Trump going to a war zone?

Donald Trump said that vows to visit US troops in war zones, a remark that comes after he received widespread criticism for not visiting an American burial ground outside Paris, France, earlier this month and Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day. Of course, this is the same man who said his tax returns would be released to the public after an “audit”. That was 22 months ago. Long audit.

As he departed for Florida to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday at his private club in Palm Beach, Trump said he’d soon correct the oversight. “I’m going to a war zone,” he said again in response to a reporter’s question about his support for the troops. Does he mean a war zone in Florida?

Trump won the White House on a platform of ending U.S. military commitments abroad, but he’s been bedeviled by many of the same challenges as his predecessors. More American troops are now deployed in conflict zones than when he took office. This in addition to thousands to the Mexican border.

Trump also drew criticism for his decision not to visit Arlington National Cemetery to mark Veterans Day, following his trip to Europe. He said later he “should have” visited the cemetery but was too busy with official business. His public schedule that day listed no events.

When asked by “Fox News Sunday” interview, why he hadn’t visited the troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan in the two years he’s served as commander in chief, Trump said “Well, I think you will see that happen. There are things that are being planned.” Well, if it’s like his tax audit at the beginning of 2017 that still hasn’t been “completed”….

Trump told The Associated Press in a recent interview that he doesn’t think visiting troops in a war zone is “overly necessary.” “I’ve been very busy with everything that’s taking place here,” he added. That’s true. He keeps on causing problems and is busy trying to fix them.

Not surprisingly, Trump used a Thanksgiving morning call with military members to weigh in on a wide variety of sensitive political topics [US-Mexico border, trade, Ivanka Trump’s Email issue, Saudi Arabia killing, judges he doesn’t like, etc.], a stark departure from typical holiday greetings from the commander in chief.

Retired Rear Adm. John Kirby said “The President’s conduct on that call, the manner in which he politicized it, demonstrated an utter and complete disregard for what military service means.”

“I made a tremendous difference in this country,” Trump said to the troops. “This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office and you wouldn’t believe it and when you see it, we’ve gotten so much stronger people don’t even believe it.” So what did he do to make a difference?

Retired Adm. William McRaven stood by his previous statement that Trump’s attacks on the news media represent “the greatest threat to democracy” after Trump dismissed him as a “Hillary Clinton backer” in an interview that aired on Fox News. “I did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else,” McRaven, who commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden.

Trump also said that McRaven should of captured Bin laden long before he did. In fact, it was the CIA’s job to find where Bin Laden was hiding and McRaven’s job was to find Bin Laden but to capture him once found.

Trump told Fox News he does not want to hear the tape that allegedly contains audio of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing because it is “a suffering tape,” and said he has been briefed on its contents. At the same time he still believes the Crown Price over the CIA’s findings. Not surprising as well since Trump doesn’t back his own intelligence agencies.

Trump claims that Saudi Arabia would risk everything by causing problems with the world’s economy if he applied sanctions to them and any sanctions against Saudi Arabia will hurt US businesses. Yes, the all mighty dollar before anything else.

Trump signaled that he will not take strong action against Saudi Arabia or its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [known as “MBS”] for the death and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump said that “our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” said Trump even though his intelligence agencies said MBS is clearly involved. Again Trump prefers to believe a probably killer than those who are protecting him and the country.

And then money is involved. “If we abandon Saudi it would be a terrible mistake.” He also said he was “not going to destroy the economy of our country” over Khashoggi by giving up arms deals to Saudi Arabia. He thinks backing Saudi Arabia is a way to counter Iran. Well, Saudi Arabia would counter Iran whether or not the U.S. backs them.

Trump continues to use various government agencies to fight his battles when someone disagrees with him. He at one point was thinking of opening up full scale investigations into James Comey and Hillary Clinton but those running the investigations refused. Even his lawyer warned him that it was an abuse of power and he could be impeached for that. I guess Trump think that he has his own “army” and he can order them to do whatever he wants.

A heated argument in the West Wing between chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser John Bolton over a recent surge in border crossings turned into a shouting match. Trump, who has been auditioning some replacements, could push Kelly out faster than expected. Kelly hasn’t been happy and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen could be out soon as well.

Trump has floated possible replacements for Kelly, including Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers. But it seems Ayers is unpopular with aides at the White House. Ayers is an ambitious aide who has worked to insulate his current boss from the chaos of the West Wing, while also angling for a bigger job that would place him squarely in the middle of it. And a suck up and an inflated ego [like maybe his possible future boss.]

