Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Another Oval Office conversation Leaked

Since practically everything Trump allegedly has said to foreigners from the Oval Office has been leaked, one would think that he would have narrowed down the culprit by now. I don’t care how scandalous you think these comments are (and they aren’t), it is unacceptable that people are leaking the president’s Oval Office conversations.

WASHINGTON — President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

Trump Fires Comey

It is pretty funny to watch the political contortionists at work.

President Trump lashed out on Twitter Tuesday, hours after his firing of FBI Director James Comey, and accused Democrats of hypocritical criticism of the abrupt ouster.

The stunning dismissal led to Democrats and even some Republicans to boost the case for an independent prosecutor to oversee the FBI’s investigation into whether any Trump associates colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Many critics connected the unprecedented firing to Richard Nixon’s administration.

In particular, Trump attacked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who said last November of Comey: “I do not have confidence in him any longer.” Schumer is among the Democrats calling for a new independent prosecutor.

It’s pretty safe to say that Director Comey had lost the confidence of pretty much everyone with his bungling of multiple investigations. The only mistake Trump made here was waiting so long to pull the trigger, but I think he was waiting for Sessions to get his feet under him first.

Trump Signs Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty

Great!

The Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty directs the IRS to provide “regulatory relief” to faith-based organisations that are tax-exempt, a White House spokesman said on Wednesday night.

A current provision in the US federal tax code, known as the Johnson Amendment, says that churches can be investigated and lose their tax-exempt status if they directly support or oppose any political candidate.

Since he cannot repeal the law without congressional legislation, Mr Trump is directing the IRS to “exercise maximum enforcement discretion to alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment”.

Few religious groups are known to have lost their tax status for violating the law, despite many churches openly advocating for political causes and hosting candidates during their campaigns.

“A crippling financial punishment,” Mr Trump said ahead of his signing, adding “very, very unfair. But no longer”.

The order also directs federal agencies to exempt some religious groups from providing birth control to employees and staff, as required under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

I like both parts of this order. For the first part, I have always thought that it was unconstitutional to make a tax break for religious organizations contingent on them saying (or not saying) what the government wants them to say (or not say). Our nation has generally decided to make religious organizations tax exempt because their existence and activities helping society is a positive that we want to encourage. If we no longer think that and want to tax them, then that is a decision our nation can make. But that decision should be based on the merits and not on whether or not some politician approves of the political activities of the religions organization.

Furthermore, as the story indicates, many churches have openly flaunted the Johnson Amendment for years with no consequences. Bill Clinton practically lived at the pulpit of black churches in the south when he was campaigning. So if we’re not going to enforce it for everyone, why have the law at all?

On the second part, this Obamacare rule violates the rights of these organizations to exercise their faith. Good riddance.

It’s good to see some progress this week on pulling back the coercive force of government.

Un’s Cookies

Something about cookies

“People are saying: ‘Is he sane?’ I have no idea…. but he was a young man of 26 or 27… when his father died. He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others.

“And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.”

Trump is probably right. Un is not unintelligent and received a good education. But his secret to holding power is probably more rooted in his ruthlessness rather than his intellect.

Protests Erupt Over Trump’s Tax Returns

Uh huh… this doesn’t look like astroturf at all. 

Protesters in cities across the country came out Saturday to call on President Trump to release his tax returns.
Demonstrators came out in large numbers in about 200 other cities, including a few outside the U.S., according to organizers.

Images of tax protesters in cities including Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and New York flooded social media.

Trump has said that Americans “don’t care at all” about his tax returns, but polls show 74% of Americans say he should release them.

I’d like to see his tax returns too, but I’m far more interested in his policies and how he executing his office. I think the American people made it pretty clear that they don’t care too much about this when they elected him. But the lefty power brokers sure love to rile up their base over this.

Trump Indulges in Waffles

Actually, “waffle” isn’t the right word… these are complete flip flops.

US President Donald Trump has said Nato is “no longer obsolete”, reversing a stance that had alarmed allies.

Hosting Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House, Mr Trump said the threat of terrorism had underlined the alliance’s importance.

He called on Nato to do more to help Iraqi and Afghan “partners”.

Mr Trump has repeatedly questioned Nato’s purpose, while complaining that the US pays an unfair share of membership.

