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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Wed 26 Dec , 2018 5:59 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
I'm almost sorry I've blocked videos from playing. Sounds like it was a good one. :)
And, of course, there's been more Trump-created turmoil over the last few days.



https://thehill.com/policy/defense/422779-meet-trumps-pick-to-take-over-for-mattis-at-pentagon
Quote:
In naming Patrick Shanahan as interim Defense secretary, President Trump has elevated a former Boeing executive with less than two years of government experience to lead the Pentagon.

Trump on Sunday announced he would push out Defense Secretary James Mattis two months earlier than the retired general’s planned departure, naming Shanahan as his temporary replacement.

Since his confirmation as deputy secretary in July 2017, Shanahan has ingratiated himself to the president by taking a lead role in Trump’s Space Force initiative and by implementing business reforms inside the Pentagon.

...it’s unusual for the Pentagon to have an interim leader... [and]...Mattis said last week he would stay until the end of February to allow for a smooth transition. But Trump soon grew frustrated at the reaction to Mattis’s resignation letter — a sharp rebuke of Trump’s worldview — and decided Shanahan will be the acting secretary starting Jan. 1.



Even the military seems worried at what Trump will now do, without the "grown-ups" to rein him in:
https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2018/12/24/what-checks-are-left-on-the-presidents-military-power-now-that-mattis-is-gone/
Quote:
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' resignation Thursday — and President Donald Trump’s retaliatory swifter removal Sunday — raised concerns as to whether anyone could now serve as a check on the president.

“I was at the airport yesterday,” said former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who served under President Barack Obama. “I had five different people recognize me, came up to me, all private citizens all doing different things in their lives, not attached to government or politics at all. They are all very much afraid and asking the question … is there nothing to stop this guy?”

“That feeling is pretty strong across the country and is legitimate,” Hagel said.

For instance, there was this incident. People are worried about what will happen now when Trump wants to do something either illegal or very stupid. Who will stop him?
Quote:
Trump has previously viewed alternative proposals as evidence that his top generals were not respecting his decisions or authority, such as his 2017 direction to assassinate Syrian President Bashar Assad. The incident was first reported in Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” and independently confirmed to Military Times by a former U.S. official who witnessed the incident.

In that case, Mattis simply refused to push the order forward.

“That story is true,” the official said. “I viewed it as the essence of loyalty, Mattis making sure he [Trump] was not going to do something illegal, and he did it in a very loyal way.”

“[Trump] wanted to assassinate a foreign leader, which you can’t do,” the official said.





https://thehill.com/policy/finance/422730-markets-plunge-following-mnuchin-outreach-to-banks
Quote:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 400 points Monday morning, following a weekend attempt by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to calm the markets.

Mnuchin said Sunday that he spoke with the heads of six major banks — Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo — and reported that they had "ample liquidity."

...But the unusual message may have backfired, with analysts noting that the group Mnuchin was calling together was the same as the "Plunge Protection Team" that met at the height of the 2009 financial crisis.

Markets have also been spooked by reports that President Trump is looking to fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. The move would be seen as undermining the Fed's institutional independence, which is a key element in the country's financial system.


https://thehill.com/policy/finance/422807-trump-has-weighed-dismissing-mnuchin-bloomberg
Quote:
President Trump has weighed dismissing Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a source familiar with the president's thinking told Bloomberg News.

Another source told Bloomberg said that Mnuchin's future at the helm of the Treasury Department depends on whether the market continues to drop.

...“There are plenty of people inside the White House who are not fans of Mnuchin who are happy to throw him under the bus,” Stephen Myrow, a former Treasury official and managing partner at Beacon Policy Advisors in Washington, D.C., told Bloomberg. “Up ’til now, he’s been protected by the fact that Trump liked him and he’s been a loyalist.”

The president in recent days has intensified his attacks on Powell and the Federal Reserve, on Monday tweeting "the only problem our economy has is the Fed.”

...According to the Journal, Trump blamed Mnuchin for the turbulent stock market. A source familiar with the matter said that the the president asked, "If he’s so good, why is this happening?”


https://news.sky.com/story/us-stocks-plunge-as-donald-trump-likens-federal-reserve-to-bad-golfer-11591076
Quote:
Japan's main stock index has fallen more than 5% following heavy losses on Wall Street.

The Nikkei 225 dived in morning trade to its lowest point since April 2017 after US markets lost more than 2% in Monday trading.





https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/422821-trump-digs-in-as-shutdown-enters-fourth-day
Quote:
President Trump on Tuesday dug in on his demand for a border wall as the government shutdown stretched into its fourth day.

Speaking to reporters after calling troops on Christmas Day, Trump said lawmakers must approve wall funding or else the shutdown will continue.

...Trump argued that thousands of workers being furloughed due to the shutdown also want the wall.
“Many of those workers have said to me, communicated, stay out until you get the funding for the wall. These federal workers want the wall,” the president said.
Which is probably something he invented or imagined. Not the first time he's said something like this and it turned out to be a lie.

https://thehill.com/homenews/news/422777-how-the-shutdown-hit-christmas
Quote:
Vacations canceled. Attractions closed. Christmas services postponed.

The impacts of a partial government shutdown are extending well beyond Washington, D.C., and the government workers who live there.



An interesting article I stumbled across. It seems that the Trump administration is already quietly surveying private properties for his wall, when it's not funded and there's no real enthusiasm in Congress for it (surveys have also consistently suggested that most Americans don't support building the Trump Wall, much less the ongoing cost to maintain it.):
https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/government-seeks-survey-church-property-border-wall
Quote:
Federal officials sought entry to two properties belonging to the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, seeking to survey the land for construction of a border wall on it, but in an Oct. 29 statement, Brownsville Bishop Daniel Flores said he did not consent to such use because such a structure "would limit freedom of the church to exercise her mission in the Rio Grande Valley."

He also said it would be "contrary" to the church's mission.

"While the bishop has the greatest respect for the responsibilities of the men and women involved in border security, in his judgment, church property should not be used for the purposes of building a border wall," said the statement released by the diocese.

The diocese said it received "official word" from the government saying "papers" have been filed in federal court for the Southern District of Texas in McAllen "seeking right of entry" and says the filing was not unexpected.





https://thehill.com/latino/422855-at-least-100-migrants-dropped-off-on-christmas-by-ice-in-downtown-el-paso
Quote:
About 100 migrants were left in downtown El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday by immigration authorities, according to the El Paso Times.

Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute, told the publication that shelter had been found for the people dropped off Christmas afternoon, but the search continues for places to stay for any other migrants who might be left downtown later..... "Most of these folks are on route to another part of the country. They are not staying here in El Paso. They want to go to their sponsor or family members in other parts of the country. They just need a place for the night."

The dropping off of the migrants comes after Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier this week dropped off about 200 migrants at a Greyhound station in El Paso, leaving them to be sheltered in buses overnight.

Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) told the El Paso Times in a statement that the actions of immigration authorities were "unacceptable" and noted that in 2016, Customs and Border Protection “used to create temporally holding facilities that were humane, safe and clean.”

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Last edited by aninkling on Wed 26 Dec , 2018 8:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Wed 26 Dec , 2018 8:01 pm 
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Location: Canada
And a 2nd child has died in U.S. Immigration custody.

The cause of death is still under investigation.

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Melkor and Ungoliant in need of some relationship counselling.


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Wed 26 Dec , 2018 8:07 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
I saw that story but didn't see any reason to blame Trump or his policies at this point. It was someone from CBP who noticed that the child looked glassy-eyed and unwell and had him taken to the hospital (with his father accompanying him). The hospital didn't think it was serious and released him with a prescription for low-level antibiotics (amoxicillin) and ibuprofen after a short observation perod. He went downhill fast and was returned to the hospital. Some people are speculating about meningitis.

Now if the conditions in the shelters contributed or the prescription wasn't filled or CBP pressured the hospital to release him without much evaluation, we'll have a story. But I haven't seen anything like that yet and so far it seems like they reacted appropriately. I also saw in an article on The Hill this morning that they're planning to check all the kids in their care for illnesses and may be asking for help from other agencies. Makes me wonder if they think they might have a contagious disease on their hands.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Thu 27 Dec , 2018 3:12 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
Federal workers' union calls out Trump's lie:
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/422925-largest-federal-workers-union-slams-trump-for-saying-many-workers
Quote:
The president of the nation's largest federal workers’ union slammed President Trump on Wednesday for claiming that “many” federal workers who were impacted by the partial government shutdown wanted the shutdown.


Trump tweets another lie and another attempt to blame the shutdown on Democrats. The person solely responsible for this shutdown is Trump. He was the one who torpedoed the bipartisan bill to fund the government for a few weeks after promising to sign it.
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/422952-trump-most-of-the-people-not-getting-paid-in-shutdown-are-democrats
Quote:
President Trump early Thursday resumed his feud with Democrats on Capitol Hill over funding for a border wall, claiming that most of the hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed or forced to work without pay due to a partial government shutdown are Democrats.

“Have the Democrats finally realized that we desperately need Border Security and a Wall on the Southern Border. Need to stop Drugs, Human Trafficking, Gang Members & Criminals from coming into our Country," he tweeted.

"Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?" he added.




https://thehill.com/policy/defense/422927-trump-indicates-he-wont-rush-to-name-mattis-replacement
Quote:
President Trump indicated Wednesday that he was in no rush to name a permanent successor for Defense Secretary James Mattis, saying that the new acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan "could be there for a long time."

The president made the remarks during a surprise visit to Iraq on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Trump, who on Sunday announced on Twitter that he was pushing Mattis out early, said that Shanahan, the current deputy Defense secretary, would serve as acting Pentagon chief starting on Jan. 1.

A former Boeing executive, Shanahan has served in government for less than two years, being named Mattis's deputy in July 2017. He has primarily been involved in procurement and budgeting while at the Pentagon.



https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/422959-trump-eyes-ban-of-huawei-zte-products-report
Quote:
President Trump is weighing an executive order to be signed as early as January to declare a national emergency and ban U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, according to a Reuters report.

Rural operators in the U.S., which account for some of Huawei and ZTE’s biggest customers as the company provides services that are less expensive, are concerned the executive order would require them to rip out existing Chinese-made equipment without compensation. Industry officials are split on whether that is legally possible.

...the Rural Wireless Association (RWA)... represents carriers with under 100,000 subscribers and estimates that 25 percent of its members used Huawei or ZTE equipment.

Caressa Bennet, RWA general counsel, told Reuters that replacing Huawei or ZTE equipment could cost up to $1 billion.
Which will, of course, be paid for by their subscribers.



https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/422781-ryan-zinke-drilling-agenda-to-outlast-tenure
Quote:
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will depart at the end of the year, but his conservative supporters and environmental critics both agree his legacy on oil and gas drilling will be long lasting.

Zinke was instrumental in carrying out the Trump administration's "energy dominance" agenda, with the year poised to see more land being opened up to licenses and potentially the first new offshore drilling in decades. His replacement is unlikely to alter course.

“That is clearly something President Trump has sunk his teeth into,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, an energy trade group. “I don’t really see a lot of change.

...Under Zinke’s tenure, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) made a sweeping change to the way it auctioned off government-owned lands and waters for leasing. Before, the agency focused on sales of small pinpointed clusters of likely oil-rich areas. Under Zinke, the focus shifted to offering thousands of acres for lease in one fell swoop, a change championed by the oil and gas industry.

...The likely frontrunner [for Zinke's position], current Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, has been closely involved in organizing many of the oil and gas leasing sales, including a recently released proposal to begin drilling in Alaska’s arctic.




And Trump can't even carry out his ceremonial duties as president without screwing things up:
https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-navy-seal-iraq-video-1272102
Quote:
President Donald Trump and the White House communications team revealed that a U.S. Navy SEAL team was deployed to Iraq after the president secretly traveled to the region to meet with American forces serving in a combat zone for the first time since being elected to office.

While the commander-in-chief can declassify information, usually the specific special operations unit is not revealed to the American public, especially while U.S. service members are deployed. Official photographs and videos typically blur the individual faces of special operation forces, due to the sensitive nature of their job.

The president’s video posted Wednesday did not shield the faces of special operation forces. Current and former Defense Department officials told Newsweek that information concerning what units are deployed and where is almost always classified and is a violation of operational security.



One issue is that Trump decided that the Iraqi prime minister should drop whatever he was doing and meet him in 2 hours at Trump's choice of location:
https://thehill.com/policy/defense/422933-iraqi-lawmakers-criticize-trumps-surprise-visit-as-violation-of-diplomatic
Quote:
Some Iraqi lawmakers are criticizing President Trump's surprise visit to Al Asad Air Base on Wednesday as a "violation" of diplomatic norms and Iraq's sovereignty, according to Reuters.

Trump's visit to the base, which is west of Baghdad, was his first visit to troops in a combat zone as president.

..."Trump’s visit … shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government,” the Bina bloc said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

...Several lawmakers also reportedly took issue with Trump's request that Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi meet him at the Al Asad Air Base. Mahdi originally had asked Trump to meet him in Baghdad, according to NPR.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during a flight back from Iraq told reporters that Trump's scheduled meeting with Mahdi was canceled for "security and logistical reasons," according to a pool report.

Sanders later clarified that for security reasons, the White House was only able to invite the prime minister two hours before the scheduled time of the meeting and Mahdi was unable to attend because he was "in a different part of Iraq," according to a pool report later that evening.



https://thehill.com/policy/international/middle-east-north-africa/422962-following-trump-visit-iraqi-lawmakers-demand-us
Quote:
Iraqi lawmakers demanded one day after President Trump made a surprise visit that the U.S. remove its troops from the country.

Politicians on Thursday slammed Trump's visit as arrogant and a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and called for a vote to expel any U.S. military presence, according to The Associated Press.

Basically, the way he conducted his visit gave ammunition to the people in Iraq who want to kick all US troops out. So Trump declared that the US has no intention of leaving Iraq in his speech to the military but, at the same time, angered the politicians of Iraq by acting like the US owns their country. Supposedly this trip has been in the planning stages for more than a month, plenty of time for any halfway competent person to get some advice and avoid making stupid, tactless mistakes.



Edit:
https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/kushners-buying-4th-jersey-property-tax-break-zone-59943879
Quote:
Jared Kushner's family company is buying another property in a New Jersey beach town where developers can get big tax breaks thanks to a new federal program pushed by Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump.... It would be the fourth Kushner purchase in an Opportunity Zone in the town since the program was included in the Republican-led tax overhaul law passed in December last year.

The program has been praised as a smart way to attract money into high-poverty areas long neglected by private investors. But critics say it includes too many gentrifying neighborhoods already attracting investment and is a giveaway to wealthy developers.



Speculative but intriguing. (McClatchy has a good reputation for accuracy and little bias https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/mcclatchydc/)
https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/investigations/article219016820.html
Quote:
A mobile phone traced to President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen briefly sent signals ricocheting off cell towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign, leaving an electronic record to support claims that Cohen met secretly there with Russian officials, four people with knowledge of the matter say.

During the same period of late August or early September, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up a conversation among Russians, one of whom remarked that Cohen was in Prague, two people familiar with the incident said.

The phone and surveillance data, which have not previously been disclosed, lend new credence to a key part of a former British spy’s dossier of Kremlin intelligence describing purported coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia’s election meddling operation.



btw, another Trump lie from his trip to Iraq comes to light.
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/423013-trump-bragged-about-10-percent-pay-raise-he-didnt-give-to-troops
Quote:
President Trump on Wednesday bragged to troops in Iraq that he had given them a 10 percent pay raise, calling it “one of the largest pay raises” the troops have ever received and calling it the first hike in more than a decade.

The troops will actually receive a 2.6 percent raise in 2019, not 10 percent, and the Pentagon has enacted raises of at least 1 percent every year for the past decade, according to Defense Department figures.

"You just got one of the biggest pay raises you've ever received," Trump said while speaking at Al Asad Airbase near Baghdad in his first trip to a combat zone as president. "You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years — more than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one."..."They said: 'You know, we could make it smaller. We could make it 3 percent. We could make it 2 percent. We could make it 4 percent.' I said: 'No. Make it 10 percent. Make it more than 10 percent,'" Trump told the troops. "Because it's been a long time. It's been more than 10 years. That's a long time. And, you know, you really put yourselves out there, and you put your lives out there. So congratulations."

I hope this doesn't mean that Trump will now insist on a 10% raise for everyone in the military, paid for by taxpayers, just to cover his lie. Many ordinary civilians haven't even been getting cost of living increases regularly since the recession.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Mon 31 Dec , 2018 5:25 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/423115-epa-reconsiders-need-for-mercury-pollution-standards-at-power
Quote:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Friday it will reconsider the reasoning behind mercury pollution standards for power plants.

The current standards, implemented under the Obama administration, restrict levels of toxic mercury pollution that has been linked to developmental delays in children among other health risks. Plants in the past have met the restrictions by implementing on-site controls, but the fossil fuel industry has long lobbied that the standards are too strict.

The end-of-year rule review follows a number of other environmental policy rollbacks proposed by the Trump administration this year, including the weakening of vehicle emission standards, carbon releases from power plants and methane standards for oil and gas drillers.



