The swamp becomes a toxic pool

Donald Trump said he’d drain the swap min Washington. Instead, in 10 months, the US is worse off in Washington – a toxic pool.

A small energy outfit from Montana, Whitefish Energy Holdings, that won a $300 million contract to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s tattered power grid had few employees of its own, so it did what the Puerto Rican authorities could have done: It turned to Florida for workers. Six electrical workers from Kissimmee are earning $42 an hour, plus overtime.

The senior power linemen from Lakeland are earning $63 an hour working. Their 40 co-workers from Jacksonville, also linemen, are making up to $100 earning double time, public records show. Other utility companies say they would charge up to $100/hour including labor, overhead, lodging, meals, etc.

Whitefish Energy Holdings, had a contract that allowed it to bill the Puerto Rican public power company, known as PREPA, $319 an hour for linemen, a rate that industry experts said was far above the norm even for emergency work – and almost 17 times the average salary of their counterparts in Puerto Rico. Whitefish claims the hourly amount includes overhead costs and premium pay to entice labour to come to Puerto Rico to work.

Two weeks after PREPA abruptly withdrew the contract from Whitefish following strong criticism by federal and congressional officials of the company’s expected ability to perform the work needed, more questions are being raised about the deal, including how much it will actually cost. Whitefish will keep repairing power lines until Nov. 30.

In the deal was $3 million for hotels and $80 a day for each employee for food. The company is also billing about $4,000 an hour to rent a helicopter; companies that specialize in transmission line construction said that price is more than double what they charge. Whitefish is also charging PREPA another $412 a day per worker for food and lodging.

PREPA is receiving federal government relief money. Multiple investigations are under way including from the FBI. 54 days later, the grid was working at 47.8 percent of capacity.

I’m in the wrong line of work….

 

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Mr. Executive Order King Continues

Donald Trump has a new strategy: Pass the issue to Congress.

Case in point, Trump decertified the Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015. Trump has always labeled it “the worse deal ever” [didn’t he say that about Affordable Care Act, Trans Pacific Partnership, NAFTA, etc.?]. He has also wanted labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization which means freeze of accounts, etc. But he ended up just imposed sanctions on them.

So while decertifying it, he will ask Congress to decide a way to fix things or triggers that will allow him to get. At the same time the US will still be part of the deal. Huh? You are either in or you are not in. Trump has claimed that Iran violated the deal even before the deal was signed. This was way before he entered politics officially. But he still never said how they violated the deal.

Now if Congress decides to act, Trump could be seen as the hero. If Congress can’t get anything done, he will be able to blame them with supposedly no heat on him. But of course, most people know better. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Iran is in “technical compliance” on the deal.

One US official tells Buzzfeed that he knows why Tillerson hasn’t resigned quite yet. His reasoning is that Tillerson, along with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have agreed to what he refers to as a “suicide pact”. Basically the alleged agreement between the three members of Trump’s cabinet is that if one of them resigns [more like fired], the other two will follow suit.

After multiple reports say that Trump and Tillerson have had some issues, “I think it’s fake news, but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests,” Trump said. “And I can tell you who is going to win.” For a guy with a supposedly high IQ, he acts childish.

“…certainly never implied that the secretary of state was not incredibly intelligent. He made a joke,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. It took her how long to come up with that excuse? Trump had no relationship with Tillerson prior to last year’s election but offered him the secretary of state post on the recommendation of two former Republicans.

All this after Tillerson called Trump a “f?cking moron”. Trump and his administration have looked to discredit the initial NBC report and Trump wanted NBC to apologize to America, despite the fact that other outlets have since confirmed Tillerson made the comment.

Trump continued to escalated his attack on Senator Bob Corker by ridiculing him for his height, calling him “Liddle Bob”. Running out of things to say? Trump was reported to have told associates that Corker, at 5-foot-7, was too short to be the nation’s top diplomat. Age restriction? Since taking office has generally avoided used belittling nicknames to diminish political foes who are Republican.

In another tweet “The Failing @nytimes set Liddle’ Bob Corker up by recording his conversation. Was made to sound a fool, and that’s what I am dealing with!” Nope.

Corker requested that what he said would be recorded and when he told a reporter from The New York Times that the president was reckless and could stumble into a nuclear war.

Very few Republicans supported Trump’s comments about Corker with the vast majority not commenting.

In an interview on Fox, Trump claimed that even by adding to the debt, it would be offset or reduce the debt if the stock market has picked up quite a bit. But he also touted his understanding of debt during the campaign. “I’m the king of debt. I’m great with debt. Nobody knows debt better than me,” Trump said on CBS in June 2016. “I’ve made a fortune by using debt, and if things don’t work out I renegotiate the debt. I mean, that’s a smart thing, not a stupid thing.”

“… General John Kelly, by saying he will soon be fired. This story is totally made up by the dishonest media.The Chief is doing a FANTASTIC job for me…” Too bad he never mentioned who said that if any outlet did.

