Fired or resigned? In this WH, nobody knows

Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has repeatedly insisted that the White House fired him from his job at the department. The White House says Shulkin resigned. If he resigned, the White House should have his resignation letter.

When Donald Trump announced on Twitter last week that Shulkin would depart the agency and that a Defense Department official, Robert Wilkie, would serve as acting secretary, he side-stepped Shulkin’s deputy, Thomas Bowman, who was next in the line of succession. Given the lengthy process for Senate confirmation, Wilkie could serve in an interim capacity for months should Wilkes want the job permanently.

Trump nominated White House physician Ronny Jackson to become the VA’s next secretary, but lawmakers and veterans’ groups have raised questions about whether or not he has the right experience to lead the government’s second largest bureaucracy. [Will the chief janitor at the White House be the next secretary in charge of infrastructure?] There are allegations about nominee Jackson’s questionable behavior including excessive drinking [even on the job], overprescribing drugs and a “toxic” work environment under his leadership. Hearings into Jackson’s appointment has been delayed because of the allegations.

Jackson drunkenly banged on a woman’s hotel door on an overseas trip and was known as “the candy man” inside the White House, according to a senator.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders defended Jackson’s experience calling him a “very highly qualified, highly respected person in the military and the medical community.” Sanders suggested that Jackson’s current position as the White House physician meant that he had been more thoroughly vetted than other Cabinet nominees.

But in the end, Jackson withdrew his nomination. Jackson slammed allegations of improper behavior leveled against him as “completely false and fabricated.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee have voted against Mike Pompeo to be the next secretary of state which would lead the committee to report out his nomination without a favorable recommendation. Pompeo may still have enough votes to barely get approved for the position as one Democrat had agreed to vote in his favor.

Trump tweeted “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people, including the Ambassador to Germany. They are maxing out the time on approval process for all, never happened before.” Hello. There is something called democracy. What Trump is saying is vote for someone who may or may not be appropriate for the job.

Remember the individual who as seeking some legal job in the government and yet never tried a case or knew some basic terminology?

Trump’s pick to replace Pompeo leading the CIA, Gina Haspel, isn’t scheduled to have her confirmation hearing until May 9, but late last week the agency declassified an internal memo that absolves Haspel of responsibility for destroying videotapes showing the waterboarding of terrorism suspects in 2005, an issue that’s been a key sticking point for senators weighing her confirmation.

In the end, the Senate approved Pompeo’s nomination as the next secretary of state on Thursday, installing the former CIA Director as the nation’s top diplomat at a time when several high stakes negotiations are underway around the globe. With a 57-42 vote, Trump can’t whine about the lack of Democrats approving. Just days before Trump tweeted [of course] “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people….”

Trump twice gave James Comey an alibi for why a salacious report about the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow couldn’t be true: He never even spent the night in Russia during that trip, Trump told the former FBI director, according to Comey’s memos about the conversations. Trump said the Moscow trip was so quick that his head never hit a pillow — even for one night.

Trump flew to Moscow on a Bombardier Global 5000 private jet owned by Phil Ruffin, his partner in the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas in the morning of November 8, 2014 and landed at Vnukovo airport early morning. He attended a birthday part of Miss Universe pageant’s host and developer Aras Agalarov followed by the pageant and after-party. Trump even tweeted “I just got back from Russia-learned lots & lots. Moscow is a very interesting and amazing place!”

Trump acknowledged for the first time that his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is representing him with regards to legal matters involving Stormy Daniels, the porn star who says she had an affair with Trump. The revelation came after Cohen asserted his Fifth Amendment rights in the matter. Cohen filed court papers indicating he would assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in the Daniels case. The case has been put on hold for 90 days.

Trump distanced himself from his personal attorney, whom Trump said has overseen “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work. If so, the President may have inadvertently boosted the arguments of prosecutors who have said that communications between the two men shouldn’t be considered confidential under attorney-client privilege provisions.

Prosecutors have argued in federal court that because Cohen has few clients and has done little legal work, there wouldn’t be a lot of privileged information in documents seized by the FBI earlier this month.

Trump insists he “won’t be involved” in any attempt to interfere with the investigation into Russian election meddling but “I may change my mind at some point, because what’s going on is a disgrace.”

Trump is increasingly relying on his personal cell phone to contact outside advisers as Trump returns to the free-wheeling mode of operation that characterized the earliest days of his administration. Part of chief of staff John Kelly’s job was to restrict who Trump contacts and who contacts him. Now by using his cell phone, he is bypassing Kelly. Maybe even to push Kelly out or at least Trump doesn’t want Kelly to know who he’s talking to.

Trump said North Korean dictator “Kim Jong Un, he really has been very open and I think very honourable from everything we’re seeing.” The same man he berated by calling him “Little Rocket Man”. Honorable? Him and his father have consistently broke deals that were approved by all parties. Trump has threatened to deliver “fire and fury” upon North Korea and taunted Kim Jung Un on Twitter that his nuclear “button” was larger than the one in Pyongyang.