Trump cancels pay raises for civilian federal employees in 2019 but lets military federal employees still receive their pay raise. His justification is his authority under a "national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare." (funny how, otherwise, he's always telling us how wonderfully well the economy is doing, thanks to him.) I imagine he thinks he's rewarding those he thinks will support him and punishing the supposed "deep state". Or maybe it's just total incompetence, handing out huge tax breaks to corporations one year, then having to freeze federal salaries.
https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/29/politics/trump-executive-order-federal-workers-pay-freeze/index.html
https://www.businessinsider.com/pay-freeze-trump-signs-executive-federal-workers-in-2019-2018-12?r=US&IR=T

Meanwhile:
https://www.nj.com/sports/index.ssf/2018/09/president_donald_trump_golf_cost_how_much.html
Quote:
How much are you paying for President Donald Trump's golf habit? HUGE bill might have voters asking for a mulligan

https://trumpgolfcount.com/



https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/423111-federal-judge-permanently-blocks-trump-administrations-cuts-to-discount
Quote:
A federal judge has blocked the Trump administration's cuts to a Medicare drug discount program. Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled that the administration illegally reduced Medicare payments to hospitals through the 340B Drug Pricing Program by 30 percent — or about $1.6 billion a year — through a rule took effect in January.



Trump is back on his theme of wanting to cut aid to some of the countries he called "shithole countries."
https://thehill.com/latino/423089-trump-threatens-to-cut-aid-to-honduras-guatemala-and-el-salvador
Quote:
President Trump on Friday threatened to cut foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador

"...Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money. Word is that a new Caravan is forming in Honduras and they are doing nothing about it. We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries - taking advantage of U.S. for years!"

...Reducing foreign aid to the countries would require congressional approval through the appropriations process, which would be unlikely with Democrats retaking the House majority in January.
Not to mention that the US aid to these countries ultimately benefits the US as well. No doubt his advisers tried to explain that to Trump last time, too.




https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/423147-judge-blasts-asylum-seekers-detention-in-ruling-seen-as-strong-rebuke
Quote:
A federal judge said the government violated the due process rights of an asylum seeker after he was detained for nearly three years without a bail hearing. The ruling was seen by legal experts as a stern rebuke of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, according to The New York Times.



https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/423082-trump-threatens-to-close-southern-border-entirely-if-dems-dont-fund
Quote:
President Trump on Friday threatened to "close the Southern Border entirely" if Democrats do not agree to provide money to "finish" building a wall on the Mexican border.

...."We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with," the president tweeted.


https://thehill.com/policy/finance/423150-border-closure-could-cost-billions
Quote:
Closing the U.S. border with Mexico, which President Trump threatened to do in a Friday tweet if Democrats do not approve funding for his wall, could cost the economy billions of dollars, analysts who have studied the issue say.

“It would affect the U.S. economy massively and very negatively,” said Chris Wilson, deputy director at The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, and the co-author of a study on the border economy.

“There’s about a billion dollars of commerce that crosses the border every single day, so every day it’s closed we’re losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars,” he added.



https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/423211-federal-state-investigators-allegedly-looking-into-docs-for
Quote:
Federal and state investigators are reportedly looking into employment documents for undocumented immigrants who say they were employed at President Trump’s golf club in New Jersey.

Anibal Romero, a Newark, N.J., attorney who represents five immigrants who say they worked at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., told The Washington Post on Saturday that he met with investigators from the New Jersey state attorney general’s office and two FBI agents in November.

...Romero told the Post that he handed over fake green cards and Social Security numbers that supervisors allegedly gave one of his clients, Victorina Morales.



An editorial on the impacts of Trump's proposed wall on wildlife,, by a former Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service:
https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/423237-congress-must-stand-against-border-funding
Quote:
The costs of a wall would be borne not just by taxpayers, but by local communities, regional economies and families that live, work and recreate in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

....The Washington Post recently reported on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s concerns that proposed new wall segments would cut through miles of Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, blocking wildlife migration routes, trapping animals to drown during floods, and increasing mortality for highly endangered species. The same exposé also confirmed that the administration has suppressed the service from publicly disclosing impacts of wall construction on wildlife and habitat, with every intent of constructing the wall through the refuge.

The agency’s concerns are well founded. Earlier this year, more than 2,800 scientists from around the world declared consensus over the impending consequences of the border wall on North America’s biodiversity in a synthesis study published in BioScience.

...These public lands along the border are also a powerful economic engine for local communities. Nature tourism in the Valley generates upwards of $463 million annually in sustainable economic activity for Hidalgo, Starr, Willacy and Cameron counties, supporting more than 6,600 jobs. The border wall could cut deeply into these revenues by eliminating public access to large areas of federal, state and private conservation lands and historic sites across three counties.

...Even worse, these barriers will be built under authority passed in the REAL ID Act of 2005 that allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive any federal, state or local protections for the environment and public health and safety to allow the expeditious wall construction.


Trump's other tweets are just the usual garbage and lies, like trying to shift his responsibility for the shutdown onto the Democrats or trying to convince people that the Democrats are actually the ones responsible for the deaths of the two young children in CBP custody in December (some convoluted illogical bullshit about how the Democrats encourage people to come to the US illegally, so they're responsible.) Not worth bothering to pay any attention to.





https://thehill.com/homenews/media/423142-apprentice-producer-says-they-struggled-to-make-trump-seem-coherent
Quote:
A TV producer who oversaw the first five seasons of President Trump's former reality television show “The Apprentice” says those working behind the scenes often “struggled to make Trump seem coherent.”

In an interview with The New Yorker for the magazine's Jan. 7 issue, Katherine Walker said “we cleaned it up so that he was his best self.”

“He wouldn’t read a script — he stumbled over the words and got the enunciation all wrong,” Walker said.



https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/423107-majority-in-poll-want-trump-impeached-or-censured
Quote:
Nearly 60 percent of U.S. voters surveyed say President Trump should be either impeached and removed from office or formally censured, according to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released exclusively to The Hill.

... 39 percent of respondents said Trump should be impeached and removed from office.

Considering the large number of Americans who pay very little attention to news, other than the sensational stuff and disasters reported on their local TV news stations, this is significant.



btw, the Trump administration dumping a bunch of asylum seekers to fend for themselves on Christmas eve has brought out the best in some people:
https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/423123-migrant-kids-treated-with-gift-filled-christmas-from-hotel
Quote:
Ruben Garcia, the director of Annunciation House, a shelter that works with ICE to house migrants, reportedly said that two [front desk employees who] worked at a hotel where he booked 30-40 rooms for some of the hundreds of migrants who were unexpectedly left at a Greyhound bus station... called their husbands and told them to "buy every coloring book, every little truck, simple little gifts, buy them all” at any store that was still open at the time.

Garcia went on to say that the employees and their husbands had even gone as far as to wrap all of the gifts and left them underneath a tree for the children before Christmas morning




Edit to add:

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/423328-new-interior-foia-rule-could-make-it-harder-to-get-public-documents
Quote:
A new Interior Department rule could make it harder for news organizations and nonprofits to get public information from the government.

Filed to the Federal Register between Christmas and New Year's Day on Friday, the suggested rule would change the way the agency must file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by relaxing timelines by which information must be handled and increasing the burden on requesters to be specific in what they are looking for.

The changes, critics say, will ultimately make it harder for people to get the government documents they are seeking and could add to the already high number of FOIA lawsuits against the Trump administration.

...An Interior spokesperson would not answer questions about the rule change, citing the government shutdown.

The rule was signed by Principal Deputy Solicitor Daniel Jorjani, a former adviser to Charles and David Koch.




https://thehill.com/policy/defense/423354-pentagon-spokeswoman-dana-white-to-step-down
Quote:
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White announced Monday that she would step down from her role in the Trump administration.

...White’s announced exit comes on the heels of the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis, whose last day is Monday.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Wed 02 Jan , 2019 9:47 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
Trump goes on another incoherent rant, demanding more secrecy on reports from the military's Inspector General. Apparently there's to be no more letting us know if there's military wrong-doing.:
https://thehill.com/policy/defense/423566-trump-its-insane-to-publicly-release-military-watchdog-reports
Quote:
President Trump on Wednesday told his new acting Defense secretary to stop publicly releasing watchdog reports on the U.S. military, calling the practice “insane.”

“We do these reports on our military. Some [inspector general] goes over there — who [were] mostly appointed by President Obama, but we’ll have ours too — and he goes over there and they do a report on every single thing that’s happening and they release it to the public,” Trump said.

“For these reports criticizing every single thing — and even in some cases saying good, perhaps — but for these reports, to give it out, forget about the public, given out to the enemy is insane. And I don’t want that to happen anymore, Mr. Secretary, you understand that.”
According to the article, Trump also rewrote history in this meeting and claimed he essentially fired Mattis. I guess that unflattering resignation letter no longer exists in Trump's surreal universe. All Trump did was derail a smooth transition when Mattis was willing to stay a little longer until his successor is confirmed. (as far as I know, Trump hasn't even gotten started on that.)



https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/423539-Obama-homeland-security-adviser-says-position-downgraded-in-Trump-White-House
Quote:
President Obama’s homeland security adviser ripped the Trump administration in an interview published on Wednesday, saying it has “downgraded” her old position's role in counseling the Oval Office on counterterrorism. Lisa Monaco said her old position effectively does not exit. .. And I think that's a problem because I know I was pretty busy as were my predecessors,” she told CBS News.

The White House responded by saying.... "The structure of the National Security Council staff under the Obama Administration was duplicative, bloated, and overlapping. As [White House National Security Adviser] Bolton has mentioned repeatedly, streamlining the staffing structure of the National Security Council to efficiently keep America safe will continue to be a priority for this Administration," a senior White House official told The Hill.




https://thehill.com/policy/finance/423549-trump-blames-glitch-for-stock-market-downturn
Quote:
Trump told reporters Wednesday that the bloody December for U.S. stocks was caused by “a little glitch” and predicted a strong 2019 for the market. He predicted that stocks would rise close to 30 percent by year’s end after the president finalizes trade deals with China and the European Union.
Are even his supporters stupid enough to believe this?



Dear Leader is also continuing to demand at least 5 billion in interim spending for his great southern wall, though he's now in an even worse position than a few weeks ago, with Democrats in the majority in the House. Even Fox news couldn't stomach his latest illogical nonsense.:
https://thehill.com/homenews/media/423529-fox-news-host-trump-claiming-mexico-is-paying-for-wall-makes-zero-sense
Quote:
Fox News host Dagen McDowell ripped President Trump on Wednesday, saying his claim that Mexico would pay for a border wall through a new trade deal with the U.S. “makes zero sense” as a political message.

“I want to know why in the name of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are you talking about Mexico is paying for it?” McDowell said on Fox News’s “Outnumbered” on Wednesday. “Well then why did you shut the government down? In terms of the political messaging, this makes zero sense to me.”

Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to claim that Mexico would be paying for the border wall through the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which was signed in November but has yet to be ratified by Congress.
USMCA is the renegotiated NAFTA, which Trump insisted on renaming.


https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/423581-second-white-house-meeting-scheduled-as-shutdown-drags-toward-week
Quote:
A partial government shutdown showed no signs of ending Wednesday as congressional leaders left what appeared to be an unproductive meeting with President Trump.
I suppose this is what happens when you put someone with the mentality of a toddler in charge of the executive branch and let him hold everyone hostage to his demands.

And it seems Senate Republicans are continuing to bow down to Trump and waste money on the shutdown. The Democrats in the House want to bring a "clean" funding bill to the floor, similar to what the House and Senate agreed on before Trump dug in his heels and derailed the agreement by Congress. But it seems McConnell won't even consider a show of independence from Trump.
https://thehill.com/homenews/house/423596-pelosi-on-negotiations-with-trump-nothing-for-the-wall
Quote:
The White House last week proposed roughly $2.1 billion in wall funding plus hundreds of millions more for general border security, but Democratic leaders did not respond to the proposal. However, Trump said Wednesday he would reject that amount regardless of what Democrats decide, sticking to his demand for $5 billion.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he would not bring any spending bill to the floor that Trump himself has not publicly endorsed. Congressional Republicans have become increasingly wary of voting on any stopgap legislation after Trump signaled last month he would sign a Senate-passed bill that did not include border funding, only to say he would not sign it after facing backlash from conservative allies in the media and on Capitol Hill.
For "conservative allies," read Tea Party far right GOP members (the so-called "Freedom" Caucus), Rush Limbaugh, Hannity and the like.

Edit: I discovered today that the government's Do Not Call registry has been shut down until Trump gets his wall money (don't ask me why - registering a phone numbers and accepting complaints about telemarketers is completely automated, as far as I know). So is eVerify, the system employers use to verify that they are not hiring illegal immigrants. :)



Interesting news - a government-owned tourist site next to Trump's hotel has mysteriously found the funds to reopen during the shutdown:
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/423605-old-post-office-tower-on-trump-property-to-reopen-during-shutdown
Quote:
The Old Post Office Tower, which shares facilities with the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., will reopen by the end of the week after being closed due to the partial government shutdown.

The General Services Administration (GSA), which owns the facility, will provide the funding to reopen the tower, according to E&E News.

...An Interior Department spokesperson told E&E News in December that access to “iconic areas” would be maintained during the partial shutdown, but the tower did not fall under that classification.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Last edited by aninkling on Fri 04 Jan , 2019 1:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Thu 03 Jan , 2019 3:14 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
As we start January, it's interesting to consider how many people have left the Trump administration for one reason or another. The Atlantic last updated this in November 2018. Kelly, Mattis, Zinke and Haley have gone since then. This is very much not normal. Neither is the crop of loyalists Trump has nominated as interim heads, like Whitaker, or the former coal lobbyist now running the EPA. Or the former Fox news anchor without any significant foreign policy experience, who Trump now wants as our UN ambassador.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/11/trump-cabinet-tracker/510527/
Quote:
The Donald Trump Cabinet Tracker


Edit: A Canadian site has a more current list of major and minor departures.
https://globalnews.ca/news/4801056/trump-administration-departures-2018-white-house/
Quote:
From Mattis to McMaster: 26 senior officials who departed the Trump admin in 2018





And while Trump digs in with his demands for his wall, competing GoFundMe pages raise money for the wall... and for ladders. :)
https://www.yourcentralvalley.com/news/gofundme-page-created-for-ladders-to-get-over-trump-s-wall-/1672942992
Quote:
a page titled "Ladders to Get Over Trump's Wall" has raised over $130,000 in three days

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Thu 03 Jan , 2019 8:04 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/423715-zinke-under-doj-investigation-for-possibly-lying-to-inspector
Quote:
The Justice Department is probing former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who left the agency Wednesday, for potentially lying to investigators, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

...Upon his departure, the IG was investigating a land deal Zinke entered into with the chairman of oil services company Haliburton, as well as a decision Interior made to reject signing-off on a proposal from two tribes to run a commercial casino off reservation land in Connecticut.

It was first reported in October that the IG referred a case on Zinke to the Department of Justice (DOJ). ...The Post reported that it was unclear what lie Zinke is being investigated for, but sources said it was not about the land deal he struck.

An Interior Spokesperson refused to comment citing the government shutdown.




https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/423712-senate-confirms-trumps-pick-for-epa-international-office
Quote:
The Senate confirmed President Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) international affairs office.

Senators cleared William “Chad” McIntosh, a former Ford Motor Co. executive, minutes before noon Thursday, at which point the session of Congress ended. It was the upper chamber’s final confirmation during the 115th Congress.

Democrats had criticized the EPA when it hired McIntosh and Peter Wright, another agency nominee, in July, despite the fact that the Senate did not confirm them. Both came on board as advisers to the agency, and were prohibited from doing the jobs they were nominated for before confirmation.

Two other confirmations at the EPA are centrists and non-controversial but McIntosh and Wright look like very bad news.

Wright was a Dow chemical lawyer :
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/28/climate/dow-epa-superfund.html
Quote:
The lawyer nominated to run the Superfund toxic cleanup program is steeped in the complexities of restoring polluted rivers and chemical dumps. He spent more than a decade on one of the nation’s most extensive cleanups, one involving Dow Chemical’s sprawling headquarters in Midland, Mich.

But while he led Dow’s legal strategy there, the chemical giant was accused by regulators, and in one case a Dow engineer, of submitting disputed data, misrepresenting scientific evidence and delaying cleanup, according to internal documents and court records as well as interviews with more than a dozen people involved in the project.



McIntosh ran Ford Motor Company's environmental compliance and policy divisions and there isn't a lot of recent information on the internet about him. Most of what I found was summarized at Huffington Post, not my favorite source. During that time, there was a chemical spill at a Ford plant. There isn't a lot of convincing evidence in the paper that McIntosh was involved in a lax culture that allowed this to happen - though his background sounds like it's plausible. (a lawsuit by residents of the community may eventually reveal more).
But the reporters seem to have done their research on his background. McIntosh was part of an effort in Michigan to destroy state environmental regulations. I followed up on one of the Huffington Post's links (second link) and McIntosh does seem to have done some very questionable things:
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/chad-mcintosh-epa-ford-chemical-spill_us_5ab934fee4b0decad04cca25?ec_carp=7796898076700387680


http://www.mlui.org/mlui/news-views/articles-from-1995-to-2012.html?archive_id=1145#.WrkO3NPwZTY
Quote:
The 1979 Wetland Protection Act requires developers to acquire a permit from the state if they propose to fill or drain any wetland that is larger than 5 acres. ...

What makes the case especially interesting is the role of Chad McIntosh, the former Deputy Director of the state Department of Environmental Quality, which is charged with enforcing state environmental statutes. Mr. Richardson asserts that after the developer ignored the directive, Mr. McIntosh gave him an out by touring the site and then overruling his district inspectors. Mr. McIntosh issued his own finding in October, 1997, that said what the developer did was perfectly appropriate because it was exempt from the state wetland protection law.

...Mr. Richardson is among a number of Macomb County officials who are wondering why the second in command at the state environmental agency inserted himself into a wetland permit dispute to approve activities they argue were plainly illegal.

The Sterling Heights case is not an isolated incident. Since taking power, the Engler Administration has systematically downgraded enforcement as a priority.... And rather than denying a permit for activities that harm the environment, they regularly find loopholes and compromises that allow development.


