Trump definitely back to “normal”

Addressing the general assembly of the United Nation, while scripted, Donald Trump was not even diplomatic calling North Korea’s Kim Jun Un “Rocket Man” – which was only added in the morning of the speech. He went after North Korea saying the US would “totally destroy North Korea” if forced to defend itself or its allies. He said while the US has “great strength and patience,” its options could soon run out.

“It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a nation but would arm, supply and financially support a country that imperils the world,” he said.

He also went after Iran saying the Iran nuclear deal all but dead, saying it was an “embarrassment” to the United States. He even suggested that Iranians should overthrow the regime.

After slamming the United Nations over the past few years, Trump finally visited the UN and was a bit more diplomatic – of course as he was reading from a script and not winging it. Of course he went after countries who weren’t pulling their weight of paying the UN costs for administration as well as military campaigns. [Was it just me or he was using his finger as an index when reading his script?]

At a lunch, in a speech Trump said “Africa has tremendous business potential, I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich. I congratulate you, they’re spending a lot of money. It has tremendous business potential, representing huge amounts of different markets.” Hmmm. Looks like he is promoting more of how to make a load of money in Africa [stealing their resources] than helping the continent. Feels a whole lot like the colonialism of the continent by European powers in the latter part of the 19th century.

“Nambia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient,” Trump said approvingly at one point. But there is no Nambia. Was he merging Zambia and Namibia together or just mispronounced Namibia as “Nambia”!!! [Zambia and Namibia do share a common border in a thin enclave barely 75 km wide in some areas.]

Trump said he has “decided” how he is going to proceed on the Iran nuclear deal struck by the Obama administration that he has long derided. But for whatever dumb reason that is floating up there, he has decided not to make it public. “Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me,” is what he said during his UN speech.

The Republicans are trying to squeak through the legislation being championed by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana by in a last-ditch attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare before their window to do so closes at the end of the month. But already, the current version won’t be endorsed by Senator John McCain.

Of the 50 states at least the 34 that would receive less federal dollars under Graham-Cassidy and that should worry Republican politicians. Among the states that would lose billions in federal funding: Pennsylvania ($6 billion), Ohio ($9 billion), Colorado ($6 billion) and Michigan ($8 billion). Those are all states Trump won in 2016. New data suggests that the Graham-Cassidy bill – if passed in its current form – would cut federal money to states by $215 billion over the next decade.

“I would not sign Graham-Cassidy if it did not include coverage of preexisting conditions. It does! A great Bill. Repeal & Replace,” Trump tweeted. But just as in Obamacare, insurers could not turn away those with preexisting conditions. But it would leave it up to the states whether to continue other protections.

States could opt to once again allow carriers to base premiums on a person’s medical history and to sell skimpier policies that don’t cover Obamacare’s 10 essential health benefits. Also, insurers would be able to cap the amount they would pay for treatment outside of what their states deem an essential health benefit.

As if Trump doesn’t have enough battle fronts, he went after sports – particularly the National Football League and the national Basketball Association – criticized the NFL broadly and athletes who kneel during the national anthem specifically.

Trump said that if fans would “leave the stadium” when players kneel in protest during the national anthem, “I guarantee, things will stop.”

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired,'” Trump said at a rally.

Trump also said NFL ratings are down “massively”. As usual he exaggerated as the ratings are only down modestly. He also criticized the NFL’s efforts to make the game safer for athletes.

Seattle Seahawk’s cornerback Richard Sherman responded on Twitter saying “The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Trump’s criticism of NFL players kneeling in protest during the National Anthem show a “lack of respect” for the league and its players.

“Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn! Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!” Trump tweeted after Golden State Warrior’s Curry decided not to go to The White House as is traditionally done when major sports teams are invited to be congratulated by the current president.

Opponents of Trump accused him of failing to respect the First Amendment rights of Americans. Most of the athletes that are protesting are African-American. Analysts are now predicting further on-the-field protests at games.

The Trump administration will unveil more tailored restrictions on travelers from certain countries as a replacement to the controversial travel ban which expires on Sunday [waiting to the last moment again?]. The new restrictions will vary by country. They could include a ban on travel to the United States, or new restrictions on obtaining a visa for citizens of particular countries.

Even now, Trump is still telling supporters that any Russian interference is a “hoax” even though three congressional probes are looking into this “hoax” and the Facebook ads that were clearly anti-Hillary Clinton during the election period were from Russian-linked accounts. He still whined in a tweet “What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?” It seems while Clinton has got over the election, he hasn’t.

Trump slammed Hillary Clinton over her new book “What Happened” earlier this week too, tweeting that she “blames everybody (and every thing) but herself for her election loss.” You think he actually read it because she does admin at least some guilt.

Democrats say they are planning to look into a report about Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price taking five work-related trips on private jets last week, costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars more than had he flown commercial. Price – who has vowed to cut wasteful spending in his agency –traveled to a resort in Maine where he was part of a discussion with a health care industry CEO, as well as community health centers in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania

The Education Department announced it is formally rescinding Obama-era guidance on how schools should handle sexual assaults under Title IX federal law. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos [picked by Trump] announced earlier this month that her department was concerned that previous guidance denied proper due process to those accused.

