Back to normal with Trump

Another terrorist attack in London – this time in their subways with an improvised explosive device. Right away Donald Trump is adding it to another reason to have a larger travel ban. And right away, UK Prime Minister Theresa May saying “never helpful for anyone to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.” There is no indication at this time whether the bomber are foreign. UK has had some British-born citizens who have been behind various terrorist attacks – aside from the days of the IRA.

Trump even tweeted/whined that it was done not far from Scotland Yard [the rough equivalent of the FBI]. “Must be proactive!” Hmmm. London has the second more CCTVs than any city in the world but they can’t be everywhere.

Trump didn’t seem to rush to comment about the Charlottesville on US soil but did for London this time – and at least the last time when there was a terrorist attack not on US soil.

Trump said that building a wall along the US-Mexico border will come after a deal to help children brought to the United States illegally by their parents – DACA. “the wall is going to be built (and) it will be funded a little bit later.”

Later Trump, in Florida to view damage from Hurricane Irma, said he is not looking at “citizenship” or “amnesty” but that they are “looking at allowing people to stay here.” He added: “If we don’t have the wall, we are doing nothing.” This sort of contradicts his other statement.

The comments come hours after Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi announced that they had agreed to the framework for a deal to protect hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants in the United States that would also include a border security package that did not fund the wall along the border. The agreement was struck over dinner of Chinese food and chocolate pie at the White House on Wednesday night.

Trump pushed back on Twitter, saying that no final deal had been struck because a “No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent.” As usual from Trump – vague.

Trump also said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan were on board with his plan after he spoke with them. But Ryan, however, has not spoken to Trump since the last night’s dinner. The day after, Ryan says Trump’s meeting with Pelosi and Schumer “was a discussion, not an agreement or a negotiation.”

Conservative Ann Coulter tweeted after the plan was announced “At this point, who DOESN’T want Trump impeached?”

Rep. Steve King, arguably the most anti-immigrant member of Congress, tweeted that if there is a deal “Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.” He added “Amnesty is a pardon for immigration law breakers coupled with the reward of the objective of their crime” – except they were children when they entered the US. It was their patents that broke the law.

Trump ally Sean Hannity added, “Weak R’s have betrayed voters. @POTUS needs to stay the course and keep his promises or it’s over! Pelosi and Schumer can never be trusted.”

House Democrats sent special counsel Robert Mueller what they say is evidence that former national security adviser Michael Flynn failed to disclose a trip he took to the Middle East to explore a business deal with the Saudi government and a Russian government agency. It is illegal under federal law to knowingly falsify or conceal relevant information from a security clearance form.

Trump said “we’ve had bigger storms than this” after Hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean and parts of the south-east. Prior to it coming he tweeted “Hurricane Irma is of epic proportion, perhaps bigger than we have ever seen” and “Hurricane looks like largest ever recorded in the Atlantic!” Yes – Trump the hurricane expert.

The U.S. Department of Commerce in April imposed tariffs on Canadian softwood [i.e. lumber] imports after agreeing with the U.S. Lumber Coalition that Canada was unfairly subsidizing its lumber producers, an allegation Canada denies. Trump of course sided with the coalition. Since then cost of building a house or a large building has increased because there is a smaller supply of lumber in the US. But after the two recent hurricanes, America will need plenty of lumber. Most of the devastation came from house made mostly of lumber [because they can’t afford bricks].

Trump maintained his controversial position that people on both sides of the deadly Charlottesville clashes were at fault, one day after meeting with the lone African-American Senate Republican [Tim Scott from South Carolina] who publicly condemned him over it. Trump claimed that many people have said he had a point when he remarked that there was “blame on both sides.” Uh huh.

In a statement Scott said “Antifa is bad and should be condemned, yes, but the KKK has been killing and tormenting black Americans for centuries. There is no realistic comparison. Period.”

Meanwhile, Congress is sending a bipartisan joint resolution condemning the Charlottesville violence — as well as “white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups”– to Trump for his signature. The House passed the joint resolution by unanimous consent, a day after the Senate easily approved it. It’s embarrassing to have to force the President to approve it.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made a fresh push for Senate Republicans to change rules to make it easier to break filibusters of spending bills, echoing a similar call from President Donald Trump for the Senate to set aside long-held precedent that requires at least 60 votes for major legislation to pass. McCarthy tried and failed in 2015 to do the same.

