Politics Roundup: March 6 – 12, 2017

politicsroundup

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

Monday, 3/6/17:

Say it ain’t so!

That’s the request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the Justice Department about President Donald Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama or his Administration ordered the tapping of Trump’s phone line in Trump Tower.

The White House has called for an investigation into the allegation by Congress.

A spokesman for Obama has denied the charge.

The long-awaited new travel ban was announced this morning by Homeland Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The new version avoids singling out Syrian refugees for an indefinite ban.

The order removes Iraq, a key partner in the fight against the Islamic State, from the travel ban.

It also exempts people who already have green cards or valid visas.

The new ban will be phased in with an effective date of March 16.

A new CNN/ORC poll has found that 65% of Americans want a special prosecutor appointed to look into the Russian influence in the recent election and any ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Another 32% are happy to let Congress investigate.

USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll had similar results with 58% wanting an independent investigation and 35% content with congressional investigation.

The President continues to get high marks on the #1 issue of concern with Americans – the economy. The approval ticked up from 54% to 55% in the CNN poll.

A new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds Republicans are far more likely to cite a culture grounded in Christian beliefs and the traditions of early European immigrants as essential to U.S. identity.

Democrats are more apt to point to the country’s history of mixing of people from around the globe and a tradition of offering refuge to the persecuted.

Can Americans agree on anything?

When given the chance to chastise a Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana for making an off-color comment about Presidential Adviser KellyAnne Conway sitting on the couch in the Oval Office, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gave him a pass and turned the unacceptable comment back on the President.

Apparently with Pelosi, what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander.

The Congressman has now apologized.

After a discussion with people I know and trust I understand the way my remarks have been received by many,” Richmond said in a statement, according to reports. “I have consistently been a champion for women and women’s issues, and because of that the last thing I would want to ever do is utter words that would hurt or demean them.

I apologize to Kellyanne Conway and everyone who has found my comments to be offensive.”

What did Richmond say?

I really just want to know what was going on [in the Conway photo], because I won’t tell anybody and you can just explain to me that circumstance, because she really looked to me familiar in that position. Don’t answer – and I don’t want you to refer back to the 1990s,” Richmond said, addressing his joke to South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott, who had made remarks just prior to Richmond’s.

State Politics: Republican legislators in multiple states have introduced bills and supported ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid, the public program that covers low-income Americans.

I feel so strongly it’s the right thing to do,” says Susan Concannon, a Kansas Republican State Legislator. “We have citizens who are uninsured and hospitals that are suffering.”

Global Politics: North Korea on Monday ordered Malaysia’s ambassador to leave the country in retaliation for the expulsion of Pyongyang’s envoy from Malaysia over the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the Kuala Lumpur Airport.

The European Union is considering its own nuclear weapons deterrent program which make France’s nukes responsible for protecting the continent.

Germany’s Chancellery today hit out at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for likening a German ban on rallies by his ministers to “Nazi practices“, calling the comparison “absolutely unacceptable.”

Former French Prime Minister Alain Juppé, who lost Les Républicains’ primary election last November to François Fillon, said it was too late for him to save the party, which is riven with political scandal and the prospect of defeat.

In his first critical remarks directed at President Trump since he took office, Cuban President Raul Castro termed Trump’s trade policies “egotistical” and Trump’s plan to build a wall along the Mexican border “irrational.”

Tuesday, 3/7/17:

Obamacare Lite?

That is how Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul is terming the repeal and replacement plan released last evening by Republicans in the House of Representatives for the Affordable Care Act.

This was a key promise during the 2016 election by Republicans from House Districts, Senate seats and the Presidency.

Four Republican Senators have already raised concerns.

The “architects” of the plan are labeling the bill as “Obamacare Gone.” The official name is The American Health Care Act which I guess will be called AHA.

Heath and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price made an appearance at today’s White House press briefing to present a strong endorsement of the AHA, explaining the bill is patient centered, allowing patients and their doctors to make decisions.

Read more below.

President Donald Trump is floating a deal to Planned Parenthood: Stop providing abortions, and the administration will maintain funding for other women’s health services.

There is an opportunity for organizations to continue the important work they do in support of women’s health, while not providing abortion services,” Trump said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood has already nixed the deal.