Trump signed another one of his many executive orders. This one has Treasury Department authorities to target individuals who provide goods, services or technology to North Korea. The order also bans ships and aircraft that have visited North Korea from entering the United States for 180 days.

After Trump took some hits by the host and winners at this week’s Emmy awards, Trump tweeted “lowest ratings ever”. But of course, this is Trump. Not the lowest ever.

Someone claiming to be the President of the US retweets an animated GIF. More childish antics from him. Clinton actually tripped. “Video” spliced together and the ball hitting Clinton was added.

In Zagreb, Croatia, billboards went up with the face of Melania Trump with the background of the American flag and the phrase “Just imagine how far you can go with a little bit of English”. But Trump’s image was used without permission. On Tuesday, the signs came down under the threat of a lawsuit by the first lady’s lawyers. The billboards advertised a local language school.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked the White House about the possibility of using a government jet for his European honeymoon this summer but later withdrew the request. Mnuchin made the request to ensure he had access to secure lines of communication when he and his new wife, Louise Linton, were traveling.

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Another mid-week Trump post

[This is a “mid-week” blog as too much is happening lately. Wish Trump would take an actual vacation – with no tweeting!]

Donald Trump is planning to host foreign leaders at his New Jersey golf club when he attends the annual U.N. General Assembly session next month, breaking decades of precedent for US presidents. An unspecified number of foreign meetings at the Bedminster, N.J. golf club over several days during the week of September 18. Typically foreign dignitaries hold meetings at hotels or the U.N. headquarters, taking advantage of a unique gathering of leaders and diplomats.

Holding gatherings 40 miles away from the UN headquarters could appear to be a snubbing by Trump who has already has a rocky relationship with the UN. In addition, as Trump owns various properties, what would he be charging the US government for holding meetings with foreign leaders at his club. After all, his club will lose money while it is shut down for maybe over a week. Already extra security will be needed to cover the area.

The New York Times claims the “shadow” campaign underway among ambitious Republicans to be prepared in the event that Trump doesn’t run for a second term in 2020. Supposedly multiple advisers to Mike Pence have already intimated to party donors that he would plan to run if Trump did not. The report notes Pence’s political schedule and active fundraising.

Pence says the story “disgraceful and offensive to me, my family, and our entire team.” Pence knows Trump reads the Times; it’s his home paper and the one he cares the most about. So he has no other choice but the official reject the idea even if it is true. Pence aides and White House aides have also denied any campaign. The New York Times article noted Pence has set up a fundraising committee. Called the Great America Committee, it can accept checks of up to $5,000 from individual donors.

After the news went out, Trump went on a Twitter-storm, claiming all the things “he” has done since his inauguration such as deregulation [anything done?], Supreme Court [barely passed], “record stock market” [and what did he do?], “military strength” [congress hasn’t approved any additional funding], …. Meanwhile how many major legislative bills passed? None. Repeal and/or replace Obamacare? Nope. He said his “base” is growing thanks to rallies in Republican friendly states. Exactly why does a president need rallies 7 months into his presidency? [Although it does fit one of his narcissist traits.]

At a recent conference, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that “meddling in the elections is certainly a serious incident.” But I thought Trump said there was no meddling? Did Trump lie [again]?

While news broke that North Korea could possess miniature nuclear warhead that can fir in an ICBM, Trump had no comment instead decided to go after Hillary Clinton again with “E-mails show that the AmazonWashingtonPost and the FailingNewYorkTimes were reluctant to cover the Clinton/Lynch secret meeting in plane.” What Emails?

And to add to the propaganda “After 200 days, rarely has any Administration achieved what we have achieved..not even close! Don’t believe the Fake News Suppression Polls!”. Who is he fooling?

Trump is claiming a foreign policy win after UN voted to sanction North Korea after their ICBM testing. Even North Korean ally China as well as Russia signed off on it. But UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said “We don’t know that they’re going to work.” Even then, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had been raising the possibility of talks with Kim Jun Un’s government, but Vice President Mike Pence has several times said Washington does not envisage negotiations. Who do you believe? “We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on (the) negotiating table,” said the North Korean Foreign Minister.

Trump’s retweeted a Fox News story claiming US satellites detected North Korea moving anti-ship cruise missiles to a patrol boat is raising eyebrows after US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley indicated that the information in the report is classified and was leaked. Fox News morning show promoted the story said to contain classified information. As well, questions are circulating whether new chief of staff John Kelly knew or had any role in this.

Trump signed a bill passed last week overwhelmingly by Congress imposing new sanctions on Russia. The bill’s passage drew growling from Moscow who responded by stripping 755 staff members and two properties from US missions in the country. It is dealing a serious blow to the reset in US-Russian relations that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had called for. Tillerson said he would respond to the matter by September 1. Why the wait of over 3 weeks?

With Trump requiring English to be included in his immigration bill, he is effectively cutting off many in the Middle East. If think of his watered down travel ban, you can consider this an extension if that ban as many from the Middle East will not know English.