Incidentally, it's insane that when I read about Trump nominees, I instantly go to find out more about them, assuming they're probably corrupt and/or opposed to the missions of their agencies. That's what Trump has turned our government into, a place where you automatically assume the worst and are usually right. I was pleasantly surprised to find the other two the Senate approved were actually appropriate hires. Though one made me wonder who Trump/ Wheeler plan to appoint to fill her place as EPA regional director in the northeast. I suspect that might be one to watch.



And in the continued irony of Trump insisting on a wall to keep out illegal immigrants while letting his own golf courses turn a blind eye to the ones they hire...
https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/423705-former-undocumented-worker-at-trump-golf-club-alleges-management
Quote:
The New York Times reported that Emma Torres [A former employee who prepared food at the Trump Organization's Bedminster, N.J., golf club] said kitchen staff at Bedminster were asked during the 2016 presidential campaign to provide their names, Social Security numbers and other information to be vetted by Secret Service. ...

Torres ... claimed that she went to human resources at the club and told them she did not have legal status. The human resources employee, whose name Torres did not know, said it was "no problem" and removed Torres from the list for Secret Service review, Torres alleged.

Torres alleged that she told human resources of other undocumented employees, and that their names were also removed.




DHS under Trump is not making friends in Mexico with the most recent incident where the US again fired tear gas and plastic bullets across the international border onto Mexican land:
https://thehill.com/latino/423733-mexico-calls-for-investigation-into-use-of-tear-gas-on-border
Quote:
[Mexico's ] Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard on Thursday requested "an exhaustive investigation of the events that occurred that day, as well as the events of November 25th in that same area," in a diplomatic note to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

In incidents on Nov. 25, 2018 and Jan. 1, 2019, U.S. border agents deployed crowd control measures including tear gas, pepper spray and plastic pellets to deter migrants from crossing the border.




btw, we now know what the FBI raid in Chicago was about. Nothing to do with Trump though the crooked alderman did do some work for him - not much surprise there:
https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/423731-former-trump-lawyer-chicago-alderman-charged-with-attempted
Quote:
Chicago Alderman Ed Burke (D), whose law firm formerly worked for the Trump Organization in the city, was charged with attempted extortion Thursday for reportedly attempting to use his city council position to solicit business to the firm.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Fri 04 Jan , 2019 3:53 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
The conservative Wall Street Journal calls out our president for some of his recent televised remarks. Besides the obvious display of ignorance and pro-Russia propaganda, I expect his statements will enrage people in Afghanistan. Not exactly a brilliant move, considering our current role there. Unless, like most people these days, they just roll their eyes at his continuing stupidity.
https://thehill.com/homenews/media/423840-wsj-blasts-trump-for-pushing-utterly-false-narrative-defending-russian
Quote:
In an editorial published Friday by the newspaper, the board's writers blasted Trump's comments during Wednesday's Cabinet meeting as "absurd" and "reprehensible," while condemning the president's grasp of history regarding the Soviet invasion of the South Asian country as an "utterly false narrative."

"He said: 'The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there,'" the board wrote, quoting the president.

"Right to be there? We cannot recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American President," the article continued. "The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan with three divisions in December 1979 to prop up a fellow communist government."



David Frum at The Atlantic explains the history more fully:
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/trump-just-endorsed-ussrs-invasion-afghanistan/579361/
Quote:
It was only one moment in a 90-minute stream of madness.

President Donald Trump convened a Cabinet meeting, at which he invited all its members to praise him for his stance on the border wall and the government shutdown. There’s always a lively competition to see which member of the Cabinet can grovel most abjectly. ...

But that was not the crazy part. The crazy part came during the president’s monologue defending his decision to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria and 7,000 from Afghanistan, about half the force in that country.

...“Russia used to be the Soviet Union,” he said.

Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia … the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is, it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt; they went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you’re reading about now are no longer part of Russia, because of Afghanistan.

Let’s go to the replay... To appreciate the shock value of Trump’s words, it’s necessary to dust off some Cold War history....

He also analyzes the disturbing implications:
Quote:
Inflicting that defeat on the U.S.S.R. was a major bipartisan foreign-policy priority of the 1980s. The policy was designed by Jimmy Carter’s national-security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and executed by the Reagan administration.

It’s amazing enough that any U.S. president would retrospectively endorse the Soviet invasion. What’s even more amazing is that he would do so using the very same falsehoods originally invoked by the Soviets themselves: “terrorists” and “bandit elements.”

It has been an important ideological project of the Putin regime to rehabilitate and justify the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. ..

Putin-style glorification of the Soviet regime is entering the mind of the president, inspiring his words and—who knows—perhaps shaping his actions. How that propaganda is reaching him—by which channels, via which persons—seems an important if not urgent question.





Trump is trying to feed more easily refuted lies to Americans:
https://thehill.com/policy/finance/423835-trump-blames-stock-market-slide-on-dems-taking-house
Quote:
As I have stated many times, if the Democrats take over the House or Senate, there will be disruption to the Financial Markets. We won the Senate, they won the House. Things will settle down. They only want to impeach me because they know they can’t win in 2020, too much success!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2019

...Overall, 2018 marked the worst year for U.S. stock markets in a decade. December was particularly brutal, with the worst December drops since the Great Depression.

...The market ended a lengthy period of relatively stable increases last January, entering a new phase of volatility that has seen wild swings in the markets. By late summer and early autumn, markets seemed to have recovered, only to come tumbling down again in October.

Before the downturn, Trump frequently took credit for the stock market's performance.


https://thehill.com/policy/finance/423869-fed-chief-powell-says-he-wont-resign-if-trump-asked-him-to
Quote:
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Friday he would not resign from the central bank if President Trump asked him to step down.... The chairman also said he hadn’t received any direct communication from the president or White House, but stressed that the Fed would not be influenced by politics.

...While most Republicans approve of the Fed’s efforts to raise borrowing costs, Trump has called on the central bank to maintain low, stimulatory interest rates despite the relatively strong economy.

Rising interest rates have also played a minor role in the sharp stock market downturn that began in the second half of 2018. Trump has blamed the Fed, Democrats and an unspecified “glitch” on the brutal stock losses, but analysts attribute the sell-off to damage from trade tensions and fears of an impending economic slowdown.





Shutdown news:
https://thehill.com/homenews/house/423758-house-passes-legislation-to-re-open-government-despite-trump-opposition
Quote:
The House passed legislation to end the partial government shutdown on Thursday, hours after Democrats took control of the chamber and elected Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.

...The first bill passed by the House in a 239-192 vote was a continuing resolution funding the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8. The House voted 241-190 to approve funds for [the other] six agencies through the end of the fiscal year.

...The shorter funding bill for DHS is intended to provide time for more talks on the wall, since border security is overseen by that agency.


https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/423768-white-house-threatens-to-veto-democratic-bills-ending-shutdown
Quote:
The White House on Thursday formally opposed two Democratic bills that would end a partial government shutdown, now in its 13th day.

“The Administration is committed to working with the Congress to reopen lapsed agencies, but cannot accept legislation that provides unnecessary funding for wasteful programs while ignoring the Nation’s urgent border security needs,” the White House Office of Management and Budget wrote in a statement of administration policy.

President Trump is insisting any funding bills provide $5 billion for his proposed border wall along the southern border.


Some of those "wasteful" programs.
https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/25/health/shutdown-usda-fda-cdc-hhs/
Quote:
As the government shutdown loomed over the holidays, heads of federal agencies and departments overseeing health and public assistance services tweeted that, regardless of what was happening in Washington, they were attending, as much as possible, to business as usual.

...According to the statement, 61% of the Department of Agriculture's employees would continue to work through the first week of the shutdown, but that number would decrease the longer the shutdown continues.

Some of the agency's offices to be hit hardest by the closure include the office of Food and Nutrition Services that oversees the Child Nutrition, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). By the end of the fifth day of the shutdown, staffing will be cut by 95%...
We're entering week 3.

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/government-shutdown-closes-indian-health-service-cdc-still-watching-flu-n954161
Quote:
There seems to be no end in sight for the current partial government shutdown, the third since the beginning of the Trump administration.

... Congress has already passed five of its major appropriations bills, funding about three-fourths of the federal government, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But seven bills are outstanding — including those that fund the Interior, Agriculture and Justice departments — and that puts the squeeze on some important health-related initiatives.

....Since HHS funding is set through September, the flagship government health care programs — think Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid — are insulated. That’s also true of public health surveillance... But some other public health operations are vulnerable because of complicated funding streams.

Although the Food and Drug Administration falls under the HHS umbrella, it receives significant funding for its food safety operations through the Department of Agriculture, which is entirely caught up in the shutdown.

...Health services for Native Americans are [also] on hold...

I think the EPA is also affected. And IRS refunds may be late if this goes on much longer.

Meanwhile...
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/423899-senior-trump-officials-to-get-10k-raise-amid-shutdown-report
Quote:
Senior political appointees chosen by the president including Cabinet officials, top administrators and the vice president will reportedly see their pay raise by around $10,000 per year on Saturday amid the ongoing government shutdown.

The Washington Post reported that accumulated pay raises for top officials affected by a longstanding Washington pay freeze will go into effect on Saturday without legislation to stop them, citing documents from the Office of Personnel Management and federal pay experts.


https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/423970-trump-administration-presses-ahead-with-alaskan-drilling-plan
Quote:
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which, along with multiple other agencies in the federal government is mostly shut down due to a Dec. 22 funding lapse, said it is moving ahead with hosting four meetings over the next week in northern Alaska towns on the plan’s environmental review process.

Elsewhere in Interior, trash is building up at national parks and wildlife refuges are closed, among other shutdown impacts.





What we lost when Trump got rid of the remaining "adults in the room" who tried to restrain Trump from his worst impulses, leaving mostly sycophants and people with their own agendas (Bolton, Stephen Miller, Peter Navarro, et al)
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/423823-mulvaney-presses-trump-to-hold-firm-in-shutdown-report
Quote:
Newly-appointed acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is reportedly pushing President Trump to stand firm and not accept a spending deal from Democrats that does not involve fully funding his plans for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Politico reports that sources close to Mulvaney say the aide is among several top officials counseling the president to reject any bills from Congress that do not supply the desired $5 billion the White House hopes to secure for a border wall.

... Mulvaney saw his role "as reminding the president this is a bad deal."


https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/423807-pence-backs-no-wall-no-deal-amid-partial-government-shutdown
Quote:
Vice President Pence on Thursday night backed President Trump's position demanding $5.6 billion in border wall funding, telling Fox News's Tucker Carlson, "No wall, no deal."


https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/423798-cracks-beginning-to-show-in-gop-shutdown-resolve
Quote:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has declared any legislation passed by the House to fully reopen federal agencies will be a non-starter in the Senate but he may have trouble keeping all his troops in line.

McConnell has tried to keep his conference out of the fray altogether by insisting any government funding deal depends on negotiations between President Trump and Democratic leaders.

GOP lawmakers, feeling nervous about the prospect of a shutdown dragging on for weeks, are starting to weigh in.



https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/01/trump-talks-wall-white-house-briefing-room/579421/
Quote:
Trump’s Strange, Fleeting Briefing-Room Cameo
Quote:
At 4:07 p.m. eastern time, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted that there would be a White House briefing at 4:10, three minutes later. The ranks of reporters at the executive mansion were thin...but those on the spot scrambled to get in place. ... Finally, at nearly 4:30, Sanders came onstage, floridly introduced “our very great president, Donald J. Trump,” and got out of the way.

Thus began Trump’s first-ever visit to the briefing room, a milestone he acknowledged in his subsequent remarks.

...He congratulated the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, on her election, then launched into a set of talking points about the need for a border wall. “I’ve never had so much support than I’ve had in the last week over my stance on border security, for border control, and for, frankly, the wall or the barrier,” he said.

Then he introduced three of the men, who turned out to be Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council and a frequent Trump advocate; Art Del Cueto, a vice president of the NBPC; and Hector Garza, another vice president. Their message: A wall is necessary and important. Del Cueto, a veteran peddler of bunkum, delivered the message most eloquently and most threateningly: “You all got to ask yourself this question: If I come to your home, do you want me to knock on the front door, or do you want me to climb through that window?”

Trump then returned to the lectern, claiming that the men had been at the White House for a long-planned meeting. ...Then they were all gone—Trump, Judd, Del Cueto, Garza, and Sanders, without taking a single query from the press. “The point of the briefing room is to take questions!” an anguished reporter shouted as Trump left.






https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/423746-the-system-of-checks-and-balances-is-finally-waking-from-its-two-year
Quote:
Amidst the incessant shock waves emanating from the Trump presidency, there’s solace to be had in one happy happenstance: people are re-learning basic civics. And in that connection, the process of effective self-governance is finally beginning to function again.

Most of us were taught in middle school that our government is one of separated powers created by three co-equal branches of government, with each checking the other two for abuses. The reason for the “three-headed boss” model is simple: the revolutionaries who fought and died for American independence from England detested autocracies. One thing’s for sure: Under the United States Constitution, a single boss of all bosses is intolerable. Period.

This is why, regardless of individual political and ideological affiliation, every American should be concerned over the steady accumulation of unchecked power by the Trump presidency...


https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/01/trumps-new-catchphrase-presidential-harassment/579364/
Quote:
On Thursday, with the government shutdown in its 13th day, with no sign of abating, and the new Democratic majority taking over the House, the president tweeted this:

The Shutdown is only because of the 2020 Presidential Election. The Democrats know they can’t win based on all of the achievements of “Trump,” so they are going all out on the desperately needed Wall and Border Security - and Presidential Harassment. For them, strictly politics!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2019

...t’s that simple phrase, “presidential harassment,” that jumps out. This is the eighth time he’s employed it, according to factba.se, with uses coming more frequently of late. The nascent rise of the phrase is an indication that Trump feels newly embattled, but it also underscores the way he tries to construe any criticism of himself as illegitimate...


https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/01/03/trumps-compliant-new-pentagon-chief-shanahan-mattis/
Quote:
Trump’s ‘Compliant’ New Pentagon Chief
Quote:
Patrick Shanahan, the acting U.S. defense secretary as of Jan. 1, could be just the kind of man President Donald Trump wants at the helm of the Pentagon.

Known as “Mr. Fix-It” during his 31 years at Boeing, Shanahan has a reputation for cutting costs and cleaning up troubled programs like the 787 Dreamliner. These kind of management skills will no doubt come in handy in overseeing the nation’s largest bureaucracy.

But even more appealing to the White House, perhaps, is Shanahan’s record of deference to the president.




https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/jan/04/trump-administration-un-human-rights-violations
Quote:
The Trump administration has stopped cooperating with UN investigators over potential human rights violations occurring inside America, in a move that delivers a major blow to vulnerable US communities and sends a dangerous signal to authoritarian regimes around the world.

Quietly and unnoticed, the state department has ceased to respond to official complaints from UN special rapporteurs, the network of independent experts who act as global watchdogs on fundamental issues such as poverty, migration, freedom of expression and justice. There has been no response to any such formal query since 7 May 2018, with at least 13 requests going unanswered.




EDIT:

Whoever told Dear Leader about the "national emergency" toy, where he can do whatever he likes by declaring one, should be barred from public service for the rest of his/her life. You don't hand matches to a toddler.
https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-declaring-national-emergency-secure-wall-funding-sources/story?id=60164759
Quote:
President Donald Trump is seriously considering potential options to circumvent Congress, including declaring a national emergency to help pay for parts of his desired border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to multiple sources familiar with the ongoing discussions.

Among the options are reprogramming funds from the Department of Defense and elsewhere, sources said.

Sources tell ABC News the discussions are still on the "working level" adding that there's a range of legal mechanisms that are being considered before such a decision is announced.

Trump confirmed it https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/423934-trump-says-he-may-call-a-national-emergency-to-build-border-wall
Quote:
We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country, absolutely. We can do it. I haven’t done it, I may do it. I may do it, but we can call a national emergency and build it quickly, it’s another way of doing it,” he said at a press conference Friday.
Don't forget that he already declared a national emergency during the Christmas holidays to freeze the wages of civilian government workers. [Edit - sorry, I misspoke - he declared that as a "national security issue," which is also how he got all his tariffs. It's another way Trump violates the norms of presidential behavior to get his way, but not the same thing.]



I have to admit I agree with the freshman congresswoman who expressed what many of us say in private (though maybe not in exactly the same words ;) ):
https://thehill.com/homenews/media/423919-joy-behar-defends-freshman-dems-impeachment-remarks-i-identify-with-her
Quote:
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) [made] provocative comments at a MoveOn.Org event Thursday night, hours after she was sworn in to Congress,

“People love you and you win,” Tlaib said on the video in which she does not name the president specifically. “And when your son looks at you and says ‘Momma, look you won. Bullies don’t win.’ And I said, ‘baby, they don’t.’ ”

“Because we’re going to go in there and impeach the motherf---er,” Tlaib added as the crowd erupted in cheers.

Seriously, Trump demonstrates over and over how unfit he is to be president. And insiders have been warning us for many, many months. How long do we have to wait for Congress to grow a spine and do something? Until he does something that can't be repaired?

Edit: It's interesting to see how, over the last day, people have managed to focus the public discourse on "she said a naughty word" instead of the substance - that many people would like to see Trump gone and her remarks were cheered by the private group where she spoke. I'm also rather amused by this reaction, considering that Trump apparently used the "f word" more than once during his meeting with lawmakers on Friday. And I'm quite sure he's not the only politician or businessman to regularly use profanity in private, sometimes throwing such words around fairly casually, where, as far as I know, Tlaib used a single profanity as emphasis.


btw, if anyone wants to know how extensive a president's powers can be if he/she declares a national emergency, see this article. It's a disturbing read.
https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2018/12/what-trump-could-do-if-he-declares-state-emergency/153366/
Quote:
The moment the president declares a “national emergency”—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—he is able to set aside many of the legal limits on his authority.