Planned Parenthood has always stood strong against these attacks on our patients and their ability to access the full range of reproductive health care. We are glad that the White House understands that taking away the preventive care Planned Parenthood provides is deeply unpopular and would be a disaster for women’s health care,” said PP President Cecile Richards.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson is in hot water after equating slavery with immigration in a speech to HUD staff on Monday.

Carson said, “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder, for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”

The Doctor has since clarified his remark.

Carson said in a Facebook post after his speech that immigrants and slaves went through “two entirely different experiences.”

Democratic lawmakers on Monday called on President Trump to release visitor logs for the White House and the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, to “provide assurances that your administration is listening to the voices of all Americans, not just friends and donors.”

US Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who was nominated by President Donald Trump to become Deputy Attorney General – the #2 spot at the Justice Department – testified at his confirmation hearing today that he would “defend the integrity and independence” of the department.

What Rosenstein would not do, to the consternation of Democratic Senators, was commit to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the Russian interference in the recent election and any ties between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

If I were confirmed, I would need to familiarize myself with the facts, I would need to consult with experts in the department,” Rosenstein, the top federal prosecutor for Maryland, told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I’m not aware of any requirement for me to recuse at this time. But as a lawyer I would need to know what I am recusing from.”

Republican Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, on CNN this morning said that people need to decide between buying the newest iPhone and obtaining health insurance.

The Congressman is drawing heat from liberals over the remark and praise from conservatives.

Correcting the record on what the Prez tweeted this morning that 122 detainees from Guantanamo Bay were released by the previous Administration and are back on the battlefield, Spicer had to give the right information.

Obviously the president meant in totality, the number that had been released on the battlefield – that have been released from Gitmo since individuals have been released,” Spicer told reporters. “That is correct.”

Of that number 113 were released by President George W. Bush, not President Barack Obama as tweeted.

President Trump jumped back into the debate over drug pricing otoday, sending pharmaceutical stocks down again with a tweet promising to lower medicine costs for American people.

State Politics: Alabama legislators are meeting today to decide whether to impeach Governor Robert Bentley, after it was revealed last year incriminating audio of the Gov with a former married female aide.

Global Politics: North Korea barred Malaysians from leaving, and Malaysia responded with tit-for-tat travel restrictions for North Koreans.

Nuclear-armed North Korea said today its missile launches over the weekend were training for a strike on US bases in Japan, as global condemnation of the regime swelled.

Under United Nations resolutions, North Korea is barred from any use of ballistic missile technology. US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Twitter that the world “won’t allow” North Korea to continue on its “destructive path“.

China’s Foreign Ministry called the Dalai Lama a “deceptive actor” today, after the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said in an interview that Chinese hardliners have parts of their brains missing.

A new United Nations report describes South Sudan as teetering on the edge of genocide and experiencing ethnic cleansing, a stark portrayal of a nation whose crises now include famine.

Hungary’s Parliament today approved the automatic detention of all asylum-seekers in container camps at the borders, sparking “deep concern” at the UN’s refugee agency.

Turkish, Russian and US military chiefs held talks today in the southern Turkish city of Antalya to discuss regional issues including Iraq and Syria, the Turkish Army said.

My Thoughts: Tune Out Reality Show Presidency

Wednesday, 3/8/17:

Irked and exasperated” is how former President Barack Obama is being described in reaction to the tweet from President Donald Trump over the weekend accusing his predecessor of ordering the bugging of Trump Tower.

The President stands by his allegation.

California Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced that the first public hearings into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any collusion there may have been with the Trump campaign will be on Monday, March 20.

That investigation will also include the latest claim by the Prez of Obama-ordered wiretapping, which is not substantiated.

Two Senators, from both sides of the aisle want the Justice Department to come out and say if Trump’s wiretap claim is fact or fiction.

We request that the Department of Justice provide us copies of any warrant applications and court orders — redacted as necessary to protect intelligence sources and methods that may be compromised by disclosure, and to protect any ongoing investigations – related to wiretaps of President Trump, the Trump Campaign, or Trump Tower,” wrote Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. “We will be glad to review any such applications and orders once they are disclosed, and proceed as appropriate with the oversight the President has requested.”

Graham said this evening that if he does not get a response from the Justice Department, he would move to get a subpoena to comply.