The Nato U-turn wasn’t Mr Trump’s only change of heart on Wednesday.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said he would not label China a currency manipulator, despite having repeatedly pledged to do so on his first day in office.

He was right the first time on both counts. China is a currency manipulator. And NATO is obsolete in its current form. It was designed to counter a single threat that no longer exists.

Donald Trump’s Taxes

I just don’t care. If he did anything illegal, I would hope that officials at the IRS and Justice Department would have prosecuted him. If he didn’t, then I just. don’t. care. It has zero bearing on my life. But I do love how Trump trolled the media once again. They jumped on this leak, which I’m willing to bet came from Trump himself, and made themselves look like fools. Now he’s effectively taken the story line away from them.

US President Donald Trump paid $38m (£31m) in tax on more than $150m (£123m) income in 2005, a leaked partial tax return shows.

The two pages of tax return, revealed by US TV network MSNBC, also showed he wrote off $103m in losses. It gave no details on income sources.

The White House said publishing the tax return was against the law.

Mr Trump refused to release his tax returns during the election campaign, breaking with a long-held tradition.

Trump Making Progress

The wins keep coming. I could get used to this.

EPA cuts may be deeper than previously reported

Michelle Obama’s healthy school lunch program in jeopardy?

White House demands deep cuts to State, UN funds

Trump is expected to announce a rollback of auto emission and fuel-economy regulations

Germany Rebuffs NATO Committments

Germany is refusing to meet its commitments to NATO and the U.S. by failing to invest in its own defense. This sets up some interesting decisions for Trump.

The world’s fourth-largest economy spent $37 billion — 1.2% of its economic output — on defense last year, according to government figures. That is far short of the 2% set by NATO and a third of the 3.6% of gross domestic product that the United States spent in 2016, according to NATO figures.

That shortfall by Germany and other NATO countries is why Trump renewed his call in a speech to Congress on Feb. 28 for NATO members to pay their fair share of defense costs. “Our partners must meet their financial obligations,” Trump said. “Now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that. In fact, I can tell you that the money is pouring in.”

That’s not quite the case in the German capital. The federal government plans to increase its military spending by $2.1 billion this year. It would bring total spending to $39 billion, a 5.4% annual boost. The increase pales in comparison with the 10%, or $54 billion, hike in U.S. defense spending Trump proposes for 2018.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will meet with Trump at the White House on Tuesday, recently announced plans to add 20,000 soldiers to the Bundeswehr to bring the force to nearly 200,000 but not before 2024, and the increase merely offsets recent cuts in troop strength.

Here’s the thing… the United States has invested billions of dollars for the past 80 years to provide a military defense for Europe and Europe has benefited from that by being able to spend their money on rebuilding their economies and infrastructures after WWII. But while there were some altruistic motivations for that, the real reason was that it was in the best interests of the U.S. to do so. The macropolitical reasons were that if Russia were to ever bulge out of its borders in a quest for world domination, it will most likely have to go through Europe before getting to America. American leaders invested in European defense because we would rather fight the Russians on the continent of Europe and let them exhaust their energy on that soil than let them do so on the shores of New Jersey.

While the Russian threat has ebbed in recent decades, we are right of the precipice of a new Angry Bear with the face of Putin. He has already invaded Ukraine, created a virtual satellite state in Syria, and is threatening Poland and other former Eastern Bloc countries. One would think that European nations would see the threat and act accordingly, but the memories of WWII and the abject pacifism remains a powerful cultural phenomenon.

So what should the U.S. do? If we withdraw from Europe and leave them to themselves, the threat of war increases. And in the event that another European war breaks out, it is inevitable that the U.S. will become involved. Or, in another scenario, Germany’s inability to defend themselves with conventional forces may lead them to launch a nuclear defense in the face of a Russian assault, thus starting the nuclear war that we have spent 80 years trying to prevent. But if we continue to defend Europe with American forces, we are expending a lot of money to prevent an eventuality that may never come.  How much American money should we spend to defend countries who refuse to adequately defend themselves?

What will the Trump Doctrine be?

Trump Accuses Obama of Tapping Trump Tower

That’s a serious allegation. Given that he has access to everything the federal government has done, is there evidence? Given the activities of the Obama administration, I certainly wouldn’t put it past them. After all, this is the same administration that used the IRS and Justice Department to go after political foes.