Earlier this year, more than half of the Senate Republican conference signed a letter stating that they did not support changing the filibuster rules for legislation. This includes McConnell and Ryan. Sounds like Pro-Trump McCarthy wants to change rules when he thinks they need to be changed to fit his [or Trump’s] agenda.

A bipartisan group of senators is opposing President Donald Trump’s pick to head NASA, arguing he is a political appointee who doesn’t have the necessary experience to run the agency. Trump’s nomination is Jim Bridenstine a current GOP congressman from Oklahoma and former Navy aviator. But GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, said he supported the nomination. Figures.

Bridenstine graduated from Rice University with majors in economics, psychology and business and has an MBA from Cornell. After serving in the military, he worked a four-year stint as executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium. Running a space museum [with no science education] is not the same as running NASA.
It is interesting to note that North Korea’s missile testing has occurred with more frequency under Trump’s first 9 months than any previous presidents. Coincidence?

A pornographic video that was “liked” by Ted Cruz’s Twitter account has been removed and reported to Twitter. It’s unclear who was responsible for the like or if Cruz’s account was hacked. His communication director did not initially address how the tweet happened. Could be a hacked account but nothing else odd was tweeted. “It was a staffing issue and it was inadvertent, it was a mistake, it was not a deliberate action,” Cruz said. “We’re dealing with it internally but it was a mistake, it was not malicious conduct.” An aide to Cruz added that there would be an internal effort to figure out who was responsible.

Some of Trump’s legal team believed that his son-in-law Jared Kushner should have stepped aside before reports about his failure to disclose contacts with Russians during the transition became public this summer. Staffers had begun to prepare a statement in case Kushner did ultimately resign. Of course everything is denied.

Trump’s “Election Integrity” commission is in New Hampshire to look for evidence which is led by Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach and has scheduled a series of presentations from long-time advocates for stricter controls on voting. Kobach himself is already under fire after publishing a Breitbart op-ed in which he claimed out-of-state voters took advantage of New Hampshire’s same-day registration laws and cast fraudulent ballots that tipped the outcome of the state’s election in Clinton’s favor. So I guess Trump thinks Kobach is not biased then. And yes, New Hampshire with it’s huge population would make a difference in an election. Sarcasm.

Trump tweeted that ESPN “is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth.” What “price”? And why does he go after anyone with false comments about them [in this case programming]? Yet ESPN is the #1 cable network beating CNN and easily beating Fox News [2.5 times more viewers]. He was apparently referring to ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, who in a recent tweet said that “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”

ESPN later said that Hill’s tweets “do not represent the position of ESPN. We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate,” the network said.

Hope Hicks, who was named interim White House communications director in August, will now hold the job on a permanent basis.

Malaysia’s prime minister visited the White House and met with Trump amid a US Justice Department probe into the PM’s finances.

“Le Chateau des Palmiers,” Trump’s 11-bedroom mansion located on the Caribbean island of St. Martin was destroyed by Irma. Mar-A-Lago survived.

Some were wondering why Trump’s Mar-A-Lago wasn’t used for a shelter. It was eventually forced to evacuate. But in the end, that side of Florida did not get hit as hard.

 

Soggy crisis after crisis

Well in a week where one hurricane devastated south central America and another hurricane expected to go straight through Florida, it was for the most part a quiet week with Donald Trump. But it wasn’t quiet!

Trump surprised the leaders of his own party in Congress when he backed a deal pushed by Democrats to attach hurricane relief money to a shorter-term bump in the debt ceiling as well as keeping the government open, cutting off his own Treasury secretary to strike a deal. Republican congressional leaders, in control of both chambers of the legislative branch, were “shell-shocked” and “visibly annoyed”. Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin was in the middle of arguing for a longer-term deal in the meeting when the President abruptly cut him off and sided with the Democrats. The House easily approved with the deal where all but 90 Republicans approved.

House Republicans unleashed their fury over Trump’s deal with the Democrats at Steve Mnuchin, with conservatives calling the treasury secretary’s appeal to them to “vote for it for me” insulting and inappropriate. Most rank-and-file House Republicans don’t know Mnuchin and more than one said they believed he was a Democrat, based on his previous donations to political candidates.