Sanders said that the US goal was the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea would probably accept not developing any new nuclear weapons but not accept losing the weapons they currently have.

Republicans won the special election in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, but once again Democrats have over performed in a deep red district, in another sign the national environment is in the their favor. Republican Debbie Lesko won over Democrat Hiral Tipirneni by about a 5-point margin. But in 2016, Trump won by a 21 point margin.

Trump tweeted “Congratulations to Republican Debbie Lesko on her big win in the Special Election for Arizona House seat. Debbie will do a Great Job! Press is so silent.” Press wasn’t silent – more like Lesko was expected to win in a safe seat. Was only a big win because she could of easily lost if there was a scandal [like Roy Moore] but she was clean.

Trump tweeted ” Arizona, please get out today and vote @DebbieLesko for Congress in #AZ08. Strong on Border, Immigration and Crime. Great on the Military….” That sounds like what he wants, not what she is running for. Surprised no Trump Wall mentioned or it would be obvious it was what he wants.

Is Trump plagiarizing himself? In another tweet, he said “@MarshaBlackburn is a wonderful woman who has always been there when we have needed her. Great on the Military, Border Security and Crime.” Look at the previous tweet quote.

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration must resume DACA, a program that has shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. It would also require the administration to accept requests from first-time applicants for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

After Kanye West launched an ongoing series of tweets about his admiration of Donald Trump calling him “my brother”, he sort of retracted by saying “I don’t agree with everything Trump does.” However, he did get his hat signed. Trump then tweeted “Kanye West has performed a great service to the Black Community.” Like what service?

Trump tweeted “The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup. It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?” Maybe either because of your comments or the fact that sporting events and politics shouldn’t mix or maybe because soccer [football] is bigger elsewhere.

Trump tweeted “Kim Strassel of the WSJ just said, after reviewing the dumb Comey Memos, ‘you got to ask, what was the purpose of the Special Counsel? There’s no there there.’ Dan Henninger of the WSJ said Memos would show that this would be one of the weakest obstruction cases ever brought!” Are they [practicing] lawyers? Probably just Trump loving reporters.

Trump admitted on Fox News that he’s been too busy to get a birthday gift for his wife, first lady Melania Trump, who turned 48 years old this week. Trump added that he did get the first lady “a beautiful card and some beautiful flowers.” [Of course actually bought by someone else. Did he actually pay?]

Trump tweeted “I would rather deal just with France. The [European] Union is very tough for us. They have trade barriers that are unacceptable.” Is there anything acceptable to him?

As part of the fallout from Trump’s tariff increases on steel and aluminum, prices for everything from razor blades to pop/soda will be increasing up to 30% this year.

A former Cambridge Analytica director claims that during the 2016 election campaign, the company had exclusive access to user data from breitbart.com – former chief of staff Stephen Bannon’s web site.

The Washington Post reported that only two companies still sell Trump-branded products, down from 19 listed by Trump in 2015. A Trump cologne, one of his few remaining items, costs $9.99 an ounce, marked down from $42.

Canadian singer Shania Twain “apologize to anybody I have offended in a recent interview with the Guardian” where she said she would of voted for Trump if she was an American.

“I can die happy now with Trump Job performance,” stated Mary Matalin and tweeted by Trump. “A great overall President, stunning!” Of course she works with the Republican Party. If he was doing so well, wouldn’t these comments be more often?

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Could the GOP lose both House and Senate?

It’s possible.

Just over 6 months away from the US mid-term elections and things are not looking good for Donald Trump.

In the latest special election, the Republican candidate won by just 5% in an area of Arizona that is heavily Republican. Republicans won that same area by 21% in the last election in 2016. The winner had no scandals to hurt her chances.

In 2018 Tennessee Senate race to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Bob Corker, where Trump won by 61% in 2016, current polls have Democrat candidate, Phil Bredesen, who was re-elected in 2006 with 69% of the vote, leading the Republican challenger Marsha Blackburn anywhere from a 3% to a 10% lead.

Even now, Trump is starting to help Blackburn with tweeting with a vote 6+ months away.

In 9 special elections in 2017 and 2018 [8 in the House and 1 in the Senate], the Democrats gained points in every election. While they still lost in some that were heaving Republican strongholds, they made quite a bit of ground averaging about 17 points increase.

Remember that the democrats won seats in Arizona and Pennsylvania – both previously Republican strongholds. Both also had controversial candidates – remember Roy Moore?

The Republicans thought they could have a cushy lead as most of those up for re-election in the senate are Democrats with some in states won by Trump in 2016. But with the major loses in seats and Republican voters, the GOP could be heading to a big defeat in November.

Even now, in the House, the GOP have a sizable lead but with so many toss up races leaning towards the Democrats – let alone quite a few Republican leaning seats – the House could switch over to Democrats.

