A mostly down but a bit up week for Trump

Donald Trump finally passed some real legislation [“Trumpcare”] this week when they repealed parts of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act after failing to do so in March and plenty of negotiations to get this revised one through. But it still has to pass the senate where the GOP have a slim majority. Assuming all Democrats vote against the bill, if three Republicans vote against, the bill is dead.

Paul Ryan pushed but it could affect moderates Republicans and those who won by slim majorities as well as areas that were in favor of the ACA.

Trump says he would be “honored” to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jun Un. Honored? To meet a thug who starves his citizens, sent thousands to labor camps, executed people because he didn’t like them [and sent relatives to labor camps] and to create anti-American videos such as nuking American cities.

He seems to like fellow dictators/thugs. Trump had a discussion with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Trump is headed to the Philippines in November. Meanwhile one of his admirers is France’s Marine Le Pen, leader of the country’s National Front – a party that is known for anti-Semitic, anti-Islam, anti-immigration, anti-EU. You get it.

A list of pre-existing conditions lost under Trumpcare: AIDS/HIV, acid reflux, acne, ADD, addiction, Alzheimer’s/dementia, anemia, aneurysm, angioplasty, anorexia, anxiety, arrhythmia, arthritis, asthma, atrial fibrillation, autism, bariatric surgery, basal cell carcinoma, bipolar disorder, blood clot, breast cancer, bulimia, bypass surgery, celiac disease, cerebral aneurysm, cerebral embolism, cerebral palsy, cerebral thrombosis, cervical cancer, colon cancer, colon polyps, congestive heart failure, COPD, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, DMD, depression, diabetes, disabilities, Down syndrome, eating disorder, enlarged prostate, epilepsy, glaucoma, gout, heart disease, heart murmur, heartburn, hemophilia, hepatitis C, herpes, high cholesterol, hypertension, hysterectomy, kidney disease, kidney stones, kidney transplant, leukemia, lung cancer, lupus, lymphoma, mental health issues, migraines, MS, muscular dystrophy, narcolepsy, nasal polyps, obesity, OCD, organ transplant, osteoporosis, pacemaker, panic disorder, paralysis, paraplegia, Parkinson’s disease, pregnancy, restless leg syndrome, schizophrenia, seasonal affective disorder, seizures, sickle cell disease, skin cancer, sleep apnea, sleep disorders, stent, stroke, thyroid issues, tooth disease, tuberculosis, ulcers. Yes, pregnancy is a “condition” and is included.

Trump tweeted ” Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!” “Mess” meaning needs 60 votes in the senate. Congressional leaders announced Sunday that they’d reached a deal to avert a government shutdown until September but Trump couldn’t get money for his wall because the Democrats wouldn’t pass the deal if that was included. The White House touted a double-digit, multibillion-dollar increase in military spending and $1.5 billion in border security funding as political wins.

Trump’s tweet above was just a few days after tweeting “As families prepare for summer vacations in our National Parks – Democrats threaten to close them and shut down the government. Terrible!” So he’s first blaming the Democrats for a possible shutdown [before the bill was agreed] and then later he says he wants a shutdown.

The spending agreement was the first major piece of bipartisan legislation to emerge since Trump was sworn in as President, and leaders on both sides pointed to the deal not only as a political victory, but also as a successful exercise in bipartisanship. Took 102 days into this administration for Trump’s administration to finally do their first legislation.

The White House’s proposal to cut $18 billion in nondefense programs also got nowhere in the Republican-controlled Congress, with the budget deal instead delivering an increase to some of the very programs the White House had sought to cut.

If a shutdown would happen in September, it wouldn’t look good for the Republicans as they control the White House, Senate and House and still can’t get anything passed. People also generally hate the party behind the shutdowns. Already the Republicans aren’t popular. This would sink them even more.

