Trump’s disastrous trip to France

This is the Aisne-Marne Cemetery, which Trump did not visit on his trip to France due to rain.   John Kelly, Trump’s Chief of Staff, and  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford attended in his place.

The cemetery lies 55 miles from Paris.   President Macron and Chancellor Merkel were there in the rain.   US forces suffered 9,700 casualties there in World War I.   The occasion was the 100th year anniversary of the end of World War I.   Neither Pence nor Trump visited Arlington Cemetery on  Veteran’s Day on November 11.   Other cabinet officials attended the ceremonies there.

In sum, a horrible Veteran’s day all around, for a President who talks like he is the greatest defender of our military forces.   The day following the cancelled cemetery visit,  Trump visited the American cemetery in Paris, but complained about the lack of reporting.   Wow!   What was he expecting?  A Trump rally in Paris.

Trump’s trips are becoming a national embarrassment.   The only times he seems to excel is at Trump rallies.  The  desk plaque with the words “just let it go”  or at least “back off” might be appropriate.   He seems rather to intensify and expand his attacks to include Macron’s approval rating and French wine.  It all seemed a familiar tactic to change the subject.

His tweet storm against Macron are quite silly and petty.   Macron was elected by 66% of the voters in France, while Trump lost the popular vote.  In September 2018, polls showed Macron’s popularity has plummeted, so Trump’s tweet is correct, with Macron’s popularity far below Trump’s, in the range of 19 to 25%.  However, approximately 20% were undecided.   A recently proposed  program to help the poor in France will likely help Macron’s popularity.

Well, Macron started it!

What set Trump off on his first attack Tweet, as an interview that Macron gave, when he tweeted:

Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the US, China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France?”

Nope.  Macron said that they have to defend themselves against cyber attacks,  from other countries.  However, in later speeches, Macron did discuss a  European military force,  an obvious push back to Trump’s threats to pull out of NATO, because the other countries are not paying their fair share.   Merkel has been supportive of a European military force.

Bottom line

This was supposed to be a commemoration of heroic events as lead by American forces making the ultimate sacrifice.  Trump complains about the reporting (television coverage) and cancels his cemetery visit.

I asked a close German friend if anyone in Germany likes Trump, and his response was a simple, “No.” Winston Churchill’s grandson, I think really nailed it, with one word, “pathetic.”

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia: The Battle for Belleau Woods

It takes enormous bravery to fight and die as these Americans did on French soil.

Trump Trip to Pay Tribute to U.S. Fallen Canceled in French Rain

The French Local: Trump trolls Macron over approval ratings, unemployment, the Nazi occupation and wine

Macron Fails to Convince Four-Fifths of French, Poll Shows (Sept 2018 poll)

 

 

That’s all folks – Mueller’s Investigation

 

Do you recognize Porky Pig from the Loony Tunes cartoons?    With Matt Whitaker now the new Attorney General,  there’s been a ton of speculation of what happens next.  Recent news media reports suggest the whole investigation is about to wrap up, with Mueller’s team writing the final report, and all going home for Christmas.    All this is based on leaks, which I believe are coming from Republicans in Congress.

Let me suggest that this isn’t true.   Mueller can not comment on the investigation.   There may be some attempt to develop a  progress report, but not a final report.    Rod Rosenstein knows what has occurred in Grand Jury proceedings.   These are closed door proceedings, used by prosecutors to show they have sufficient evidence to go to trial.  With Sessions gone, Rosenstein has to disclose what he knows to Whitaker, who will take it to the President, and in turn Trump will share it with own attorneys, who will share it with the media, if it helps their case.   I believe that’s why Rosenstein is still there.   They want to know what information Paul Manafort (Trump’s 2016 Campaign Manager) has given the Special Counsel.   What did Don McGahn (White House legal counsel until Oct 17, 2018) tell Mueller?  On the receiving end will be private attorneys Emmet Flood and Jay Sekulow, who have attorney-client privileges.

Information will likely flow from Whitaker to Republicans in the Senate and Congress, to help protect Trump.  When there is an active FBI investigation, this will be a very serious breach of security.

I believe more indictments are on the way.   Mueller’s team on Thursday was in the midst of  oral arguments in the US Court of Appeals, District of Colombia Circuit. The issue was the right to force through subpoena Andrew Miller, a former aid to Roger Stone, to appear in a grand jury.  In June 2018, Miller turned over documents to Mueller’s team.    Roger Stone appears to be the critical link between hacked information from the Democrat’s server and the Trump campaign officials.   Going after Miller, is a way to get Stone to cooperate or indicted.  As reported by ABC News:

More than a dozen individuals associated with Stone have met with the special counsel since last summer and many of those have appeared before the grand jury impaneled by Mueller’s team.

Andrew Miller is a really small fry in a big challenge to the authority of Mueller’s team.   The heavy weight against the authority of Mueller is  the National Legal and Policy Center, a well-funded conservative legal group with a deep history of mounting legal challenges against left-leaning organizations and Democratic politicians.