President Trump has wasted no time reaching out to reluctant Republican Senators to get onboard with passing the GOP repeal and replacement legislation of the Affordable Care Act, the American Health Care Act, which I call AHA.

In a tweet last night, the Prez reached out to “my friend” Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who has called the proposed bill, “Obamacare Lite.”

I don’t think it’s ever going to arrive in the Senate. I think it’s dead on arrival in the House,” Paul said.

Tonight, the President is having dinner with Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his wife.

The Prez is taking it on the road to sell AHA to the American people.

This comes after he warned Republicans in Congress that failure to pass a repeal and replace bill will lead to a “bloodbath” in the 2018 congressional election.

House Speaker Paul Ryan hammered in the point today by reminding his fellow GOP legislators that every Republican from the President on down ran on a pledge to repeal and replace the ACA.

This is the choice we face. Are we going to stay with Obamacare…or are we going to do what we said we would do,” Ryan said following a private GOP gathering to try and wrangle reluctant lawmakers to get onboard with the AHA.

Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan griped, “The leadership message is take it or leave it.”

Last evening, Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan said he is filing his own “clean” bill to repeal Obamacare, rather than the GOP leadership’s “Obamacare in a different form.”

I don’t think that the Planned Parenthood defund should be in the ACA bill that we’re dealing with. Just don’t think so,” Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said.

The Club for Growth and Heritage Action along with FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity came out in opposition to AHA. These are all conservative, Republican-backing organizations.

The nation’s largest advocate for seniors, AARP, came out against AHA.

What’s all the fuss about?

ReadTheBill.GOP and find out.

Cuts to the Coast Guard and Transportation Security Administration?

Reportedly $1.3 billion is being bandied about by the White House to cut from the Coast Guard to start construction on The Wall.

Not all Republican legislators are happy with the idea.

Leading Senate Democrats on Tuesday sent a letter urging Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt not to scrap new vehicle fuel efficiency rules.

Hawaii has filed suit against the latest travel ban announced Monday. Federal Judge Derrick Watson set the hearing for March 15.

To be sure, the new executive order covers fewer people than the old one,” Neal Katyal, a lead attorney for Hawaii, told CNN, but it still “suffers from the same constitutional and statutory defects.”

Speaking at Boston College today, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey made it clear he will fill out his full 10-year term.

You’re stuck with me for another six and a half years,” Comey quipped.

A new USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll found that 60% to 30% of those polled disapprove of Trump’s temperament, and 59% say he tweets too often.

As far as policies go, the President split evenly 46% to 46% approval versus disapproval.

A trio of watchdog groups has asked the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York to investigate whether President Trump has received payments or other benefits from foreign governments through his business interests in violation of the US Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced today that the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn will take place on April 17, the day after Easter.

OOPs!

All the hubbub over Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson referring to slaves as immigrants may have over the top.

Turns out that former President Barack Obama also mixed the wording.

In December 2015, then-President Obama made similar comments during a naturalization ceremony at the National Archives.

Obama did not specifically say “slaves” during his speech, but instead mentioned “those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily” who “in their own way were immigrants themselves.”

The former Prez’s full remark was:

And perhaps, like some of you, these new arrivals might have had some moments of doubt, wondering if they had made a mistake in leaving everything and everyone they ever knew behind. So life in America was not always easy. It wasn’t always easy for new immigrants. Certainly it wasn’t easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily, and yet in their own way were immigrants themselves. There was discrimination and hardship and poverty. But, like you, they no doubt found inspiration in all those who had come before them. And they were able to muster faith that, here in America, they might build a better life and give their children something more.”

State Politics: What is up with the push for statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico?

While the movements are alive, it appears that the momentum has slowed to a crawl.

In Texas, after nearly a full day of testimony from hundreds of witnesses, most in opposition, the controversial “bathroom bill” cleared its first legislative hurdle early this morning, when the Committee on State Affairs voted 7-1 to recommend the bill to the full chamber.

A high priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s, Senate Bill 6 would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools and colleges and government buildings that correspond to their “biological sex” as listed on their birth certificate.

It also would prohibit local jurisdictions, like cities and counties, from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances permitting transgender people from using public bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Drink up on the Lord’s Day if you live in Minnesota.

Minnesota residents will be able to purchase alcohol on Sundays from liquor stores for the first time in the state’s history this summer after Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill to legalize the sales.