President Trump exploded on Twitter early Saturday morning, blasting former President Barack Obama for allegedly wiretapping his phones before the election. He provided no evidence to back up the claim.

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

“Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!”

It wasn’t clear what, exactly, Trump was referring to as he raged against his predecessor, whom he labeled a “bad (or sick) guy!” He also said a talented lawyer could make a “great case” out of the situation.

Obama’s post-presidency office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News on Trump’s accusation, and the White House did not immediately clarify from whom Trump had “just learned” this new information.

Obama’s lackey’s defense is weak tea.

But Ben Rhodes, who served as Obama’s deputy national security adviser, rejected Trump’s claim that his predecessor had ordered a wiretap of his New York City office.

“No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you,” Rhodes tweeted

I seriously doubt that Obama would have been stupid enough to “order” a wiretap. That doesn’t mean that his employees, working on his behalf, didn’t do it anyway to benefit their boss and the Democratic Party.

Trump has played this rope-a-dope game before. My gut says that he’s got the goods on this. Then again, speculating on Trump’s tweets is like trying to speculate on Supreme Court decisions based on the oral arguments… you’re almost always wrong.

Propaganda War

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

The 115th Congress took a break last week from wrestling over repealing Obamacare, confirming appointees and all of the other ideas bubbling around the beginning of a new session. It was a brief opportunity for our elected representatives to return home and spend some time listening to the people in their respective districts. And boy, did they get an earful.

If you were watching the news in the past few weeks, the scene was repeated over and over again. A Republican Congressperson or Senator hosted a town hall or attend a public event. They were greeted by dozens of protestors who would interrupt, shout, wave signs, chant, and generally try to be as disruptive as possible. Given President Trump’s temporary travel ban from unstable countries, enforcement of immigration laws, and continued insistence on building a wall on America’s southern border, the most frequent topic of unrest was immigration and/or illegal aliens.

Wisconsin’s own Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner was one such recipient of this treatment. Sensenbrenner has been listening to his constituents in town halls since President Carter was in the White House. As a conservative Republican, Sensenbrenner has been a prime target of protestors. At a recent town hall in Menomonee Falls, the mob shouted down other attendees with chants of “No ban. No wall. America has room for all.” The video of it filled social media and the local news broadcasts.

If one were to just watch the news, one could be forgiven for thinking that there is overwhelming opposition to Trump’s immigration policies. The polls disabuse that perception.

According to a survey conducted by Harvard-Harris Poll and provided to The Hill, the public overwhelmingly supports Trump’s immigration policies. Eighty percent of respondents oppose sanctuary cities and support the federal government compelling sanctuary cities to comply with immigration laws — including local police reporting illegal aliens with whom they come into contact to federal immigration authorities. Seventy-seven percent of the poll’s respondents support an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.

Slightly lesser majorities, but still majorities, support Trump’s other efforts regarding immigration. 53 percent support Trump’s temporary travel ban. Fifty-one percent think that the United States should accept fewer Syrian refugees with only 15 percent thinking that the country should accept more.

The only point on which the poll showed disapproval was when it came to the wall. Fifty-three percent of respondents oppose the wall, but 75 percent support increased border patrols. The public clearly wants a less permeable southern border, but is less enthusiastic about that being accomplished with a wall.

How does one reconcile the media perception of massive opposition to Trump’s immigration policies with the Harvard-Harris’ poll’s findings of overwhelming support for those policies? First, one must remember that this is the same media that told the world that Trump was unelectable right up until the day he won the election.

Second, the media, intentionally or not, is the mouthpiece for an intentional misinformation campaign being conducted by Barack Obama’s activist stormtroopers, Organizing for Action (OFA). In a Facebook post on Feb. 9, OFA called on activists to attend Republican town halls to protest. The instruction manual distributed by OFA advises protesters to enter the town halls quietly, sit in the front but “not all sit together,” and spread out in pairs to give the impression of broad opposition.

Then the activists are advised to confront Republican elected officials and “loudly boo the GOP politician if he isn’t ‘giving you real answers.’” The goal is to make Republicans feel uneasy about supporting the Trump agenda and seed “the ground for the 2018 midterms when Democrats retake power.”

Most importantly, activists are told to record their interactions with Republicans, post it to social media, and then feed the video to local and national media. The intent of OFA is to create the impression of broad opposition to Trump’s policies and to destabilize and delegitimize our Republic.

