Will there ever be a quiet week in this administration?

Where have you heard this before? Just create a template and fill in the blanks.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who probably shouldn’t have had the job in the first place, is rumored to be the next on the way out. This even after Donald Trump said “Keep your head up. Keep fighting. We got your back.”

The White House is “looking into” Pruitt’s housing situation amid reports that he rented a room in Washington, DC, from the family of an energy lobbyist. Meanwhile, a Democratic senator has said that Pruitt’s 24-hour security in Washington allegedly extends to at least some of his personal trips, including one family trips to Disneyland and another to the Rose Bowl Game.

As if Pruitt has enough problems, he bypassed the White House to give large pay raises to two aides [combined over $80,000], then conceding the raises “should not have happened,” while denying that he was aware the raises were given out in the first place. But The Atlantic reported that Pruitt requested pay raises for “two of his closest aides,” in March.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told special counsel Robert Mueller in a classified August 2, 2017, memo that he should investigate allegations that Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was “colluding with Russian government officials” to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, prosecutors in the Russia probe revealed.

Mueller was also empowered by Rosenstein to investigate Paul Manafort’s payments from Ukrainian politicians, a cornerstone of the Trump adviser’s decades-long lobbying career that has resulted in several financial criminal charges so far.

Wondering if Rosenstein could get into hot water as Manafort could give up those above him in exchange for a lesser sentence – which could cause Trump further problems.

The Trump administration is unleashing additional sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs with ties to President Vladimir Putin along with 12 companies they own or control. The measures announced by the Treasury Department were also aimed at 17 senior Russian government officials and the state-owned Russian weapons trading company, Rosoboronexport, which has long-standing ties to Syria and its subsidiary, Russian Financial Corporation Bank. One sanctioned is Vladimir Poutine’s son-in-law.

China responded to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs [$50 billion] with $3 billion of tariffs of its own. Beijing has yet to retaliate to Trump’s promised crackdown on Chinese intellectual property theft. Trump may still add further tariffs. Combined with Trump’s obsession of going after Amazon [with more untruthful tweets], stock market took a tumble on Monday.

China is punching back in the escalating trade dispute with the US, announcing plans for heavy new tariffs on dozens more US goods including aircraft and autos. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said it plans to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of US exports. The 106 affected products will also include soybeans and chemicals.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s listed of about 1,300 Chinese exports — also worth about $50 billion annually — that it intends to target with 25% tariffs.

Now Trump said he could add a further $100 billion in tariffs against China if he decides to.

Meanwhile, those in rural America are getting nervous because the latest tariffs from China will affect them primarily. For example, most of the soy comes from rural states – the same states that gave Trump the presidency. With the mid-term elections in 7 months, Trump could lose some of the rural vote if the tariffs don’t disappear. China is obviously targeting Republican voters. [Will Trump whine – if he loses badly in the mid-term – that China meddled in their election?]

In good trade news, they are making progress in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

When Trump complains that the government is getting a bad deal with Amazon’s shipping, he shouldn’t be blaming Amazon but instead the US Postal Service. In the end they are agreeing to the shipping rates. If anything Trump should commend Amazon for doing a good deal – although I don’t they used his book as a reference.

One of Amazon’s biggest customers is the federal government. Amazon, through its massive Amazon Web Services cloud computing division, has a deal with the government to provide cloud services to the CIA and other intelligence agencies. That deal was first awarded in 2013 and Amazon was said to have beat out IBM for the business. It’s a massive contract, worth a reported $600 million over 10 years.

Trump complained at length about the amount of American money being spent in Syria, which he said had produced nothing for the US in return. Trump grew irritated with his top military brass and national security team when they advised him an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Syria would be unwise. Even CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who Trump has tapped to serve as secretary of state, has told him that an immediate withdrawal from Syria would be a mistake.

Trump wants to use money set aside for the military to be used to build his Trump Wall. But he can’t as the money was specifically set to be used by the military [for security, etc.]. Trump claims that the Trump Wall is about security. Congress would have to agree to the change.