Even Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway opposed Ayers’ hiring as Pence’s chief of staff in 2017 where she erupted at then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was pushing for the move. Conway disputes those allegations, telling CNN: “I have zero beef with Nick Ayers.” Ayers was critical of Conway’s polling and wanted to oust her from the role as the campaign’s pollster in 2015 when Ayers joined Pence’s gubernatorial re-election campaign as a general consultant.

Chief Justice John Roberts made a rare statement pushing back against Trump after Trump again went after federal judges. Trump had slammed the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals again, this time after a judge from the Northern District of California — where cases get appealed to the 9th Circuit — issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Trump administration from barring migrants who cross into the US illegally from seeking asylum.

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

Trump has been a frequent critic of the 9th Circuit, and just a few months into his presidency, he said he was considering breaking up the circuit that covers a slew of Western states and Guam.

Trump tweeted after Roberts’ first vote in favor of Obamacare in 2012, “Congratulations to John Roberts for making Americans hate the Supreme Court because of his BS.”

“Justice Roberts can say what he wants, but the 9th Circuit is a complete & total disaster. … Judges must not Legislate Security and Safety at the Border, or anywhere else. They know nothing about it and are making our Country unsafe. ….. We want the Constitution as written!” tweeted Trump. No. Judges are there to make sure what is being done is acceptable to the laws of the country and the constitution and not turn the government into a dictatorship – the way it’s going.

Here is his big ego in action: Trump said that he “can’t imagine” anyone other than himself being named Time’s Person of the Year. The publication released the results of a reader poll to pick the Person of the Year. Trump finished tied for 13th with 2 percent of the vote.

Trump said the people who serve in his administration have gone on to be successful after leaving their positions, and pointed to former White House communications director Hope Hicks as an example. Yes, she is a good example, now at Fox as the executive vice president and chief communications officer, but what others?

Trump tweeted saying Democrats and Republicans “MUST come together, finally, with a major Border Security package, which will include funding for the Wall.” This is unlikely as the majority of Democrats oppose his Trump Wall.

When he mentioned Democratic leader Chuck Schumer in a tweet, he used a Schumer fan instead of the senator himself. Surprising since the number of times Schumer has been mentioned in his tweets.

Just days after CNN’s Jim Acosta’s press pass was returned to him after a judge granted the return of his access for 14 days, the white house may try again to revoke Acosta’s access by the end of the month. In response, CNN is asking the U.S. District Court for another emergency hearing. The judge did not rule on CNN’s argument that the revocation of Acosta’s press pass was a violation of his and the network’s First Amendment rights. In the end, the White House said that Acosta’s press pass has been “restored,” bowing to days of pressure and a federal lawsuit against the administration.

The White house is trying to gag some of the White house correspondents. Among the new rules:

  • Reporters may only ask “a single question” at a press conference.
  • Follow-ups will only be permitted “at the discretion of the President or other White House officials.” This has reporters upset already.
  • Reporters must “physically surrender” the mic when directed.

Violations of “any” of these rules “may result in suspension or revocation.” The correspondents’ association said it had “no role” in crafting what the White House sent out and have not agreed to the rules. “For as long as there have been White House press conferences, White House reporters have asked follow-up questions. We fully expect this tradition will continue.”

I can see it now: A reporter from Fox gets to ask his question and maybe a second or even a third without getting permission. Acosta actually is allowed to ask a question that Trump doesn’t like and when Trump does not answer, Acosta asks another question and is then escorted out of the White House.

Seems they never learn from other’s mistakes: According to emails released by the watchdog group, American Oversight, Ivanka Trump used her personal account to email Cabinet officials, White House aides and assistants. The Presidential Records Act requires all official White House communications and records be preserved.

The Washington Post reported the White House conducted an investigation into Trump’s email usage and that she used her personal email address for much of 2017. So the white house hid this from the public. Her father pushed his followers to say “Lock her up!” regarding Hillary Clinton after she used a non-government Email account. He also used the phrase “Crooked Hillary” because of it.

I am going to guess that if the White House or Trump [the father] comments about it, it will be either a denial or not the same or similar issue.

When Trump was asked about the non-government server usage, she said she was not familiar with some details of the rules. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Ivanka Trump lawyer said “While transitioning into government, until the White House provided her the same guidance they had to others who started before she did, Ms. Trump sometimes used her private account, almost always for logistics and scheduling concerning her family.”