If the Democrats take over the House, it will be difficult for Trump to pass anything. If they take both, Trump will be a lame duck President.

This could further cause problems for Trump as it could increase chances of impeachment.

 

A semi-quieter Trump this week after 100 days

Of 38 specific promises Donald Trump made in his 100-day “contract” with voters, he’s accomplished 10, mostly through executive orders that don’t require legislation. He hasn’t started on 15 of his 100-day promises, which include several immigration laws, college affordability, infrastructure incentives and punishment for companies that move jobs overseas.

While Trump claims he doesn’t seem to care about the 100-day mark of his administration, he plans a whirlwind of activities seeking to highlight accomplishments. What those are, few know. Bombing Syria twice. After that? He claims job creation but how many were already in place prior to his election? Pipeline? Debatable. Trade?

Exiting TPP may or may not be a positive thing. Regulation cuts? Again. Debatable as some will make things easy to be done with little approval. He claims ethics. He should look in his own backyard. He claims travel restrictions but other than the electronics ban, it’s been a dismal failure. He claims constructing the wall but not an inch has been built. He claims new hires for immigration enforcement but he can’t find people to hire for border security. He claims helping women but he is killing planned parenthood.

On the 100th day – same day as a possible government shutdown – he will be in Atlanta for a National Rifle Association event as well as sign more executive orders while aides fan out around the country to promote the administration. There he said the second amendment was under “assault” for 8 years.

Trump, not surprising, is fuming over the less than stellar reviews of his first 100 days. Add to his tarnishing of the office [claiming that Obama tapping phones, illegal voters voted for Hillary Clinton, insulting allies] and failure to pass some executive orders [travel ban twice ]or to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Many campaign initiatives have been changed, failed or just ignored. Others such as comments about NATO, China and Russia have changed. He also has lost quite a few people he hired after the election like Michael Flynn and a few others aren’t doing well either.

Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, did not disclose foreign payments, despite a warning from the Pentagon in 2014. Spicer blamed the Obama administration, saying Flynn got top security clearance last year [they vetted him]. Spicer said Trump’s White House didn’t review Flynn’s security clearance, but rather relied on previous clearance from the Obama administration. Yup. Put the blame on someone else.

Trump said that he will move forward with terminating NAFTA if negotiations don’t success. For now, however, he is focused on reworking the agreement with Mexico and Canada. This even though he spoke to the Mexican President and Canadian Prime Minister and said he wouldn’t. Sounds a bit like a spoiled brat.

Trump hosed Canada’s softwood lumber industry when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the tariffs, or taxes, were being imposed after trade talks on dairy products fell through. The tariffs — also called duties — ranged from 3% to 24% on five specific Canadian lumber companies. For all other Canadian lumber companies, there’s a nearly 20% tariff on exports to the US. Of course why lumber when dairy products negotiations failed? It was in early February when trump met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that NAFTA would only be “tweaked” with Canada.

Canada is expected to file a complaint with the trade dispute court. They did in 2004 after a similar huge tariff imposed and the US lost. They also filed 4 other times and Canada won all of them.

The lumber tax is expected to hike the price of lumber used in home building by an average of 6% [$3,000], according to the National Association of Home Builders, the trade group for the U.S. industry. Builders argue that higher prices will translate into a slowdown of construction activity that could cost 8,000 U.S. jobs and $500 million in lost wages. With the possible lack of lumber, it will drive up prices across the US.

So the Trump administration is “helping” the lumber industry at the expense of new home owners and builders. An executive for the U.S. Lumber Association says that $3,000 is nothing if the average home is $225,000 [where?]. But that is about 1.5%, not 6%. 6% would be about $13,500. He’s dropping the increased cost so it doesn’t look as bad.

World Trade Organization ruled in Mexico’s favor, allowing it to impose trade sanctions worth $163 million a year against the US. The WTO says that’s how much money Mexico has lost from the US unfairly penalizing Mexican tuna. Mexican officials insisted for years that US laws discriminated against their tuna, and that other countries didn’t face the same level of enforcement.

In more fibbing from Trump, he claimed that after he threatened to do the preliminary work to kill NAFTA [even though he always said he would “tweak” it], he said that the Canadian Prime Minister and Mexican President called him to work on fixing NAFTA but at least the Canadian Prime Minister said Trump initiated the call. Who would you believe?

The killing of NAFTA would cause major havoc with the economies of the 3 countries that could affect other economies. It may not be as complicated as Brexit but it would be complicated and would need approval from Congress [which trump has issues right now]. At least 33 states trade heavily with Canada – many voted for Trump.

Trump plans on announcing tax reform which would drop the corporate tax rate from 35 per cent to 15 per cent and drop the personal tax as well. But some experts doubt that by dropping the tax rate can the current deficit [about $560 billion] not increase even if it helps the economy to improve as it would need a big jolt to do so. Also whether or not the Automatic Minimum Tax will be changed or removed . This tax is applied to the wealthy as the minimum they must pay, no matter what they deducted in charities, loopholes, etc. In one year Trump could of saved over $30 million if AMT wasn’t around.

