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Donald Trump finally passed some real legislation [“Trumpcare”] this week when they repealed parts of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act after failing to do so in March and plenty of negotiations to get this revised one through.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.

Obamacare trumps Trumpcare

Donald Trump has warned GOP lawmakers that they could lose the majority in the mid-term elections if they vote against TrumpCare. But as above, most Americans do not like TrumpCare and could vote GOP lawmakers out in about 20 months. So the lawmakers either choose going against TrumpCare and probably keep their job and possibly the majority or vote for TrumpCare but get booted out in 20 months but no tweet wrath from Trump. Hmmm. Tough choices.

In the end, the vote on TrumpCare and to repeal ObamaCare was postponed on Thursday because there wasn’t enough votes even after some wheeling and dealing with various factions.

Then [after consulting with Trump] Speaker Paul ran canceled the vote on Friday. Trump quickly blamed the Democrats and the media even though it was the various factions in the Republican party that doomed it. Trump said he “learned a lot about loyalty” [in his own party].

He also said he’d let Obamacare “explode” – but no idea of what he meant by that comment.

They were unable to narrow the schism between Freedom Caucus conservatives, who believe the bill keeps too much of Obamacare intact and moderates who worry they will pay an electoral price if millions of Americans lose health insurance. The loser should blame them.

Ryan told reporters. “We are going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

There were at least 26 Republicans in the house that are also against the American Health Care Act [a.k.a. Trumpcare] for a number of reasons including the Congressional Budget Office study suggesting it could deprive 24 million people of insurance. Another 4 were leaning that way. If more than 21 Republicans are against AHCA, the bill will fail.

In addition, changes Republicans made earlier this week to the bill will actually only decrease federal deficits by $150 billion over 10 years, while the original measure would have lowered deficits by $337 billion.

A Fox News poll found that only 34% of Americans backed Trumpcare. Interesting as the GOP claim the majority of Republican voters like Trumpcare. It will probably affect the majority of Americans with many in mid and low income citizens being forced to pay more. Coupled with the chopping or reduced budget for many areas of the government and those who voted for Trump [tend to be the same people he’s hurting with the budget and Trumpcare] will not be to happy.

A report said that Mitch McConnell and speaker Paul Ryan at one time proposing repealing Obamacare first and then add Trumpcare. But wouldn’t that mean no healthcare coverage at all?

Trump was also upset that his advisor Jared Kushner wasn’t in Washington. He along with Ivanka and family and other Trump family members were in Aspen [see later]. I’m sure Trump new about it – they took the family plane there.

If he lost on killing Obamacare, Trump wants to tackle tax reform next and they say it could be an even bigger battle.

Just before FBI Director James Comey was to testify in front of congress regarding any association between Russia and the Trump administration, Trump went on his usual Twitter tirade accusing Democrats of making up allegations about his campaign associates’ contact with Russia during the election, to go after Hillary Clinton and find the leaks. Trump also suggested, without evidence, that Clinton’s campaign was in contact with Russia and had possibly thwarted a federal investigation.

In another blow to Trump, the top two lawmakers on the House intelligence committee said that documents the Justice Department and FBI delivered late last week offered no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower.

White House spokesman Sean “Garlic” Spicer tried to clarify Trump’s comments saying he wasn’t using the word wiretapping literally, noting that Trump had put the term in quotation marks. Trump “used the word wiretap in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities,” Spicer said. He also suggested Trump wasn’t accusing former President Barack Obama specifically, but instead referring to the actions of the Obama administration. OK. So why wait so long to say so? Not all the tweets contained quotes related to wiretapping.

Trump may have disclosed classified information that the CIA was “hacked” during an interview. Trump said the leak occurred while Obama was in office – shifting the cowardly blame to him.

Trump said he shouldn’t be blamed for quoting a Fox News analyst who had accused British intelligence of helping Obama spy on him. But shouldn’t he be verifying fake news first?

Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Fox News analyst who was praised by Trump, has apparently been benched by the network. He repeatedly relayed information from anonymous sources about former President Obama using the British to spy on Trump. His claims were strongly denied by American and British authorities and Fox’s own news anchors disavowed Napolitano’s claims.

Trump approved the Keystone XL pipeline and claiming that work can start right away. As usual, he is wrong. The state of Nebraska has to approve the pipeline path and that could take up to 8 months. Other portions of the pipeline were built before the Trump administration.