...Unknown to most Americans, a parallel legal regime allows the president to sidestep many of the constraints that normally apply. The moment the president declares a “national emergency”—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—more than 100 special provisions become available to him. While many of these tee up reasonable responses to genuine emergencies, some appear dangerously suited to a leader bent on amassing or retaining power. For instance, the president can, with the flick of his pen, activate laws allowing him to shut down many kinds of electronic communications inside the United States or freeze Americans’ bank accounts. Other powers are available even without a declaration of emergency, including laws that allow the president to deploy troops inside the country to subdue domestic unrest.

https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/defense-one/
Quote:
Factual Reporting: HIGH
Notes: Defense One (DO) is an online news site that reports primarily on matters relating to national defense and security. The articles are well written, well sourced, and highly factual.



Also, it seems that the Do Not Call list is not the only automated government website shut down:
https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/423954-interior-department-wont-accept-foia-requests-during-shutdown
Quote:
The agency’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request website--an automated site that typically accepts requests through drop-down menus--is no longer receiving new submissions.

Members of the press, advocacy groups and individuals looking to request public information are now greeted with a message that reads: “No FOIA requests can be accepted or processed at this time.”

Though this one is odd because the FOIA sites for other affected agencies are not shuttered.
Quote:
FOIA requests for other agencies affected by the partial shutdown remain functioning via Foiaonline.gov, which serves agencies like the Justice Department, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Mon 07 Jan , 2019 3:08 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-07/when-mueller-issues-report-trump-may-try-to-suppress-some-of-it
Quote:
The White House may try to block portions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report from being shared with Congress and the public in a fight that could end up before the Supreme Court.

...Under the federal regulation that authorizes special counsels, Mueller is required only to submit his report to department leaders. There’s no mandate that any part of Mueller’s findings be provided to Congress or the public.

What happens next would be decided by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker or by William Barr, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, if he’s confirmed by the Senate by then. In the past, both have criticized Mueller’s investigation into whether anyone around Trump colluded in the Russian meddling and whether the president sought to obstruct the probe.

...“We will look at it and see if the president thinks there is a valid claim and if there is, do we want to make it,” said Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. “We reserve the right. We don’t know if we have to, but we haven’t waived it.” Giuliani said the White House would be willing to fight in court to preserve material it considers privileged.



https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424088-trump-no-hurry-to-name-permanent-replacements-for-acting-cabinet
Quote:
President Trump said Sunday he's in "no hurry" to name permanent choices for a handful of Cabinet positions being filled in an acting capacity.

"I sort of like acting. It gives me more flexibility. Do you understand that?" Trump told reporters as he left the White House for Camp David. "I like acting. We have a few that are acting but we have a great, great, Cabinet."
Quote:
Trump praised acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney for their work.... In addition to Bernhardt and Mulvaney, Matthew Whitaker is serving as the acting attorney general; Andrew Wheeler is serving as acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Patrick Shanahan is serving as acting Defense secretary; and Jonathan Cohen is serving as acting ambassador to the United Nations.



https://thehill.com/policy/defense/424028-pentagon-chief-of-staff-resigns
Quote:
The Department of Defense's chief of staff Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney has resigned, according to a statement.

Sweeney said in a brief statement that he planned to return to the private sector, giving no reason for his departure. ... His resignation also followed that of another top Mattis ally, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, who announced her resignation at the end of December.
Probably worth noting that Sweeney had words of praise for people in the Pentagon but didn't even mention Trump's name.




Trump apparently thinks this is a concession.
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424080-trump-says-hes-pushing-for-steel-barrier-instead-of-concrete-wall-at
Quote:
President Trump said Sunday that his administration is pushing for a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall along the southern border, calling it a "good solution" amid a partial government shutdown centered on discussions over funding for the structure.

Trump's declaration came after he spent the day meeting with advisers at Camp David and following meetings between Vice President Pence and Democratic congressional aides. While Trump suggested the shift in materials might appease Democrats, the party has opposed the wall as a matter of effectiveness.

..."They don't like concrete, so we'll give them steel," Trump said, saying the material will look "beautiful" and be "stronger" than concrete.

...Trump said earlier in the day that he plans to reach out to the head of United States Steel and other companies to inquire about a design.
In other words, he doesn't even have a plan and the money they've spent on prototype designs was wasted.

Nor has the Trump administration presented any studies or expert opinions suggesting the wall would be an effective (or cost-effective) border solution. He just keeps demanding money for it.

Trump also repeated on Sunday that he wants to declare a national emergency to get his money. And he said he won't negotiate by giving the Democrats something they actually want, like DACA. Seems his idea of negotiations is just "Give me what I want or I'll keep the government shut down."


https://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-talk-shows/424043-mulvaney-defends-change-in-views-on-border-wall
Quote:
White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday defended his reversal on President Trump's proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing there's more of a need for it now than when he bashed the concept in 2015.

During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Mulvaney was confronted with a video clip of 2015 comments in which he called it "absurd and almost childish" for a presidential candidate to suggest building a fence along the border would solve the immigration issue. Trump campaigned in 2016 on a promise to build a wall along the border.
According to the article, Mulvaney claims he changed his mind because there's been an "influx" of immigrants during the Trump administration. But experts say illegal immigration is down considerably from its peak levels.


https://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-talk-shows/424045-mulvaney-no-idea-which-presidents-told-trump-they-wish-theyd-built
Quote:
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that he has "no idea" which former presidents President Trump is claiming told him they wished they had built a border wall while in office. "I have no idea. I haven't asked the president that question," Mulvaney told CNN's "State of the Union."

Trump made the claim on Friday, and spokesmen for former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush have denied they discussed the issue with Trump. Former Presidents Obama and Carter have never endorsed a border wall.



https://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-talk-shows/424063-graham-says-there-will-be-no-progress-on-shutdown-negotiations-as
Quote:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said there will not be progress on negotiations to end the partial government shutdown "as long as the radical left is in charge."

Graham suggested during an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation" that Republicans are being forced to negotiate with Democrats who are being unreasonable in their demands. "We’re having to negotiate with people who want to abolish ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], not support ICE. We’re having to negotiate with people who see border patrol agents gassing children, rather than defending our borders as professional law enforcement officers," Graham said.

...“There is a deal to be had here, but it will include a wall," Graham said. "And if there’s no wall in this deal, we’ll never have a deal.”
It seems that Graham has entered Trump's fact-free alternative reality. The Democrats have NOT proposed any bills to end ICE and Democratic leadership has mostly thrown cold water on the idea. The Democrats have offered money for border security, just not for Trump's Wall.

Incidentally, the border patrol agents did (at least twice in the last couple of months) fire tear gas, pepper spray and plastic bullets at people in Mexico trying to get across the border fence, a group that included children both times. Mexico has formally asked the US to explain this.


And from the Minister of Propaganda:
https://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-talk-shows/424046-sarah-sanders-trump-means-what-he-says-that-shutdown-could-last
Quote:
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday that President Trump "means what he says" when he suggested an ongoing partial government shutdown could extend for months or years.
Baloney. No one with a brain believes that Congress will let that happen. They could pass a funding bill with a veto-proof majority, if they wanted to, and let Trump go sulk.



https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2019/01/04/where-the-idea-for-donald-trumps-wall-came-from/amp/
Quote:
Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border did not come from security analysts following years of study or through evidence that a wall would reduce illegal immigration. Amazingly, for something so central to the current U.S. president, the wall came about as a “mnemonic device” thought up by a pair of political consultants to remind Donald Trump to talk about illegal immigration...

The concept of the Wall did not click right away with the candidate. “Initially, Trump seemed indifferent to the idea,” writes Green. “But in January 2015, he tried it out at the Iowa Freedom Summit, a presidential cattle call put on by David Bossie’s group, Citizens United. ‘One of his pledges was, ‘I will build a Wall,’ and the place just went nuts,’ said Nunberg. Warming to the concept, Trump waited a beat and then added a flourish that brought down the house. ‘Nobody,’ he said, ‘builds like Trump.’”

...In a December 2018 editorial, the Wall Street Journal pointed out building a wall is not the best way to reduce illegal immigration and it represents a questionable use of taxpayer money. ... Research from the National Foundation for American Policy supports this view...
btw, Trump has apparently decided that one important thing for him to do during the government shutdown is.... travel to the US-Mexican border on Thursday. Presumably for a photo opportunity with the military so he can promote his Wall to his supporters.
What a waste of money.



More words of wisdom in tweets from Dear Leader this morning:
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424119-trump-ramps-up-attacks-on-media-crazed-lunatics
Quote:
With all of the success that our Country is having, including the just released jobs numbers which are off the charts, the Fake News & totally dishonest Media concerning me and my presidency has never been worse. Many have become crazed lunatics who have given up on the TRUTH!...

...The Fake News will knowingly lie and demean in order make the tremendous success of the Trump Administration, and me, look as bad as possible. They use non-existent sources & write stories that are total fiction. Our Country is doing so well, yet this is a sad day in America!

....The Fake News Media in our Country is the real Opposition Party. It is truly the Enemy of the People! We must bring honesty back to journalism and reporting!

I still find it fairly amazing that a US president would repeatedly use the same phrase as Stalin and other dictators. I'd be willing to bet that his advisers have tried to educate him about its history. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/03/trump-enemy-of-the-people-meaning-history



https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424026-opm-directs-agencies-to-halt-scheduled-pay-raises-for-pence-top
Quote:
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has reportedly directed federal agencies to halt pay raises scheduled to go into effect today for Vice President Pence, members of the president's Cabinet and other top administration officials. A reporter for The Washington Post tweeted Saturday that OPM made the decision Friday evening following news reports detailing the raises,
This comes after Trump was asked about these raises in a press conference and had no comment, not even to say he would look into them.



https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/06/trump-aides-could-face-perjury-charges-mueller-investigation
Quote:
Donald Trump Jr and long-term Trump aide Roger Stone face a heightened threat of criminal charges as Democrats on Capitol Hill prepare to hand evidence to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. They could be charged with perjury if there is evidence that they lied to Congress during interviews behind closed doors with the House intelligence committee.

The California Democrat Adam Schiff will take over leadership of the committee now that his party has control of the House, following victory in the midterm elections. Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Schiff made clear he would be handing over transcripts which had been withheld from Mueller’s investigation by Republicans when they controlled the panel.





Edit:
Fair warning for those who want to rent a movie. "Our very great president Donald Trump" (according to Sarah Sanders's introductions, at least) has scheduled a speech on network TV tomorrow night at 9pm. https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424191-trump-to-address-nation-tuesday-night-amid-shutdown-over-border-wall:
Quote:
"I am pleased to inform you that I will Address the Nation on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border," Trump tweeted on Monday.

I assume it will be his usual bombast and lies (his twitter announcement is already a lie - the only border crisis is in this poor man's head). The Trump supporters on message boards are already salivating and cheering at the thought that Trump will declare a national emergency to get his Wall. I doubt he will be that stupid, but who knows. He does seem to admire dictators and has a seriously inflated opinion of his own greatness.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Tue 08 Jan , 2019 2:41 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
The networks have decided to carry Trump's speech. Fox and some other cable news were always going to carry it, but the networks hadn't yet decided yesterday . Apparently, they had told former president Obama "no" once, when they decided his address was going to be for political purposes.

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424250-trump-to-address-nation-on-wall
Quote:
President Trump will give a prime-time address Tuesday from the Oval Office to make his case for closing parts of the government over his demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a wall on the Mexican border.

The president also plans to travel to the border on Thursday, a bellicose move reflecting the entrenched positions on both sides of the debate and one that almost certainly means the 18-day shutdown will continue into the weekend.


CNN will carry the Democratic response live. (I wouldn't hold my breath on Fox). No word about whether anyone will be fact checking Trump in real time.
https://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/424258-democrats-demand-air-time-to-counter-trumps-border-speech

Edit: I was wrong. Fox (and the networks) will also air Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer's response to Trump's wall.



Here are two rebuttals of Trump's Wall exaggerations/ lies:
https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/29/trump-says-border-wall-will-stop-drugs-heres-what-a-dea-intel-report-says/
Quote:
Trump Says Border Wall Will Stop Drugs. Here’s What a DEA Intel Report Says.
Many of the illegal drugs flowing into the United States come by air or sea.
Quote:
President Donald Trump says his wall at the U.S.-Mexico border will help stem the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. There’s one problem with the plan: The drugs coming into the U.S. Northeast often arrive by plane, boat, or hidden in vehicles, according to an intelligence report by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

A 24-page report prepared by the DEA in May found that drugs coming from Mexico do often enter through the southwestern border, but they do so concealed in vehicles, like tractor-trailers. Moreover, drugs coming from Colombia are more often transported by plane and boat, the reports notes


https://thehill.com/latino/424221-border-patrol-stopped-six-immigrants-suspected-of-terrorism-in-first-half-of-2018-nbc
Quote:
Border patrol stopped a total of six migrants suspected of terrorism in the first half of 2018, according to data obtained by NBC News, casting doubt on recent claims from the White House that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stopped nearly 4,000 “known or suspected terrorists” at the U.S.-Mexico border last year.

...White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders over the weekend claimed that "nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally" on "Fox News Sunday."

Other sources say suspected terrorists mostly try to enter the US at airports. And I have my doubts about how many of the so-called "suspected terrorists" turn out to be truly suspicious. We're talking about the TSA, which finds a cupcake with excess frosting suspicious.




https://thehill.com/policy/finance/424249-shutdowns-impact-shows-signs-of-growing
Quote:
The 18-day partial government shutdown is suspending court cases, delaying mortgage approvals and causing lapses to safety net programs, all of which may intensify pressures on the White House and Congress to end it.

Many agencies found short-term workarounds when the shutdown began on Dec. 22, but those efforts are beginning to run thin.

Here’s a look at what’s happening.


https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/424238-government-shutdown-closes-in-on-high-court
Quote:
The Supreme Court is about to feel the effects of the partial government shutdown. On Monday afternoon, as the shutdown entered its third work week, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said it’s now aiming to keep paid operations going through Jan. 18, a week longer than its previous estimate.

...Since the shutdown began on Dec. 22, the Supreme Court and lower federal ones have stayed up and running by drawing on court fees and other funds that aren’t dependent on congressional appropriations.

If that money runs out before new funds are appropriated, the Supreme Court said it will reduce spending it considers noncritical, in addition to curtailing some nonessential public services.


https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/424222-interior-chief-directs-staff-to-use-all-funds-collected-from
Quote:
New acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is directing the National Park Service (NPS) to drain their funds collected from entrance fees "until they’ve reached a zero balance," in order to keep parks open, according to an internal memo obtained by The Hill.

The secretarial memo sent from Bernhardt to NPS Deputy Director Dan Smith on Saturday directed the agency to “immediately utilize” the money they’d collected through fees to address “restrooms and sanitation, trash collection, road maintenance, campground operations, law enforcement and emergency operations, and staffing entrance gates.” “These operations shall be maintained until such funds have reached a zero balance,” the memo read.

...Critics argue... that pulling from the fees will have major repercussions to the NPS down the line, especially during the height of the season. Typically the fees go toward fixing the agency’s nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog. If $300 million is drained, it has to be replaced somehow.

btw, the IRS has decided it can issue refunds:
https://thehill.com/policy/finance/424259-irs-says-filing-season-will-start-jan-28




https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/01/vice-president-mike-pence-and-government-shutdown/579706/
Quote:
Mike Pence was set up to fail.

It seemed that way a lot over the last three weeks. In the days ahead of the federal funding deadline in December, it was the vice president who told Senate Republicans that the president would back a short-term spending bill to keep the government open. (The president then announced he would not.) And it was Pence who, once the partial government shutdown was under way, told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer the White House would downsize its request for border wall funding. (The president then announced it would not.)

The shutdown had reached its third week when the vice president convened bipartisan meetings with congressional staffers to discuss, ostensibly, a path forward. Yet in those gatherings ...[Pence] had not been authorized to pitch new funding levels for the border wall, as he had in his meeting with Schumer. (The vice president’s office disputed this to me, noting the meetings resulted in a revised budget request from the Senate.)

The president underscored the futility of Sunday’s confab before it even took place: “I don’t expect to have anything happen at that meeting,” he told reporters that morning, before heading to Camp David. “Ultimately, it’s going to be solved by the principals.”...
Quote:
“[Pence is] investing in GOP solidarity,” a senior aide to a GOP member close to Pence told me. “Not deal-making with Democrats.”



Pence has also lied to try to normalize Trump's blatant lie:
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424275-pence-trump-has-impression-previous-presidents-wanted-to-build-wall
Quote:
Vice President Pence on Tuesday said President Trump has the "impression" that previous presidents wanted to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, following claims from Trump that former presidents have told him that they wanted to build a wall.

Spokespeople for multiple former presidents, including Former President Carter, Clinton and George W. Bush, in recent days have publicly denied that they discussed the prospect of a border wall with Trump.

"I know the President has said that that was his impression from previous administrations, previous Presidents," Pence said during an interview on NBC's "Today Show."




Editorial by a law professor who is an expert on constitutional law and property:
https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/424195-trumps-militarized-land-seizure-for-border-wall-is-more-complicated-than
Quote:
Trump’s militarized land seizure for border wall is more complicated than ‘I can do it if I want’
Quote:
President Trump recently announced he could invoke national emergency powers to divert military funds to build his long-promised border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, since Congress won’t give him $5 billion in funding. He said he would grab the land “under the military version” of eminent domain “fairly quickly” — the Fifth Amendment power to seize private property for a public use upon just compensation.