“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” tweeted Trump. Good luck on that. Silence the media – first part of forming a dictatorship.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has privately confided that he believes Trump only has a 30% chance of completing his full term. Bannon warned Trump several months ago that the biggest threat to his presidency is not impeachment by Congress, but the 25th Amendment — which could allow his Cabinet to vote to remove him.

ESPN suspended Jemele Hill for two weeks for criticizing Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on social media. She had said he “created a problem for his players, specifically the black ones. If they don’t kneel, some will see them as sellouts.”

Then Trump opened up his Twitter account and responded with “With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have “tanked,” in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!” ESPN subscriber totals is just over 2% lower than over a year ago. Just about every cable network has lost subscribers to streaming. Yup that’s tanking. Isn’t it part of her job to criticize people in sports [owners, coaches, players]?

Meanwhile after kneeing with his players in a game at the end of September, Jones says he will now bench any player who kneeled during the anthem. NFL players’ union said Jones contradicted assurances last week from Commissioner Roger Goodell and New York Giants President John Mara that players could express themselves without reprisals. Did Jones become a two faced owner by now backing his buddy Trump?

Trump took a shot at the NFL’s tax breaks saying “Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!”. The NFL does benefit from tax breaks.

After the Indianapolis Colts game, Trump’s re-election campaign was seeking to capitalize on the frenzy surrounding Pence’s departure by soliciting donations via email under a subject line reading: “VP under fire for standing for (US flag).” Under fire for planning his walk-out and supposedly Trump was the one that orchestrated it.

Trump praised the NFL for cracking down on players who don’t stand during the National Anthem by tweeting “It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY”. Problem is that the NFL hasn’t announced anything. Goodell did not make any threat of disciplinary action against players who take a knee or sit during the playing of the National Anthem. His letter certainly did not vow to cut, ban, bench or “fire” any players who join the protest.

What he didn’t say is he has had a long-running grievance with the NFL. Trump and the NFL clashed before. He owned a team in the failed USFL in the 1980s and the league sued the NFL [antitrust] and got a whopping $3 in damages. The league folded. He went after them again in 2014 by tweeting “The NFL has just barred ball carriers from using helmet as contact.” He tried to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014 but lost his bid. Wonder why.

Trump suggested that Puerto Rico is going to have to shoulder more responsibility for recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria, saying the federal government’s emergency responders can’t stay there “forever.” He also blamed the beleaguered island for a financial crisis “largely of their own making” and infrastructure that was a “disaster” before the hurricane. That “disaster” infrastructure was because the federal government wasn’t helping them. But trump wants money for his precious wall.

Republican Rep. Scott Perry defends the Trump administration’s recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, claiming hurricane victims aren’t dying from lack of water and food. OK, not dying but looks like a third world country. But some are getting sick now because they can’t find clean water and are using contaminated water from wells.

Trump signed an executive order to try and fix some Affordable Care Act sections that will allow companies to sell plans with lower premiums but skimpier benefits. That could draw younger and healthier customers away from ACA and send premiums skyrocketing for sicker people left in the exchanges. It will allow consumers to buy short-term policies and allow employers to give workers money to buy their own coverage through health reimbursement arrangements. The department could give employers in the same industries more flexibility to offer group coverage across state lines, providing them with a broader range of policies at lower rates.

It has drawn backing from lawmakers like Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican who has identified specific reforms that could be made by the President alone. Paul, who also criticized Obama on executive orders, was among those present for the signing.
Hilariously, he almost forgot to sign the executive order.

An estimated 6 million Americans [maybe more] use cost sharing subsidies. They will lose them and will now pay extra. Some low wage earners would be paying $3500 a year instead of $250. In addition, those with pre-existing conditions will likely pay more.

Just as hilariously, Trump has signed 50 executive orders since taking office. Over the same period in President Obama’s first nine months, he signed 26. And yet Trump complained before and during the election that Obama signed too many executive orders because Obama couldn’t get anything done legislatively. So how much legislation did Trump pass in nine months.

The head of National Background Investigations Bureau, a government bureau responsible for clearing background checks, told lawmakers he has “never seen that level of mistakes” when asked about numerous omissions in Jared Kushner’s security clearance application.

The National Rifle Association says it is opposed to new legislation in the US Senate and the House [the latter by a Republican] that would ban the production and sale of “bump fire stocks,” a firearm accessory that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire at a more rapid pace like automatic ones. Bump stocks became a major source of discussion on Capitol Hill over the last two weeks after the attachments were found on guns of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock.

Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway brings up her claim that the Democrats, main stream media and those who are anti-Trump still can’t accept that Trump won the election last year. What planet is she living on? She called Senator Bob Corker’s tweets “incredibly irresponsible” and yet doesn’t seem to think anything is wrong with Trump’s tweets [including quasi threats on other world leaders as well as fabricated content] are OK or get an automatic free pass because he is the so-called President?