In the meantime, Trump wants to send the military to guard the border with Mexico until his trump Wall is built. The way things are going, it could be there for a while. Trump claim that this has never done before. George W. Bush used the National Guard in 2006. Federal law prohibits the use of active-duty service members for law enforcement inside the US, unless specifically authorized by Congress. Does he know any of this?

With between 2000 and 4000 National Guard troops expected to defend the southern US border, politicians are starting to wonder who will pay for the deployment and whether they will be armed. Like true Trump fashion, he announces something with little details and the White House staff have to scramble to figure things out. Though numbers have rebounded to be more consistent with the past few years, the number of crossings in fiscal year 2017 were at a nearly five-decade low.

Trump administration officials said they’re crafting a new legislative package aimed at closing immigration “loopholes,” hours after Trump called on Republicans in Congress to immediately pass a border bill using the “Nuclear Option if necessary” [changing the Senate rules to require a simple majority of 51 votes to override a rule instead of 60] to muscle it through. Trump’s favoured DACA solution mustered only 39 votes in the Senate, meaning it couldn’t have passed even if the Senate did approve the changes.

Trump tweeted “Because of the Trump Administrations actions, Border crossings are at a still UNACCEPTABLE 46 year low. Stop drugs!” Wouldn’t that be “inactions” and “unacceptable 46 year high”?

In 2000, 1.6 million were apprehended in trying to cross the border from Mexico into the US. In 2017, it was just 310,000. So much for Trump claiming the numbers crossing are increasing. He should give himself pat on the back for the lower amount.

Trumps announcement of putting the national guard at the border caught everyone in his administration off guard and are scrambling to respond to what he said – with the little information they got.

Trump also declared protections for so-called Dreamer immigrants “dead,” claimed the U.S. has “no effective border laws” and Trump continued to blame Democrats for killing the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program despite the fact that he was the one who moved to end the program. He also claimed DACA, which has provided temporary protection from deportation and work permits to hundreds of thousands of young people, is luring people to cross the border illegally, even though the program have never been open to new arrivals.

Trump appeared to assert that women from Central America are raped at “levels that nobody has ever seen before” as an argument for strengthening US immigration laws. It is unclear where Trump derived the evidence for his seeming assertion that Central American women are being raped at unprecedented levels. More like another bit of “facts” that he created.

Trump warned Mexico to halt the passage of “caravans” of illegal immigrants or risk retribution. Individuals in the caravans often try to reach the US border but usually not as part of the caravan. The caravans typically don’t proceed much farther north than the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

“The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our ‘Weak Laws’ Border, had better be stopped before it gets there. Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen. Congress MUST ACT NOW!” Trump tweeted. The so-called caravan is 1000 people [mostly Hondurans].

Trump appeared to claim credit for halting the caravan of about 1,100 migrants, many from Honduras, who had been marching along roadsides and train tracks in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. But the caravan of largely Central American migrants had never intended to reach the U.S. border. It was meant to end at a migrants’ rights symposium in central Mexico later this week.

Trump claims those in the caravan want to enter the US as part of DACA. But DACA is for those already in the US and were born there from parents who weren’t. It is an annual protest against Central America human rights abuses.

Trump also threatened to dismantle the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico doesn’t reduce the flow of immigrants coming across the southern US border.

In your typical Trump fashion, during the annual Easter egg hunt on the White House grounds with small children, Trump decided to discuss politics including the trade war with China. In his speech in front of children, he says the economy is doing well – but the markets dropped quite a bit on the same day. [He goofed also in the past claiming the economy is doing well but the markets were sliding.]

Trump, a constant critic of what he calls “fake news,” will skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner for a second year in a row. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders will attend to represent the administration at the head table.

In another bad sign for Republicans in November, a Democrat leaning candidate [had no party affiliation] won a 10-year seat on the Wisconsin’s Supreme Court – a state held with a Republican governor and a state won by Trump in the 2016 elections. In fact the winner won by double digits. It was the first time a liberal candidate who wasn’t an incumbent had won a seat on the seven-member court in 23 years.