The claim being made in the Court of Appeals by Andrew Miller is that the appointment of Mueller and the  authority  given to his probe were improper,   hence  Mueller has no legal  authority to issue subpoenas or really investigate anything.  Of course, this is a direct legal challenge to Rob Rosenstein judgement and  the Session’s Department of Justice.    If Whitaker caves on this issue, we might as well say, “That’s all Folks”  not to the Russian probe, but to the principles of the  DOJ.

So,  Whitaker isn’t going to have a minute to get up to speed.   The decision yesterday was to allow the prosecution  to present oral arguments “pre-Whitaker” and possibly permit submission of new briefs later, adjusted to the directives of the new AG.   It’s all pretty crazy, but it will document if the Whitaker is taking steps to obstruct Mueller’s investigation.

Stay tuned (it’s only going to get crazier!),

Dave

Links:

For this blog, I decided to show the entire link, so my followers can see they come from the broadcast network.

Andrew Miller can try to drag his case out for as long as possible.  If he loses in the Appellate Court, he will ask the court to “stay” their decision, pending a request to be heard at the Supreme Court.   Under any normal proceedings,  Mueller’s team would oppose any stay.

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/roger-stone-aide-prepared-supreme-court-battle-challenge/story?id=59069715

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/08/politics/roger-stone-andrew-miller-robert-mueller-court-russia-investigation/index.html

Note, the article below is from September 18, 2018 but I believe this is the time Trump was deciding how to handle Mueller’s investigation, through firings at the Department of Justice.  The reason was too much evidence was being discovered about Donald Trump, Jr.   The Session’s firing was postponed until after the mid-term elections.

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Sessions and the Resignation Letter

Was Sessions fired or did he resign? 

Ok, he’s out.  Some are calling it a firing, others characterize Sessions departure as a resignation.  There is a resignation letter, so it is a resignation.  But, the first line says that he is resigning at the president’s request.    Sessions didn’t want to go.  He was greatly enjoying his final chance to serve the country.    See link below for Sessions’ letter.

The letter has no date on it.    A lot of speculation as to when it was written,  but most likely in September 2018,  when it now appeared Trump was going to fire Rod Rosenstein.

Sessions says in this letter that  the Department  “embraced” Donald Trump’s directive to be a strong law and order department, and then goes into the  many accomplishments of the Department.    It is an incredible defense of the work of the Justice Department.  And it is all about the good work of the Department itself, not himself.  If there is a bit of flattery, it is to Trump.  It is the best justification of why Sessions should not have been fired.

Sessions wasn’t protecting the Mueller investigation from interference by Trump.   After Jeff Session’s recused himself from the investigation,  that job landed to Deputy AG  Rob Rosenstein.  Sessions recused himself because he was part of the Trump campaign and participated in a meeting at the Trump tower in June 2016 where a Russian agent was present.   Sessions has testified over and over again, that he had never participated in any collusion with Russian agents, and nothing has every linked him to the scandal.  So, I believe him.   The recusal  meant  Bob Mueller had the liberty to investigate anyone associated with the Trump campaign, including Sessions.

Now, the Attorney General is Matt Whitaker and regarded generally as a Trump loyalist.   He can do tremendous damage to the Mueller investigation, if he wants   He can also recuse himself from the investigation and put Rosenstein back in charge.  This would immediately take the pressure he’ll be getting from Congress, but Trump could always fire him and Rosenstein.

What happens to Rosenstein, the man that knows too much?   Inside the Justice Department, he will no longer be overseeing the Mueller investigation.   Inside the Department, he would be bound by the Department rules, including not revealing anything he knows.  So, Trump may keep him there.   I don’t see him writing the kind of letter, that Sessions gave the President.

The Russian investigation is the hot potato.     Anyone touching it will inevitably draw the ire of Trump.   The irony is Sessions never touched the Russian investigation.  I don’t believe his recusal was ever the problem.   It was his honesty that got between him and Trump.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Jeff Session’s Resignation Letter

Liar in Chief

 

I’ve discussed this before.  Donald Trump has a problem with the truth.  This is the famous line from Republican Bob Corker.  Great places for lying are campaign rallies.  Twitter works well.  He stays away from solo  press conferences – he’s holds the record for the fewest.   That’s when reporters, who really know their facts will trip him up.   Zingers don’t work at press conferences.

The rallies were for his supporters.  He knew the House may flip.  We’ll know today.     Two major theme – My administration is doing incredible great things and the Democrats are your worse enemy.  And the media – it’s also your enemy.  And actually,  ignoring a lot of very important issues, like for instance the budget and well, the world at large.    It’s all about Donald and the narrative, and largely untrue.

Trump said that they were close to reaching a deal on the China tariffs.  Stock market did nothing.  If it came from Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, and someone I admire,  the stock markets would have exploded.  With Donald, it was a sound bite.    Xi Jinping had a  swift and harsh rebuttal.    He referred to  “beggar-thy-neighbor” which in economics,  is a policy through which one country attempts to remedy its economic problems by means that tend to worsen the economic problems of other countries.   He accused the US as play by the  “law of the jungle” obviously ignoring the World Trade Organization, which we have built up over the years to promote free trade.  In fact,  Xi Jinping has probably better standing as a global capitalist than Trump.