Heard on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy this past week [roughly the dialog said]:

  • Doctor: Who’s our President?
  • Patient that formerly had a brain tumor: I wish I didn’t know.
  • Doctor: She’s cured!

Note: When I take quotes from Twitter or elsewhere, I leave the typos and bad punctuation [usually from Trump] as it is.

 

 

GOP civil war with Trump

Donald Trump tweeted [Republican] “Senator Bob Corker ‘begged’ me to endorse him for re-election” with Trump saying no and Trump said Corker would drop out when Corker had previously said he’d retire but Trump wanted him back. Then Trump tweeted “He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said ‘NO THANKS.’ He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!” Does this mean current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on the way out?

As another rip into Corker, Trump tweeted “Didn’t have the guts to run!” Corker has run 3 times and a senator for 10. Trump? After the final Tweet [for now from Trump, Corker tweeted “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center.”

Trump is a President who is acting “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something,” said Corker later. Trump is setting the country “on the path to World War III.”

Mike Pence left a football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday after some players knelt during the National Anthem, saying he did not want to “dignify” the event. Some are suggesting that it was a staged plan. They knew that some players would take the knee while Pence was in attendance. This short stay in Indianapolis cost an extra $180,000 as he  made a detour to see the game only to leave before the game started.

The pool of journalists accompanying the vice president were not allowed into the stadium and were asked to stay in their vans. They were told by a staffer that “there may be an early departure from the game.” So another hint that the stunt was expected.

Trump opened up the kneeing controversy again last week by tweeting “Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!” before this weekend upcoming games. He tweeted this within 24 after the Las Vegas killings. Doesn’t he have better things to do?

Now after a deal was struck regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, Trump decided to change the terms of the deal. Those measures include provisions to make it harder for unaccompanied minors to enter the country illegally, money for the President’s border wall and cuts to legal immigration. Trump has said the new requirements must pass.

So Trump is still trying to get additional funding for his wall and at the same time add other issues. Unsure if he wants the DACA issue settled at all and looks like he wants to scuttle it.

Trump tweeted that nothing has been done regarding North Korea for the past 25 year. Well, it’s probably been quite a bit more than 25 years that they were a threat. Then he claimed that “…massive amounts of money paid” presumably by the US to North Korea. But why? The US wasn’t going to give that country money if they are dumping sanctions on them.

Trump didn’t seem to want to go to Puerto Rico, spend a night somewhere [where US warships are nearby – wouldn’t he be safe enough] and then visit the US Virgin Islands. Instead he visited just Puerto Rico. Mike Pence went to the US Virgin Islands.

Errr. Trump claimed that when he threw the paper towels in Puerto Rico, the people wanted them because they were soft. Seriously?

Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation of former President Bill Clinton’s real-estate investments and extramarital affair led to Clinton’s impeachment, said that he has “a sense” there will be indictments in the federal investigation into allegations of possible collusion by the Trump campaign in Russia’s efforts to influence last year’s election.

After it happened on Facebook, Google has identified tens of thousands of dollars in ad buys by Russian accounts that used YouTube or Google advertising to try to spread misinformation and sow discord in American politics.

Trump is still complaining about wanting to get “equal time” – probably because all of the investigations are against him, late night comedians, various newspapers, etc. All Trump can get support is from Fox News and various [if lucky] second rate web sites. I am sure just about any network has told Trump that he can come onto their network at any time.

According to the New York Times, Trump has states 1145 false information comments in his first 232 days or almost averaging 5 per day.

Since the Trump administration can’t get the Affordable Care Act repealed, they are trying to sabotage the ACA by shortening the enrollment period and cutting the marketing funds that would let the public know about it.

Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, in the spring, dines with one coal company at lunch and then with another coal company for supper at the BLT Prime, a steakhouse inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Before that, Pruitt met privately with top executives and lobbyists from General Motors to talk about their request to block an Obama administration move to curb emissions that contribute to climate change.

Since he took over, from February through May, he has had briefing sessions and speaking engagements almost daily with top corporate executives and lobbyists from all the major economic sectors that he regulates — and almost no meetings with environmental groups or consumer or public health advocates.

Some of these same companies and trade associations were allies of Pruitt when, as Oklahoma’s attorney general, he sued the EPA at least 14 times to try to block rules he is now in charge of enforcing. Yes. This is the Trump administration in action!

After well-known Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein got into trouble with alleged sexual assaults against actresses and underlings over a number of years, Trump was asked his opinion. He said that he has known Weinstein for “many years” and then said he was not surprised. Nice way to through a supposedly friend under the bus. We’re not surprised at his comments. [It is known rumor in Hollywood that Weinstein has a history of allegations of sexual assaults and similar problems.]

Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani rejected Ivanka Trump’s invitation to talk about her computer science education initiative. She I a daughter of a refugee and disliked the initial and other travel bans. Ivanka Trump referenced Saujani’s success story in her book, “Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success.” In the tweet, Saujani said: “don’t use my story in #WomenWhoWork unless you are going to stop being #complicit.” So when Donald Trump directed the Education Department to invest a minimum of $200 million in grant funding annually to STEM and computer science education, Ivanka Trump met with corporate partners and nonprofits in Detroit. Girls Who Code was not invited.