But Trump’s threat of using the military to acquire land for a massive federal project is nothing new or extraordinary. What is extraordinary, however, is Trump’s assertion that he can unilaterally order the military to build the wall, including seizing land, by declaring a national emergency without statutory authorization, let alone evidence of a legitimate emergency.






While Trump wants us to focus on The Wall (instead of what's going on with the Mueller investigation and the investigations of Trump's corrupt "charity" in New York?), perhaps it's also a good time to take a a good long look at CBP and the borders in general. One question is why Trump's policies seem to be increasing confrontations with people who want to immigrate, something that should be a routine, orderly process.

Another question is how CBP treats ordinary people.

The author of this story does strike me as one of those entitled people who don't think the rules apply to them (if someone tells you that cell phone use is prohibited, you turn it off and don't ignore them) but I don't think she's wrong in shining a light on the current culture and attitudes of some border agents.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/07/detained-us-immigration-jfk-white-woman-british-passport
Quote:
Detained at US immigration, I felt frightened. And very lucky
Being asked to ‘step this way’ at JFK was a reminder of how privileged I am to be a white woman with a British passport

To be fair, this sort of behavior isn't new to Trump - it has been going on since Bush. Long ago, I would cross the Canadian border for trivial reasons, like going to a restaurant. I stopped after the everyone started being viewed as a potential terrorist and I was hearing people (ordinary, middle class white people) complain about how miserable it had become, getting back into the US. But early in the Trump administration, there were a number of stories about increased harassment at the Canadian border, including the jogger who was held in a US detention facility for a week after she accidentally ran across the border at a beach. I'd be very surprised if those things aren't still happening. Trump is just good at getting the media to focus their attention elsewhere.



https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/424281-mystery-shrouds-manafort-case-as-attorneys-appear-to-miss-key
Quote:
Attorneys for President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort appear to have missed a court-ordered deadline to reply to special counsel Robert Mueller’s accusations that Manafort breached a plea agreement by lying to federal prosecutors.

A filing responding to the claims was due Monday, but the midnight deadline came and went without any submission appearing on the court’s docket. This could mean Manafort’s attorneys either missed the deadline or filed the entire document under seal, though attorneys normally would announce their intention to do so and the docket would reflect that.

Manafort’s attorneys did not respond to a request for more information


Edit: new information says it was filed under seal. So not a story.
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424318-manafort-attorneys-file-response-under-seal-to-muellers-lying
Though maybe someone should have thought twice about juxtaposition of words in the title. ;) I almost skipped the article after seeing "Manafort attorneys file response under seal to Mueller’s lying allegations," assuming it was an opinion piece by some lunatic partisan.

And his lawyers don't seem to be very competent at filing redacted documents. Manafort lied about sharing polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, who apparently has ties to Russian intelligence. So it's another Russian connection to the Trump campaign.
https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/08/politics/manafort-russia-court-deadline/index.html#


Also, the Trump administration has downgraded the diplomatic status of the EU in the US:
https://thehill.com/policy/international/424324-trump-admin-downgraded-eu-diplomatic-status-in-washington-without
Quote:
The Trump administration reportedly did not notify the European Union that it was downgrading its ambassador’s diplomatic status in the U.S. The BBC reports that the EU is asking the U.S. to explain the move that it recently discovered without receiving any advance notice of the decision.

...The move may have been reversed already after it drew dismay from the EU delegation and Ambassador David O’Sullivan, according to The New York Times.

The demotion took the EU from a member state, which it had been recognized as for years, to an international organization, which the U.S. ranks lower than it does countries.

This, together with the story about the US no longer responding to UN requests about human rights investigations, seems to suggest that the State Dept may be quietly cutting some ties with Europe under Pompeo.




And Trump is fundraising for his reelection campaign off his speech tonight:
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424356-trump-fundraising-on-national-address-on-border
Quote:
Trump in an email Tuesday afternoon asked supporters to donate to his "Official Secure the Border Fund" through the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee.

"We need to raise $500,000 in ONE DAY. I want to know who stood with me when it mattered most so I’ve asked my team to send me a list of EVERY AMERICAN PATRIOT who donates to the Official Secure the Border Fund," read the email written in Trump's name.

"Please make a special contribution of $5 by 9 PM EST to our Official Secure the Border Fund to have your name sent to me after my speech," it added.
What an oily, slimy snake oil salesman he is.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Wed 09 Jan , 2019 2:44 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
https://thehill.com/policy/finance/424463-trump-to-urge-congress-to-back-bill-expanding-tariff-powers-report
Quote:
President Trump is expected to encourage Congress to pass legislation that would strengthen his powers to levy tariffs on other countries, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the plan.

The outlet reported that the legislation, the U.S. Reciprocal Trade Act, would give the president far-reaching authority to increase tariffs if he thinks another country's non-tariff barriers are excessively restrictive.



https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/424489-kaine-rosenstein-departure-raises-the-stakes-for-barr-confirmation-hearing
Quote:
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said Tuesday that the reported pending departure of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would "raise the stakes" of next week's confirmation hearings for President Trump's nominee for attorney general, William Barr.

..."William Barr was sending freelance memos to the Trump administration making a case to undercut the Mueller investigation," Kaine said. "So the deep concern will be if he comes in and Rosenstein is gone, is this just a, you know, preface to either undercutting the investigation or trying to keep the results of it hidden from the American public."

...Kaine was referring to a memo that Barr reportedly gave to the White House last June in which he said he was concerned that Mueller was probing possible obstruction of justice by Trump. Barr said in the memo that Mueller's investigation is based on a "fatally misconceived" theory, The Wall Street Journal reported in December.



https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/424555-trump-formally-nominates-wheeler-to-head-epa
Quote:
President Trump has formally nominated Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who has led the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an acting capacity for six months, to serve as EPA administrator.


https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/424506-trump-tells-fema-not-to-send-more-money-to-california-for-forest
Quote:
President Trump said Wednesday that he has ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to withhold funding for California ...
Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019

FEMA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), of which FEMA is a part. The Hill has also reached out to California Gov. Gavin Newsom's (D) office for comment.

FEMA and DHS are currently without funding amid a partial government shutdown that has lasted 19 days and counting.







I didn't bother to watch Trump's much-anticipated speech last night, but list a few reports below. Trump didn't declare a national emergency and simply read a speech. Probably the most interesting thing about it is that most of the major networks and newspapers had fact checkers checking it on Twitter in real time. That's pretty incredible - our president is such a liar that this needs to be done.

He does seem to have slipped in a few blatant lies - like Democrats asking him for a steel wall instead of one of concrete - but most of his lies seem to have been those of misdirection. For instance, talking about the human cost of drugs, but omitting the fact that a DHS report says they mostly come by sea or air at sites other than the Mexican border, or in trucks through southern border entry points, and building a wall isn't going to do a damn thing to stop that. Or listing specific crimes committed by individual illegal immigrants but failing to put it into context - overall, they commit fewer crimes per population size than Americans. Likewise, framing the current situation as a "crisis," when the number of illegal immigrants has gone down since its peak.

Apparently, his speech now implies that he's only advocating for a wall because DHS that wanted it. That seems to be contradicted by all evidence to date - including the report from Forbes yesterday. From a transcript of Trump's speech:
"Finally, as part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion dollars for a physical barrier. At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall. This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It’s also what our professionals at the border want and need."


But it sounds like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer weren't all that great, either. It seems that they didn't point out the fallacies in Trump's speech, except to say he's fear-mongering, and just reiterated that they won't give in to his demand.

https://thehill.com/homenews/the-memo/424479-five-takeaways-from-trumps-oval-office-address
Quote:
Trump ... mostly rehashed arguments that he has already made on Twitter or at recent news conferences. He argued that the situation on the southern border had reached crisis proportions and alleged that Democrats were unconcerned about border security.

...The pre-speech cliffhanger was whether he would declare a national emergency during his speech....The speculation had been stoked by people in Trump’s circle, including Vice President Pence, who told NBC’s Hallie Jackson in an interview that aired Tuesday morning that declaring a national emergency was something the president was “looking at and considering.”

...If Trump did not triumph, he did not meet with disaster either. His arguments may have been predictable, but they were competently delivered without obvious missteps.

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424471-trump-on-wall-choice-between-right-and-wrong
Quote:
President Trump on Tuesday argued the U.S. is facing a “growing humanitarian and security crisis” at the southern border in a primetime address designed to seize leverage over Democrats in a prolonged shutdown battle over his demand for a border wall.

...“How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?” Trump said. “This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve.”

...“This is a humanitarian crisis—a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul,” he said.

He told the stories of people who were killed by immigrants living illegally in the U.S....

“I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers,” Trump said. “So sad. So terrible.”

Democrats have bristled at Trump’s use of such incidents, pointing out that studies have shown immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than natural-born U.S. citizens.

Federal data also shows that illegal border crossings have fallen in recent years, numbers that Democrats have used to argue that Trump’s claims of a border crisis is overblown.

...But Trump believes the wall is a winning issue with his base and his allies see delivering on his promise to build it as key to his 2020 reelection race, factors that prompted Trump to trigger the shutdown 18 days ago by nixing a budget deal that did not include wall money.
Quote:
...Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) rejected Trump’s argument that a crisis exists along the border and said the president is solely to blame for the shutdown.

“This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration,” Schumer said in a televised rebuttal from the Capitol....Buoyed by polls showing most Americans blame Trump for the shutdown, Pelosi repeated her stance that she will only negotiate with Trump over border security if he decided to fund shuttered government agencies that have been closed since Dec. 22.
Quote:
As the shutdown has dragged on, cracks have begun to emerge among congressional Republicans worried about the political fallout from its effects, including the possibility of hundreds of thousands of federal workers missing paychecks starting Friday.

Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials trekked to Capitol Hill on Tuesday evening before the address to urge House Republicans to “stand strong” behind the president, amid fears some GOP lawmakers could defect and support Democratic bills to reopen government.

https://thehill.com/homenews/media/424474-fox-newss-shep-smith-immediately-fact-check-trump-address
Quote:
Fox News host Shepard Smith fact-checked President Trump’s prime-time address on border security shortly after it ended on Tuesday night.

Smith pushed back on some of the president's claims following his 10-minute speech, including statistics about violent crime and murder rates committed by undocumented immigrants.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/01/stephen-miller-shaped-trumps-oval-office-speech/579859/
Quote:
Trump’s Oval Office Address Was Classic Stephen Miller

The young speechwriter has a signature style: blood, gore, and a penchant for provoking rather than persuading the president’s adversaries.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/01/president-trumps-speech-shutdown-and-wall/579844/
Quote:
A president only gets one chance to make his first Oval Office address—making Donald Trump’s reiteration of familiar talking points in a short speech Tuesday night all the more puzzling.

...In making the case that there is an acute crisis at the border, Trump faces three major obstacles.

The first is that there’s no obvious change at the border that makes the current moment more serious than six or 18 months ago. ...

The second obstacle is a confusing explanation of the humanitarian problem. .... The measures he is proposing treat symptoms without dealing with the underlying causes, especially violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle....

The third is credibility. ..

Pelosi and Schumer’s brief rebuttal was somehow even more stilted than Trump’s. Their remarks, delivered in sequence, were more directly partisan than the president’s, criticizing him for keeping the government shut down even when Republican-backed bills would have reopened it... While Pelosi and Schumer’s remarks were presumably written before Trump spoke, they had nothing new to offer either, and the lack of any fresh information during Trump’s address made their comments seem especially empty.

As with the shutdown itself, it’s hard to see what the point was of Tuesday night’s speeches.




The meeting today to resolve the impasse did nothing. Trump apparently spent the first half hour praising his strategies in Iran and Syria before even getting to the point of the meeting. He won't budge on his demand for wall money or give the Democrats any concessions and the Democrats are refusing to just give Trump what he wants.
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424591-trump-rips-pelosi-and-schumer-after-meeting-total-waste-of-time
Quote:
Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424639-trump-storms-out-of-meeting-as-shutdown-careens-toward-fourth-week
Quote:
President Trump abruptly left a White House negotiating session with congressional Democrats about 20 minutes into the meeting, dismissing it as a “total waste of time” as the partial government shutdown careened toward a fourth week.

...Schumer said Trump “slammed the table” as he left the meeting, while Vice President Pence said the president had “passed out candy” — a mix that included Butterfingers and M&Ms — and that he had not raised his voice or slammed his hand.

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters...“He said today in the middle of this meeting, ‘I don't know why I'm doing this. I didn't want to do this meeting. They told me I had to do this meeting,’ ” Durbin said, suggesting his staff had persuaded him to extend the invitation.

https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/424577-gop-senators-challenge-trump-on-shutdown-strategy
Quote:
Rubio said Trump’s main message to Senate Republicans was “stick together.”
Trump, speaking to reporters after the meeting, downplayed any friction within the party. “I would say that we have a very, very unified party,” Trump said.
He doesn't, though he still has McConnell refusing to allow a vote in the Senate on the House bills. But Pence and others are working hard to prevent any more Republicans in Congress from defecting.


https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424478-trump-told-reporters-prime-time-speech-wouldnt-change-a-damn-thing
Quote:
President Trump reportedly dismissed his own planned trip to the border as irrelevant and unlikely to make headway on Tuesday... In a conversation with reporters ahead of his televised speech to the nation Tuesday night, Trump admitted that the trip was a photo opportunity, and was unlikely to persuade any Democrats in the House or Senate to compromise on funding for the wall in a package to reopen the government, according to The New York Times.

“It’s not going to change a damn thing, but I’m still doing it,” Trump told reporters, according to The Times. "But these people behind you say it’s worth it," he added, reportedly referring to members of the White House communications team, including Bill Shine and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.





Another Republican senator has expressed support for the House bills that were recently passed to reopen the government. No big surprise, considering the senate was (unanimously?) on board with a continuing resolution and no Wall money until Trump dug in his heels and Mitch McConnell decided the senate wouldn't be allowed to vote on anything not pre-approved by Trump.
https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/424484-gops-murkowski-calls-for-end-to-shutdown-i-think-we-can-walk-and-chew-gum
Quote:
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on Tuesday called for an end to the current government shutdown, telling reporters that there are parts of the government that can reopen that "don't have anything to do with border security."

“The operations of the Department of Interior and the National Park Service or the operations of the IRS and whether or not tax refunds go out don’t have anything to do with border security," she said.

"So let’s bifurcate these issues," Murkowski continued. "Let’s set them aside. Let’s allow for the operations, these governmental functions in these six other departments, allow for them to continue.”


https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/424514-immigration-judge-warns-cases-are-at-standstill-due-to-government-shutdown
Quote:
The president of the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) says cases are at a standstill as a result of the partial government shutdown over President Trump’s border wall.

“For all of the non-detain cases, which is the majority of our cases that are pending before the court, they have all come to a standstill,” Ashley Tabaddor, who is also an immigration judge in Los Angeles, said on Hill.TV, referring to cases involving individuals who have never been custody or have been released.



https://thehill.com/homenews/house/424501-white-house-emergency-declaration-for-border-wall-on-the-table
Quote:
President Trump considers the declaration of a national emergency to circumvent Congress and begin construction on a border wall to be on the table, his top spokesperson said Wednesday.




btw, that Syria withdrawal seems increasingly unlikely:
https://thehill.com/policy/international/424495-pompeo-in-iraq-for-unannounced-visit
Quote:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday met with Iraqi leaders in a previously unannounced visit as part of his visit to the Middle East. He discussed the Trump administration's strategy in Syria and efforts to secure the region.

...The Secretary of State's meetings come amid shifting language from the Trump administration on its withdrawal from the conflict in Syria. Trump abruptly announced in December that ISIS had been defeated and U.S. troops were "coming home now."

But, since that announcement, the president has tempered his language and national security adviser John Bolton on Sunday said that U.S. forces would not leave Syria until ISIS is fully defeated and the Trump administration receives assurances that U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters will be protected.

Trump later insisted his position on Syria had not changed.



Edit to add:
https://www.apnews.com/0b3d63c524214bbdbfb58ce8f61589f0
Quote:
Texas landowners dig in to fight Trump’s border wall
Quote:
The federal government has started surveying land along the border in Texas and announced plans to start construction next month. Rather than surrender their land, some property owners are digging in, vowing to reject buyout offers and preparing to fight the administration in court.

...Congress in March funded 33 miles (53 kilometers) of walls and fencing in Texas. The government has laid out plans that would cut across private land in the Rio Grande Valley. Those in the way include landowners who have lived in the valley for generations, environmental groups and a 19th century chapel.

Many have hired lawyers who are preparing to fight the government if, as expected, it moves to seize their land through eminent domain.

The opposition will intensify if Democrats accede to the Trump administration’s demand to build more than 215 new miles of wall, including 104 miles in the Rio Grande Valley and 55 miles near Laredo.



https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/a-beefed-up-white-house-legal-team-prepares-aggressive-defense-of-trumps-executive-privilege-as-investigations-loom-large/2019/01/09/066b8618-1045-11e9-84fc-d58c33d6c8c7_story.html
Quote:
A beefed-up White House legal team is gearing up to prevent President Trump’s confidential discussions with top advisers from being disclosed to House Democratic investigators and revealed in the special counsel’s long-awaited report, setting the stage for a potential clash between the branches of government.

The strategy to strongly assert the president’s executive privilege on both fronts is being developed under newly arrived White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who has hired 17 lawyers in recent weeks to help in the effort.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Thu 10 Jan , 2019 6:21 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/424711-trump-denies-knowing-manafort-shared-polling-data-with-russian
Quote:
President Trump on Thursday denied knowing that his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared polling data with a Russian associate linked to Kremlin intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“I didn’t know anything about that,” Trump told reporters Thursday morning before departing on a trip to the southern border.

A bungled court filing earlier this week revealed that special counsel Robert Mueller has accused Manafort of sharing polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national and former business associate of Manafort who is suspected to have ties to the GRU, Moscow’s military intelligence agency.