When Senator Richard Blumenthal voiced support for continuing the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in last year’s election and expressed concern about the Department of Justice’s increased focus on rooting out administration officials who leak information damaging to Trump, Trump attacked calling him “a phony Vietnam con artist” on Twitter. Exaggerating, as usual, “Never in U.S. history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal.” Blumenthal came under sharp criticism for repeated remarks over the years that he had “served” in Vietnam, even though he did his full Marine service in the United States. So, what does one got to do with the other? Meanwhile, Trump shouldn’t talk [or tweet] after his father got him out of serving in the military.

The Department of Homeland Security’s CIO, Richard Staropoli, has resigned, just three months after taking the job. The department did not explain why Staropoli is leaving. Deputy CIO Stephen Rice will serve as the Acting CIO until President Trump appoints a new CIO for the department. The DHS CIO role does not require Senate confirmation. At DHS, Staropoli reported directly to then-Secretary John Kelly.

It’s never a good sign when you are 7 months into your 4 years as president and the party is looking for another leader. But that seems to be happening already. Already there are at least 5 Republicans that are kicking the tires. In addition UN Ambassador Nicki Haley could also be a future candidate although some rumors are floating around that she could replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. [If she is smart, she’d pass on that posting. Look at what happened to Hillary Clinton. One of the reasons why she lost in November was because of her “baggage” as Secretary of State.]

Trump is taking a 17 day “working vacation” claiming there is some repair work to be done at his shack, the White House. $3.5 million work in the West Wing including g the heating and air conditioning. Aside from this “vacation” he has been at his properties [New Jersey, Florida] a dozen times since taking office – that is twice a month. His tweeting continues. No vacation there.

Lawmakers reacted angrily to reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not spending $80 million at his disposal to counter Russian disinformation and propaganda put out by violent extremists. State Department officials claim that the delay is part of a broader policy review intended to give Tillerson time to figure out what policies are best pursued and where money is best spent.

While the order for large trucks have gone up, orders for [family sized] vehicles have dropped over the past few months. I guess it shows the economy is good for business but not the consumer

Sam Clovis, Trump’s nominee to be the Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist, maintained a now-defunct blog for years in which he accused progressives of “enslaving” minorities, called black leaders “race traders,” and labeled former President Barack Obama a “Maoist” with “communist” roots as well as “no experience at anything other than race baiting and race trading as a community organizer.”. Clovis called out progressives for what they were – “liars, race traders and race ‘traitors'” in 2012.

Newly released emails among Agriculture Department officials as employees search for new ways to describe their work under the Trump administration. They are using the more generic term “weather extremes” instead of climate change.

Seems meeting Trump could break up a band: Members of Journey [except founder Neal Schon] were at the White House to meet Trump last week, taking pictures at the Oval Office. Schon became quite p?ssed because he didn’t know and the band has always has been neutral when it came to politics. The band refused to play for President Obama a number of times. This even though one band member’s wife is a “spiritual advisor” to Trump and Schon’s wife likes Trump [Schon didn’t say].

Elsewhere in Trump related entertainment, television network ABC denied that it had canceled comedian Tim Allen’s popular sitcom “Last Man Standing” due to its conservative politics. It was one of the  most-watched scripted series, a solid ratings draw. But Allen supported Trump. A petition claimed the comedy was canceled because it was the only entertainment program that was not constantly shoving “liberal ideals down the throats of the viewers.”

As well, Trump was reportedly in talks to play the president in the third incarnation of cult sci-fi disaster film Sharknado – until he welched on the deal to run for the real thing. The part eventually went to Mark Cuban, much to the chagrin of Trump’s team who went so far as to threaten to sue to filmmakers, although Trump’s attorney denied any “angry correspondence”.

Being associated in any way to Trump may not be good. At a New York Mets game, New Jersey governor Chris Christie – an early Trump supporter – was booed after snagging a foul ball during the game.

New York Post released an image on Twitter for the front page of the newspaper. Survivor: White House.

By the August recess the non-profit good-government group Partnership for Public Service [PPS] recommends having the most important 300-400 confirmed. Trump has 124 confirmed, 277 nominated and 8 withdrew. This is out if 1200 Senate confirmation and 40000 hires. PPs has identified 577 executive branch positions as being particularly essential — and Trump has only successfully filled about a fifth of them. President Barack Obama had 433 nominations and 310 confirmations at the same point, President George W. Bush had nominated 414 and had 294 confirmed, and President Bill Clinton had 345 nominations and 252 confirmed.

Trump has actually followed through with one post-election win promise: to get a cheaper replacements for Air Force One. An order of Boeing jets by a Russian airline that went bankrupt will now be used as the beginnings of the new planes. The planes [before retrofitting for the government] will cost about $390 million US each.

Then presidential candidate Trump revealed a little-known episode of personal heroism from his youth, telling an Iowa audience that he narrowly avoided capture in Vietnam by remaining in the United States for the duration of the war. “The Cong were after me,” Trump said, visibly stirred by the memory. “And then, just in the nick of time, I got my deferment.” The Cong were after him? In New York or Florida? Coward.

Some are suggesting Sex and the City’s Mario Cantone was to play Scaramucci on Saturday Night Live. Cantone would have been very busy!