Melania Trump chose Places You’ll Go!, which she read with her son, Barron, “over and over” when he was younger and nine other Dr. Seuss titles to send to an elementary school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in celebration of “National Read a Book Day.” But a librarian at Cambridgeport School refused to accept the gift, criticizing Trump administration education policies and images in the books. Seuss’ illustrations are “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes,” said librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro.

Trump should instead be devoting resources to schools in “underfunded and underprivileged communities” that are “marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.” Critics view DeVos, a billionaire who has worked for decades to promote school choice, or alternatives to traditional public schools, as one of the most anti-public-education secretaries in the department’s history.

The Department of Education chose one high-achieving school in every state to receive a package of books from Trump, according to a statement from the White House. The Cambridge school system released a statement saying the librarian “was not authorized to accept or reject donated books on behalf of the school or school district.”

The State Department is using longstanding but discretionary policy to ensure that evacuees are shouldered with the transportation costs, which according to the website are based off of “the price of the last commercial one-way, full-fare (not discounted) economy ticket prior to the crisis.” Evacuees who surrender their passports under this system don’t see them returned until payment is received.

“We’ve gotten A-pluses on Texas and in Florida, and we will also on Puerto Rico,” Trump said. Uh huh. Who did the grading?

Job openings in the United States reached a record high in July at 6.17 million, according to Labor Department data. Manufacturing had nearly 400,000 openings; construction 232,000; education and health 1.1 million; finance and insurance 270,000; retail 625,000. So jobs are available for various levels of education – not just for people with university degrees.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders claimed September 5, noting that 950,000 African Americans and 870,000 Hispanics in the same age group as DACA recipients were unemployed. “Those are large groups of people that are unemployed that could possibly have those jobs.” Or maybe those 1.7 million people are not interested in the same jobs as the DACA recipients [r are they really looking]. It is this thought that Trump claims that he would want to deport the DACA recipients but with 6.17 million jobs available….

But in September, for the first time in 7 years, there were job lost. After forecasting initially 90,000 jobs gained, 30,000 were lost.

Trump’s approval rating has once again reached 40%, while earning high marks for his handling of the government’s response to recent hurricanes, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. A broad 64% of Americans say they approve of how Trump’s government reacted to the recent storms, including two in three independents (66%). Nine in 10 Republicans support his reaction (90%), and even Democrats are evenly divided on Trump’s response to the crises, with 44% both approving and disapproving.

Half say they disapprove of Trump’s handling of the situation with North Korea (50%) vs. four in 10 who say they approve (41%) — little changed from Trump’s rating in August on the topic. Trump’s rating on health care remains low at just 31% approval during the Senate’s last-ditch push to pass a reform bill. Overall, 55% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s job performance.

Ivana Trump, Donald’s first wife and mother of his oldest 3 children, release a book on her life with him and called herself the “First Lady” in an interview. Let’s just say Melania wasn’t too thrilled.

 

Trump was stretched thin this week

It has been such a busy week, that I’m going to split things in two. All the goodies in this blog. Any goodies plus the leftovers in the next blog.

There is talk that Donald Trump will decertify the nuclear arms agreement with Iran. If so, the deal will be terminated. At this time, no word given if Iran broke the deal’s agreement. If there is no valid reason for decertifying the agreement then this administration will have a hard time to come to agreement with others because they think this administration will kill those agreement for no reason or nothing valid.

Tom Price paid the price [you know I was going to say that!] and was dumped by Trump for his overspending on government aircrafts to various trips – some with his wife. He paid back almost $52,000 but he had raked up a huge bill of over $1 million. This makes 8 senior Trump administration officials who “resigned” in under 9 months. [You know that most were probably fired by Trump.]

But Price was fired [or resigned] not because of the more than two dozen private flights he took at taxpayer expense. He was fired [or resigned] because he violated Trump’s first principle: Never, ever make the boss look bad – especially in the press [if you read between the lines in Trump’s comments just prior to Price’s “resignation”]. For example, on a week that Trump wanted the focus to be on his tax reform proposal, Price made the storyline all about how the President wasn’t draining the swamp as promised.

BTW, the 7 trips Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took on government planes for $811,800 but were done so for national security reasons. The inspector general has no issues with them. If you get rid of the two North American trips, it is 5 overseas trips at about $780,000.

Some reports say Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could be next out. He held a surprise news conference to address the reports that have emerged of increasing tensions between himself and Trump. NBC reported that Vice President Pence had to intervene as Tillerson could quit and that Tillerson described him dismissing Trump as a ” f?cking moron”. After pointedly refusing to answer if he called Trump a “f?cking moron,” Tillerson had a spokeswoman deny he used such language. Sounds guilty to me.

