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 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.


Soggy crisis after crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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