While there is certainly opposition to various policies, and some of it is quite intense, the efforts by OFA to create and feed a fake perception is subversive and reprehensible. It reeks of the tactics used by communist revolutionary organizations for decades. The ability to distribute propaganda instantly through social media and a media willing to parrot their false narrative makes their work easier and more effective.

Trump Won’t Attend Correspondents’ Dinner

Good.

Mr Trump announced his non-attendance at the correspondents dinner via Twitter.

He wrote: “I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!”

Trump Goes After Regulations

It’s a good step, but it’s just task forces for now. Let’s see what work they get done.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday to place “regulatory reform” task forces and officers within federal agencies in what may be the most far reaching effort to pare back U.S. red tape in recent decades.

Trump signed the directive in the Oval Office with chief executives of major U.S. corporations standing behind him including Dow Chemical Co , Lockheed Martin Corp and U.S. Steel Corp .

The sweeping order directs every federal agency to establish a task force to ensure each has a team to research all regulations and take aim at those deemed burdensome to the U.S. economy and designate regulatory reform officers within 60 days and must report on the progress within 90 days.

Trump Condemned Iran Treaty to Putin

Good.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In his first call as president with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump denounced a treaty that caps U.S. and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads as a bad deal for the United States, according to two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official with knowledge of the call.

When Putin raised the possibility of extending the 2010 treaty, known as New START, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was, these sources said.

Trump then told Putin the treaty was one of several bad deals negotiated by the Obama administration, saying that New START favored Russia. Trump also talked about his own popularity, the sources said. The White House declined to comment. It referred Reuters to the official White House account issued after the Jan. 28 call, which did not mention the discussion about New START.

The Iran treaty was horrible and a bad deal for America. I’m not sure in what context that came up, but the point is valid.

What is clear is that Trump has a serious leak in his administration. You’ll notice that it seems like almost every conversation he’s had with a foreign leader has had this kind of leak fishing for a “gotcha.” Someone – probably a hacked off insider at the State Department or White House staff – is leaking this stuff. And I don’t care who our president is, he or she needs to be able to have frank conversations with other foreign leaders with the assurance that the conversation will remain private. Trump needs to figure out who the leaker is and fire them. And if they have violated any laws by leaking these conversations (I imagine that they have), then they need to be prosecuted.

Trump Moves on Regulatory Reform

Excellent.

In his first order, Trump will issue a broad directive meant to garner input from the heads of federal regulatory agencies on areas for reform. The move won’t make any immediate changes to the agencies or their policies; rather, it will solicit recommendations for changes to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law that was enacted in 2010.
“Everything is going to be looked at,” said a senior administration official, speaking anonymously to preview the order before it was signed.
The official conceded a complete gutting of the law would require Congress to act — “This is not an attempt to undo Dodd-Frank” — but identified areas where Trump could make unilateral changes, like placing his own directors at key regulatory bodies.
Dodd-Frank is one of those well-intentioned laws that was passed after a crisis when lawmakers were under severe duress to “do something.” The result is an incredibly burdensome, expensive, and punitive regulatory structure that often prevents businesses from acting in the best interests of their stakeholders. It also bleeds money away from productive areas of the economy in order to feed the regulatory compliance industry.
But I appreciate the fact that President Trump is beginning with an effort to seek informed advice and the deference to Congress’ authority and responsibility to act.
And then there’s this:
A second action Friday will direct the Department of Labor to cease implementation of an Obama administration rule on retirement investment advisers, which is supposed to take effect in April.
That measure, called the “Fiduciary Rule,” required retirement advisers to always act in their clients’ best interests. But the Trump administration official said the rule was a “complete mess” with a litany of unintended consequences.
This was another one of those land mines that President Obama planted for Trump. It was a sweeping regulation that Obama based in a 1974 law that was intentionally set to phase in after Obama left office. It sounds great on paper. After all, who wouldn’t like to “requires retirement advisers to always act in their clients’ best interests?” What it really did was impose an expensive regulation that would most likely have eaten into the investment returns of middle class investors.
So while the media will follow the Obama playbook and claim that Trump is stripping out regulations to help Wall Street, the reality is that this was an ill-conceived regulation that would have benefited the deep-pocket investors at the expense of the rest of us. This is an area where the regulations are in need of reform, but this was not the reform it needs.

