget will be outlined in May.

Democrats, along with Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, are calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from any and all investigations into whether the Trump campaign or Administration had contacts with Russian officials.

At least one Democratic lawmaker, California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, is skipping the joint session.

Another Democratic legislator, New York Congressman Eliot Engel, says he will not sit on the aisle and will not shake the President’s hand.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling on her members to be civil and maintain decorum during tonight’s presidential speech.

OOPs!

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos seems to think that historically black colleges are a result of choice rather than the reality the colleges sprang up in response to Jim Crow laws which kept blacks out of state colleges.

State Politics: Supporters of President Trump held rallies in cities across the nation on Monday in a bid to counter what participants described as unfair criticism at protests against Trump at airports, town-hall meetings, and public squares. About 150 people attended a gathering in Denver, Colorado.

“I’m getting a lot of comments from the leftists about, ‘Your crowd’s not going to be as big as our crowd,’” said retired teacher Betty Blanco. “I didn’t know it was a contest.”

The Justice Department Monday filed a motion to withdraw a key objection to a 2011 Texas voter ID law that is one of the toughest in the nation, dropping the President Barack Obama Administration’s claim that the legislation is intentionally racially discriminatory.

Global Politics: The heir apparent, Lee Jae-yong, to Samsung has been charged by prosecutors in South Korea with bribery and embezzlement in the corruption case that has lead to the impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye.

Russia on Tuesday cast its seventh veto to protect the Syrian government from United Nations Security Council action, blocking a bid by Western powers to impose sanctions over accusations of chemical weapons attacks during the six-year Syrian conflict.

China backed Russia and cast its sixth veto on Syria. Russia had said the vote on the resolution, drafted by France, Britain and the United States, would harm U.N.-led peace talks between the warring Syrian parties in Geneva, which began last week.

Chinese state media has reacted with anger and threats of boycotts after the board of an affiliate of South Korea’s Lotte Group approved a land swap with the government that will enable authorities to deploy a US missile defence system.

Wednesday, 3/1/17:

Address success.

President Donald Trump, partisanship aside, is getting high marks today for his first address to a joint session of Congress.

The President laid out an optimistic view for the future of the nation as we eye the 250th anniversary of the birth of the US of A in nine years from now.

The Prez opened his speech condemning “hatred and evil in all its forms,” referring to the recent rash of anti-Semitic activities and the shooting of two Indian men in Kansas, one who died.

A third man was wounded trying to defend the two immigrants from the gunman.

The speech was short on specifics, but enough to give Republicans in Congress a fuzzy feeling that the right person was in the White House and could promote their agenda.

Democrats were polite, but not satisfied with the President’s speech. Most sat on their hands, literally, as the President spoke to the nation.

The only area where there seemed to be support from the opposition was when the President spoke of a $1 trillion infrastructure program.

The President proposed the US move from a family-based immigration system to one that is merit-based, where those being welcomed into the country be judged by their skill-levl and education instead.

Uncharacteristically, the only tweet from the Prez this morning were two words, “Thank you.”

The President hinted in conversations with news anchors on Tuesday that he is open to the idea of providing Dreamers, children brought to the country illegally by their parents, a path to citizenship and a path to legal residence for the otherwise law-abiding immigrants who are undocumented.

A key line from last night’s presidential address: “We are one people, with one destiny,” the President said. “The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.”

Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear sans tie, sitting in a diner in Lexington, Kentucky, provided the Democratic response to the President.

In his folksy manner the Governor took the President to task over his efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The Governor also lamented the divisive language of the President.

Real leaders don’t spread derision and division,” Beshear said. “Real leaders strengthen. They unify… and they offer real solutions instead of ultimatums and blame.”

The highlight of the night was not about politics or policy.

The highlight was the tribute paid to fallen Navy Seal Ryan Owens, who lost his life in a raid in Yemen.

When the new travel ban is announced, do not expect to see Iraq on the list.

A CBS poll found that 83% of Republicans approved of the President’s speech, but only 24% of Democrats were favorable. Overall of those who watched and listened to the speech some 76% approved while 24% disapproved.

Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke has been confirmed as Secretary of the Interior.

Why did female lawmakers wear white during last night’s presidential address?

The Democratic women were paying homage to both failed candidate Hillary Clinton and the women’s suffrage movement.

President Trump will not sign a revised travel ban executive order today, CNN is reporting, despite expectations he would do so.

This is to allow the President to bask in the positive reception he has received for his speech to Congress last night.

Oprah Winfrey has signaled she is interested in making a run for the White House in 2020 to remove Trump from the Oval Office.

My Thoughts: Which Donald Trump is in the White House? You tell me: Person Versus Persona

State Politics: The Supreme Court today handed a partial victory to voters who accused Virginia’s Republican-led legislature of trying to dilute the clout of black people at the ballot box, throwing out a lower court’s endorsement of how a series of legislative districts were drawn.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is expected today to endorse a measure that would see the state honor Confederate General Robert E. Lee and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on different days rather than jointly, his office said.