With the Democrats now controlling the House, you can be sure that this Email issue will be added to the long list of potential investigations by the House.

I wouldn’t consider the two email controversies [Trump and Clinton] the same. Clinton used her own mail server that was controlled by her or an associate. Unsure what mail server Trump was using but O would guess on a public server [which is less secure] like Hotmail or Gmail.

The New York state attorney general’s civil lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation, Trump and his three eldest children can proceed after Justice Saliann Scarpulla denied their motion to dismiss the case. The judge ruled that a sitting president can face a civil lawsuit in state court for actions not taken in his official capacity. That ruling puts Scarpulla in agreement with another recent ruling against Trump, a decision in the defamation lawsuit brought against him from a former contestant on “The Apprentice.”

A federal judge based in San Francisco temporarily blocked the government from denying asylum to those crossing over the southern border between ports of entry. A policy announced November 9 barring asylum for immigrants who enter outside a legal check point ‘”irreconcilably conflicts” with immigration law and the “expressed intent of Congress.” “Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” said the judge.

After Republicans lost the House in the 2018 midterm elections, Trump said in an interview with Fox News that these losses couldn’t be tied to him because he was not on the ballot. We knew that was coming. Yet. He was taking credit for the GOP wins in the Senate.

We know Trump is childish with a very huge ego. “So funny to see little Adam Schitt (D-CA) talking about the fact that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was not approved by the Senate, but not mentioning the fact that Bob Mueller (who is highly conflicted) was not approved by the Senate!” Trump wrote.

Special counsel Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and like many other Department of Justice appointees, he did not require Senate confirmation for the position. Does Trump even know the rules of governing a country?

Regarding the California forest fires, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said in an interview that although Trump claimed the European leader told him Finns rarely have forest fires because they “spend a lot of time raking,” he doesn’t recall discussing that with Trump when they met recently in Paris. He said that they did discuss the California wildfires when they met, and that he told Trump “we take care of our forests.”

The White House Correspondents’ Association is shelving its tradition of having a comedian roast the president and the press corps at its annual fundraising dinner next April. Instead they will have famed author Ron Chernow. In previous years, this was the big press event. Getting a ticket was very hard. I am guessing it will be easier this time. Especially if you can’t roast Trump. So much material to choose from.

Trump is suggesting he might attend next year’s White House Correspondents Dinner now that the event is no longer featuring a comedian. “Maybe I will go?” I hope Ron Chernow roasts him!

Trump seem to have battles in multiple fronts this week

[And in some cases he opened his big mouth to start them.]

Donald Trump defended embattled Alabama Republican Roy Moore, all but endorsing the Senate candidate who has been accused of sexual assault. Trump is taking Moore’s word at it even with at least 8 accusers. One or two could be questionable. But 8?

“He denies it. Look, he denies it,” Trump said of Moore. “If you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours. He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen. And look, you have to look at him also.” Now what he said is confusing. What happened in the past 48 hours? And the last sentence?

Isn’t this a bit of favoritism? The Alabama Secretary of State said that on the election day and on the web site, the state plans to hand out how to write in a candidate on the ballot? This is like putting up a poster at the polling booth and say to write in another candidate. The Alabama secretary of state is a Republican, BTW.

The former Alabama GOP chairman said polls are useless and probably more Democrats were polled. This after a Fox News [not even a left wing] poll said Democratic candidate Doug Jones has a 12% lead. Wonder what he would of said if it was the other way.

The Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register and The Huntsville Times [all part of the Alabama Media Group] all rejected Moore saying that “there is only one candidate left in this race who has proven worthy of the task of representing Alabama. He is Doug Jones.”

Trump has not campaigned for Moore but one of his minions claimed as if it was because of the accusations when this issue came up after he won the Republican primary. As Trump has avoid commenting about Moore, looks more like he isn’t trying to help him. I guess Trump really doesn’t think he needs that Senate seat.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders previously said “Like most Americans, the President believes we cannot allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person’s life. The President also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.” First, who is saying he hasn’t done anything more recently? Because it is [say] over 20 years ago that it is past a certain statute of limitations? If so what is the difference between a judge [and Senate candidate] and say a celebrity that has been accused 20+ years ago?

Trump shot back at Lavar Ball, the father of one of the UCLA basketball players arrested in China, for belittling the President’s role in the students’ release. “Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar [sic] Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal,” Trump tweeted. “I should have left them in jail!”