Neil Gorsuch

Our next Supreme Court Justice. Excellent choice. Kudos, President Trump.

Gorsuch has the typical pedigree of a high court justice. He graduated from Columbia, Harvard and Oxford, clerked for two Supreme Court justices and did a stint at the Department of Justice.

He attended Harvard Law with former President Barack Obama. On Tuesday, Obama’s former ethics czar, Norm Eisen, another classmate, tweeted: “Hearing rumors Trump’s likely Supreme Court pick is Neil Gorsuch, my (and President Obama’s!) 1991 Harvard Law classmate.If so, a great guy!”

Since 2006, he has served on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, in Colorado. His supporters note that he is an outdoorsman who fishes, hunts and skis. On the court, conservatives hope he could become the intellectual heir to Scalia, long the outspoken leader of the conservative bloc.

“The real appeal of Gorsuch nomination is he’s likely to be the most effective conservative nominee in terms of winning over Anthony Kennedy and forging conservative decisions on the court,” said Jeffrey Rosen of the National Constitution Center. “He’s unusual for his memorable writing style, the depth of his reading and his willingness to rethink constitutional principles from the ground up. Like Justice Scalia, he sometimes reaches results that favor liberals when he thinks the history or text of the Constitution or the law require it, especially in areas like criminal law or the rights of religious minorities, but unlike Scalia he’s less willing to defer to regulations and might be more willing to second-guess Trump’s regulatory decision.”

Let the confirmation battle be joined.

President Fires Acting Attorney General

Well, that was quick. It’s nice to see some immediate accountability. And yes, this was the appropriate response when a subordinate openly and publicly defies the boss.

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night for “refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” the White House said.

“(Yates) has betrayed the Department of Justice,” the White House statement said.
Dana Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, has been named new acting attorney general, the White House said.

Anti-Trump Folks Creating Own Future

Interesting take.

But lately I get the feeling that Trump’s critics have evolved from expecting Trump to be Hitler to preferring it. Obviously they don’t prefer it in a conscious way. But the alternative to Trump becoming Hitler is that they have to live out the rest of their lives as confirmed morons. No one wants to be a confirmed moron. And certainly not after announcing their Trump opinions in public and demonstrating in the streets. It would be a total embarrassment for the anti-Trumpers to learn that Trump is just trying to do a good job for America. It’s a threat to their egos. A big one.

And this gets me to my point. When millions of Americans want the same thing, and they want it badly, the odds of it happening go way up. You can call it the power of positive thinking. It is also the principle behind affirmations. When humans focus on a desired future, events start to conspire to make it happen.

I’m not talking about any new-age magic. I’m talking about ordinary people doing ordinary things to turn Trump into an actual Hitler. For example, if protesters start getting violent, you could expect forceful reactions eventually. And that makes Trump look more like Hitler. I can think of dozens of ways the protesters could cause the thing they are trying to prevent. In other words, they can wish it into reality even though it is the very thing they are protesting.

In the 3rd dimension of persuasion, the protesters need to be proven right, and they will do whatever it takes to make that happen. So you might see the protesters inadvertently create the police state they fear.

Legal Residents Allowed In

And there you go.

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly declared “the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest” in a Sunday evening statement.

“Accordingly, absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent residence status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.

Trump Temporarily Bans Travelers From 7 Nations

This seems significant.

The new Republican president on Friday put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries. He said the moves would protect Americans from terrorism, in a swift and stern delivery on a campaign promise.

I admit that since the media and left has been in a constant state of outrage since Trump was elected, I have difficulty discerning what is truly worthy of outrage. In this case, I don’t see very much to be outraged about.

The ban is temporary as the DHS crafts more stringent vetting protocols. It only applies to nations that are rife with terrorists who want to kill Americans. OK, seems good so far. There is no inherent right for people to come to America and it is certainly prudent to do what we can to weed out people who want to kill us.

There does seem to be confusion over the reach of Trump’s order. It is being applied to prevent legal residents from reentering the U.S., but in reading the actual order, I don’t see any grounds for that application. If the intent was for it to apply equally to legal residents of the U.S., then that portion of it is wretched policy unworthy of our nation. If it is a misapplication of the order, then Trump needs to act quickly to make that clear.