With a higher deficit, the Trump plan could damage the credibility of Republican lawmakers who spent years railing against the rising national debt under former President Barack Obama. Could be harder to pass lasting tax reform, since any policy that increases the debt above its baseline either requires Democratic support or — if passed by a slim majority of Republicans in the Senate — would expire in a decade.

Republicans who slammed the growing national debt under President Barack Obama have said they are open to Trump’s tax plan, even though it could add trillions of dollars to the deficit over the next decade. Republicans argue the cuts would spur economic growth, reducing or even eliminating any drop in tax revenue. But some had a change of heart after they saw the changes. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation said a big cut in corporate taxes, even if temporary, would add to long-term budget deficits.

In the brief outline for tax reform, it will slash the business tax rate on pass-through entities to 15% from 39.6%. [Pass-throughs’ profits flow through to the owners, partners and shareholders, who then report and pay tax on them through their individual tax returns.] All Trump family holdings are pass-throughs. So for every $1 million earned, Trump would pay $150,000 under his own plan instead of $396,000 today. From his leaked 2005 tax return, he would of saved $27 million.

Trump brought the complete Senate to his shack for a meeting to discuss North Korea. But “We learned nothing you couldn’t read in the newspaper,” Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley. Trump himself was only there for 14 minutes of the 60 minute briefing.

Trump claimed again that he was directly responsible for helping save $700 million on a February order of 90 F-35s — adding that costs will continue to shrink as more planes are delivered despite warnings from a non-partisan federal watchdog agency that testing delays could increase costs by more than a billion dollars. The program itself is worth $400 billion. So that’s a savings of 0.175%. He doesn’t explain what he did. Maybe he got had them remove the landing gear or something else less vital.

Trump tweeted “The Democrats don’t want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members” Not quite. More like the cost [estimated over $15 billion] is too much. As of this time, nothing yet built even though Trump had promised in his campaign. He also said that Mexico would pay but that won’t happen.

Bidders for the wall must have designs able to repel pickaxes and sledgehammers for at least an hour and be esthetically pleasing from the north side. One bidder suggested adding solar panels which would generate 2 megawatts of electricity an hour. Another bid suggests building a wall large enough for a deck that would offer tourists scenic views of the desert.

A federal judge blocked the Trump administration from enforcing a threat to take away funds from sanctuary cities — the latest blow from the federal judiciary to Trump’s immigration agenda.

“First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities-both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!” Trump tweeted. Of course he wants to send everything to the Supreme Court [especially since he has his new lackey appointed]. But the judge who handed the ruling is not on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit would hear the case next if appealed.

Democrats and Republicans voted overwhelmingly on a bill to keep the federal government open through next week, averting a shutdown while negotiators hammer out a broader deal to fund agencies through September. Trump’s wall building request wasn’t included.

After a gunman killed a police officer on the Champs-Elysees, an attack the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for, Trump tweeted: “Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!” Some suggest he was referencing far-right Marine Le Pen and her party [known in the past to be anti-Semitic, anti-immigration, anti-EU].

So Ivanka was whining on the Today Show recently saying that it is a human crisis regarding the Syrian refugees. Meanwhile what has her father done? Banned them. Maybe they should do some coordinating.

The US economy only grew at an annual pace of 0.7% in the first three months of the year under Trump, according to the Commerce Department’s report on the GDP. It was the slowest quarter of growth since the first quarter of 2014.

“Our rights are under attack like never before,” the NRA says on its website. But from where? They have a supposedly conservative “president”. The gun industry grew from 166,000 employees in 2008, the year Obama was elected, to 301,000 last year. But since Trump has been in charge, gun sales have dropped.

In a recent poll, 32% still believe that Obama spied on Trump and it jumps to 52% when Republicans are asked. This considering that there is no evidence to support this.

A new CNN/ORC poll finds Trump reaches this milestone holding on to the lowest approval rating of any newly-elected president after 100 days. Overall, 44% say they approve of Trump’s handling of the presidency, 54% disapprove.

In an AP poll, eighty-six per cent of Democrats and 57 per cent of independents oppose new spending for a border wall with Mexico. Republicans break about 2-1 in favour of the wall, but that’s more narrow support than on other priorities. By a 64 per cent to 19 per cent margin, most oppose decreasing spending on scientific and medical research. Most Americans also oppose cuts to spending on the environment and on climate change, by a 52 per cent to 28 per cent margin. Finally, Americans are more likely to oppose than favour cutting spending for public television, radio and the arts, 44 per cent to 32 per cent.

Only 32 percent of millennials approve of his performance so far, according to a poll released by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. About 40% said they would give Trump an “F” on his first 100 days, and only a third said they support his handling of ISIS and Obamacare. Nearly 70% of young people, regardless of political ideology, said Trump’s tweeting is “not appropriate” and expressed reservations about cracking down too hard on immigration and jettisoning Obamacare.

