The ups and downs of Mr. Trump

Donald Trump denounced the chemical attack in Syria as an “affront to humanity”, declaring that it crossed “many, many lines” and cannot be tolerated. While Trump declared no retaliation initially, the US launched some 60 Tomahawk missiles at a base in northern Syria [let alone not far from Lebanon and Israel] to damage the base that was probably where the chemical came from. Trump had previously responded said disclosing military action ahead of time was a mistake the Obama administration had repeatedly made.

While some of the base was damaged, some of the Syrian fighters are housed under thick concrete barns [for a lack of better words] and may have suffered little damage.

The Russians were notified in advance of the attack. Unsure if they warned the Syrian government of the attack [which could allow them to move equipment away].

Senator Marco Rubio defended Trumps action saying it was legal as Syria used chemical weapons against international law as well as against previous agreements. He claims that trump did not have to notify congress of the attack because of what Syria did [and Americans are in the region] and it is up to Trump decide if he wants to do it again. A full scale attack would require Congress’ approval.

Russian President Vladimir Putin regards the US attacks on Syria as “an aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law, and under a trumped-up pretext at that,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. As if they never went into Ukraine, Georgia, Afghanistan, … for any real reasons.

Seems only those with “interests” in Syria [Russia, Iran and China] were against the airstrike. Even the UN Secretary General was not opposed but also not in favor of the airstrike. Instead he said basically Syria deserves what they got for using chemical weapons.

“President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a ‘red line’ against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing,” Press Secretary Sean “Garlic” Spicer said. Obama’s “red line” at the time was a threat of U.S. military action if Syria continued to use chemical weapons. Such consequences never came to pass, in part because the Republican-led Congress declined to hold a vote approving Obama’s proposed military action.

Trump himself had tweeted as recent as September 2013 that he agreed with Obama on not attacking unless crossing that “red line” and wanted no military in Syria. This included “President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your “powder” for another (and more important) day!”

So the line crossed with him in charge and he has done nothing. Shortly after Trump’s last tweets on the subject until now, Syria didn’t fire any chemical weapons until Trump was in charge. Does this mean that Trump is weak? Pushing buttons [dare] like North Korea does?

“Garlic” said in a Trump press release that a gas attack in a rebel-controlled area of Syria was perpetrated by the forces tied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and are a “consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution.” And yet US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, has said “Our priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out.” So nothing changes. As well, Trump tweeted during Obama’s presidency for saying it is “not our problem” and advocated restraint.

In fact, there seems to be more bombings done by US warplanes in Syria since Trump took charge – some causing civilian casualties including one a week ago that had 100+ deaths.

The US Senate is heading towards a showdown.

On January 31, Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his pick for the next Supreme Court justice, filling a seat vacated when Antonin Scalia passed away in early 2016.

President Barack Obama named Merrick Garland after Scalia’s death. But in the midst of a heated presidential election, Republicans refused to consider Garland’s nomination and kept the seat empty until the next president was sworn in.

Democrats also took issue with Gorsuch’s performance at his hearings, saying he was evasive in his answers, and they zeroed in on his decisions in a few cases, painting him as far-right and out-of-the-mainstream.

The GOP do not have enough votes to elect Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice [52-48]. 60 votes are needed. Four Democrats have said they’d vote for Gorsuch – but still not enough.

Since the GOP don’t have enough votes, the Democrats can sustain ae filibuster. Republicans can still get around the obstacle, but it would require using the unprecedented “nuclear option,” a change in Senate rules that would lower that 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees down to a simple majority of 51.

No one wants a change in the rules because it could lead to even more partisan animosity down the road, forever changing a historic element of the Senate.

The Democrats can’t prevent a vote on Gorsuch, however. After more voting and debating, a vote would be expected late Friday [April 7th].

Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky raised a point of order, suggesting that Supreme Court nominees should not be subjected to a 60-vote threshold but instead a simple majority in the 100-member Senate. So basically McConnell wants to rewrite rules and laws to suit what favors the GOP fter how many years?

Trump will be able to claim the biggest victory of his presidency to date if Gorsuch is confirmed as expected. But at what cost?

Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, has been removed from his permanent seat at the National Security Council. He supposedly only attended one meeting since he was invited to join the council in January. Tom Bossert, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, also had his role downgraded as part of the changes.

House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes announced that he was temporarily stepping aside from leading the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections. Nunes cited a series of ethics complaints filed against him alleging that he violated terms of discussing classified material following his clandestine meeting at the White House just over two weeks ago.