Global Politics: Cheering crowds welcomed King Salman Wednesday as he began the first visit by a Saudi monarch to Indonesia for almost 50 years, seeking stronger economic ties with the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

Francois Fillon said Wednesday he would not abandon his bid for the French presidency despite facing charges in an expenses scandal dubbed “Penelopegate” after his wife.

Thursday, 3/2/17:

He lied – or did he?

Could revelations that Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with the Russian Ambassador to the US of A during the campaign season lead to another castaway from the Administration of President Donald Trump?

That Ambassador is considered to be the #1 Russian spy in our country.

It has been discovered that when Sessions told Minnesota Senator Al Franken during his confirmation hearing that he did not talk with any Russian officials, that was not entirely accurate.

Sessions, as a Senator, spoke with the Russian Ambassador at least twice – but not on behalf of the Trump campaign, the Attorney General said today.

Even Republicans are calling for Sessions to at least recuse himself from any and all investigations that may connect with Russia.

The powerful Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, says Sessions should recuse himself now.

The #2 in the House, California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the Majority Leader, said that if necessary Sessions should recuse himself.

GOP Congressman Darrell Issa of California has been calling for a special prosecutor for over a week now.

Sessions said today he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan said that he, nor anyone in the Congress, has received any proof that anyone in the Trump campaign or any American colluded with the Russians to effect the outcome of the presidential election.

Ryan went on to say that if Sessions becomes the subject of an investigation he should recuse himself.

Several Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, say Sessions lied to Congress and should resign. Pelosi also charged that Sessions violated attorney ethics rules, insinuating Sessions be disbarred.

The top elected Democratic official in the country, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, called today not only for Sessions to resign, but for the immediate appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate any ties between the Trump Administration and campaign with the Russian government.

Schumer also called for an investigation into Sessions by the the Inspector General.

Pelosi charged today that House Republicans are hiding their replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act in the basement of the Capitol.

Pelosi said the Republicans are not allowing the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to score the replacement bill.

Reportedly, officials of the former Administration of President Barack Obama moved quickly to maintain and store away evidence of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Those officials also are reported to have spread the word to whomever they could that the documents existed and those contacts between the campaign and Russia.

Documents and intelligence information was reportedly sent to top Democrats on various congressional committees allegedly pointing to campaign workers and Russians having ongoing contact throughout the election season.

Ten US officials told NBC News that so far, no significant intelligence information has been found in laptops, cell phones, and hard drives seized in last month’s counterterrorism raid in Yemen, contrary to statements made by the White House and highlighted by the President during his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.

Speaker Ryan gave a strong condemnation of anti-Semitism today on behalf of the entire House of Representatives.

Another delay in the emergency travel ban to keep terrorists from getting  a beach hold in the US from those seven unstable countries, identified as not capable of providing information necessary for proper vetting of refugees.

Dr. Ben Carson was confirmed today as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry was confirmed to be Secretary of Energy today as well.

Nice article on four potential investigations into the Trump Administration: http://www.sfgate.com/aboutsfgate/article/Your-cheat-sheet-to-four-potential-investigations-10971580.php

State Politics: All eyes are on the nation’s capitol rather than on statehouses across the country.

Global Politics: British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Government suffered its first defeat over its Brexit plan when the House of Lords voted 358-256 in favor of an amendment to the government’s draft plan for leaving the European Union.

The change would protect the right of the three million European Union immigrants in the United Kingdom to stay after Britain leaves the trading bloc.

A United Nations commission has found that both sides in the civil war in Syria committed war crimes during the retaking of Aleppo.

Sweden plans to bring back military conscription to counter Russia’s military buildup in the Baltic Sea, in a move that underscores how tensions are mounting along Europe’s borders with the nuclear superpower.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has vowed to stamp out nepotism as staff abandon his rival Francois Fillon over an investigation into payments to his wife.

Friday, 3/4/17:

Recused!

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself Thursday evening from any and all investigations into the Russians attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and any possible ties to the campaign of President Donald Trump in his quest to win the White House.

For Democrats, recusal is not enough.

Nothing short of Sessions’ resignation will placate the opposition.

Coming to light is that more than Sessions and disgraced, fired former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn, who was dismissed for lying to Vice President Mike Pence, had contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Turns out two other Trump aides as well as First Son-in-Law and Presidential Adviser Jared Kushner also met the Ambassador.

The White House describes Kushner’s meeting at the Trump Tower in New York City, New York as a meet-and-greet.

Democratic lawmakers who say they have never met the Russian Ambassador are having to correct themselves as tweets and photos are coming out of those meetings.