This is a big deal because it's the kind of polling data you can use to decide where to target disinformation efforts. There's no reason to be sharing that with Russians if you don't want them to do anything.

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/10/politics/robert-mueller-trump-pollster/index.html
Quote:
Special counsel Robert Mueller sought information directly last year from one of Donald Trump's campaign pollsters who is also a former business associate of Paul Manafort's.
Mueller's team met with pollster Tony Fabrizio in February 2018, an interview that has not been previously reported and takes on new significance after Manafort's attorneys revealed Tuesday that Mueller's team is still interested in how Manafort shared polling data with his Russian intelligence-linked colleague.
CNN journalists observed Fabrizio leaving the special counsel's office on the first of February last year and have since confirmed he was meeting with Mueller's team





https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/424730-mcconnell-blocks-house-bills-to-reopen-government
Quote:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday blocked two House-passed funding bills that would reopen the federal government.

Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), surrounded by roughly two dozen of their Senate Democratic colleagues, tried to get consent to bring up a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Feb. 8, as well as a separate package that would fund the remaining agencies without current-year appropriations through Sept. 30.





https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424682-nbc-prototype-of-steel-border-barrier-shows-it-could-be-sawed-through
Quote:
A Department of Homeland Security test of a steel border barrier prototype showed that the material can be cut through with a saw, NBC News reported Thursday.

A DHS photo obtained by NBC News showed the damage to the “steel slat” barrier being pushed by President Trump as the partial government shutdown drags into its 20th day.

The photo shared Thursday by NBC News was from late 2017 and was detailed in an internal February 2018 report from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Trump inspected the prototypes the month after this report. Similar structures have been used at the border by past administrations.

https://www.gao.gov/reports/GAO-18-614/
Quote:
CBP Is Evaluating Designs and Locations for Border Barriers but Is Proceeding Without Key Information
GAO-18-614; Published: Jul 30, 2018. Publicly Released: Aug 6, 2018.
Quote:
CBP and U.S. Border Patrol developed a methodology for prioritizing future barrier deployments along the entire southwest border, which included input from Border Patrol officials, data on illegal entry traffic, and analysis of operational and engineering feasibility for each potential location. However, the strategy did not include analysis of the costs associated with deploying barriers in each location or segment, which can vary depending on topography, land ownership, and other factors. Without assessing costs, consistent with leading practices for capital decision making, CBP does not have complete information for prioritizing locations to use its resources in the most cost-effective manner.

Acquisitions for the Border Wall System Program—DHS’s program to deploy barriers and other assets along the southwest border—are required to follow the department’s acquisition process. However, GAO found that for one of the two approved segments, DHS has not documented its plans as required.

https://globalnews.ca/news/4833557/trump-mexico-border-wall-write-a-cheque/
Quote:
U.S. President Donald Trump is doubling down on claims that Mexico was paying for the proposed border wall between their two countries, saying he “never meant they’re going to write out a cheque.”

...In fact, in October 2016, during the height of the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump released a document called “Donald Trump’s Contract with the American Voter,” in which he said Mexico would “reimburse” the U.S. for the “full cost of the wall.”

In a separate plan presented to the Washington Post during the campaign, he suggested he would cut off access for Mexican immigrants who send money home to their families until Mexico made a “one-time payment” of billions of dollars for the wall. (The plan was regarded as likely illegal, the Washington Post reported.)

...On Trump’s claim that the new trade deal would pay for the wall, the U.S. president is assuming a wide variety of economic benefits will come from the new NAFTA deal. But experts say the amounts cannot be quantified



Trump is in McAllen, TX today to promote his border wall and he's found a bunch of people to chant "build the wall." But a wall doesn't seem terribly popular with either the town's mayor or some residents interviewed by reporters. Eminent domain seems to be an especially big sticking point for some of them.
https://www.texasstandard.org/stories/mcallen-mayor-says-a-wall-wont-solve-the-realities-of-texas-border-problems/
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-shutdown-mcallen/in-texas-border-town-skepticism-ahead-of-trump-visit-to-push-wall-idUSKCN1P416F

Trump had a bizarre interview with Hannity in Texas.
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424862-trump-real-collusion-is-dems-and-cable-news-guests-saying-border
Quote:
President Trump said the "real collusion" story was Democrats and cable news pundits accusing him of creating a "manufactured crisis" in his push for a border wall.

Trump spoke with Sean Hannity during a trip to McAllen, Texas, where the Fox News host asked the president for his thoughts on the phrase.

"I saw on your show actually where you had anchor after anchor using the exact same word. 'It’s manufactured, manufactured,'" Trump said.

"Sounds like they’re in collusion," Hannity chimed in.

"Yeah, little collusion," Trump said. "That’s the real collusion, OK? That's the real collusion. You take a look because they all use the exact same term. I mean literally the exact same two words.

"It’s a manufactured crisis," Trump continued, parroting the phrase. "No, it’s a manufactured soundbite because it was just a soundbite."

The president went on to praise Hannity as "real news," and called the proliferation of the word "manufactured" in relation to the border "very sad."






https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/10/us/politics/mnuchin-russia-sanctions.html
Quote:
The Trump administration on Thursday defended its decision to lift sanctions on companies linked to the billionaire Russian oligarch Oleg V. Deripaska, arguing that the penalties had fulfilled their intended effect and that there would be “swift consequences” for any future violations.

Just hours before Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, was set to deliver a classified briefing on Russia sanctions to members of Congress, the department released a statement saying the administration had taken significant steps to ensure that Mr. Deripaska did not reassert his control over the three companies — EN+, Rusal and JSC EuroSibEnergo.

...Congress is reviewing the administration’s decision — announced in December by the Treasury Department — to lift sanctions against three companies. The decision came after an aggressive lobbying campaign by companies controlled by Mr. Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/04/world/europe/oleg-deripaska-russia-oligarch-sanctions.html
Quote:
Two Capitals, One Russian Oligarch: How Oleg Deripaska Is Trying to Escape U.S. Sanctions
Quote:
Mr. Deripaska’s allies are now fighting back aggressively, mobilizing a vast influence machine on both sides of the Atlantic in an all-out effort to undo the sanctions against his companies before they take full effect.

...Now, with the administration closing in on its latest self-imposed deadline to make a final decision by Dec. 12, there are signs that Mr. Deripaska’s companies could escape the sanctions entirely.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, has signaled that he is open to a plan under which Mr. Deripaska would reduce his stake in his companies in return for the sanctions being lifted.

But sidestepping the business sanctions is not Mr. Deripaska’s only goal. His team is preparing an audacious and previously unreported campaign to remove the personal sanctions on him, too. Removing the personal sanctions would eliminate substantial barriers to his doing business in the United States and around the world, and could be a requirement for him to get his hands on the money — potentially billions of dollars — resulting from any sale of part of his stake in the companies.


And it seem Mnuchin just stonewalled Congress. I expect he was probably encouraged to do so by Trump, who has been reluctant to let people in his administration answer questions whenever Congress doesn't seem inclined to rubber stamp his decisions- for instance, in Khashoggi's murder:
https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/424849-house-democrats-clash-with-mnuchin-following-sanctions-briefing

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Fri 11 Jan , 2019 2:47 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/10/republican-senators-government-shutdown-1096118
Quote:
President Donald Trump has rejected a plan proposed by a bloc of Senate Republicans who had hoped to break an impasse over the government shutdown, leaving Congress and the White House with little obvious way out of the extended battle over Trump's border wall.

On the 20th day of the shutdown, the GOP group tried to jump start bipartisan talks before Trump declares a national emergency to get his wall. But the president rejected their idea to allow congressional committees to sort out his border wall request while the government reopened, deeming the idea likely to leave him with nothing to show for the shutdown.



https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/424886-ex-doj-lawyer-i-felt-we-used-the-law-to-legitimize-trump-lies
Quote:
A lawyer who worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under the Trump administration writes in a new Washington Post op-ed that she sometimes felt that she and her colleagues were “using the law to legitimize lies” made by President Trump.

...“When OLC approves orders such as the travel ban, it goes over the list of planned presidential actions with a fine-toothed comb, making sure that not a hair is out of line. It is this work that gives OLC its reputation as home to some of the federal government’s finest attorneys,” Newland continued. “But when it comes to the president’s findings about the state of the world, OLC generally defers to the president.”

Newland noted that such deference proceeds from the assumption that Trump, as president, is "acting consistent with Article II of the Constitution and with his oath of office, both of which require that he ‘faithfully’ execute the laws.”

“That means he has a constitutional duty to act honestly and in the public interest. OLC’s deference is also born of a recognition that its lawyers are not equipped to be sophisticated fact-finders,” she continued.

Newland wrote that while working at OLC, she saw “again and again how the decision to trust the president failed the office’s attorneys, the Justice Department and the American people.”

...“Eventually, I decided that the responsibilities entailed in my oath were incompatible with the expectations of my job,” Newland goes on to write in the op-ed.




https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424871-exclusive-trump-team-should-be-allowed-to-correct-final-mueller
Quote:
Rudy Giuliani says President Trump’s legal team should be allowed to “correct” special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report before Congress or the American people get the chance to read it.

The claim, made in a telephone interview with The Hill on Thursday evening, goes further than the president’s legal advisers have ever gone before in arguing they have a right to review the conclusions of Mueller’s probe, which is now in its 20th month.




EDIT:
It seems that Trump wall supporters got scammed, though GoFundMe will make sure they get refunds if they want.
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424976-20-million-raised-in-gofundme-for-trump-border-wall-will-be-refunded
Quote:
GoFundMe said Friday that it would refund $20 million raised by over 300,000 donors for President Trump's border wall after an account aiming to raise $1 billion for the wall changed part of its campaign.

...While Kolfage said money donated to the original campaign would go to the government to fund a border wall, he wrote Friday that he has since formed a nonprofit corporation in Florida named “We Build the Wall, Inc.” to receive the GoFundMe contributions.

“We are better equipped than our own government to use the donated funds to build an actual wall on the southern border,” Kolfage wrote. “Our highly experienced team is highly confident that we can complete significant segments of the wall in less times, and for far less money, that the federal government, while meeting or exceeding all required regulatory, engineering, and environmental specifications.”

...Reports of Kolfage’s past business ventures started surfacing as the campaign gained national attention, including his alleged history of running sites that promoted conspiracy theories and racist content...A Buzzfeed News investigation published Thursday found that Kolfage allegedly pocketed money donated to a previous GoFundMe account he started for wounded veterans.

Supposedly Kolfage just figured out that you can't just give money to the government and demand that they do what you want.

Someone also said Kolfage has recruited Kris Kobach, Sheriff Clarke and Erik Prince for his nonprofit, though I'm not sure where they got this information. If so, I think former sheriff Arpaio might be feeling left out.

Edit: That was from here, apparently:
https://www.thedailybeast.com/gofundme-border-wall-campaign-implodes-turns-to-kris-kobach-and-sheriff-clarke-for-new-non-profit
Quote:
The new group’s board, Kolfage announced on Friday, includes Erik Prince, the founder of infamous military contractor Blackwater; David Clarke, the scandal-plagued former sheriff of Milwaukee County; Fox News contributor Sara Carter; Tom Tancredo, an immigration hardliner and former Colorado congressman; and former Kansas Secretary of State and voter fraud crusader Kris Kobach.

“I joined the organization because its mission is of the highest importance to our country,” Kobach told The Daily Beast. “The wall needs to be completed, and it needs to be done as soon as possible. The best way to accomplish that is through a combination of both public and private efforts.”

Quote:
Dustin Stockton, a conservative activist and We Fund The Wall spokesman, said he expects that enough people will agree to redirect their GoFundMe contributions for the group to retain a sizable portion of the funds.

...[and cited] assurances from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) that the GoFundMe campaign had encouraged House conservatives to include border wall funding in a key federal funding bill last month.


Jim Jordan is a big Trump loyalist in the House
https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/11/14/trump-wants-jim-jordan-leading-fight-house-judiciary-politico-says/1997533002/
Quote:
Trump tried to broker House leadership deal, promote loyalist Jim Jordan, report says
Quote:
President Donald Trump tried to broker a deal to settle House Republicans' leadership struggle that could result in one of his most loyal defenders becoming the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, Politico reports.

With the support of his party's right flank, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan – a co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus – has campaigned to become Republicans' next leader in the House, challenging Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

...Trump reached out to McCarthy and encouraged him to strike a deal with Jordan, according to Politico. The specifics of the negotiations remain unclear, but the news site said lawmakers speculated that he would want Jordan to become the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, which is expected to open several investigations into the Trump administration when the Democrats take control.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Last edited by aninkling on Sat 12 Jan , 2019 4:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Sat 12 Jan , 2019 2:39 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/425020-comey-firing-prompted-fbi-to-probe-whether-trump-was-working-for
Quote:
Shortly after President Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey in 2017, the FBI launched an inquiry into whether Trump was working for Russia, The New York Times reports.

According to the Times, Comey's firing caused such concern among law enforcement that officials began probing if Trump was a threat to national security or secretly carrying out anti-American agendas on behalf of Russian officials.

The White House and FBI did not immediately return requests for comment from The Hill on Friday night.
Quote:
In a statement reported by NBC News's Geoff Bennett, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders blasted the Times report as "absurd."

"James Comey was fired because he's a disgraced partisan hack," she said, according to NBC."Unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia."





As I said earlier this week, I'm concerned about the culture that's being encouraged by the Trump administration at CBP. These people made a mistake but this could have been resolved by politely re-requesting the original paperwork. Our border agents don't have to act like this - they have all the power anyway and treating everyone decently would be the right thing to do. And keeping his lawyer from seeing him is unacceptable.
https://thehill.com/policy/defense/425037-former-interpreter-for-us-troops-in-afghanistan-detained-by-cbp-threatened
Quote:
A former translator for U.S. forces in Afghanistan was detained Friday in Houston's airport by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and threatened with deportation to Kabul, Afghanistan, along with his wife and five children.

...Motawakil and his family are apparently being threatened with deportation over the opening of sealed medical records by a member of his family, which raised concerns among U.S. officials that the documents could be fakes.

CBP officials did not immediately respond to a request from for comment from The Hill on the situation, but RAICES said Friday on Twitter that Motawakil remains in detention, separated from an attorney from the group who arrived at the airport to represent him.




https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2019/01/11/trump-sold-35m-of-real-estate-in-2018/
Quote:
Donald Trump sold an estimated $35 million worth of real estate while serving in the White House last year, according to a Forbes analysis of local property records and federal filings. Although the president delegated day-to-day management of his assets to his sons Eric and Don Jr. upon taking office, he maintained ownership of his business, which continued to liquidate properties.

More than half of that $35 million came from a single deal, in which Trump and business partners offloaded a federally subsidized housing complex in Brooklyn for about $900 million. The president held a 4% stake in the property, according to his personal financial disclosure report. After subtracting roughly $370 million in debt, Forbes estimates Trump walked away with $20 million or so before taxes. The deal required approval from officials inside the Department of Housing & Urban Development, which rolls up to Donald Trump.

In Las Vegas, the president sold 36 units for $11 million... One-third of the Las Vegas condo customers purchased their units through limited liability companies, a move that allows buyers to shield their true identities.

This is not the first time we've heard reports about an unusual number of Trump's real estate customers hiding their identities since he became president.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Mon 14 Jan , 2019 2:04 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/425067-trump-concealed-details-of-meeting-with-putin-from-senior-officials
Quote:
President Trump concealed details about encounters with Russian President Vladimir Putin from officials in his administration on multiple occasions, current and former U.S. officials told the The Washington Post in a report published on Saturday.

The Post reported that there is a lack of detailed records on five of Trump’s face-to-face meetings with Putin.

On one occasion, Trump reportedly took notes on an encounter from his own interpreter and directed the linguist not to discuss the meeting with other officials in his administration.

We already know that Trump refused to tell Congress exactly what he and Putin discussed in Helsinki.


And although Republicans weren't happy about that at the time, they're now trying to spin Trump's activities as normal:
https://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-talk-shows/425115-lawmakers-take-wait-and-see-approach-to-latest-trump-russia
Quote:
Graham on “Fox News Sunday” expressed skepticism with the accuracy of the Times report and suggested it provided more proof of bias at the FBI than evidence against Trump.

"I, for one, don’t trust what I read in The New York Times," he said, but added "if this really did happen, Congress needs to know about it."

Cruz said he would consider any corroborated allegations that emerge, but called it "premature" to attempt to subpoena notes of the president's meetings with Putin.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) defended Trump's right to keep private the details of his meetings with Putin, suggesting on CBS's "Face the Nation" that doing so was part of the president's strategy to build a relationship with a foreign leader.



https://www.newsweek.com/mueller-report-trump-helped-putin-destabilize-us-watergate-journalist-1289541?amp=1
Quote:
Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein has said that he’s been told that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report will show how President Donald Trump helped Russia “destabilize the United States

...“From a point of view of strength… rather, he has done what appears to be Putin’s goals. He has helped Putin destabilize the United States and interfere in the election, no matter whether it was purposeful or not,” the journalist added. He then explained that he knew from his own high-level sources that Mueller’s report would discuss this assessment.

“And that is part of what the draft of Mueller’s report, I’m told, is to be about,” he said. “We know there has been collusion by [former national security adviser Michael] Flynn. We know there has been collusion of some sort by [Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul] Manafort. The question is, yes, what did the president know and when did he know it?”







https://thehill.com/policy/defense/425075-bolton-asked-pentagon-for-options-to-strike-iran-report
Quote:
The Trump administration's National Security Council sought military options to strike Iran last September after a group aligned with Tehran fired mortars near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The newspaper reported that national security adviser John Bolton asked the Pentagon for military options in the aftermath of the mortar strikes, which did not hit the embassy or injure anyone. The Pentagon reportedly complied with Bolton's request, though it's unclear if a serious plan was developed or if President Trump was aware of the request.