Spicer read off a script in announcing the pipeline complete with saying the previous administration did nothing in eight years while Trump did it in 2 months – except the US government didn’t get involved until mid-2010.

“I guess I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not,” Trump said in a Time magazine interview.

“I quoted the judge the other day, Judge Napolitano,” Trump told Time, referring to the Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano, who reported the information on Fox News about British spying on behalf of President Obama using anonymous sources, on which Trump’s White House based the claim. So it is OK for Trump to use information based on anonymous sources but not everyone else.

Remember Trump claiming Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination? Trump referred to a newspaper story which had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast.” And where is that story and picture? He didn’t accuse Ted Cruz on being part of the assassination?

Presented with a litany of other falsehoods and mischaracterizations, Trump offered this nonchalant rebuttal to his critics: “I tend to be right. I’m an instinctual person, I happen to be a person that knows how life works.” Seriously?

“Brexit, I predicted Brexit, you remember that, the day before the event. I said, ‘No, Brexit is going to happen,’ and everybody laughed.” You don’t have to be a genius to know that Brexit could be coming very soon – just need to look at what’s going on at the time.

Despite previously stating that she would not take on an official role in her father’s administration, Ivanka Trump is now moving into an advisory position in the White House. Like father, like daughter. Liars. Ivanka Trump has started a job as an unpaid worker in the West Wing, complete with an office and staff. She also has a higher security clearance. As well as  divesting some of her assets [for ethics reason] and selling $36.7 million in assets to comply with ethics rules, she still owns her clothing and jewelry brand [will get a fixed amount but no shares as company staffers will manage the company for her].

While they were on spring break in Aspen, Colorado, the Secret Service “signed a contract last week for more than $12,000 with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club for rental ski equipment and clothing.” So another bill on the taxpayer’s dime, aside from the secret service, accommodations, food, airplane, vehicles, extra police, etc. Vanity Fair reported “annoyed” New York moms and limited availability at local dining hot spots. And “dozens” of protesters took to the town’s Main Street on Sunday morning, per the Denver Post.

At least Ivanka didn’t lose her $585 US Dior sunglasses in Aspen.

[Aspen was the site of a very public feud between the future President, Ivana, and Marla Maples, who later became Trump’s second wife. When the family was vacationing there in December 1989, Ivana, approached Maples at a popular mid-mountain restaurant and told her to stay away from her husband.]

Trump said that Germany owes “vast sums of money” to NATO and the U.S. “must be paid more” for providing defense, reiterating his stance that European allies need to meet their end of the bargain if they are to continue benefiting from the military alliance. But Trump said at the press conference that many countries owe “vast sums of money” — but he declined to identify Germany, at the time, as one of those nations. NATO uses 2% of the nation’s guideline for what they need to give to the alliance. While few give 2% or more, none have taken out loans.

Trump pushed back against the notion in Europe that his “America First” agenda means he’s an isolationist, calling such a suggestion “another example of, as you say, fake news.”

Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, revealed that communications of Trump and associates may have been picked up after the election by intelligence agencies conducting surveillance of foreign targets.

Trump said in December that “I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done.” Yet he has spent 25% of his presidency at Mar-A-Lago.

Both New York City and West Palm Beach police have complained that the extra costs in protecting Trump and his family in either locations coming from their security budget reducing police presence elsewhere. For New York, it is $146,000 a day just for police. This would exclude state police, the FBI and Secret Service plus the inconvenience for those living, working or owning a business in Trump Tower and surrounding area.

Trump, once a critic of his predecessor’s golfing, has visited two of his golf courses in Florida – seemingly to play the sport – 11 times in the first two months of his presidency plus once in Virginia [unsure if he played though]. “I’m going to be working for you; I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” Trump said during a 2016 event in Virginia, jabbing at Obama. “I love golf, I think it’s one of the greats, but I don’t have time,” he said in December.

The Trump family’s south Florida golf club, Mar-A-Lago, doubled its entrance fee to $200,000 after Trump’s inauguration.

Meanwhile a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit, Trump went after Germany because they don’t spend enough on NATO and defense spending. Coward he is. What Trump fails to understand, part of the US’s spending in NATO is for NATO to secure all of the alliance’s countries. The European countries are a “first line” of defense for the US. The same reason why the US is in the Middle East – to stop terrorists there before they come to the US.