Even Trump’s social media director, Dan Scavino, fire back saying “Wannabe @Lakers coach, BIG MOUTH @Lavarbigballer knows if it weren’t for President @realDonaldTrump, his son would be in China for a long, long, long time! #FACT.” Did Trump actually tweet that? Sounds like him. The three players did thank Trump at a press conference before Trump’s latest tweets. [Wow! Trump really likes to have his ego stroked.]

Trump said: “It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence – IT WAS ME.” And of course Trump has to go at Ball directly in his tweet by tweeting after “Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair.” And in another tweet, he ended with “Ungrateful fool!”

Apex Marketing Group said that Ball’s Big Baller Brand has received an estimated $13.2 million in advertisement as Trump and Ball exchanged barbs in recent days.

In another head scratcher, out of the blue, Trump tweeted “Crooked Hillary Clinton is the worst (and biggest) loser of all time. She just can’t stop, which is good for the Republican party. Hillary, get on with your life and give it another try in three years!” [I think most of us miss the 140 character tweet limit.]

Let’s break the tweet down. Clinton actually had more votes in the 2016 election than Trump and only lost by the way the electoral college is set up. In most countries, Clinton would of won the election. “She just can’t stop”. Stop what? She has been quiet. It is Trump that has been bring up the topic. Finally, Clinton has already stated she does not intend on running in 3 years.

Clinton did respond that Trump is “obsessed with my speaking out” and “between tweeting and golfing, how does he get anything done?”

Days ahead of what should be a major moment for Ivanka Trump on the world stage at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson isn’t sending a high-level delegation to support her amid reports of tensions between Tillerson and the White House. One source said “Rex doesn’t like the fact that he’s supposed to be our nation’s top diplomat, and Jared [Kushner] and now Ivanka have stepped all over Rex Tillerson for a long time.”

It is said that this not related to his key project of slashing the Department’s budget. No one higher than the deputy assistant secretary is allowed to participate. The secretary and his top staff have insisted on approving all travel. Tillerson won’t send someone senior because they don’t want to bolster Ivanka.

Speaking to five branches of the military serving overseas via satellite from Mar-a-Lago, Trump highlighted how the US military is “really winning” since he took office. “We know how to win, but we have to let you win. You weren’t winning before. They were letting you play even. We want to let you win,” Trump said, referencing the Obama administration. If you can figure what he said, good luck.

Problem is that while ISIS is on the run, it seems to be the Russians who did the brunt of the work.

[Note that I am not being negative to the military. I stand by them. I am more against the continuous exaggeration and taking credit by Trump.]

In his Thanksgiving speech, Trump said [among other things]:

  • “I still haven’t figured out how people take their boats out into a hurricane.” – I think no one would, except him.
  • “You saved 16,000 lives — nobody knows that — 16,000 lives.” – No one knows what that figure is about or came from. The Coast Guard did say they rescued 11,000 during Hurricane Harvey.
  • “But if you were looking at it as a brand, there’s no brand that went up more than the Coast Guard, with what happened in Texas.” – As if the “brand” is like Nike, Reebok or others. You can’t buy the Coast Guard – hopefully.
  • “I don’t know — I mean, they go out in a boat and they think, I guess, they’re — you know, they’ve got a wonderful boat, they’ve had it for years, it can weather anything.” – You scratching your head? I am.
  • “And it’s nice that you’re working for something that’s really starting to work.” – Another scratcher but I think he’s trying to say, they didn’t work under Obama but will with him. Need a Star Trek type Universal Translator to speak “Trump”.
  • “You know, when we sell to other countries, even if they’re allies — you never know about an ally. An ally can turn.” – That should help in selling American goods.

Remember those tax returns Trump didn’t want to be released claiming that he was being audited? Well, now the IRS has securely locked away those tax physical records in a vault. Very few have access. So what is he [or they] hiding?

Michael Flynn’s lawyers have told other defense lawyers in the ongoing Russia probe, including President Donald Trump’s legal team, that they’re no longer able to share information. The source added that the decision to cease informal information-sharing could be an indication Flynn is preparing to plead guilty in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Trump said on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t have time to golf [“never see them (his golf courses) again”]. Well, as of November 24th, he has spent roughly a quarter of his first year in office at the golf courses.

Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway said “we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through” less than a week after Conway said that “no Senate seat is worth more than a child” in the wake of a series of sexual allegations against Moore. So getting the tax bill is more important than this alleged sexual harasser? [Although by the way this tax bill is going, whomever wins the Senate seat will be voting on it a few times next year.]