Todd Johnson, political appointee, is a former Trump campaign state director in New Mexico who joined the Department of Defense in 2017 as an advance officer, a Pentagon employee with the sensitive task of providing logistical support related to the secretary’s events and appearances domestically and abroad. Johnson resigned after it was revealed on social media that he posted birther conspiracies about then-President Barack Obama and shared a video that claimed Obama was the Antichrist.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has already filed 29 separate lawsuits against the Trump Administration — and that doesn’t even include his defense of the state in the Justice Department’s litigation against the California law limiting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. Becerra’s list includes five lawsuits related to immigration, three on health care, three on education and 15 on the environment and climate.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner or operator of nearly 200 television stations in the US, is forcing its news anchors to record a promo about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country. Sinclair is pro Trump and has many Fox stations but also ABC and others. Two-thirds are in Trump “country”.

According to a former Sinclair News Director, Sinclair has locked down the company where they have threaten anyone in the company who speaks publically about it. Sinclair enforces clauses if someone tries to leave before their contract is up.

Trump asked a federal judge to order private arbitration in a case brought by a porn actress who claimed she had an affair with him. Trump and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, filed papers in federal court in Los Angeles asking a judge to rule that Stormy Daniels’ case involving a non-disclosure agreement must be heard by an arbitrator instead of a jury. Looks like Trump may want to keep the issue out of the media.

Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway responds to allegations in a new book by author Ronald Kessler that she is the “number one leaker” in the White House by saying that [obviously] the allegations are false.

A photo released of the White House interns show that almost all of the interns are white – lack of diversity. Well, it’s about the same for Trump’s cabinet. Anyone surprised? Is it accidental or intentional that the young man and woman of color are posed at the group’s edges and are the only 2 of 91 who are not white. Washington, DC has a large population of color. The Democrats showed off their intern picture. Plenty of diversity.

Another firing, more lies and half truths

Looks like we will go another week with another firing by Donald Trump.

Trump fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin by tweet in the wake of a bruising ethics scandal and a mounting rebellion within the agency, and nominated White House doctor Ronny Jackson to lead the agency. Well at least Shulkin was told by Chief of Staff John Kelly before Trump tweeted that he was fired. In a statement, Trump praised Jackson as “highly trained and qualified.” That is probably code for “I found someone who will do what I say and not cause problems.”

But not surprising a major veterans’ organization expressed concern over Shulkin’s dismissal and Trump’s intention to nominate Jackson, whom they worried lacked experience to run the huge department.

Just this past week, Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow announced that Joe diGenova and his wife [and lawyer] Victoria Toensing, would be joining the team. Not even a week late, both will not, citing “conflicts”. diGenova  is a former US attorney for the District of Columbia. Just 4 days after, the two lawyers met with Trump. So what changed? Hmmmm. Some members of Trump’s legal team had opposed their hiring.

Trump tweeted “Problem is that a new lawyer or law firm will take months to get up to speed (if for no other reason than they can bill more), which is unfair to our great country – and I am very happy with my existing team.” Ummm. Wouldn’t that be the same for any law firm. He’s happy with his team even though John Dowd left recently and he was obviously looking as other lawyers declined jobs.

Trump tweeted “Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case.” Yup all those lawyers who pick up clients at hospitals looking for big pay days.

Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats the US identified as intelligence agents and the closure of a Russian consulate in Seattle in response to Russia’s alleged use of a nerve agent in the United Kingdom. Trump announced it only after UK and other European countries were expelling diplomats as well. Better late than never! Not surprising, the Russian expelled 60 American diplomats.

White House spokesperson Sara “Simpleton” Sanders said that the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle was tied to the consulate’s “proximity to one of our submarine bases and Boeing.”

A day after reports suggested Trump has it in for Amazon, the U.S. president added gasoline to the fire on Thursday, tweeting that the company is dodging its tax obligations.