Seems Trump didn’t want to shake hands with Merkel. Lip readers said she asked him at the photo opp.

With the announcement of the first Trump budget, many departments will end up with major slashing in what they could spend. Almost every department will experience cuts with very few exceptions. Hardest hit includes the EPA, Corporation for Public Broadcasting [PBS, NPR, etc.], etc. Add the programs such as Amtrak, Meals on Wheels, Air traffic control [shift from FAA to a private non-profit company], program offering jobs to senior citizens, etc. [Many Americans will be asking why did they vote for Trump after this.]

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s credibility is being questioned after publicly defending President Trump’s conspiracy theories and falsehoods. He tried to defend Trump saying Paul Manafort had an insignificant “limited role” in the campaign when he was campaign chairman for 5 months. Spicer said he came on in June when Manafort was hired at the end of March 2016 according to a press release. Add his other issue such as arguing with reports, saying he has no idea when it’s already known, false statements about crowd size at the inauguration, and Obama using the British to wiretap Trump.

Trump announced that Charter Communications will spend $25 million US and create 20,000 jobs in the US as it brings back overseas call centers. Problem is that Charter announced this already in 2015. And he’s taking credit… Again. Charter didn’t seem to mind – the CEO was present at the re-announcement.

Trump cited a Bleacher Report that NFL owners were avoiding hiring San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick because they did not want to face Trump’s Twitter wrath. Kaepernick caused a problem for kneeling during the national anthem before kickoff at his games to protest racism and police brutality.

A bit of humor…. Trump-Induced Anxiety Disorder, or TIAD

 

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].

 

Trump’s policies are changing fast

With Donald Trump’s election win, it seems his policies that he did announce [and revised] during the campaign have changed already.

The “extreme vetting” as well as banning Muslims was removed right after the election.
All throughout the campaign, Trump wanted to arrest Hillary Clinton because of her Email server situation. Now he is having second thoughts.

As well, he will not amount any challenge to same sex marriages saying the courts have made their decision but he still thinks who has the right to have an abortion [Roe vs Wade] can be changed.

He even may pick a conservative Supreme Court nominee that has some non-conservative thoughts.

Remember having Mexico paying for the wall? Now he may get it build and charge Mexico in addition that the wall he proposed may only be built in certain areas.

If the estimated 11 million illegals that he wants to deport, that down to an estimated 3 million – those who are troublemakers.

Before he wanted to dump “Obamacare”. Now he says he will keep the better parts of it.
NAFTA? Sounds like he’s thinking of renegotiating parts of it.

I am wondering what his supports will think when he softens his stance.

In other news, Trump gave equal partnership in running the administration to Steve Bannon. Bannon was the head of an “alt right” web site that would be consider farther right than the GOP. Going through the site you may find anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist articles. He didn’t even want his daughters to go to a private school because Jews would be there [his ex-wife claimed].

Trump’s team denied everything [nothing changes] claiming Bannon worked at Goldman Sachs. Maybe originally owned by Jews, less than 2% is owned by individuals. The rest is owned by the public or various investment companies. They also said he worked in Hollywood [the old stereotype where the [far] right thinks Hollywood is run by Jews.

 

Obamacare site improving

Well at least some good news with the Obamacare [a.k.a. healthcare.gov] website. There are now over 1.1 million who have signed up with an estimated 975,000 in December [until Christmas eve].

So the site is starting to roll.

And yet there was some issues with the “backend” of the site where insurance companies got applications twice, some never got them, others had forms electronically sent to insurance providers outside of the applicant’s state.

But even with things looking up, it doesn’t take much for the Republicans to shoot down the program in any way they can.

A Californian Republican, for example, said that he figurers there will be an extra 2 million Americans who will now be getting benefits that didn’t before – and he doesn’t like it. Huh?

The benefits are helping Americans who I am assuming need the help. It isn’t like they are making $500,000 a year.

I guess it’s fine for him with his salary and perks like staff, chauffeur, etc.

Have a Happy New Year if you’re reading this. 🙂

[Update 2014/01/14:] The main contractor, CGI Federal, didn’t get their contract renewed for another year or so. They were one of 55 contractors. They took the blame yet there was little time to test the site before it went live. Instead, the site administrators in charge are switching to Accenture.  If you don’t know them, they are the former Arthur Anderson [technically it is now just a holding company] and they were involved in the Enron audit fiasco. So the question is – is Accenture better? Hmmmm.