 

And the Trump misses keep on coming

After a hail storm of comments from both Democrats and Republicans, both Donnie Trump and his campaign chairman Paul Manafort claimed he was being sarcastic when Trump wanted the Russians to find those missing 30,000 emails from Hillary Clinton’s former mail server. Other big Republicans gave further excuses without saying that Trump said the comments sarcastically. They even couldn’t agree on what to say as Trump campaign communications adviser, Jason Miller, said that Trump never urged or invited Russia to hack Clinton’s emails but Trump was “clearly saying” that if Russia or anyone else already had Clinton’s deleted emails they should share them with the FBI. Trump never mentioned or implied the FBI in his comments. Trump directly mentioned Russia. The defense of what Trump said only started after the uproar almost a day later. Seems all the Republicans were asked to defend his actions.

The Muslim parents of a US soldier scolded Trump for not doing the right thing as their son paid the ultimate sacrifice. Trump responded on ABC by saying he has done the “sacrifice” by creating thousands of jobs and then said the mother wasn’t given the chance to say something because of her religion. The couple responded that giving one’s life is not the same as creating jobs and she said she was caught up in the moment and preferred to have her husband talk.

Trump “senior” advisor to Trump, Jeff Sessions, was acting like a politician on CNN by ignoring the questions asked in an interview. When asked about what Trump said about the Muslim soldier who died, he changed gears and whined about immigration policies. When asked about Trump’s possible investments by Russians in his organization and how friendly Trump is, Sessions talked in general about leaders of the world with questionable leadership.

Donald Trump Jr. claims Barack Obama “plagiarized” seven words from his speech at the Republican National Convention, during the president’s address to Democrats when Obama used his line, “That is not the America I know.” Problem is that former President George W. Bush used the same words in a 2002 speech on the Iraq war, and Obama used the words in a 2010 speech in Cleveland. Nice try, Junior.

According to the networks, Trump’s RNC speech drew 2 million more viewers than Hillary Clinton’s DNC speech. Wonder if most came to see what further controversies he would start.

“I didn’t produce the show – I just showed up for the final speech on Thursday,” Trump told The New York Times when asked about the differences between the two parties’ conventions. This after ratings said the Democrats had higher ratings. Oh I’m sure Trump had his grubby hands in the preparation of the convention.

Trump has said “Nobody knows the system better than me” in his convention speech. I wonder if that include tax loopholes.

Trump told The Washington Post in April that he wanted to add “showbiz” touches to the typically drab event. But it was fairly drabby. Many music and Hollywood celebrities showed up for the Democrats. Not as much for the Republicans.

In 2014, Trump sold off the rights to the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants. If you remember there was a major goof in the following Universe pageant where the winner was not crowned but instead the runner up was. Trump tweeted “Very sad what happened last night at the Miss Universe Pageant. I sold it 6 months ago for a record price. This would never have happened!” Wondering how you can stop announcing the wrong winner by mistake – and he sold the pageants 3 months prior – not 6.

NBC [who broadcast the pageants] broke off its ties with Trump in June amid widespread criticism of the candidate’s comments about Mexican immigrants [calling them “rapists”]. The network decided not to televise the Miss USA pageant in July 2014. Trump indicated that he would take legal action [as usual] against the network, but the dispute was resolved in September when he purchased NBC’s half of the pageant organization. Then he promptly sold it to the giant talent agency WME/IMG.

Trump and other Republicans have complained about Obama [in his last months in office] nominating a replacement for the Supreme Court and the Republicans objecting says it could tip the balance for decades. A bit odd since there are up to 3 Supreme Court justices who could retire within the next Presidential term. Not all are Democrats or Republicans but a mixture.

Trump’s net worth is now $3 billion, according to Bloomberg’s latest Billionaire Index, which was updated on Tuesday. That’s little changed from Bloomberg’s $2.9 billion estimate a year ago. Meanwhile, Trump’s debt level nearly doubled over the past year to $630 million. Trump had $350 million in debt last year. Much of Trump’s increased debt was due to an additional $170 million he borrowed to renovate an old post office building in Washington, converting it into a luxury hotel.

Trump insists his net worth is more than $10 billion. But much of that discrepancy is due to Trump’s own estimates for the value of his brand. Bloomberg says Trump’s ability to license his name is worth $35 million. Trump says it’s worth $3.3 billion. Other estimates put Trump’s net worth much closer to Bloomberg’s reading. Forbes says his net worth is $4.5 billion, while Fortune puts his net worth at $3.9 billion

Wright State University is pulling out of its presidential debate scheduled for September 26, saying that the university decided to pull out of the debate due to rising security concerns and costs. He said insufficient fundraising forced the university to pull out of the debate, which could have cost the university as much as $8 million.