At the same time as the White House Correspondence Dinner, Trump is at a rally in Philadelphia [well Harrisburg]. At the rally, he is poking fun at those at the dinner saying what is that dinner without him? The dinner was announced a long time ago. He’s the one that declined. According the NPR, it has been 36 years since a president wasn’t at the dinner. [Ronald Reagan was recovering from an assassination attempt.] Trump claims all the “fake news” outlets [CNN, MSNBC, etc.] wish they were at his rally. Hah! Those at the rally were cheering “Drain the swamp” and yet in 100 days, he’s done nothing.

He claims 96% of journalists gave donations to Hillary Clinton. Unsure how he can get that information. He also says “according to a poll” 89% of Americans believe the media has been against him on purpose. Hmmm.

Trump makes the puzzling claim that Andrew Jackson “was really angry that he saw what was happening in regard to the Civil War.” But Jackson died in 1845, and the Civil War didn’t begin until 16 years later, in 1861. Right after, Trump then says, “People don’t ask the question, but why was there the Civil War?” The war was decades in the making, stemming from disputes between the North and South about slavery and states’ rights. Wasn’t he taught this in school? {Maybe he got exempted like in his military service.] Jackson, a slave owner, famously led the forced removal of 17,000 Cherokees across the country, which resulted in the deaths of thousands. Trump has praised Jackson repeatedly during the 2016 campaign. Figures.

As Trump can’t see to get any legislation through, he is lamenting Congress is “a very rough system. It’s an archaic system … It’s really a bad thing for the country”. “Rough system”? “It’s just a very, very bureaucratic system. I think the rules in Congress and, in particular, the rules in the Senate, are unbelievably archaic and slow-moving.” Maybe there are reasons for making it slow [a bit]. Say don’t do something you won’t regret in the future? Or maybe issue a bad piece of legislation? He further blamed the Democrats for trying to block him from furthering his agenda. Isn’t that what the opposition party is supposed to do? Looks like he just wants to have an easy ride with no opposition. Can you say dictator?

Trump’s team released a video celebrating his 100 days in office – and yet he previously stated the 100 day mark was useful. [But he then “celebrated” at a rally near Philadelphia.] Among them:

  • Trump’s ad claims 500,000+ jobs created, but hard to see where they came from and many were announced while Obama was still President.
  • “More energy independent” showing off the Keystone XL pipeline but that isn’t a contributing factor.
    Regulations that kill jobs were eliminated but automakers want the debate on vehicle fuel-efficiency standard reopened but never did the Obama era regulation cost any jobs.
  • The biggest tax cut plan in history – but no way to determine it is the biggest with few details.

Trump’s supporters are accusing CNN of censorship for not airing an advertisement touting the president’s accomplishments, which the network said Tuesday it rejected because it was its own form of fake news. The ad says that “America has rarely seen such success” and lists a series of actions from the first 100 days of his presidency. The faces of NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and CBS’ Scott Pelley are shown onscreen behind the phrase “fake news.”

In tweets, Trump called CNN [and others] “fake news” and “unwatchable.” Criticizing media coverage has been in the Republican campaign playbook long before Trump even emerged. So why should CNN allow it on a “fake news” network and Trump for allowing it on networks he despises?

Trump could take credit for something for once. He had tweeted regarding the possible averting a strike by Hollywood film and television writers and representatives of the big Hollywood studios. Of course his tweet wasn’t kind. But it seemed to have push the two to settle their differences.

Trump cut off an Oval Office interview with CBS anchor John Dickerson and gestured for him to leave the room when Dickerson repeatedly asked about the president’s unfounded wiretapping claims. Trump later insults “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson by calling his show “Deface the Nation”.

He says “Do we love our enforcement?” The same guy who berated the CIA, FBI and others. He claims he went over the arena’s capacity. Wouldn’t that be a fire hazard?

“We are keeping one promise after another” Trump said. Hah!

A recent poll in Canada have Canadians liking China over the US [who would of thought]. They are saying China seems to be bring more leadership, security and stability in addition to an improved economy over what the US has done lately.

Trump use to bash Barrack Obama for signing all those executive orders, but at now at 30+, he has signed more than any president in the last 70+ years. In a past interview he called executive orders “a basic disaster.” Yup. But he likes them. Another flip flop.