Republicans were hoping to get am 18 month extension of the debt ceiling. Do the math. The 18 months would expire after the mid-term elections. 18 months would of helped many Republicans up for mid-term elections tell their constituents that it would have been a big win – maybe [so far] the only big win in this session of Congress.

Trump will phase out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [or DACA] that has protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children. Trump tweeted “Make no mistake, we are going to put the interest of AMERICAN CITIZENS FIRST!” Sure, but most of these people are taking courses in colleges and universities. Others have graduated. Microsoft has 27 of these “Dreamers” working for them.

Trump was expected to end the program with a potential six-month delay, during which Congress could potentially pass legislation protecting people who would otherwise lose their legal protection under DACA. Trump claims he is sympathetic to the plight of the immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children and in some cases have no memories of the countries they were born in. During the elections, his campaign rhetoric blasting DACA as illegal “amnesty”. Last week, Trump said, “We love the ‘Dreamers'”.

Javier Palomarez, the head of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said he plans to work until the “bloody end” to sway Trump to keep intact an Obama-era program extending legal protections to young undocumented immigrants. “If he gets rid of DACA, he’s showing that he is a liar.” He changed his mind as he announced he would step down from Trump’s National Diversity Coalition.

If the Dreamers left, it would cost the government $60 billion over 10 years and $400 billion in the economy over 10 years.

In 2011, Trump said that it would be very wrong to deport the Dreamers. They do a good job, good marks, etc.

A coalition of 16 Democratic and nonpartisan state attorneys general filed suit in New York federal court on Wednesday to stop Trump’s sunset of DACA and they say Trump’s comments about Mexicans should be used against him. The lawsuit also devotes a section to Texas, the state that pushed Trump to end the program, using a section to describe Texas as “a state found to have discriminated against Latinos/Hispanics nine times since 2012.”

Trump, who styles himself a master negotiator, threw himself into the middle of the fight between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE by offering to mediate the dispute at the White House. You know they won’t take him seriously.

A watchdog group is looking into a trip that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin made recently with his wife, Louise Linton, aboard a government plane. He supposedly went there to discuss tax reform and later the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox. The group is investigating whether the purpose of the trip was actually to view the total solar eclipse. Has he visited anywhere else regarding the tax reform or is it a coincidence that he went to one of the best locations to see the eclipse at the same time?

Trump always boasted that his Mar-a-Lago mansion can withstand any storm. His boasting will get the big test this weekend with Hurricane Irma heading its way. Strikes by four major hurricanes have done little damage to Mar-a-Lago in the 90 years. The mansion’s walls are 1 meter thick, anchored by steel and concrete beams embedded into coral rock.

[While I think we hope there is no damage to the joint, I’m sure a few hope that the place does get hit a bit so it would put Trump in his place.]

An AP investigation last year showed Trump received a $17 million insurance payment for Mar-a-Lago damage in 2005 after hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma hit in two years, but he said in an unrelated lawsuit deposition in 2007 that he didn’t know how much was spent on repairs. He conceded to pocketing some of the money. Anthony Senecal, Trump’s longtime butler and Mar-a-Lago’s unofficial historian, told the AP the roof lost some tiles and some trees were flattened. Town of Palm Beach records showed no permits were issued for major repairs during that period.

Woops. White House aides reportedly refer to Ivanka Trump as “Princess Royal” behind her back, and it’s definitely not meant to be a compliment. Ivanka Trump has little to no political experience and was not elected to office, so many questioned what qualifications she had to act on the president’s behalf in such a formal, international setting at the G-20 summit, during which at one point she sat in for her father.

According to Vanity Fair, one former Trump adviser responded by stating, “Excuse me. This is not a royal family, and she’s not the princess royal,” which helps explain the nickname.

Former Trump Chief Strategist Steve Bannon claims that illegal aliens are filling the churches of America. The church “have an economic interest”. James Rogers, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’s chief spokesman, called Bannon’s comments “preposterous” and accused the conservative agitator of presenting a false choice between compassion and security. “Our pro-immigration stance is based on fidelity to God’s word and honors the American dream. For anyone to suggest that it is out of sordid motives of statistics or financial gain is outrageous and insulting.”

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, more than a quarter of American Catholics (27%) were born outside the country, mostly from the Americas; and one out of three American Catholics now identify as Latino or Hispanic. Of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States in 2011, for example, 82% were Christian, mostly from Latin America.