In addition to blaming the IRS audit, Trump has said in interviews that it might not make political sense for him to put out his returns. IRS says there’s no legal reason Trump can’t make the tax returns public even as they are under review. Some claim he doesn’t want to give details because it will show that he would of paid an effective very tax rate and/or reveal ties with foreign investors – something he denies. [Bill and Hillary Clinton paid an overall federal tax rate of 31.6 per cent between 2007 and 2014, her returns showed. In 2014, they donated almost 11 per cent of their income to charity. In 2012 Mitt Romney had paid an effective tax rate of 14.1 per cent, far lower than the average person.] Both a Republican and a Democrat donor offered rewards [to be given to charity] if Trump released his taxes.

Trump adviser Stephen Miller says in a statement the Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state “should know how many lives she put at risk.” There’s no evidence Clinton’s actions put any lives at risk. They also accused the Clinton campaign of fear tactics – as if the Republicans didn’t do any last week.

CNN investigated Trump’s hiring practices at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in South Florida. The U.S. Department of Labor confirmed that between 2013 and the fall of 2015, the resort posted 250 seasonal job openings and filled just four of those jobs with American workers. The club requested the rest of the staff be temporarily imported through the federal government’s H-2B visa process. “It’s almost impossible to get help,” Trump claimed. Mar-a-Lago did not place advertisements in the area’s largest newspaper. Instead, ads were placed in a local paper with a small circulation and the ads were routinely posted for just two days, the minimum required by law.

A December report from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center found that Trump’s tax plan would reduce federal revenue by $24.5 trillion over 20 years. The center noted that any increase in economic growth would not be enough to counter the revenue loss. Instead, unprecedented spending cuts would be needed.

“Our taxes are too high. Our wages are too high. We have to compete with other countries.” Trump said in November and after that criticism he since has said that Americans should “get more” in wages.

In March, Newsweek reported that a video focusing on the “Brussels Attacks” was released by the pro-ISIS al-Battar Media Foundation. The nine-minute video shows images of Trump and uses an audio clip of Trump saying, “Brussels was one of the great, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, 20 years ago. It was amazing, actually, and safe. Now, it’s an absolute horror show.”

 

Those wacky US politics

US politics get funnier and funnier all the time.

You remember the Clint Eastwood film American Sniper a couple of years back. It starred Bradley Cooper and others and gave Cooper an Academy award nomination for his portrayal of United States Navy SEAL veteran and sniper Chris Kyle.

Kyle ended up being the top snipers the US military ever had with around 150 kills and a bunch of medals. He was killed in 2013 by a U.S. Marine Corps veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

So during the DNC convention in his home town of Philadelphia, Cooper was spotted in the crowd with his girlfriend. He wasn’t on stage and unsure if he was interviewed at the convention.

Some Twitter users say they mow plan to boycott Cooper’s future films over his presence at the convention. Another commented that they thought his experience playing Kyle or a US Navy Seal would have rubbed off on him. I guess they didn’t know which side he’s on. [All Navy Seals are Republican?]

To boycott because he is a Democrat [when some thought he wasn’t] is childish and ridiculous.

By now most people do have an idea which side of the isle celebrities prefer [with the majority siding with the Democrats]. Eastwood is a Republican voter. Obviously Cooper is not.

Then let them boycott any movie that had a Democrat for any acting position, producer or director. They won’t see any movies then.

 

Post RNC blues with Trump

With the convention ended, Donald Trump claims that the convention was the best ever convention and the party unified with no violence. I guess he didn’t see what happened outside or those who were against him who tried to force a roll call [among other things]. And he forgot that no living former Republican Presidents and nominees were at the convention. It was the longest speech in convention history at 75 minutes.

He has already stated that he will push more “law and order” in the US. Trump also declared that “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” Uh huh. He claimed crime and illegal immigration have gone up when they didn’t. He didn’t explain how he’ll fix the crime issue [maybe other than deporting illegal immigrants]. The “law and order” phrase has been used by [just about] every GOP nominee since 1968.

According to one site, 70% of the 25 claims by Trump in his speech were false.

Trumps claim that the number of police officers who died in duty has jumped 50% compared to this time last year. More like 8% according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Intentional shootings are up about 75% [but that wasn’t his claim].

“My opponent has called for a radical 550 per cent increase in Syrian (refugees). … She proposes this despite the fact that there’s no way to screen these refugees…” No facts about the increase. Refugees are screened by Homeland Security with less coming from Syria.

“America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world.” But the U.S. tax burden is actually the fourth lowest among the 34 developed and large emerging-market economies.

“My opponent wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment” but has not proposed any revocation of the constitutionally protected right to bear arms. She does support a ban on certain military-style weapons.

“Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens,” Trump said in his speech.

So the plagiarism speech trumped everything else in the first night of the GOP convention. How could you not say that in both speeches “….you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say …” [exactly the same] and Paul Manafort [Trump’s campaign manager] says “What she did was use words that are common words.” Common words? Common yes, but not when about 18 words in a row are identical.

