A busy week for Mr. Drumpf

The White House [may have] has apologized to the British government after alleging that a UK intelligence agency GCHQ [the equivalent of the US National Security Agency] spied on Trump at the behest of former President Barack Obama. White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s comment from the White House podium about a Fox News report that said British intelligence helped wiretap Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.

The Fox correspondent suggested that Obama used the British to do the spying as it is illegal for Obama or his administration to order wiretapping without approval of a court.

And yet, while every politician not in the Trump administration [both Republican and Democrat] claim there is no evidence of wiretapping, the administration claims there is. Trump said he would produce evidence within the next couple of weeks. Why not now? [Maybe because he has none!]

Whether or not there is any evidence about Trump’s claim that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower in New York, the damage will be done. Trump supports will continue to claim this the same way Trump and supporters claimed that Obama wasn’t born in the US or many other lies that were mentioned through the election process.

Meanwhile Trump claims he used quotations in his initial tweets claiming he wasn’t specifically saying wiretaps but other forma. And yet his latter tweets about it didn’t have quotes around wiretapping word. Backpedaling didn’t work. No one believes him.

In an interview Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway, senior White House adviser, said “What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately,” including “microwaves that turn into cameras,….” Latest she said that comment was taking out of context. I hope so but I doubt it!

Conway said “we know (former national security adviser) General (Michael) Flynn was wiretapped,” with no proof, of course. Then she said it was “leaked” – not the same as wiretapped.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in town on Friday for a visit, supposedly was given a copy of Playboy – not for the pictures [although it may be the first edition with nude females in over a year, but I digress] but because it has an article on how Trump supposedly thinks. Doesn’t Germany have their own intelligence agency?

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, 14 million Americans who were using the Affordable Care Act won’t be able to afford Trumpcare. This could rise to 26 million by 2026. In total, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured by 2026 under the GOP plan, compared to 28 million who would lack insurance under the current law [ACA].

While 5.9 million lost coverage with Obamacare, 22.8 million were added according a Forbes article. So in the end, maybe 35 million who were covered prior to Obamacare, may not be in 10 years with Trumpcare.

The American Health Care Act, would reduce the federal deficits by $337 billion over 10 years. Some of this is due to the wealthy Americans not paying the same share under ACA as well as large corporations paying less as well.

Thirty-one states – including 16 with Republican governors – elected to expand Medicaid under Obamacare and have found it to be a successful way of insuring low-income adults at little cost to their states. Trump said it could take several years before a drop in prices. Hmmmm.

Not surprising some Republicans and the Trump administration are downplaying the report. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said “If you’re looking to the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place.” [Would they be saying the same thing if the report favored them?]

“I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we’re going through,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said. Even Conservative Breitbart News were laughing that the comment.

“The press is making Obamacare look so good all of a sudden. I’m watching the news, it looks so good,” Trump said. Dummy, actually it is the polls have stated that Americans like Obamacare.

While 5.9 million lost coverage with Obamacare, 22.8 million were added according a Forbes article.

Before one Trump controversy can finish, another one stirs up. It is common that the incoming President will ask those appointed to step down as the new government is set up. 46 US attorneys [who are appointed] were kept on but unceremoniously were let go this past Saturday. One of them, Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, tweeted Saturday that he was fired after refusing to resign as requested by Trump’s administration. The Southern District is special that it takes on the toughest cases in the US often lasting at least a year.

This gets interesting because Deutsche Bank which facilitated the laundering of ill-gotten Russian gains to the tune of $10 billion. And the US Attorney that was investigating Deutsche Bank was Bharara. Meanwhile Trump owes Deutsche Bank somewhere in the neighborhood of $364 million. So Trump delays or maybe even kills the investigation [and maybe Trump’s bill may even be reduced].

Bharara was brought in under Barrack Obama on the recommendation of Trump nemesis Senator Chuck Schumer. Bharara is considered neutral going after politicians on both sides. Trump informed Bharara that he wanted to keep him on as a gesture to Schumer – then the incoming minority leader – whom Trump had previously supported for years. By letting go the US attorneys do, this will delay the various ongoing investigations until new appointments are announced and confirmed.

Two days before the mass dismissal of US attorneys, Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave no indication in a conference call with US attorneys across the country that some of their jobs were in peril.

The former CEO of Deutsche Bank [Wilbur Ross] is now the CEO of the Bank of Cyprus and one of the major shareholder is a Russian billionaire who bought a mansion owned by Trump for over $95 million when Trump bought it for just $45 million earlier. The billionaire tore it down and never lived there.

Homeland Secretary John Kelly claims that his Customs and Border Protection agents will not ask those coming into the country their religion or political affiliation but there has already been at least a few cases where those trying to enter the country were in fact asked. Muhammed Ali Jr was asked. So was at least one Canadian trying to enter the US. The same goes for politics. See below.

In another example of continuous repeat of Canadians having problems entering the US, a woman of descent from India but born in Canada was hold for 6 hours and sent back home even though her two white friends could continue on. She was fingerprinted, photographed and questioned before being refused. She said she was told she was an immigrant without a valid U.S. visa even though her valid passport said she was born in Canada. She was told that she would need a visa if I ever went in the States again and the border agent told her “I know you might feel like you’re being Trumped.” A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman noted that possession of a valid travel document does not guarantee entry to the United States [this even though the border agent said she wasn’t a Canadian by birth].

Meanwhile, part of Trump’s 2005 tax return was leaked to Pulitzer prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston. The return said he earned US$153 million and paid $36.5 million but most of the tax came from the Alternative Minimum Tax. Without AMT, he would of paid 4%. Instead, he paid 25% – still below the amount he should of paid.

Trump tweeted “Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, ‘went to his mailbox’ and found my tax returns?” I guess he never heard of Johnson who won a journalism prize. The White House called it illegal. Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign website called for the end of the AMT, which is expected to bring in more than $350 billion in revenues from 2016 to 2025. Again he’s favoring the wealthy.

Khizr Khan, the Muslim Gold Star father who famously offered to lend Donald Trump his copy of the U.S. Constitution has cancelled a scheduled speech in Toronto because “his travel privileges are being reviewed,” according to the event organizer.

General Motors announced 1100 jobs will be cut. I’m sure Trump will blame it on the Obama administration somehow.

Jared Kushner [Trump’s son-in-law] and family are part owners of 666 5th Avenue in New York. It was purchased by a group including his family for $1.1 billion in 2007. Now a Chinese company with alleged ties to the Communist Party there could buy it for over $2.2 billion. The Kushners would get around $400 million of that. Double the price in under 10 years? Sounds fishy. The building was already probably one of the most expensive in the US. That same Chinese company wants to buy a hotel next to a US naval base in San Diego. The Obama administration said no but Trump may say yes.

The European odds makers came out with a few of them related to Trump:

  • 5/1 odds that Melania will end her marriage with Donald before his tenure is up.
  • 6/1 odds that Tiffany will be the first Trump child to denounce him. [Ivanka is 7/1, Barron is 16/1]
  • 1/10 odds the marriage remains intact until a successor is inaugurated.
  • 500/1 odds to ban the Irish [a bit odd there].
  • 5/6 odds that Trump will outlaw guns in a state.
  • 25/1 odds that Trump and Vladimir Poutine will win the Nobel peace Prize.

 

 

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].