The Massachusetts city of Cambridge is weighing whether to call for an impeachment investigation into U.S. President Donald Trump. The proposed order calls on the U.S. House to back a resolution directing the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether there are grounds to impeach Trump. The city believes Trump has violated the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits government officials from profiting from foreign businesses.

The White house continues to deflect three investigations into the Kremlin’s interference in last year’s election and possible Russian ties to President Donald Trump or his associates. They are claiming how Obama administration officials allegedly leaked and mishandled classified material about Americans. Trump aides also contend that Hillary Clinton had more extensive ties to Moscow than Trump. They used the excuse that The truth is buried somewhere in classified material that is illegal to disclose.

Interesting to note that the Trump administration is whining about the “leaks” prior to Trump forming his government and further “leaks” with the new government. So nothing has changed. So either the “leaker” is part of both administrations or there is no “leaker”. I’m betting on the latter.

White House officials say some Obama holdovers are part of a so-called deep state out to tear Trump down. The White House latched onto a month-old television interview from an Obama administration official who said she encouraged congressional aides to gather as much information on Russia as possible before the inauguration. That official left the Pentagon in 2015. So they are wring again.

Some of the White House’s allegations against Hillary Clinton stem from her four years as secretary of state, a role that gave her ample reasons to have frequent contacts with Russia. That would be true, but unlike Trump’s dealings with Russia, there is no information out there that states that Clinton had any business dealings with them. No one [except trump] knows what kind of business dealings he has with Russia because he didn’t reveal his taxes. Meanwhile, Rex Tillerson, Trump’s secretary of state, has deep ties to Russia from his time running ExxonMobil.

Again with the laying unproven blame, the Trump administration says the Clinton-led State Department was among nine U.S. government agencies that had to approve the purchase of Uranium One. Some investors in the company had relationships with former President Bill Clinton and donated to the Clinton Foundation. Most of those donations occurred well before Clinton became secretary of state and was in position to have a say in the agreement. As well, 9 agencies had to approve of the sale.

Interesting. In a November 2012, tweet Trump said “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.” But 4 years later, a week after he won the election he said ” The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play. Campaigning is much different!”

In July 2012, Trump tweeted “Why is @BarackObama constantly issuing executive orders that are major power grabs of authority?” Meanwhile how many executive orders has he issued?

Quinnipiac approval rating for Trump is at 35%. Approval rate for “millennials” is at 21%.

Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has made a few attempts already to sell his baseball team. There was a “handshake agreement” worth $1.6 billion but the Kushner family backed out after it was revealed Loria was up for ambassadorship under Trump.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, while as governor of Texas, vetoed a bill that would make it illegal to text or use the Internet while driving even though the state politicians approved the measure. The number of road deaths [some attributed to texting] has increased by about 7% since he left office. Just this past week, 13 died when a driver, texting at night, was at least partially responsible for the cause. A new bill to try the bill again is in the works but not voted on yet. About 5 states allow texting while driving.

Trump dumped his first three months of his salary to the to the National Park Service with a check. Previously, Trump has clashed with the Park Service. A budget blueprint submitted by the Trump administration last month proposed an 11.7% funding cut for the Department of the Interior. He called the acting director in January to complain about a department re-tweet that compared crowd size at his inauguration to Barack Obama’s in 2009.

A federal judge has rejected President Donald Trump’s free speech defense against a lawsuit accusing him of inciting violence against protesters at a campaign rally. Trump’s lawyers sought to dismiss the lawsuit by three protesters who say they were roughed up by his supporters at a March 1, 2016 rally in Louisville, Kentucky. They argued that Trump didn’t intend for his supporters to use force. Much of it was captured on video and widely broadcast during the campaign, showing Trump pointing at the protesters and repeating “get them out.”

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Obama’s little debate

I guess with the ongoing fighting in Syria and Iraq against ISIS, US President Obama has a bit of an issue.

A couple of weeks ago, Russia decided to join the foray by bombing anything that isn’t a friend of Syria and the US coalition of countries.

The problem is that coalition also includes the Kurdish rebels and some other rebels who are not friends of the Syrian government.

So we have the Russians taking out not only ISIS positions but also the enemies of the Syrian President Assad regime – the Russians are doing Assad’s dirty work and Assad gets a two for one.

With the cold-ish war going on between the US and Russian, I don’t think the Russians will agree to not bomb US coalition friendlies.

With Russia’s economy tanking, I am guessing the Syrian regime is paying a nice pile of money of money to Russian to help pay for the attacks.

Meanwhile there are already claims that the Russian bombardments are doing much as a town in the direction of the Syrian city of Aleppo was taken over by ISIS right after a bombardment. In addition, other bombardments weren’t even hitting ISIS targets but abandoned sites. [Who is supplying the Russians with intelligence?]