Christie isn’t too smart. 93% of the speech is different. Doesn’t know how he came up with that [sounds like something Trump would do] and technically admitting that 7% is the same.

The Donald got into the act as well by tweeting something regarding his wife’s [plagiarized] speech. Someone compared that to the tweet Barak Obama did after Michelle’s speech 8 years ago and even they resemble each other!

Trump claims his wife’s speech is the most popular speech ever. Uh huh. More popular than Martin Luther King’s “I had a dream” or from the numerous quotations from previous presidents including Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down that wall”.

RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer says Melania Trump’s speech was not plagiarized, claiming similar phrases appear in many popular songs and the television show “My Little Pony.”

Sort of admitting there was a problem with Melania Trump’s speech, Donald Trump Jr. told reporters he was proud of Mrs. Trump’s speech but people in the campaign “should have cleaned it up better.”

“The Daily Show” pointed out two sentences in Donald Trump Jr.’s speech that appeared essentially verbatim in a May column by conservative writer Frank Buckley in “The American Conservative.” But Buckley said “I was a principal speechwriter for the speech. So it’s not an issue.” [So Buckley either has little new to say or likes to recycle his material.]

Tuesday night, Donald Trump’s spokesman tweeted that the campaign saw no issue with the speech and blamed the Hillary Clinton team for raising the accusations — although there was no evidence to link Clinton to the controversy.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said he “probably” would have fired his own speechwriters under similar circumstances.

A couple days after Melania Trump’s speech, Melania’s speech writer Meredith McIver claimed that Melania admired Michelle Obama. Melania read some of Michelle’s speech and McIver used it in Melania’s speech without checking. She offered to resign and Donald Trump said no. I am wondering if some of the Republicans could have called it some type of Democratic Party plot because McIver is a registered Democrat.

Ted Cruz was not expected to offer a full-throated endorsement in his speech at the convention, nor to rock the boat too much, given that his remarks were being vetted by Trump’s people. Censorship? And he didn’t. He never endorsed Trump during his speech and was booed when he left the stage. Meanwhile, he had set up a stage earlier in the day to start getting support going for 2020 – so I guess he doesn’t expect Trump to win in November.

Trump‘s top adviser Paul Manafort saying Cruz “used very bad judgment” and was “not respectful to the invitation by the convention to come and speak.” Hmmm. They knew his stance before the convention. Cruz told Trump two days prior to the convention. Do the GOP force everyone in the party to indorse the candidate? Sounds more like some far right position than a democracy. In addition, if Trump didn’t go after Cruz, his father and his wife so hard during the primaries, maybe he would of reluctantly endorse Trump. Trump said later on Twitter that Cruz’s lack of an endorsement was “no big deal!” But the day after the convention he complained about Cruz again.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said “Donald Trump won our party’s nomination because he is willing to tell the truth about the things that matter most.” Well, when did Trump say anything truthful?

Some big political names did not attending the Republican convention in Cleveland. They include the last two Republican presidents [both Bushes], Mitt Romney and John McCain. Neither are friends Tom, baseball’s Bobby Knight and boxing promoter Don King. He has included 2 of 3 VP nominees, a few of the nominees he was competing against and a bunch of celebrities [nobody really huge]. Fractured party?

A bit ridiculous that you can have a vote on a proposal just by yelling out yay or nay. When surely one side has no chance, one will drown out the other but when the two are close enough, it is not accurate. I can see some lawyers rubbing their hands.

Trump declined to speak at a conference to the NAACP citing the conference is the same weekend as the Republican convention in Cleveland while the NAACP conference is not that far away in Cincinnati.

 

Some more Trump news

Ahead of a Clinton speech in Atlantic City, Trump said that he “made a lot of money” off his properties and left before the downturn and blamed the city’s problems on politicians’ “big mistakes.” But in fact, two of his casinos’ three bankruptcies occurred in years when overall Atlantic City gambling revenue was rising. For example, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc. went bust in 2004, Atlantic City’s casino revenues were on their way to an all-time high.

Trump filed for bankruptcy on the Taj Mahal in 1991 and the Trump Castle Associates in 1992. He later filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Trump Hotel & Casino Resorts in 2004 and Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2009. Trump has defended the bankruptcies by noting that he never personally went bankrupt. So he doesn’t mind if people lose their jobs and homes but it’s OK for him.

Trump pushed back against criticism of his companies’ bankruptcy history, repeating his argument that like other smart businessmen, he “used, brilliantly, the laws of the country” to his advantage. Trump claims that major companies have gone bankrupt [multiple times] but Clinton used CNN reporting saying that no major U.S. company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the last 30 years more than Trump’s casino empire.

“I have used the laws of this country … the (bankruptcy) chapter laws, to do a great job for my company, for myself, for my employees, for my family.” Didn’t he used the term “rigged” to describe Clinton’s mail server issue? Unsure how declaring your company bankrupt can help anyone except yourself. See this video.