Because Tillerson and Mike Pence said the story isn’t true, Trump called it fake news and “They [NBC News] should issue an apology to AMERICA!” Only if he [Trump] apologizes for failing to be a leader. Then Trump had to continue a day later tweeting that Tillerson “never threatened to resign” and he has “total confidence” in Tillerson. Where have we heard that phrase before. A person familiar with the conversation also disputed that the vice-president sought to coax the secretary of state into not quitting.

More than a dozen sources inside the administration and in diplomatic circles describe the relationship between Tillerson and Trump as reaching a new low. The two men have failed to develop the type of close relationship that Trump enjoys with other members of his Cabinet.

While taking photos alongside military leaders and their spouses before a dinner at the White House, Trump made an ambiguous statement, citing “the calm before the storm”. When asked what he meant, Trump said only: “You’ll find out”. Now he is probably going to kill the nuclear deal with Iran next week. Could he be planning some military action? Or maybe North Korea [been quiet there]?

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said, “We’re dying here. We truly are dying here. I keep saying it: SOS. If anyone can hear us; Mr. Trump can hear us, let’s just get it over with and get the ball rolling.”

Trump tweeted later “The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump… Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.” This didn’t sit too well for those on the island. [He probably didn’t know the mayor’s name – so he took the easy route out.

He later tweeted “Results of recovery efforts will speak much louder than complaints by San Juan Mayor. Doing everything we can to help great people of PR!” [Wouldn’t that be “San Juan major” otherwise it sounds a bit like someone’s name.]

Then Trump tweeted that “… Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.” How is his leadership?

Mayor Cruz responded to reporters’ questions about the next batch of Trump tweets by saying “Let him tweet. I don’t mind. I’m busy.” Then start walking away but turned around to say “Plus I don’t have internet most of the time, so I can’t get ahold of the tweets.” Barring some major “fubar” by her, she’ll be reelected.

Trump still hasn’t visited but was trying to visit both Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in one day, which posed logistical challenges. Exactly why does he have to do it in one day? Surely he can stay on a warship nearby for one night – and maybe even give a morale boost to them?

Trump also lashed out at the media for what he said was biased coverage, saying that the “Fake News Networks are working overtime in Puerto Rico.”

His comments sparked a firestorm of reaction online, including from the creator of the Broadway musical “Hamilton”, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who said “You’re going straight to hell, @realDonaldTrump. No long lines for you. Someone will say, ‘Right this way, sir.’ They’ll clear a path.”

Russel Honoré, the retired general appointed by Bush to take over the federal response to Katrina in 2005, said “The President has shown again he don’t give a damn about poor people. He doesn’t give a damn about people of color. And SOB that rides around in Air Force One is denying services needed by the people of Puerto Rico.”

Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, tweeted in a claim that Mayor Cruz “has been hating on @realDonaldTrump long before he was our President.” [She made a comment about him in May 2016.] Then described San Juan’s mayor as “the perfect example of an opportunistic politician.”

Meanwhile the day after the storm hit, he was golfing and a brief trip to a rally in Alabama. He said nothing during the first weekend and days after. There was a meeting of senior people but they discussed the next travel ban and not the devastation plus tweeting about Kin Jun Un. So for the first week, he did nothing.

He finally approved of suspending the Jones Act – 8 days after the storm. He suspended the same act for Florida and Texas almost immediately following their hurricanes. Trump claimed “a lot of shippers and . . . a lot of people that work in the shipping industry” didn’t want it lifted. So he prefers to have some of his shipping buddies make money while  the islanders get stuck in misery – let alone pay maybe double or more for basic food items and more.

FEMA said only 5% of electricity had been restored in the island after 12 days. He said 33% of the telecommunications infrastructure is back up and close to 50% of water services have been restored. This is nothing compared to Florida and Texas who weren’t far from normal within days of their hurricanes.

When it was known that only 20% of truck drivers were working to transport stuff in Puerto Rico, right-wing media sites created fake news stories about lazy, greedy Puerto Rican truck drivers going on strike instead of delivering critical supplies The U.S. Naval Institute reports that as of Tuesday afternoon “only 10 of the island’s 69 hospitals were fully reconnected to the electrical grid”, this after Trump said “Most of the hospitals are open-or at least partially open.” Most is not 10%.

Trump has defended his administration’s response to a recent hurricane in Puerto Rico by explaining that “This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water,” he said at a tax reform speech in Washington. He added that local governments had been “totally and unfortunately unable to handle this catastrophic crisis on their own – just totally unable to.” What a genius!

On his visit to San Juan, Trump threw paper towel rolls at citizens. Along with a can of tinned chicken, a pack of batteries, and flashlights [even though he said “you don’t need them anymore” Trump reportedly picked up items and randomly handed them out. He also complained that the hurricane is doing a number of the federal budget – as if hitting Florida and Texas did little to it. [Too bad someone didn’t throw it back at him.]