Trump tweeted ” Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.).” They actually pay their share of taxes and while they get a bulk discount from the USPS, they are still paying. Unsure what “loss” he is referring to. In fact, online shipping is the one bright spot for the USPS.

Amazon’s annual report shows the company set aside $769 million US to pay various income taxes for fiscal 2017. Amazon’s tax bill next year is likely to be even smaller: the company admits it expects to book a massive $789 million tax break this year as a result of the tax overhaul package Trump signed at the end of last year.

If Amazon doesn’t use the USPS, they would be using another courier to deliver their packages and it is a big business for any company that works with them. Amazon – or more specifically its CEO Jeff Bezos — is a frequent target of Trump. Amazon founder Bezos also owns the Washington Post, one of the newspapers that has been most critical of Trump’s administration’s moves.

Then Trump tweeted “…it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to Billions of Dollars.” Has he ever heard of volume discounts? And knowing him, he doesn’t even know how much the USPS “loses”. Amazon does not receive a special rate; it pays the rate that the post office charges other bulk shippers.”….does not include the Fake Washington Post, which is used as a ‘lobbyist’ and should so REGISTER,” tweeted Trump. Will Fox News register then? Does he know the definition of a lobbyist [let alone freedom of the press].

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not naming a new special counsel to investigate Republican-driven accusations against the FBI — at least for now. Instead, Sessions revealed that Utah’s top federal prosecutor, John Huber, is looking into allegations that the FBI abused its powers in surveilling a former Trump campaign adviser, and claims that more should have been done to investigate Hillary Clinton’s ties to a Russian nuclear energy agency. If a special counsel was named, it could be a tit for tat when the next Democrat administration is in office. They could have a lot to investigate with this administration.

“Our children are dying! Trump is golfing!” Those seven words, which appeared on one of the thousands of signs at the recent “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington, succinctly summed up the sentiment of so many. Trump’s motorcade driving him to play golf at his country club reportedly took a different route so that Trump would not see the local “March for Our Lives” protesters.

Yet Trump has not tweeted one single tweet about the young people, and their adult allies, who took to the streets in Washington and in other cities at hundreds of sister rallies to demand action on gun violence.

Trump has privately floated the idea of funding construction of a border wall with Mexico through the US military budget in conversations with advisers. It was not immediately clear how serious Trump was about pursuing this option, but the move would likely face steep hurdles with appropriators in Congress. Trump has said he would seek that payment in the form of a refund from Mexico, either through trade negotiations, remittance payments or other means.

Congressional budgeting is done with very specific instructions for how dollar amounts are spent. Any repurposing of funds requires express congressional approval, which Trump is unlikely to get. Trumps other idea to fund the wall is increasing fees that a person has to pay when they cross the border from Mexico into the United States. But that would take a long time to amass a decent fund.

He tweeted this excuse “Because of the $700 & $716 Billion Dollars gotten to rebuild our Military, many jobs are created and our Military is again rich. Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense.” Trump saw the increased funding for the military as a reason it could afford to foot the bill for the border wall.

The Trump administration has added to the 2020 Census a question regarding citizenship which could penalize immigrants and threaten civil rights. Now progressives, states and civil rights advocates are preparing a flurry of legal challenges against it. California is fighting it.

Not to be outdone, the Trump administration are suing California because of its sanctuary status.

Federal revenue is declining because of Trump’s tax cuts, so the government needs to borrow more to make ends meet. At the same time, Washington’s borrowing costs have climbed rapidly in recent months. The government plans to sell about $294 billion of debt, according to the Treasury Department. That’s the highest for a week since the record set during the 2008 financial crisis.

Oh jeez. Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway signaled she’d be open to taking the White House communications director job, in a marked departure from her earlier comments on the job. But within the past month she said “I’ve been offered that job many times, and no, I work on policy here at the White House.”