Seems even Trump’s campaign hats “Make America Great Again” may not be totally made in America. At least one of the hats in a small sample tested by the AP and an outside expert did not contain the specific type of American-made fabric. Informed of the AP’s findings, Trump said any misrepresentation would be unacceptable. “I pay a good price for that hat. If it’s not made in the USA, we’ll bring a lawsuit.”

In addition to the fabric analysis, two of the manufacturer’s employees, including a top sales agent, said the hats’ fabric, bills and stiffeners were imported from overseas. The factory’s owner, Brian Kennedy of Cali-Fame of Los Angeles Inc., said the two employees were wrong, but he declined to explain the fabric discrepancy. Federal law requires that items labeled “Made in USA” be made from materials “all or virtually all” from the United States.

Trump’s private companies and the clothing line run by his daughter Ivanka routinely sell clothes and other products made in China and other Asian countries.

Trump’s campaign sells its hats for $25 to $30 each on its website. It was unclear how many it has sold, but the campaign has paid Cali-Fame nearly $1.5 million for hats through the end of last month. The knockoffs, sometimes worn by Trump supporters at his rallies, can be had for as little as $6 on amazon.com

Trump has praised former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s ruthlessness. “Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, right? … But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good.” Trump has previously said the world would be “100 per cent better” if dictators like Hussein and Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi were still in power. Meanwhile, Iraq was listed by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Trump previously has retweeted messages with questionable profiles. For example, Trump retweeted inaccurate crime statistics that vastly overstated the percentage of whites killed by blacks.

Marco Rubio decided to run for the Senate again because “the Senate’s role of being able to act as a check and balance on bad ideas from the president I think are going to matter more in 2017.” Is he aiming those remarks at Clinton or Trump?

In seven of 15 countries outside of the U.S. polled [Canada, 10 European countries and 4 Asian countries] by Pew Research Center, Trump’s ratings are in the single digits. Large majorities in 11 of the countries have little or no confidence in the prospective Republican presidential nominee ability to manage international affairs. That includes 92 per cent of Swedes, 89 per cent of Germans and 82 per cent of Japanese. He polls best in China, where there is a split between 40 per cent who have no confidence in Trump and 39 per cent who do not offer an opinion.

Some swing states [those which flip flop in elections between Democrats and Republicans] are swinging towards the Democrats because of Trump’s comments he has made against various minority groups. Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico could turn on Trump. That’s 21 electoral votes. All brought Dubya into the White house 12 years ago. While Clinton has visited them and spent money on advertising, Trump has yet to visit them and spent very little. Very little staff in those states for Trump either. Even the political arm on the NRA has spent little.

Trump has also whined because Obama is using Air Force One as he is helping Clinton with her campaign. Previous Presidents have help [although not Bill Clinton or Dubya], so why isn’t she allowed? Maybe Trump expects Obama and entourage to fly economy class on an American Airlines flight. The cost of flying Air Force One for political travel is divided between the federal government [using taxpayer dollars] and the candidate’s political organization. Because Obama is traveling to Charlotte [in this case] solely for the purpose of stumping for Clinton, her campaign [or the DNC] would have to foot a portion of the bill whether the candidate was aboard or not.

A poll from Fox News stating 58% thought Clinton was corrupt while 38% say she is honest. Remember this is Fox. It’s like going to a redneck bar and asking who likes beer…

Not surprising, Trump wants out of various trade deals saying jobs were lost. While 5.5 million manufacturing jobs over the past 25 years, there has been an increase of close to 1 million jobs in manufacturing in the last 6 years. There were just under 16.9 million people employed in manufacturing in the U.S. at the start of 1994. The figure rose to as high as 17.6 million in 1998 and remained above 17 million until March of 2001, when George W. Bush was President [coincidence?]. As well, if raising tariffs on Mexico, Japan and China would cost the average household $2,200 a year according to experts.

Trump has repeatedly said he prefers someone with political experience to help him guide his agenda through Washington as his running mate. So at least he admits he’s not a politician with experience. I think we knew that.

After meeting with Trump in June, social conservative leader James Dobson said he believed that Trump had found Christ and become a born-again Christian. Wow. Just after a meeting…

“If we’re going to deliver real change, we’re going to have to reject the campaign of fear and intimidation being pushed by powerful corporations, media elites, and powerful dynasties,” Trump said. “The people who rigged the system for their benefit will do anything and say anything to keep things exactly as they are.” This coming from a multi-billionaire who meets with business leaders in his [former] job.

While we know what Trump think of Muslim immigrants, former speaker Newt Gingrich’s thoughts are just as wacky. He proposes that there should be a test should be devised to check the safety credentials of Syrian refugees based on Sharia, or Islamic Law. Test possible terrorists about their laws? It’s like giving a Vatican Bishop a test to see if he knows about the Catholic faith…. Terrorists are hard core when it comes to their laws. They want Sharia law.