The Wall Street Journal is behind a firewall but US Today also gives a summary:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/01/13/john-bolton-iran-strike-plans/2563890002/
Including this:
Quote:
"It definitely rattled people," a former senior administration official told the newspaper. "People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran."





https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/425096-william-barrs-troubling-history-with-whistleblowers
Quote:
While serving as Assistant Attorney General under the first President Bush, Barr authored an infamous memorandum arguing that the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act were unconstitutional.

Barr stood alone among top Justice Department officials in vehemently opposing the whistleblower law. His arguments were rejected by President Bush’s solicitor general, attorney general, and all subsequent key leaders within the DOJ. But years after leaving office, and after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the False Claims Act was constitutional, Barr continued his constitutional criticisms of the False Claims Act, attacking the whistleblower provisions as an “abomination.”

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Tue 15 Jan , 2019 2:45 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
A summary of the worst scandals (that we know of so far*) from Trump's first 2 years:
https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/580183/trump-50-presidency/
Quote:
The Atlantic Bears Witness to Trump’s Destructive Presidency
Quote:
In a November 2016 editorial, The Atlantic warned that Donald Trump would be a threat to the republic—and a danger to democracy itself. In the course of making our case that he was unfit to command, we called him “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar.”

That was an understatement, argues editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg. In a new Atlantic Argument, Goldberg elucidates The Atlantic’s decision to analyze 50 of the most norm-bending, destructive, and improbable events of Trump’s presidency to date. “This is not a partisan exercise,” Golberg says in the video. “Our list is comprised of incidents that we can’t imagine happening in any other presidency, Republican or Democratic.”...
*There is no doubt in my mind that there is a great deal more going on that doesn't make the news.




https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/01/two-parties-divergent-narratives-trump-and-russia/580264/
Quote:
The Dueling Narratives on Trump and Russia

While Democrats express alarm over Trump’s affinity for Vladimir Putin, Republicans see partisan conspiracy theorizing.


David Frum at The Atlantic considers the pros and cons of subpoening Trump's translator:
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/subpoena-trump-putin-helsinki-interpreter/580267/
Quote:
On Saturday, The Washington Post’s Greg Miller reported new details of the extreme things done by Trump to conceal his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin from even the senior-most members of Trump’s own administration. Trump even reportedly seized the interpreter’s notes after one of his meetings, the Trump-Putin sit-down at the Hamburg G20 meeting in July 2017. Even more disturbingly, Trump and Putin met privately a second time at Hamburg—with no American present. In an act of astonishing recklessness, Trump relied entirely on the Russian interpreter, preventing any U.S. record-keeping at all.

All this would be unusual enough for any president. It is more than suspicious for a president being formally investigated by the FBI as a possible Russian-intelligence asset.

Concern focuses most on Trump’s meetings with Putin at the Helsinki summit in July 2018. ...There’s only one American who does know: Marina Gross, the professional interpreter who assisted Trump.

Should she be asked? It’s a tough, tough, tough question....



https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/425313-press-what-dirt-does-putin-have-on-trump
Quote:
One thing for sure, the Trump presidency is anything but boring. In fact, almost every week, if not every day, for the last two years, there’s been at least one “I can’t believe this is happening” moment. But none more mind-boggling than two reports over the weekend.

First, try to process this: As first reported by The New York Times, the FBI was so worried about President Trump’s coziness with Russian officials that they suspected he might actually be on the Kremlin’s payroll....

... on top of The New York Times bombshell, came another report by The Washington Post that Trump has gone out of his way not to disclose the contents of his one-on-one conversations with Putin on five different occasions. Not only were the secretary of State, the national security adviser and other top national security staff not included in those private meetings, they were not briefed on them afterward. After one 2017 session with Putin in Hamburg, Trump even went so far as to confiscate notes taken by his interpreter and ban him from discussing details of the meeting with other administration officials....



https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/425338-mueller-scrutinizing-breakfast-event-held-before-trumps-inauguration
Quote:
Special counsel Robert Mueller is scrutinizing a breakfast event held shortly before President Trump's inauguration, which was attended by Trump allies and foreign officials, according to a Monday Daily Beast report.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the special counsel's team are looking into a breakfast attended by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), former national security adviser Michael Flynn and dozens of foreign officials, three sources told the Daily Beast.

...Mueller's office is looking into the breakfast as part of its probe into whether foreign donors illegally channeled money into Trump's inaugural fund and a pro-Trump super PAC, as first reported by The New York Times last month.




Some of this has been reported before, but a summary of how the Trump EPA is reversing the rules the Obama administration put in place after the Deepwater Horizon spill, based on the failures it identified during that spill:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/15/trump-relax-rules-oil-companies-bp-deepwater-horizon-disaster
Quote:
Trump plans to relax Obama rules for oil companies put in place after BP disaster

Proposed revised rules include a change that would allow oil companies to select third party companies to evaluate the safety of their equipment
Quote:
The proposed revised rules, which most experts believe will be finalised despite heavy opposition from environmental groups, include a change that would allow oil companies to select third party companies to evaluate the safety of their equipment. Under previous rules, those entities had to be approved by the government agency that oversees offshore drilling, without any input from industry.

A separate rule on oil production safety systems that has already been finalized would also strike requirements that were put in place after the BP disaster that forced companies to get independent verification of the safety measures and equipment they use on offshore platforms, as well as a rule that required professional engineers to certify the safety of drilling equipment for new wells.


https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/425361-epa-referrals-for-criminal-prosecution-lowest-since-1988-report
Quote:
Criminal prosecutions have dropped to a 30-year low at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Trump administration as the agency pursues policies of deregulation.

...Former members of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division told the AP that the reason for the decreased caseload stemmed not from a lack of leads, but rather a lack of resources to pursue those leads. Michael Hubbard, a former agent with the enforcement division, said that the agency was being "gutted" in terms of what it could do to confront illegal polluters.




https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/425379-federal-judge-rules-against-census-citizenship-question
Quote:
A federal judge in Manhattan ruled Tuesday that the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census was unlawful.




https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/425333-senators-restart-shutdown-talks-and-quickly-hit-roadblocks
Quote:
A bipartisan group of senators met on Monday night to search for a way out of the partial government shutdown, but made no visible progress toward breaking the weeks-long stalemate.
I doubt whether there's much they can do, as long as Mitch McConnell keeps the Senate from voting on any of the House bills to end the shutdown. They could theoretically pass the bills with a veto-proof majority in a vote, if they were allowed to vote, but as long as Trump and McConnell cooperate, the shutdown will go on.

Ironically, Trumps's shutdown is stopping immigration judges from deporting people who did not meet the asylum requirements:
https://thehill.com/latino/425341-more-than-42000-immigration-hearings-canceled-due-to-shutdown-report
Quote:
An estimated 42,726 immigration court hearings have been canceled as a result of the partial government shutdown, which has lasted for more than three weeks, according to a new report.

Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, an institution that tracks immigration data, in a report released on Monday found that cancelled hearings will likely grow by around 20,000 during each week that the shutdown continues.
The shutdown has also stopped eVerify, the system employers use to find out whether someone is entitled to work in the US.

Trump is also militarizing the border with Mexico:
https://thehill.com/policy/defense/425340-pentagon-extending-mission-of-troops-at-southern-border
Quote:
The Pentagon is updating and extending the mission of troops stationed the Southern border, shifting from a mandate to "harden" ports of entry to surveilling the border and laying down wire, according to The Associated Press.


Though they are not getting funding for it, the FDA has restarted the most critical food safety inspections (seafood and cheese), though most inspectors remain furloughed


And not that it matters, but I was amused that Trump served McDonalds and Wendy's hamburgers to a college football team because the White House chef is furloughed. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-shutdown-trump-burgers/burgers-by-candlelight-trump-lays-out-fast-food-for-college-football-champs-idUSKCN1P900X Geez, doesn't DC have any decent hamburger places that cater? (The players, who have more class than Trump, wore suits to this feast and didn't criticize their host. Kudos to them for that.)





Edit:
This what the president of the United States - and a senior official in his administration - think of the federal workers Trump has furloughed with the shutdown. What disgusting bastards they both are.
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/425377-Trump-shares-article-blasting-federal-workers-calling-for-long-shutdown
Quote:
President Trump on Monday shared an op-ed from a writer claiming to be an anonymous senior member of his administration who harshly criticizes federal workers as disloyal to the White House and worthy of losing their jobs.

The writer of the op-ed, published by conservative news site The Daily Caller, argues the partial government shutdown is an opportunity for Trump to greatly reduce the size of government

...Uniformed border officials should be paid, but nonessential employees should be let go, the author writes. "Furloughed employees should find other work, never return and not be paid," the op-ed states..

...“Most of my career colleagues actively work against the president’s agenda. This means I typically spend about 15 percent of my time on the president’s agenda and 85 percent of my time trying to stop sabotage, and we have no power to get rid of them,” the op-ed states. “Until the shutdown.”

“Federal employees are starting to feel the strain of the shutdown. I am one of them. But for the sake of our nation, I hope it lasts a very long time, till the government is changed and can never return to its previous form,” the op-ed states.

btw, calling The Daily Caller a conservative news site is exceedingly polite - and probably an insult to legitimate conservative news sites.
https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/daily-caller/
Quote:
In review, The Daily Caller is a strongly right leaning news and opinion website that has been involved with publishing controversial and false stories...A factual search reveals a very poor track record with fact checking.
Apparently, they manage to fall outside the conspiracy site rating by publishing a large volume of legitimate - though biased - news together with the fake ones. A clever but unethical tactic, IMO.




Edit 2: Federal employees are furloughed. Except when it's for something on the oil industry's wish list.
https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/425501-trump-administration-to-bring-back-offshore-drilling-staff-during
Quote:
The Trump administration is bringing dozens of federal employees back to work to carry out the administration’s plan to expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) updated its plan for the ongoing partial federal government shutdown last week to state that 40 workers would be brought in for offshore drilling, in addition to the 84 others who have already been working during the shutdown.

...BOEM made clear that the workers newly exempted from the shutdown are there to carry out President Trump’s agenda.

“In order to comply with the Administration’s America First energy strategy to develop a new OCS Oil and Gas leasing program, work must continue toward issuing the Proposed Program per the Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Act requirements,” BOEM said of bringing back workers for the plan to expand drilling.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Wed 16 Jan , 2019 1:38 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
What the border patrol's union really thinks about Trump's wall.
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/trump-nbpc/580237/
Quote:
Border Patrol agents are not a monolith, of course, and there are individual union members on both sides of the policy debate. In the mid-aughts, when I blogged about immigration for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, I interviewed Border Patrol agents who literally rolled their eyes at the mention of a border wall and others who favored one.

Still, that most charitable explanation is more difficult to accept in light of something that Nick van der Kolk of the Love + Radio podcast noticed in the course of researching a story—that as recently as January 4, the website for the Border Patrol union stated...

"The NBPC disagrees with wasting taxpayer money on building fences and walls along the border as a means of curtailing illegal entries into the United States. However, as long as we continue to operate under the current NBPS and ignore the problem that is causing illegal immigration, we realize fences and walls are essential.

Walls and fences are temporary solutions that focus on the symptom (illegal immigration) rather than the problem (employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens).

Walls and fences are only a speed bump. People who want to come to the United States to obtain employment will continue to go over, under, and around the walls and fences that are constructed.

Walls and fences will undoubtedly result in an increase in fraudulent documents and smuggling through the Ports of Entry.

Walls and fences do not solve the issue of people entering the country legally and staying beyond the date they are required to leave the country, a problem which will undoubtedly increase as more walls and fences are constructed.

The NBPC position regarding walls and fences is not due to a concern of losing our jobs if fences and walls are built. On the contrary, the NBPC realizes that walls and fences require just as much manpower to protect them. Border Patrol Agents witness what happens to walls and fences when there are not enough Border Patrol agents to protect them"

But it seems that the senior Trump administration official who wrote the Daily Caller editorial yesterday is already getting his or her wish - a reshaped government where career employees don't dare disagree with Trump or his political appointees on the basis of the legality, feasibility or desirability of something Trump and his minions want. NBPC's position was taken down and replaced in the last week or so. You can read the "explanations" (AKA b.s. and excuses) in The Atlantic's article.

This is the attitude of a dictator, not a president who represents the will of the people.




This is what really matters to Trump on the wall and why we won't see any quick progress on the shutdown:
https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/425562-coulter-trump-dead-in-the-water-if-he-caves-on-wall
Quote:
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter in a new interview criticized President Trump for failing to negotiate an end to the ongoing partial government shutdown, but warned he's "dead in the water" if he fails to build a wall along the southern border, Newsweek reported early Wednesday.

Coulter reportedly told HBO's "Vice News Tonight" that she supports Trump standing his ground during the shutdown over his demand for more than $5 billion to fund the border wall.

Well, that and Mitch McConnell refusing to allow the Senate to vote. And the GOP actively pressuring its members to stay in line. Interestingly, the Democrats don't seem to be dictating to their members the same way. Trump tried to do an end run around Nancy Pelosi yesterday - or perhaps just a PR move - by inviting a couple of moderate Democrats to come to a separate negotiation on the Wall. Pelosi basically told them "feel free to go if you like"
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/425425-democrats-turn-down-white-house-invitation-for-shutdown-talks
Quote:
In a private meeting Monday night, Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told fellow leaders they were fine with rank-and-file members meeting with Trump, according to a source in the meeting.

Pelosi joked to Hoyer: “They can see what we’ve been dealing with. And they’ll want to make a citizen’s arrest.”
The two people invited said "no thanks" to Trump's invitation (one also had a scheduling conflict - Trump's meeting seems to have been a very last minute idea)


Before Coulter's comments:
https://thehill.com/homenews/house/425524-dem-lawmaker-to-ann-coulter-tell-trump-its-ok-to-open-up-government
Quote:
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) on Tuesday called for conservative commentator Ann Coulter to tell President Trump that "it's OK" to fully reopen the federal government.

"Dear @AnnCoulter -- Please tell the President it's OK to open up the government," Speier, who has served in Congress since 2008, wrote on Twitter.





https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/425485-gao-investigating-epas-low-enforcement-numbers
Quote:
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has launched an investigation into declining enforcement actions against companies accused of violating EPA's pollution standards during the Trump administration.

A GAO spokesman said Tuesday that the probe began in October, with a focus on 2017 enforcement data that showed a significant drop in dollar amounts for settlements made with polluters. The final report is underway but not expected to be completed “until later in the year, likely fall,” the spokesman said.


https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/425518-epas-wheeler-faces-grilling-over-rule-rollbacks
Quote:
Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Andrew Wheeler will face a Senate grilling Wednesday on the aggressive deregulatory actions he’s undertaken during the last six months as head of the agency.

He will testify at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on President Trump’s nomination for him to be the official administrator of the EPA.

...Republicans have stood strongly behind Wheeler and applauded his agenda as a positive for businesses.Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the committee chairman, said Wheeler “has done an outstanding job leading EPA and is well qualified to run the agency on a permanent basis.”





https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/15/paul-manafort-robert-mueller-russia-trump-2016-campaign
Quote:
The office of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, said in a court filing that Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, communicated with Konstantin Kilimnik between August 2016 and March 2018 about a topic that was blacked out from public view.

But an exhibit included with the heavily redacted court filing showed that Manafort worked on a Microsoft Word document titled “new initiative for peace” in February 2018 as part of his continuing discussions with Kilimnik.

Attorneys for Manafort, 69, revealed in a separate court filing last week that he is accused by Mueller of discussing a “Ukraine peace plan” with Kilimnik “on more than one occasion” – and then lying about it when questioned by investigators.

The allegations, if confirmed, would mean that Trump’s campaign chief was working on a plan to settle Russia’s conflict with Ukraine on terms favourable for the Kremlin while the Russian government was interfering in the 2016 US election to help Trump.




https://thehill.com/homenews/house/425468-hoyer-introducing-legislation-to-block-trump-administration-from-lifting
Quote:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Tuesday he is introducing a resolution to prevent the Trump administration from lifting sanctions imposed on businesses controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

...The majority leader’s announcement follows a similar one from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in which he vowed to force a vote on a resolution to disapprove of the administration’s decision. “Putin’s government, one of Russia’s largest banks, and the Russian economy have a direct interest in sanctions relief for Deripaska’s companies. Why is the Trump Administration proposing sanctions relief when President Putin has not yet made any move to curtail or constrain his malign activities around the globe?” Schumer asked on the Senate floor Tuesday morning.

Mnuchin huddled with Senate Republicans Tuesday to prevent any Republican defections to support Schumer’s resolution, which needs a simple-majority vote to begin debate.

I sometimes wonder just what leverage Trump has on GOP leaders. At this point, it seems like it has to be more than that he's rubber-stamping an industry-friendly deregulatory agenda and conservative judges. Pence would do that just as well. Not to mention his anti-LGBT, highly religious and super-traditional views, which would play well to the evangelicals. Why are they so firm in backing everything Trump does, even when they know it's stupid?

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Thu 17 Jan , 2019 2:23 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
It would be nice to have a day free of Trump scandals for once, but today is not that day:

https://thehill.com/homenews/news/425785-cohen-hired-firm-to-try-to-rig-online-polls-for-trump-only-paid-part-of-bill
Quote:
The head of a small polling firm used by President Trump's campaign during the 2016 election says that Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, hired his firm to rig two online polls in the president's favor and paid less than half of what was owed in cash.




https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/425771-top-trump-official-resigned-over-wh-plan-to-withhold-disaster-relief
Quote:
The deputy secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is resigning Thursday due to disagreements with members of the Trump administration regarding housing policy and the administration's efforts to intervene in disaster-relief money for Puerto Rico, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

...Patenaude, HUD's second in command, reportedly grew frustrated by the White House’s attempt to block federal relief money to the island following the devastation left by Hurricane Maria in 2017.