Global Politics: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called on world leaders to help ease Somalia’s worsening hunger crisis, saying that six million people in the African nation – nearly half the population – need aid.

China has granted preliminary approval for 38 new Trump trademarks, paving the way for President Trump and family to potentially develop a host of branded businesses from hotels to insurance to bodyguard and escort services, public documents show.

So much for all of that hardline talk by the Prez on China.

A senior official in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards today accused the United States of provoking tensions after two separate incidents in the Persian Gulf last week.

China warned of a “head-on collision” today unless North Korea stops launching banned missiles and the United States and South Korea halt their joint military exercises.

The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming toward each other, with neither side willing to give way,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Beijing at his annual news conference for the opening of the National People’s Congress, China’s Parliament.

The question is: Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?” Wang said. “Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply brakes on both trains.”

Thursday, 3/9/17:

Will Mexico pay for The Wall?

Uh, no,” chuckled Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Honest politicians?

What’s next?

House Speaker Paul Ryan defended the Republican repeal and replace health care legislation today with graphics and in depth analysis. With his sleeves rolled up and coat off, Ryan pushed hard to explain the benefits of the AHA (American Health Care Act) and the detriments in keeping the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate Intelligence Committee wants to talk with former and current aides to President Donald Trump about any contact with Russian officials or knowledge about interference by the Russians in the 2016 election. If the aides will not come voluntarily, members of the committee are ready to use subpoena power.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said measuring the effect of human activity on the climate is “very challenging” and that “there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact” of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

So, no, I would not agree that (carbon dioxide) is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” Pruitt told CNBC‘s Squawk Box, contrary to the opinion of climate scientists, including those in NASA.

House Rules Committee Chairman Texas Congressman Pete Sessions is not happy with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer telling the press on Wednesday that there would be “open rule” deliberations in committee on the AHA.

He [Spicer] can be in his lane, and I can be in my lane, but he’s in my lane now…I did not pre-clear that and he did not call me,” Sessions said, adding that he knows Spicer and considers him a “fine young man” nevertheless.

A big priority of the President Trump is repairing the deteriorating infrastructure in the US of A.

That infrastructure was given a near-failing grade of D-plus by an engineering association today, a repeat of a rating. The rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is unchanged from its last report card in 2013, suggesting that only minor progress had been made in improving public works.

This could help the Prez to push Congress to fund the $1 trillion he wants to fix what is broken.

The Trump Administration is weighing a deployment of up to 1,000 American soldiers to Kuwait to serve as a reserve force in the fight against Islamic State as US-backed fighters accelerate the offensive in Syria and Iraq, U.S. officials told Reuters.

Two Education Department rules put in place by the former Administration of President Barack Obama have been nixed by Congress and now move to the Oval Office for the President’s signature.

One ruled detailed how public schools must carry out laws meant to ensure they are meeting the needs of all students.

The other rule required states to issue ratings for teacher-prep programs, and poorly performing schools would be penalized by being ineligible for some federal aid.

The White House Ethics Office is not happy that the President chose not to punish Presidential Adviser KellyAnne Conway for jokingly plugging First Daughter Ivanka’s clothing line on Fox News.

The Ethics Office has issued a rebuke to the Oval Office.

Tomorrow marks the halfway mark in the President’s First 100 Days.

Former Utah Governor, former presidential candiate and former Ambassador to China for former President Barack Obama, Jon Huntsman has accepted an offer from President Trump to be the US Ambassador to Russia, Politico reported Wednesday.

Israeli Ambassador nominee David Friedman has moved out of committee and on to a Senate confirmation vote.

What’s all the fuss about?

ReadTheBill.GOP and find out.

State Politics: Washington State is joining Hawaii in requesting an injunction against the new travel ban issued earlier this week by the Trump Administration.

Global Politics: Things are getting testy between Germany and Turkey.

We want to do everything in order to prevent conflicts emanating from the domestic situation in Turkey from being carried into our coexistence here,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, addressing Turks living in Germany. “Let us continue, wherever possible, to promote and further improve our way of living together. This is a matter close to our hearts.”

In Ankara, the Turkish capital, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was less conciliatory, accusing Germany of meddling in Turkey’s internal politics, a move he called “a grave mistake.”

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency is reporting that the country’s Revolutionary Guard has successfully tested a ballistic missile.