Trump tweeted “ObamaCare premiums are going up, up, up, just as I have been predicting for two years. ObamaCare is OWNED by the Democrats, and it is a disaster. But do not worry. Even though the Dems want to Obstruct, we will Repeal & Replace right after Tax Cuts!” So he’s not twinning Obamacare and his tax bill now?

Trump slammed Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, calling his political career “toast” after he was caught on mic criticizing Trump and Moore at an event a couple of nights prior. [Why so long in the delay?] Flake was fielding questions about the Republican tax reform plan and a possible 2020 run against Trump when the incident occurred.

Trump said “Sen. Jeff Flake(y), who is unelectable in the Great State of Arizona (quit race, anemic polls)” Again, like previous times, Flake is stepping away as Senator, not because of “anemic” pools [how did Trump spell “anemic” right?]. But his polls are as anemic as Trump’s.

After photographs surfaced showing Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch standing during the Mexican national anthem and sitting during the US national anthem at a game against the New England Patriots in Mexico City, Trump called for his suspension and he had to add “Attendance and ratings way down”. Now you know of course attendance and ratings have dropped but Trump is as usual exaggerating. Of course the Raiders’ owner is probably laughing right now since it is unlikely that the NFL Players Association would allow that.

[Of course it is a rule for him to criticize anything he doesn’t like and then give some incorrect or exaggerated facts. The same in reverse when he praises something.]

Trump criticized a reported proposal that would ask NFL players to remain in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem rather than kneeling. “That’s almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart? This issue is killing your league!” Until 2009, players weren’t asked to be on the sidelines for the anthem.

Days later he added for no apparent reason “Can you believe that the disrespect for our Country, our Flag, our Anthem continues without penalty to the players. The Commissioner has lost control of the hemorrhaging league. Players are the boss!”

Trump had said previously he would push Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad out of office a number of times. But it looks like you can add this as another failure as Al-Assad’s military who once controlled just 19% of Syria a couple of months ago, now controls at least 50% of Syria including most of the major Syrian cities.

“Today the United States is designating the North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Should have happened a long time ago. Should have happened years ago,” Trump said. So after his name calling and threats, he only now decided to do it. 10 months into office. Trump said that North Korea has “repeatedly” sponsored acts of terrorism, including “assassinations on foreign soil.”

A former director of the US Office of Government Ethics says he filed an official complaint against White House counselor Kellyanne Conway for what he argues was a violation of the Hatch Act after she attacked GOP Alabama Senate hopeful Roy Moore’s opponent on television.

“I found the video. She’s standing In front of the White House. It seems pretty clear she was appearing in her official capacity when she advocated against a candidate,” said Walter Shaub.

 

Welcome to Black Friday – or maybe week if not month

Well, depending on where you are in the world, this week includes the US thanksgiving holiday. And as part of a recent “tradition” [read: in some cases, time to dump old stock!], Black Friday on Friday and the more recent Cyber Monday next Monday [December 1st]. It is the official kickoff of the shopping for gifts for Christmas [and I guess Channukah and others].

I’ve been a part of the online Cyber Monday for a while.

But really things have blurred as online [and in store] sales advertising Black Friday [or Cyber Monday] prices – or so they claim – for a number of weeks already.

The bigger question is whether or not some deals are actually deals or have already been marked down. Even still, are the regular prices over-inflated to begin with.

Here’s an example. A typical audio CD [not a special edition, or import or what have you] sells for about $12-$14 in most cases. The suggested retail price is probably in the $20 range. So if you see a CD at $10 with a 60% off sticker, you know the suggested price is inflated.

What I use to do way back when on Boxing Day [here in Canada] is “case” the local major CD/DVD store [there wasn’t any Blu-rays at the time], made a [mental] note because on Boxing Day [or the day after] when they had the big sales, I could figure out if there was anything really on special. Often enough something was [let’s say] $20 now and on Boxing Day it was $25 or $30 and then discounted to maybe $18.

Over the years this store [as part of a large Canadian chain] has seen stores closed. Their promotions [and not just on Boxing Day] weren’t competitive. They came in early for online shopping but just as online shopping was taking off, they killed the online shopping. Go figure.

So, if you are doing some shopping, do some homework prior to make sure what you are getting is an actual sale price.

PS – Like Canadians are getting into the Black Friday/Cyber Monday of late, Americans are starting to have their own Boxing Day sales – a tradition actually started by the British. Another time to sell good stuff as well as some older stuff.