I assume Stephen Miller's fingerprints are all over this one. One of the worst things about Trump's presidency, IMO, is how the scoundrels and bigots and tyrants can manipulate him but reasonable people have no influence. :
https://thehill.com/policy/defense/425753-pentagon-crafting-plan-to-scrutinize-potential-military-recruits-with-foreign
Quote:
The Pentagon is crafting a plan to scrutinize potential military recruits with green cards or other foreign ties, The Washington Post reported, citing internal memos.

The process likely would include screening recruits whom the Pentagon deems "foreign nexus" risks, according to the Post. That would include Americans who have spouses from other countries and Americans who have family members with dual citizenship.

...Other prospective recruits who could face screening include those who have a non-U.S. passport, have lived outside the U.S. for more than three of the past 10 years or have financial interests abroad, according to the Post.


The interesting thing about this is that the military is having trouble getting recruits, with all the wars and high chance of being sent to a combat zone, and had relaxed their standards. So they seem to be shooting themselves in the foot with this, which seems like an unlikely move without pressure from the Trump administration. Not to mention that it's ironic that they've allowed gang members to join but now have a problem with people whose spouse is foreign-born.
https://www.businessinsider.com/army-changing-recruiting-standards-to-attract-more-soldiers-2017-10
Quote:
Continued demand for more soldiers likely means the Army will maintain some flexibility in its recruiting standards, drawing more from the pool of less qualified troops and offering waivers for previously disqualifying things like marijuana use, according to a USA Today report.

Relaxed recruiting standards became common in the mid-2000s, during periods of intense operations and longer deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The number of new troops the Army could draw from Category Four recruits — Army prospects who scored in the lower one-third of standard military exams — was expanded to 4% and sometimes exceeded that. Previously it had been limited to 2%, but the Army maintains the 4% threshold today.

Recruits with lower qualifications have presented dangers both during their service and afterward. One soldier who got waivers for previous criminal behavior was involved in the rape of an Iraqi girl in 2006.

High demand for recruits during the war on terror allowed gang members and criminals to join. Some recruiters issued "moral waivers" to meet quotas, and some right-wing extremists were able to join as long as their uniforms covered their tattoos.





https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/425636-senate-rejects-effort-to-block-trump-on-russia-sanctions
Quote:
The Senate on Wednesday narrowly rejected a Democratic-led effort to block President Trump from lifting sanctions against three Russian businesses.

...The Trump administration announced plans late last month to relax sanctions on the three businesses — Rusal, EN+ and EuroSibEnergo — connected to Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

...GOP senators who backed the resolution say they were unconvinced that Deripaska wouldn't maintain considerable sway over the companies under the Treasury Department's plan. "For all intents and purposes between his shares, the independent shares that the Russian state-owned bank control and various other individual shareholders, I still think he retains operational control," Rubio told reporters ahead of the initial vote. "So they’re going to have to do better.”

...But Tuesday's 57-42 vote still left Democrats a few votes shy of being able to defeat the expected filibuster.

...The vote in the Senate means that the Trump administration will be able to lift the Russia sanctions....Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) knocked Democrats on Wednesday accusing them of trying to blow up an agreement negotiated by the Trump administration in order to "make a political splash."


https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/425732-dems-demand-access-to-interpreters-at-trumps-meetings-with-putin
Quote:
A pair of key Senate Democrats are demanding access to interpreters present for all of President Trump's meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin since he took office.

Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, respectively, sent a letter to Trump on Wednesday requesting that the interpreters be made available for congressional interviews.





https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/425755-centrist-efforts-to-convince-trump-to-end-shutdown-falter
Quote:
Efforts by centrist lawmakers to break away from their party leaders and build a compromise that would end the government shutdown are floundering...The centrists’ idea was straightforward and simple: Write a letter urging Trump to reopen the government for three weeks and, in that time, negotiate a compromise on border security.

But Trump earlier this week said he rejected a similar idea, and Vice President Pence informed GOP senators the White House opposed the plan.

Senate Republicans say the letter-writing effort wasn’t helped by the fact that Schumer urged House Democrats at a caucus meeting Wednesday to pressure Senate Republicans to sign the letter.
No, I don't understand why Republicans would consider it such an issue for Democrats to pressure Republicans to act independently of their party leaders and Trump. Especially if reopening the government is what their constituents actually want and what would be best for the country.


https://thehill.com/homenews/morning-report/425779-the-hills-morning-report
Quote:
The longest government shutdown in history is nearly one month old, dragging the U.S. economy, the federal workforce and even the annual State of the Union address into the unknown.

...Meanwhile, Trump on Wednesday hosted a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the Problem Solvers Caucus to discuss a way forward. There were no breakthroughs. Many lawmakers want to reopen the government and negotiate the wall money after that.

Trump has dismissed that idea.



https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-15/trump-s-selective-recalls-curb-unpopular-disruptions-tests-law
Quote:
The Trump administration has ordered thousands of furloughed federal employees back to work without pay to inspect planes, issue tax refunds, monitor food safety and facilitate the sale of offshore oil drilling rights.

The efforts in recent days illustrate how President Donald Trump is trying to limit the impact of the partial government shutdown and shield favored industries as the funding impasse thwarts the deployment of new aircraft, stock offerings and even craft beers.

...Critics say the Trump administration is skirting federal law by continuing some functions amid the political stalemate between congressional Democrats and Trump over whether to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. A 149-year-old law bars agencies from spending money Congress hasn’t given to them, with only limited exceptions for “emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

House Democrats are already questioning why the Interior Dept considers it an essential function to advance drilling and oil lease interests during the shutdown.




And just because I think it's funny how the Trump supporters are using some total nutters to support the "invaders are coming" nonsense, here's a story about how we're about to be invaded by a bunch of Muslim terrorists who have abandoned their prayer rugs in the desert, just in time to be found by ranchers. (Because these Muslims suddenly converted to Christianity and don't need to pray any more? Who knows. Logic apparently isn't necessary when you're trying to scare people.) https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/border-rancher-weve-found-prayer-rugs-out-here-its-unreal#
Quote:
Ranchers and farmers near the U.S.-Mexico border have been finding prayer rugs on their properties in recent months, according to one rancher who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by cartels.

...I've talked to several [border patrol] agents that I trust. There’s not a lot that I do trust, but the ones I do trust, I talk to them," she said during a tour of her property. "What Border Patrol classifies as OTMs [other than Mexicans] has really increased in the last couple years, but drastically within the last six months. Chinese, Germans, Russians, a lot of Middle Easterners, those Czechoslovakians they caught over on our neighbor’s just last summer."






Edit to add:
https://thehill.com/latino/425828-watchdog-thousands-more-migrant-children-separated-from-parents-than-previously-known
Quote:
The Trump administration separated thousands more migrant children from their parents than was previously known, according to a government watchdog report.

...The report from the inspector general's office said thousands of children has been separated from their parents during an influx that began in 2017, before the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy was enacted, and before a federal judge ordered the agency to reunite all the children that were separated.

"How many more children were separated is unknown, by us and HHS," the agency official said
I knew children were being taken from their parents, based on individual stories like the one I posted from The Guardian well before this stuff hit most US outlets. But the scale - and their ability to have kept it secret until now - shocks me.

But this seems to be the most critical part of the story right now:
Quote:
The administration has also continued to separate children, despite the court order, the report found.

From July 1 through November 7, HHS received at least 118 children who were separated from their parents. DHS officials have only given HHS limited information about the reasons for these separations.




https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/425879-watchdog-group-trump-had-over-1400-conflicts-of-interest-in-first-two
Quote:
A government watchdog group estimates that President Trump had more than 1,400 conflicts of interests during his first two years in office.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a report Thursday claiming that the president tried to promote his businesses as extensions of his presidency and administration.




https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/425864-house-votes-262-53-to-disapprove-trump-lifting-of-sanctions-on
Quote:
In a major rebuke of President Trump, the House overwhelming passed a resolution Thursday formally disapproving of the Trump administration's rolling back of sanctions on companies owned by Oleg Deripaska, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a 362-53 vote, the House sounded its disapproval of the lifting of sanctions, with 130 Republicans breaking with Trump and backing the Democratic measure.

...The vote comes after legislation to prevent the rolling back of sanctions failed Wednesday on a procedural vote in the Senate. Eleven Republicans voted in the Senate to prevent the lifting of sanctions.



https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/425887-trump-fires-back-at-pelosi-cancels-her-foreign-travel
Quote:
President Trump on Thursday said he is canceling Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) planned international travel in response to her request to postpone the State of the Union address due to the government shutdown.

In a letter to Pelosi, Trump told her a congressional delegation trip she intended to take to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan “has been postponed.”

...The president did not address the Speaker’s request to move the date of his speech.
Even Lindsay Graham, who seems to back Trump on everything these days, criticized him over this bit of childishness. The congressional delegation was making a stop in a war zone, was using military transport and was already on the bus getting ready to go.



And The Atlantic has become the first major news organization to call for Trump's impeachment:
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/03/impeachment-trump/580468/


Edit:
An intriguing story in The Guardian. I have no idea how plausible this woman is, but she clearly does have ties to important people in Russia. And it seems strange for her to be suddenly arrested for "inducement to prosecution" when there seems no doubt they were OK with her working as an escort :
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/17/model-who-claimed-to-have-proof-of-russian-meddling-in-us-election-arrested
Quote:
A Belarusian model who claimed last year that she had evidence of Russian interference in the election of Donald Trump has been arrested upon her arrival in Moscow following deportation from Thailand.

Vashukevich, who has been in a Thai prison since February last year... earlier claimed to have recordings of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska talking about interference in the 2016 US election, but never released them. ...While in detention in Thailand, the group sent a note to the US embassy via an intermediary seeking help and political asylum. Vashukevich indicated she would turn over the recordings she claimed to have if the US could help secure her release, but she later withdrew the offer, suggesting that she and Deripaska had reached an agreement.

A public scandal erupted in February last year when the Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, published an investigation drawing on Vashukevich’s social media posts suggesting corrupt links between Deripaska and a top Kremlin official, the deputy prime minister, Sergei Prikhodko. The investigative report featured video from Deripaska’s yacht in 2016, when Vashukevich, who worked as an escort, was aboard.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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 Post subject: Re: You've been Trumped!
PostPosted: Fri 18 Jan , 2019 2:20 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1541
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/425967-trump-directed-cohen-to-lie-about-plans-to-build-trump-tower-in
Quote:
President Trump directed his former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to an explosive new report from Buzzfeed News.

The outlet cited two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation in the matter in its story, which immediately led to calls from Democrats to investigate the matter
Wouldn't surprise me one bit (and that's appalling).

Edit: This story has been picked up by other news sites, though usually prefaced by "if this is true." Buzzfeed has a mixed reputation for fact-checking. It's a decent - though not foolproof - measure of plausibility to see whether its stories are picked up by other sources.


https://thehill.com/policy/finance/425958-mnuchin-refuses-to-testify-at-hearing-on-shutdown-impacts
Quote:
The Treasury Department is refusing to have department secretary Steven Mnuchin testify before the House Ways and Means Committee next week, after the Democratic chairman of the tax-writing panel requested that he speak at a hearing about the government shutdown's impact on the department.

...Treasury deputy assistant secretary Jennifer Bang said that instead of Mnuchin, the department is offering testimony from senior Treasury and IRS officials "who are most knowledgeable concerning the lapse plans now in place for the Department and its bureaus."

...Ways and Means Committee Democrats said that they had expected to be briefed by IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig about the plan on Wednesday, but the meeting was cancelled and the IRS wouldn't make Rettig available to the panel.





https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/425978-former-white-house-aide-reveals-compiling-of-trump-enemies-list-in
Quote:
A former White House aide revealed he was summoned by President Trump in 2017 to try to find out which staffers were leaking to the media, creating lists of officials he thought he could and could not trust.

...“I was sitting there with the President of the United States basically compiling an enemies list — but these enemies were within his own administration. ... In the memoir due out Jan. 29, Sims recounts the president as saying, “I want these people out of here. I’m going to take care of this. We’re going to get rid of all the snakes, even the bottom-­feeders.”


https://thehill.com/latino/425963-trump-officials-discussed-deterrent-effect-of-prosecuting-migrant-parents-report
Quote:
Trump administration officials discussed the "deterrent effect" of targeting parents of migrant families with prosecution, NBC News reported Thursday.

The authors wrote that the "increase in prosecutions would be reported by the media and would have a substantial deterrent effect" in a 2017 draft of what became the administration's family separation policy.

In June, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the administration did "not have a policy of separating families at the border" and was only enforcing laws that were already in place.

The draft was given to NBC by Sen. Jeff Merkley's (D-Ore.) office, which said it was leaked to them by a government whistleblower.





https://thehill.com/homenews/house/425975-steve-king-fundraising-off-controversy-surrounding-his-comments-on-white
Quote:
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) sent a fundraising email to supporters asking for help in defending him from The New York Times and the “rabid leftist media” after he questioned in an interview with the newspaper why terms such as “white supremacist” were offensive.

“The unhinged left has teamed up with Republican 'NeverTrumpers' and is pulling out all the stops to destroy me," King wrote in a campaign email obtained by The Des Moines Register on Thursday.

King accused The Times and “rabid left media” of coming after him because of his support of President Trump and his hard-line views on immigration.

...“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King asked in an interview published last week. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
After this interview, his fellow republicans in Congress removed him from all committees but won't actually oust him. Newspapers in Iowa are calling for him to resign but he says he won't.


btw, I read later that the FBI tried to meet with the model who said she had information about Russian interference in the 2016 election, but they weren't able to. Her deal with the Russian oligarch seems to have come after that.


Oh and Trump's wife used a military jet to fly to the Trumps' resort in Florida yesterday, after Trump cancelled the military transport to Afghanistan for Pelosi's congressional delegation.
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/17/trump-postpones-pelosis-overseas-trip-because-of-shutdown.html

More information about the trip Trump made them cancel. Pelosi's group was apparently going to stop in Belgium to meet with NATO officials (after the news reported that Trump is (again?) talking about withdrawing from NATO). This was partly because regulations require the pilot to have a rest break in Belgium - I guess they decided to do something useful during their time there. Then they were going to Afghanistan. No one knows where Trump got the Egypt part in his letter.

And this type of trip is normally not announced ahead of time, for security reasons. So Trump having his spokeswoman read the letter publicly ensured that Pelosi's delegation couldn't go by any method.
There may also have been other leaks of their plans.
https://thehill.com/homenews/house/426032-pelosi-accuses-trump-of-outing-trip-to-afghanistan
Quote:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday said President Trump revealed that she and other lawmakers would be making a trip to Afghanistan on a commercial flight, a revelation that made it too dangerous to go forward with the trip.

The White House quickly said it was not behind the leak, and accused Pelosi of lying.

...The White House said other parties must have leaked the information, suggesting it was becoming widely known.



Trump is working hard on appealing to his base:
https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/426044-trump-vows-to-veto-bills-expanding-abortion-rights-in-video-address-to
Quote:
President Trump vowed in a video message to the March for Life on Friday to veto any legislation that “weakens the protection of human life.” “If they send any legislation to my desk that weakens the protection of human life, I will issue a veto and we have the support to uphold those vetoes,” Trump said in the message displayed to a crowd gathered for the annual anti-abortion march in Washington.

...Trump has a checkered history on abortion, taking heat during the GOP primary for saying in 1999 that he is “pro-choice in every respect.”
Pence has also been promising this group that the federal government is on their side, of course, but at least he seems to be sincere in his beliefs. Not that Trump/ Pence have been able to do much about the states that have made sure to establish abortion rights in their state laws since Trump took office. (while other states are increasingly restricting abortion, sometimes with ludicrously illegal laws that seem expressly designed to get a case in front of the Supreme Court, in hopes that the conservative justices will strike down abortion rights. At least one law was so bad that the state's attorney general flatly refused to uphold it.)


I guess the House won't have to stop Trump's move on selectively forcing federal workers to work without pay on his pet projects.
https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/426046-court-blocks-offshore-oil-testing-permits-during-shutdown
Quote:
A federal court on Friday blocked the Trump administration from issuing any permits to conduct seismic testing for offshore oil and natural gas drilling during the partial government shutdown.

Judge Richard Gergel of the District Court for South Carolina issued the order as part of an ongoing challenge by environmental groups and Democratic states to the administration’s November move toward allowing the testing.

Justice Department attorneys representing the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) had asked Gergel to pause the case during the shutdown because they could not write filings.

Gergel granted that pause, but said that the same logic means BOEM should be prohibited from granting any permits until the government reopens.

He noted that last week, Interior asked furloughed employees to return to work in order to process the seismic testing applications.



Speaking of the shutdown, there have been efforts to selectively pay the Coast Guard, no doubt because it looks bad to most of the public. Sorry, but this is wrong. If you're forcing civilians to work during the shutdown without pay, so should people in uniform. It's not fair to either group, but even less fair to selectively blunt the effects on one group just for PR purposes.

And no one seems to mention the government contractors. At least federal employees will get back pay when this mess is finally over. There are no guarantees for contractors.
https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/425353-ceo-forgoes-salary-to-pay-staff-amid-government-shutdown
Quote:
The CEO of a cybersecurity company in northern Virginia that depends on government contracts to pay its workers is giving up his salary to make ends meet for his staff during the ongoing partial government shutdown.

...Jafari told the local station that a tenth of his staff risk not receiving pay due to the ongoing partial government shutdown, which entered its 25th day on Tuesday.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


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