Some of Egypt’s major cities have been paralysed by rare protests in response to a cut in bread subsidies.

The country’s Ministry of Supply reduced the state-sponsored provision of bread of up to 4,000 to 500 loaves per bakery, according to local news reports.

Friday, 3/10/17:

Foreign agent.

Former National Security Adviser retired General Michael Flynn filed paperwork on Thursday that he acted during the waning days of the 2016 election as an agent of NATO ally Turkey.

Flynn did not disclose this earlier when he should have.

A bonanza of over a half million dollars was paid out to Flynn’s consulting company by Turkey for its services.

Vice President Mike Pence says this proves that the firing of Flynn by President Donald Trump, after it came to light Flynn lied to the Vice President, was the right decision.

The White House Press Corps asked over and over today if it “raised a red flag” during the transition when Flynn said he had a Turkish client.

The White House position is it told Flynn to seek private counsel on the matter, but did not know that client was the government of Turkey.

An “odd” computer link between the Trump Organization in Trump Tower and Russia’s Alfa Bank is and has been under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

What that means, no one is saying at the moment.

FBI Director James Comey met with the Gang of 8 in a secure location in the Capitol Building Thursday to brief the legislators on the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election and contacts between the Russians and the campaign of the then candidate Trump.

But no one is talking and nothing is yet known.

However, today the Vice Chair of the House Intelligence Committee said there is still no evidence of wiretapping of Trump Tower.

The Gang of 8 is comprised of: House Speaker Paul Ryan; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer; House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes and Vice Chair Adam Schiff; Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr and Vice Chair Mark Warner.

The Justice Department on Thursday declined to confirm a White House claim made a day earlier that President Trump was not the subject of any investigation.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that “there is no reason to believe there is any type of investigation with respect to the Department of Justice,” or “that the President is the target of any investigation whatsoever.”

When a Justice Department spokesperson was asked, the answer was, “No comment,” if the Prez was a target of an investigation.

Makes you go, “Hmm.”

President Trump is singing a different tune today about the February job numbers. Previously he called those numbers “phony” and a “joke.”

Now he is embracing the good news.

Spicer quoted the Prez as saying, “They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.”

Amazon bestseller: Reasons to Vote for Democrats is a book of empty pages.

The White House is expected to nominate Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a conservative health policy expert, to lead the Food and Drug Administration.

A majority of Americans polled are against so-called “bathroom laws.”

The poll found 53% oppose laws requiring transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to their sex at birth, according to the the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted the poll.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recused himself from application decisions on the Keystone XL pipeline because he was the former CEO of ExxonMobil.

Speaking of Tillerson, word is that the press pool may not be joining him when he travels to Asia next week.

What’s all the fuss about over the Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act?

ReadTheBill.GOP and find out.

Oh, by the way, today marks the halfway point in the President’s First 100 Days.

OOPs!

Republican freshman Congressman Dr. Roger Marshall said that poor people “just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”

Oh no, he didn’t!

Yes, he did.

What was he thinking?

Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us,’ ” Marshall said in response to a question about Medicaid, which expanded under Obamacare to more than 30 states. “There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”

He didn’t stop there:

The Medicaid population, which is [on] a free credit card as a group, do probably the least preventive medicine and taking care of themselves and eating healthy and exercising. And I’m not judging; I’m just saying socially that’s where they are,” he told Stat News, a website focused on health-care coverage. “So there’s a group of people that even with unlimited access to health care are only going to use the emergency room when their arm is chopped off or when their pneumonia is so bad they get brought [to] the ER.”

Marshall has since clarified his remarks – but, most likely, too late.

State Politics: Then there were five.

The number of states suing to block the latest travel ban has risen from two to five. Add to Hawaii and Washington the states of New York, Massachusetts and Oregon. All five of the Attorneys General are Democrats.

Scuttlebutt has it that former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering running against the longest-serving Democrat in the Senate, Senator Dianne Feinstein, in 2018. Feinstein will be 85 when she runs again.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, 82, the longest-serving GOP Senator, told CNN he is planning to run for re-election next year, abandoning his plans to quit the chamber after four decades of service.

Global Politics: Impeached.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye has been removed from office after being found guilty of corruption.

An election will be held within 60 days to vote in a new President.

Two people died and about 30 were injured in clashes between protesters and police near the South Korean court, which impeached Park.