San Juan major Cruz wasn’t even on Trump’s schedule until the day of the trip. Still with hard feelings there? Trump seemed to take all the credit when the Puerto Rican governor praised the government efforts [which was obviously a big suck up]. Trump was also saying how few lives lost compared to Katrina.

5+ hours after the mass shootings in Las Vegas, Trump tweeted: “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!” Warmest?

The official presidential Twitter account is just retweets of “normal” tweets primarily from Melania Trump, Mike Pence, and his own.

So it took Trump nearly 2 weeks to go to Puerto Rico but less than 2 days to go to Las Vegas.

With at least 42 guns owned by the 64 year old killer, the topic of gun control has come up again. What does someone need with 42 guns? Yet trump has started to avoid the question knowing that the powerful right-wing National Rifle Association won’t be too happy if Trump goes against them. Trump and other Republicans made no mention of firearm restrictions in his speeches since the shooting.

A pro-Trump political website “The Gateway Pundit” named a different person as the Las Vegas shooter, citing a Facebook page to claim the individual was “a far left loon” and “a Democrat who liked [MSNBC host] Rachel Maddow.” Great journalism there. Basing everything on a Facebook page.

Meanwhile, some posters on the anonymous, anarchic 4chan.org forum likewise trumpeted supposed findings that the same individual was both the shooter and a “social democrat.”

Shockingly “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles [like bump stock] should be subject to additional regulations.” Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo is planning to introduce legislation Thursday to ban the sale of them. We’ll see how that goes.

And why hasn’t Trump banned the bump stock or tried to. Meanwhile she failed to mention how the trump administration will deregulate silencers as well as allowing those with some mental illnesses to purchase guns. The killer bought 33 guns within the past 12 months. No flags?

Before he was a candidate, Trump at one point favored some gun restrictions. He has more recently cast himself as an ardent protector of the Second Amendment because the Republican Party and the NRA want that control.

He told the National Rifle Association this year that it had a “true friend” in the White House, and he signed a resolution passed by the GOP-led Congress blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people.

Why am I not surprised, not even 24 hours after Las Vegas, Trump signed an order to repeal the ban on guns for certain mentally ill people. I guess Trump can finally buy guns now.

I was just asking someone this week, where is Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway. Well The Witch is back. She complained that various Democrats said nothing about gun control this past year but complained about the Russian meddling. She blamed Barrack Obama for the “bump stock” mechanism that turns a semi-automatic gun into an automatic gun. Bump stock was available since 2010. The Witch blames Obama but during a part of Obama’s period, he could not ban it because the Republicans wouldn’t allow it.

[BTW, she should go trick or treating as a witch. All she needs is a hat and a cape.]

Employers may now have more leeway to withhold birth control coverage on religious grounds, according to new rules issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services. This rolls back controversial contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Healthcare Act. The rules would let a broad range of employers — including nonprofits, private firms and publicly traded companies — stop offering free contraceptives through their health insurance plans if they have a “sincerely held religious or moral objection”. Already the ACLU will file a lawsuit.

On Twitter, he avoided the kind of inflammatory statements he has issued after some previous tragedies, such as last year’s Orlando nightclub shooting. So for certain issues he tries to act presidential but in other issues [North Korea, London UK mayor after their attacks in June, the San Juan mayor, etc.] he doesn’t.

The US Chamber of Commerce, usually neutral when it comes to politics, has warned that killing the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico will have consequences to America. Trump has threatened numerous times to kill the agreement.

Trump is urging the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate American news outlets for publishing “fake” stories. I guess they’ll laugh the same way he was laughed at regarding his 3 million illegal votes [besides Jared Kushner, see last week’s blog if unsure why I mentioned that].

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained that the President was within his rights to hit back at critics. “When the President gets attacked, he attacks back.” There is hitting back and there is stomping on repeatedly.

Even though Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is working with China on trying to do something about North Korea, Trump tweets Tillerson is “wasting his time trying to negotiate”.

A report says White House accounts sent internal White House documents to an email address shared by Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and their household staff. They had previously exchanged emails with White House officials about government business using their personal email addresses. White House officials sent hundreds of emails that included “non-public travel documents, internal schedules and some official White House materials” to the email address shared by Kushner and Trump.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said last week that “all White House personnel have been instructed to use official email to conduct all government-related work” and to forward “work-related communication on personal accounts” to their official account. Isn’t that still a problem?

Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and former chief strategist Steve Bannon also exchanged emails with White House officials using their private accounts.

Is someone bonkers? Trump is one of something like 200 people nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He has the same chances of winning was the Miami Marlins winning the World Series this year. He didn’t win. Surprised he didn’t have a twitter-storm because of it.

Trump has been in office for 9 months but only managed to have a full cabinet for roughly 94 days.

The Justice Department has released a trove of decades-old internal legal memos concluding the President should be legally barred from appointing a relative to a position in the White House, shedding new light on just how sharp a departure the department’s more recent interpretation of federal law under the Trump administration compares to past practice. This surprised legal experts after the Justice Department approved Jared Kushner posting as advisor. For example, President Jimmy Carter could not appoint his son to an unpaid position on the White House staff in 1977.