The issue is not about whether anyone meets with the Ambassador from Russia or any country, but over why members of the Administration are not being forthcoming about having met.

Remember Al Qaeda?

The Trump Pentagon sure has not forgot about the terrorist group which attacked the US on 9-11.

Air and drone strikes are intensifying in Yemen on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in part from information garnered during the deadly raid last month in which Navy Seal Ryan Owens lost his life.

Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul mounted an unsuccessful hunt through the nether areas of the Capitol on Thursday in search of the elusive GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The Democrats second in command in the House of Representatives, Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, also joined in the hunt, stopping to do a soliloquy to a bust of Abraham Lincoln.

President Trump promised “one of the largest” defense spending increases in U.S. history, speaking aboard a next-generation Naval aircraft carrier, the Gerald S. Ford, in Virginia Thursday.

The President’s visit to a school in Florida today to push his desire for more school choice has been overshadowed by ongoing revelations over who may have met with the Russian Ambassador and in the Administration or campaign.

A proposal being tossed about in the West Wing would separate mothers from children as they are caught trying to cross the southern border from Mexico. The idea being to deter mothers from bringing their children illegally to the US of A.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who during his confirmation hearings repeatedly vowed to promote human rights as a core American value, alarmed human rights advocates when he did not appear in person to present the State Department’s annual human rights report, released today.

State Politics: As Governor of Indiana, Vice President Mike Pence frequently used a private AOL email account to conduct public business, including corresponding with top advisers about homeland security matters, the Indianapolis Star reported Thursday.

However, Pence did not violate any guidelines, regulations or state laws in use of the email account.

Global Politics: The European Parliament on Thursday lifted the parliamentary immunity for Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front, over tweets she posted in 2015 showing killings by Islamic State militants.

French prosecutors have accused Le Pen, now a leading candidate for the French presidency, of “dissemination of violent images,” a crime punishable with up to three years in prison.

Ri Jong Chol, a suspect in the murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader, said in Beijing that he was a victim of a conspiracy by Malaysian authorities attempting to damage the honor of North Korea.

President Trump will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House later this month.

A Mexican Congressman tweeted photos of himself at the top of a 30-foot portion of the Mexico-U.S. border wall this Wednesday to prove a point to President Trump.

I was able to scale it, climb it, and sit myself right here,” Braulio Guerra, a Congressman from Quer taro, said in a video. “It would be simple for me to jump into the United States, which shows that it is unnecessary and totally absurd to build a wall.”

Sunday, 3/5/17:

Trump Tower tapped?

That’s what President Donald Trump is claiming, but offering no proof to back up his accusation.

Trump is saying that prior to his election, former President Barack Obama “ordered” a wire tap be placed on communications in Trump Tower in New York City, New York.

First off, no President has this authority.

Could there have been a Federal Bureau of Investigation tap?

Good possibility as the FBI continues to probe the influence of Russia on the recent presidential election as well as contact between the Trump campaign and Russia.

A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” Obama representative Kevin Lewis said. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told NBC‘s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press this morning that there was no Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant authorizing a wiretap on Trump Tower.

Clapper went on to tell Todd there also was no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The President tweeted out a call for Congress to investigate whether there was or was not a tap on Trump Tower.

On Saturday, Trump supporters organized “Spirit of America” rallies drawing hundreds in 28 states and Washington, DC.

Counter-protesters showed up in many locations, with taunts and fist fights breaking out between the two groups at least in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Berkeley, California.

Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Friday announced the suspension of expedited processing for the H-1B visa, a temporary residency option for graduate-level workers in STEM fields including mathematics, medicine, and computer science.

The President was far from happy when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself on Friday from any investigations into the alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign as well as Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

There have been more than 90 regulations that federal agencies and the Republican-controlled Congress have delayed, suspended or reversed in the month and a half since President Trump took office, according to a tally by The New York Times.

OOPs!

Uh-oh, The Associated Press published the current email address of Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen.

The Veep demanded an apology.

The AP has removed the address from its article about Pence’s use of his AOL email account while Indiana Governor.

State Politics: An Oklahoma lawmaker who once likened Islam to cancer required Muslims to answer several written questions – including, “Do you beat your wife?” – before agreeing to meet with the three students who requested an interview.

Republican state Rep. John Bennett’s office distributed the questionnaire on Thursday as the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations organized its annual Muslim Day at the Capitol.

Global Politics: North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol was expelled from Malaysia Saturday in connection with the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Saturday, Mexico opened legal defense centers at its consulates in all 50 US states in response to President Trump’s hardline immigration policy.

A diplomatic rift between Turkey and key European nations deepened Sunday as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany of “Nazi practices,” days after a local authority prevented a Turkish minister from addressing a rally.

Under-pressure French conservative Francois Fillon apologized to his supporters today for the fake jobs scandal that threatens to sink his presidential bid, but said he was sure he would be proved innocent.

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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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