During the campaign, Trump promised to bar his generals from being interviewed on television. Yet, several senior military officers have done Pentagon news conferences in the past few months that are taped by the networks. Gen. John Nicholson, the top general in Afghanistan, appeared at a news conference within the last week.

Another campaign proposal was a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress. Good luck on getting approval for that. Many in Congress have been there for a long time. Unless this applies to new people in Congress, it will never fly.

As well, Trump informed his generals they have 30 days to submit a new plan for defeating the Islamic State group. He ordered them submit a plan. No idea if a plan was ever created – at least not mentioned publicly.

Mike Pence said in an interview that if they can’t get the GDP at least 3%, they won’t be able to afford the changes they want to make in tax reform and health care. Well, maybe they are asking for too much tax reduction to the upper class they wouldn’t have to hope for a 3+% instead of maybe a 2% increase in GDP.

Former Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, thinks even 3% is a “pretty long shot”. He pointed to long-term problems in the US economy, including an aging workforce, low productivity and a global savings glut.

Sebastian Gorka, a controversial national security aide in the White House, is expected to leave his job. How many have left in 100 days?

Trump’s choice for Army secretary announced that he is withdrawing his name from consideration. The decision by Mark Green, Trump’s second pick for the post, came after his nomination ran into trouble following a backlash after past controversial statements on LGBT issues, Islam and evolution were revealed.

Chief of Staff Reince Priebus says the Trump administration has looked into changing libel laws for press outlets. So again, Trump can’t take criticisms. So he wants changes to reduce those criticisms.

More than fifty thousand mental-health professionals have signed a petition [on change.org] stating that Trump is “too seriously mentally ill to perform the duties of president and should be removed” under the Twenty-fifth Amendment.

Trump’s top advisers insist Trump is focused on making deals with foreign leaders in a bid to create a more secure planet, despite the lack of foreign travel. They point to frequent visits from foreign leaders as proof that Trump has influence on foreign affairs from the White House. Sure.

Trump signed an executive order calls for easing of Internal Revenue Service enforcement of the so-called “Johnson Amendment,” which prohibits churches from getting directly involved in political campaigns. This will pave the way for churches and other religious leaders to speak about politics and endorse candidates without worrying about losing their tax-exempt status. The same executive order calls for those in the military not to receive any religious items.

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TrumpCare maybe – Maybe not

The Republicans finally release a “release candidate” of their health care bill. Not surprising it sounds like another Donald Trump election promise is going out the window. The Affordable Care Act [a.k.a. Obamacare] will not be completely ditch. Instead pieces will be kept.

Trump has warned of an electoral “bloodbath” in the 2018 mid-terms if it doesn’t get passed. He’ll blame the Democrats because Trump doesn’t have the 60 senators needed to kill Obamacare. I’m sure the Democrats are sitting back with all smiles.

The Trump administration keeps on saying replace and repeal Obamacare but it hasn’t been either. More like fixing it according to the Republicans.

Senator Rand Paul described the House bill as “Obamacare lite,” saying he breaks with the Trump-endorsed bill because of tax credits, continuation of Obamacare taxes, subsidies to insurance companies and what he called a “form of the individual mandate.” Trump said later that “He’s a friend. He’s going to end up voting for it.” Uh huh.

Mike Pence said the American Health Care Act will give Americans more freedom of choice and “if you like your Obamacare, you can keep it.”

Trump has whined that he’ll blame the Democrats if the bill doesn’t pass. Interesting considering he controls Congress. If anything, renegade/unhappy Republicans would be to blame. He also went after various Conservative groups for using the term “Obamacare lite” or “Trumpcare” or “Obamacare 2.0”.