Stormy Daniels filed a lawsuit for defamation against Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. This is in additional move in an ongoing suit by Daniels against Cohen, Trump and the limited liability company Cohen has said he established to facilitate a payment to Daniels ahead of the presidential election. “It was reasonably understood Mr. Cohen meant to convey that Ms. (Stephanie) Clifford is a liar,” the complaint reads, referencing Daniels’ real name. A friend of Daniels, Alana Evans, also plans on suing Cohen, for defamation.

Native American reservations cover just 2 percent of the United States, but they may contain about a fifth of the nation’s oil and gas, along with vast coal reserves. A group of advisors to then President-elect Trump on Native American issues wants to free those resources from what they call a suffocating federal bureaucracy that holds title to 56 million acres of tribal lands.

The Council of Energy Resource Tribes, a tribal energy consortium, estimated in 2009 that Indian energy resources are worth about $1.5 trillion. In 2008, the Bureau of Indian Affairs testified before Congress that reservations contained about 20 percent of untapped oil and gas reserves in the U.S.

Trump tweeted “…. I think President Trump was right when….” Why does he like using third person in his tweets? Is he a Jekyll and Hyde person?

Even after 14 months in office, Trump only amassed 49 million followers on Twitter. A “retired” Barack Obama has 101 million.

There are about 265 million privately-owned guns in America. But half of those guns are owned by only 3 per cent of the population.

Why do people whine when they know it is their fault?

Recently, the CEO of a large mobile telecom provider in the US went on a rant because a competitor got the exclusive rights to carry [and sell] the new Amazon Fire smartphone. He complained about exclusivity and of course how Facebook tried to get into the smartphone business – and failed [I guess a warning to the competitor that the Fire could be a clunker].Is it just me or is this a bit childish for a CEO?

Maybe the competitor got a better deal than the CEO’s company or he’s a poor sport. Maybe Amazon didn’t even bother negotiating with his company?

Reminds me of a well know music/video store in Canada. They were selling on the Internet early on and about the time they decided to stop selling on the Internet, the Internet boom started. Ooops.

Also reminds me of this same chain who banned artists like the Rolling Stones and Elton John [for a lengthy period of time] because another store chain [who didn’t specialize in music or videos] got some exclusive deals. [These exclusives were later available to all stores.]

This chain did not, however, banned some lesser artists who had exclusives to certain chains [who still sold well]. So a double standard combined with some bad sales or marketing?

Even funnier when this chain of 200+ stores initially would not abide by their price matching policy when a local chain of 4 stores had a great deal on a bunch of new releases. How could a local 4 store chain get a better deal than a huge chain?

Tablet news and sales

Google is planning to release their own branded tablet under the Nexus name by summer time. Could be interesting since already Google will have tablets once the acquisition of Motorola Mobility is completed. Wondering how the other Android manufacturers will like it when Google lets its own tablet [and from Motorola] to have first crack at the OS before the other manufacturers could get to them.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt stated that they will “directly manufacture” which is probably misleading unless they are actually building their own tablets and not outsourced like everyone else [from Apple to Samsung] does.
Of course do we really need to fracture the tablet business even more. It’s the same problem with Linux – too many distros.
Meanwhile, the rumoured iPad 3 is expected in the spring using some sort of higher-resolution display, possibly of the same quality as the “retina display” currently available in later-model iPhones. The company may also release a small-screen version of the iPad later in 2012.
Because of the stiffer competition and the rumoured iPad 3, forecasters have predicted that just 13 million iPad 2 will be sold in the fourth quarter instead of 14 million.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet are pushing the Android platform to a 40.3 percent media-tablet market share in the fourth quarter of 2011, up from 32.4 percent in the third quarter, according to IDC. The IT research firm estimated the media-tablet market grew 24 percent on a sequential basis to 18.1 million units. A grand total of 18 million tablets were sold by all manufacturers in 2010. Moreover, the market researcher has boosted its worldwide shipment forecast for 2011 to 63.3 million units, up from its previous tally of 62.5 million units.