A big week of failures, exaggerations and blunders

When Donald Trump tweeted recently “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”, it still didn’t go against Twitter’s posting rules which state users “may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.” Twitter is citing “newsworthiness” and the public interest as reasons why it didn’t remove Trump’s tweets.

[We always knew that one of Trump’s tweets would land him in hot water – not by Twitter but how someone would interpret his tweets.]

Under the UN Charter, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said, North Korea has the right to self-defense and “every right” to take countermeasures, “including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers even when they’re not yet inside the airspace border of our country.” Funny how North Korea will use the UN Charter to their advantage whenever it suits them but ignore the UN otherwise.

In July 2016, Pyongyang said US sanctions imposed on Kim were “a declaration of war” against North Korea and it made a similar statement after a new round of UN sanctions in December. While the December sanctions were from the UN, North Korea has blamed the US and declared war on them.

Meanwhile, the North Korean regime officials have been quietly attempting to set up meetings with Republican analysts in an apparent attempt to better understand the mixed messages coming from the Trump administration. Good luck in understanding him.

Trump’s son-in-law and official White House adviser, Jared Kushner, used a private email server – set up after the election – to conduct White House business. Kushner used the private account in tandem with his official White House email account to correspond with current and former senior White House officials, outside advisers and others, about subjects ranging from media coverage to event planning.

His lawyer stated that “Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business. Fewer than 100 emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account. These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal rather than his White House address.”

Wasn’t this what happened to Hillary Clinton? He didn’t notice they contained confidential information or contacted the sender about it? Expect Trump to have a double standard saying Kushner is innocent.

While Trump was upset with even owners who joined in the protest, when friend, supporter and New England Patriot owner Robert Kraft made some comments about Trump’s comments, Trump said “he’s a good friend of mine and I want him to do what he wants to do.” So Kraft gets a “pass” on Trump’s barrage of nasty comments.

Trump supports called this whole episode a win for Trump. Unsure how he won. In fact he has divided the country even more.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on ABC’s “This Week” that players have “the right to have the First Amendment off the field.” But what about on the field – especially if the ownership agree or have no opinion?

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says it is about police brutality – so they should protest at the police that protect them on the field. Seriously?

Trump tweeted about the athletes criticism 22 times over the weekend, more than all the other major items [health care, North Korea, etc.] combined. Nice priorities.

After the weekend, Trump tweeted “The booing at the NFL football game last night, when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knees, was loudest I have ever heard.” Yes, his hearing is a perfect way to judge things just like his eyesight during his inauguration.” But while Dallas dropped to its knees as a team, they all stood up for our National Anthem. Big progress being made-we all love our country!” Is he taking credit for this? “Progress”?

“It’s really caught on. It’s really caught on,” Trump said of his NFL comments to attendees at the dinner with conservative group leaders, according to someone who attended. “I said what millions of Americans were thinking.”

The First Amendment so often cited as a blanket justification for “free speech” doesn’t protect the employment of football players or race car drivers when they speak their minds. But NFL’s rulebook states it does not say players must stand during the national anthem.

Most sports do have clauses like in the NBA where “loyalty to the Club, and to conduct himself on and off the field with appropriate recognition of the fact that the success of professional football depends largely on public respect for and approval of those associated with the game.” But if the team isn’t against the idea…..

Following Trump’s tweets last week that players should be fired for going down on one knee during the national anthem and calling them “sons of bitches”, he tweeted “I never said anything about race.” While it is technically true, but many players were protesting because of how minorities in the US have been pushed around or abused.

Trump claims he spoke with NFL’s Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. He was one of the owners who kneeled before his team played this past weekend. [I would guess he is a friend of Jones.] I guess Trump wants them to stand next week. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did – not because Trump wants them to but because it was a one weekend protest.

In another interview, Trump said “Because you look at the ratings [for the NFL], the ratings are going way down … the stadiums, there are a lot of empty seats, I couldn’t even believe it.” If only he had proof to back it up. At least in the early Sunday afternoon games, no one knew that the players [and management] would be protesting. Not those who went to the game or watched on TV.

49% of Americans disapprove of the NFL protests in a poll that came out. So, like everything else, America is divided.

Not a good piece of news: Twitter testing to increase to 280 characters!

Trump is calling Facebook “anti-Trump.” Trump’s comments came days after Facebook said it will provide the contents of 3,000 ads bought by a Russian agency to congressional investigators and make political advertising on its platform more transparent related to the 2016 election. Trump tweeted: “Facebook was always anti-Trump.The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @wapo were anti-Trump. Collusion?” Errr. They were requested by at least one of the ongoing investigations?

Trump tweeted “Virtually no President has accomplished what we have accomplished in the first 9 months-and economy roaring.” Yup. He accomplished nothing in 9 months. Who is he kidding?