No matter the outcome of the presidential election, the US will continue its deployment of the missile air defense system, according to the Pentagon.

Leaders change over time, that’s not new,” said Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis. “We made an agreement with the Republic of Korea that this was a capability that they needed … This is something that is needed militarily. That agreement was reached and we remain committed to delivering on it.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order creating a joint command to mobilize 21 state agencies behind his bloody war on drugs, prioritizing “high-value” targets and going after all levels of the illicit trade.

The Presidents of Russia and Turkey are meeting in Moscow, Russia today to work on securing peace in Syria in a battle against terrorism.

Sunday, 3/12/17:

Vice President Mike Pence was in Kentucky Saturday trying to sell the Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The junior Senator from the Bluegrass State, Rand Paul, has called the repeal, “Obamacare Lite.”

Pence did manage to allay some of the concern of the state’s Republican Governor Matt Bevins, who is still not 100% sold.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office is expected Monday or Tuesday to release its score of the repeal legislation winding its way through committees of the House of Representatives as it journeys toward a full chamber vote before the end of April.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price defined success on NBC‘s Meet the Press as “more people covered than are covered right now, and at an average cost that is less. And I believe we can firmly do that with the plan that we’ve laid out there.”

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told ABC‘s This Week that the “truly indigent” will not lose out, as liberal interest groups charge.

Medicaid is still there,” Mulvaney said. “In fact, we think it’s going to be even better.”

Arizona Republican Senator John McCain has challenged President Donald Trump to put up or shut up about Trump Tower phone lines being tapped by former President Barack Obama or his Administration.

Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse reported Saturday that he was facing hacking attempts on “basically every device, every platform, personal and govt” following his recent criticism of WikiLeaks.

Sasse tweeted from his personal account:

Heads-up…
I’ve been critical of Assange & WikLeaks this week.
So…big surprise:
Am having multiple “password reset” attempts right now.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he can’t say how many people would lose coverage under the new legislation – and that it will be “up to people” to decide whether they want to purchase coverage.

Will some Republicans threaten to shut down government come Thursday’s deadline to raise the government’s debt limit so that it can pay its bills and avoid a potentially devastating economic crisis?

Roger J. Stone Jr., an off-and-on adviser to President Trump for decades, acknowledged he had contact on Twitter with Guccifer 2.0, the mysterious online figure that is believed to be a front for Russian intelligence officials.

The House Intelligence Committee asked the Executive Branch to provide by Monday any evidence to support President Trump’s claim that his phones were tapped at Trump Tower during the election, a senior congressional aide said Saturday.

State Politics: Federal judges on Friday found more problems in Texas’ voting rights laws, ruling that Republicans racially gerrymandered some congressional districts to weaken the growing electoral power of minorities, who former President Barack Obama set out to protect at the ballot box before leaving office.

Utah’s Legislature sent Governor Gary Herbert a measure lowering the state’s legal threshold for drunken driving to a .05 percent blood-alcohol content Wednesday.

The bill will make Utah’s DUI threshold the lowest in the nation if Herbert signs it into law as expected.

Global Politics: Impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye left the Blue House, South Korea’s presidential residence today, two days after a court removed her from office over an ongoing corruption scandal

Dutch politician Geert Wilders, in Dutch elections Wednesday, has a strong chance to come out on top, cementing the influence of a politician who wants to ban the Koran, shut down mosques and upend his nation’s sleepy political scene.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today warned the Netherlands it would pay a price for preventing top ministers from holding rallies ahead of a referendum on expanding his powers, as a crisis escalated with Turkey’s key European Union partners.

With a vote set for Monday on a bill granting United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May the authority to open divorce talks with the European Union, some Conservative lawmakers are pushing for the British Parliament to have a say on what happens if negotiations break down without an agreement.

If May refuses to bow to their demand, they may oppose her in the vote, according to lawmaker Alistair Burt, a former Minister.

Iraqi United Nations Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said Friday there was “no evidence” that Islamic State had used chemical weapons in Mosul, where the militants are fighting off an offensive by US-backed Iraqi forces.

Trump trademarks have now been granted by the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property, or IMPI for its initials in Spanish. Records show the last three were approved February 21, just over a month after Trump took office, and a fourth was granted last October 6, about a month before the US election.

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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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