This has angered some of the GOP. Under the new bill called the American Health Care Act:

  • Medicaid would be overhauled American Health Care Act by sending states a fixed amount of money per enrollee, known as a per-capita cap. This would limit federal responsibility, shifting that burden to the states. However, since states don’t have the money to make up the difference, they would likely either reduce eligibility, curtail benefits or cut provider payments.
  • Those making $20,000 at any age will see cuts roughly between 25% and 60% that Obamacare issued. Older Americans will pay more. Also chopped are part of the tax credits.
  • This means that younger Americans would likely see their annual premiums go down. Enrollees age 20 to 29 would save about $700 a year to $4,000, on average a refundable tax credit of up to $2,000 to offset the cost of their premiums.
  • The American Health Care Act would once again let insurers sell skimpy plans. But these bare-bones offerings — which come with lower premiums — are all some healthier Americans want. Restoring these options would draw in some folks who’ve opted to remain uninsured and pay a penalty.
  • Higher-income Americans could pay fewer taxes, get more tax benefits as it would eliminate two taxes that Obamacare levied on the wealthy to help pay for the law. Nearly everyone in the Top 1%, who earn more than $774,000 a year, would enjoy a hefty tax cut, averaging $33,000. Those in the Top 0.1% would get an average tax cut of about $197,000.
  • Insurance companies could get a big tax break. Obamacare allowed insurance companies to deduct only $500,000 of their executives’ pay as a business expense. The GOP bill would repeal that limitation, starting in 2018.
  • AHCA clearly is helping Trump’s buddies in big business. Wonder if Occupy Wall Street will come back. Experts fear with the changes that particularly hurt the lower class, many in the lower class will lose their benefits they had under ACA.

With some of the thousands of CIA documents stolen by WikiLeaks came what the CIA hackers thought of the security applications protecting computers. Some of the documents may be old as they deal with vulnerabilities that have been previously fixed. As one of the major vendors with easier access, F-Secure’s chief research officer said the CIA “considered it more important to keep everybody unsecure … and maybe use the vulnerability for its own purposes or counter terrorism purposes.” He didn’t defend their application but others who were on the CIA’s radar [such as AVG and Kaspersky] claimed their vulnerabilities were previous fixed or was simple to fix.

During the elections, after Hillary Clinton’s mail server was hacked and exposed by WikiLeaks, Trump said “I love WikiLeaks!” But is he saying the same thing after WikiLeaks exposed almost 9,000 documents of the CIA – this while he is the country’s leader?

Trump is concerned and yet it could be to his advantage saying that Obama’s “tapping” could of used some of the CIA’s technologies.

China has granted preliminary approval for 38 new Trump trademarks, paving the way for Donald Trump and his family to potentially develop a host of branded businesses from hotels to insurance to bodyguard and escort services, public documents show. Some are registered to a Delaware company that is owned by Trump [trying to hide something?]. There are still over 200+ trademarks with the Trump name in it – from other escort services to toilet maker to pacemakers to a hotel.

From September to November last year, while Michael Flynn was working as a top adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, Flynn was lobbying for a firm linked to the Turkish government, earning $530,000. He and his company Flynn Intel Group Inc. filed retroactive documents with the Department of Justice two days ago to register as a foreign agent.

Continuing with the feud between Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger and Trump, Arnie said “With Trump being involved in the show, people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or as a sponsor or in any other way support the show.” When “The New Celebrity Apprentice” ended its season last month, Trump tweeted that Schwarzenegger “did a really bad job as governor of California and even worse on The Apprentice, but at least he tried hard.” By most reports the Governator actually did quite well. But you knew that.

Ben Carson made his debut as secretary of Housing and Urban Development telling agency employees about the virtues of the “can-do” American society. Carson said this value system was best exemplified by slaves [from Africa], whom he characterized as immigrants who came to the United States with very little and worked very hard. Not the only time he has made odd comments. In 2013, Carson said Obamacare was “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”

The software call Confide, used by some White House staff [supposedly including Trump], has been found to contain two vulnerabilities [both recently patched according to the company]. Of course not everyone updates the apps on their smartphone. Some experts suggest this “military grade” communication software doesn’t do a proper job in encrypting communication. In addition, using it by White House staff may be against some federal laws.

Over the last five weekends, Trump has visited his luxury resort four times – each trip costs American taxpayers about $3 million – and at one point, Trump had spent 31% of his presidency at Mar-a-Lago. He’s now played golf eight times since taking office six weeks ago [wonder how much that cost in security].