Trump’s most recent tweets urging Alabamians to vote for Sen. Luther Strange mysteriously disappeared from his verified Twitter account after the candidate was projected to lose the Republican primary runoff for a Senate seat. “Luther Strange has been shooting up in the Alabama polls since my endorsement. Finish the job – vote today for ‘Big Luther'” was one of them. Obviously he didn’t “shoot” up the polls! Took him almost 2 hours to congratulate the winner, Roy Moore, after Strange conceded.

Trump is infuriated at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP establishment after they pushed trump to back Luther Strange. Strange lost by 9.2%.

Trump often deletes tweets from his personal account over spelling mistakes and then quickly tweets corrected versions. Deletion of tweets have raised questions about how presidents’ social media should be handled and preserved. The question has also been raised whether Trump is violating the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which requires all the president’s records be preserved for eventual release to the public on a delayed basis long after the commander in chief leaves office.

So Trump just loves to poke at his [so-called] enemies. Case in point. He tweeted about the problems facing Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria by including “massive debt” and “with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with” instead of comfort or compassion for the humanitarians crisis. Does that mean Puerto Ricans won’t be given any clean water to drink until Wall Street gets its cut? He also said “Texas & Florida are doing great.” But still flooded, lacking power, heavily damaged. Has he seen the Florida Keys?

As they are not a state, Puerto Rico can’t vote for the president in an election and their congressman has limited power. So he’s not going to help them as fast as Texas or Florida – both large states with many Republican voters. Trump has tweeted how well the island is doing after the hurricane when in fact little has been done. Of note, some of his cabinet have big stakes in Wall Street.

Only 54% of Americans believe Puerto Ricans are American citizens according to a poll.

In addition, there is an obscure act called the Jones Act which is century-old law that requires all goods ferried between U.S. ports to be carried on ships built, owned and operated by Americans. When it was established in 1920, was meant to promote shipping by U.S.-owned and operated vessels. But it’s also had the unintended consequence of making it twice as expensive to ship things from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico as it is to ship from any other foreign port in the world, according to Republican Senator John McCain’s office.

Trump so far has not waived the rule, but that he is “thinking about” it. He claims “We have a lot of shippers and a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted.” The shippers have a monopoly, so they want the act kept. The kicker is that Trump waved the acted for Florida and Texas after their hurricanes.

Critics say the Jones Act costs American jobs by encouraging residents in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii to buy foreign-made goods that are shipped on foreign flagged vessels, rather than goods made in America. Cars, for example, cost about 40% more in Puerto Rico than on U.S. mainland, partly because of the law.

Even over a week after since Puerto Rico was hit with the hurricane, Trump still has to somehow throw in a point that the territory is in debt. Why? Does it make a difference now?

Republican Senator Marco Rubio from Florida traveled to Puerto Rico, something Trump still hasn’t done, and said that aid was not flowing out from the airport and port because of communication problems and confusion.

Yes. Strike 4. A four time failure Trump is now in trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Trump cited an unnamed senator being in the hospital as part of the reason why Republicans are unable to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Trump assailed two top Republican senators in a local Alabama radio interview when he took aim at Sen. John McCain for opposing the latest effort by Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act by saying “… what McCain has done is a tremendous slap in the face to the Republican Party”. He also blamed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the “ridiculous filibuster rule” that he believes prevents his administration from having legislative accomplishments.

“That’s [60 votes in the filibuster rule] the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. So that means we need eight Democrats, and the Republicans can end it. And Mitch wants to keep it, which is ridiculous by the way,” Trump said. So Trump still wants to change rules so everything can go his way.

In the latest proof that Trump doesn’t came for Puerto Rico much, he still hasn’t gone there to see the problems there but was in Florida and Texas within a week and then again later.

Trump said he may soon sign an executive order on health care that would affect millions of people. Trump now seems to be backing health insurance reforms pushed by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Paul, who opposed the Senate repeal bill, wants insurers to be allowed to sell policies across state lines and for people to be able to form groups to buy coverage. Opponents say that it would split the market so that healthier folks would flock to the skinnier plans, while the sick would stay in the more comprehensive plans, pushing up their rates even more.

As if Trump doesn’t have enough on his plate, he tweeted “Iran just test fired a ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!” But US intelligence radars and sensors “picked up no indication” of an Iranian ballistic missile launch in the days surrounding a reported test. Seems Iran was playing games, releasing footage of a previous test.

The Trump administration has unveiled new travel restrictions on certain foreigners from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen as a replacement to a central portion of its controversial travel ban signed earlier this year.

Some are new to the list of affected countries. The new restrictions on travel vary by country and include a phased-in approach. Most of them are there for show as few Americans would visit those countries [maybe except for humanitarian reasons]. For example, of the under 100 from North Korea who come to the US, they are almost all diplomats serving at the UN. Would you really want to take a vacation in Syria?

Trump told a rally audience in Alabama that the media won’t show his crowd as the crowd was being broadcast. And yet CNN and other news outlets did show the crowd.