Campaigning and marketing are similar.  It  is simply that everything I can offer you is great and will make your life better.  Everything my competitor has is awful and will make your life horrible.  Truth is expendable.   Fear works.   Caravans of dangerous criminals approaching the border is good.   Stalemates in Congress over budgetary issues – forget,  too boring.

Donald Trump on the campaign stump: His most glaring falsehoods, is Politifact’s latest update on our liar in chief.   The folks at Politifact know their stuff, and could have written a lot more.  But by saying these are the “most glaring”  falsehoods, they can go home before the sunrises.   I guess my favorite is:

“The Democrat plan would just obliterate Medicare and terminate Medicare Advantage … seniors who have been paying for this for years (and) will not be taken care of anymore.”

which perhaps I would be worried about, but it came from our liar in chief and is false.   It is just the opposite, as the Sanders bill would greatly expand benefits.

Should the measure pass, it would offer much more than the current Medicare program, including dental, vision, hearing and long-term care. With few exceptions, there would be no premiums, no co-pays or other out-of-pocket expenses. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, however. The price tag would be in the multiple trillions of dollars.”

Some lies are so simple, such as the US Steel plants:

“US Steel is now building seven plants.”

No they’re not.  Nor six as in his prior statement.  No new plants, Mr. President!

The last of the glaring falsehoods,  #8,  is a whopper as everyone wants to help our wounded warriors.   Trump said:

 “We passed veterans’ choice, giving our veterans the right to see a private doctor, rather than waiting on line for weeks and weeks and weeks. 44 years they’ve been trying to pass that. I got it passed.”

Nope Trump  didn’t.  Obama got it passed in 2014.  the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014.   It was smart to put a year on it, just so we know it wasn’t Trump’s act.  There were some changes to it during Trump’s term,  but it was Obama bill.

Politifact and Factcheck.org  come to similar conclusions – Trump will lie on almost any issue.   He gets caught and doesn’t seem to care.  I said the birth right citizenship was more about getting airtime.   Fox News actually found “legal experts”  who could explain why there were some exceptions.     Absolutely amazing.   Apparently, if say Venezuela invades Puerto Rico (for instance), then it would not be under the jurisdiction of the US.    What is a saving grace in these situation, is that all cases coming before the Supreme Court, must be associated with an actual case already heard by the lower courts, not some hypothetical case from an attorney.   So no, no Executive Order on birthright citizenship.

Marketing has little to do with the truth and everything to do with airtime.   Get on television, social media, anywhere possible.  Make it as personal as possible – like the lie on the wounded warriors.   It hits everyone who has a friend or neighbor serving in the military.  And it was a whopper of a lie that Trump has used many times.

Trump’s statements, as evaluated by Politifact,  fall in the  mostly false, false or pants on fire about 69% of the time, and true statements are 5% (about 1 in 20).    A falsehood repeated at a dozen rallies and aired over the media, still counts as one lie.   His highest percentage (33%) is False, followed by Mostly False (21%).  Of course,  these are only statements presented as facts, not opinions.

There are some really big messes and scandals looming.   If the House stays Republican, they will go after Rosenstein and Mueller.   The deep state nonsense will  re-emerge.  I believe Mueller will be announcing more criminal  indictments after the elections, and not just Russians.   Roger Stone,  adviser to the President is my guess of who is next.  There will likely be demands for Trump’s tax returns, which the Donald will not like.    Ryan Zinke,  Secretary of Interior, is being investigated for illegally profiting from policy changes, and might be the next cabinet official to leave in disgrace.  Iran and North Korea nuclear talks will go nowhere.   Iran is not caving in to US demands, but pushing back.   And China trade wars could get really nasty.  The caravan, well forget it, the troops will be returned within 3 to 4  months of inactivity.

I better stop here.  Vote today.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Donald Trump’s Record – Politifact

The most glaring falsehoods  – Politifact

 

 

 

 

Crazy s*** on immigration

Note:  Tom Toles is one of my favorite cartoonists.  This is from the Washington Post.  Trump later said he might send up to 15,000 troops to the border, when the caravan was 900 miles away, and the participants, many mothers with their children,  looked very weary.

Immigration is a hot button issue.  There are a lot of folks, who are either unemployed or struggling with low paying jobs, who blame everything on immigrants, particularly Mexicans.  Add a bit of bigotry into this mix, and irrational fears of the caravan approaching the US borders, and Trump has created an energized  constituency that will vote straight Republican in the next election.

What Trump can not do, nor any president, is take away any of our constitutional rights, through Executive Orders.  Headlines in CNN this morning, reads “Trump claims he can defy Constitution and end birthright citizenship.”   Any executive order would typically be routed through the Department of Justice, and they would not give their blessing.  An executive order is effective until a court issues an injunction.  The injunction would happen very quickly.   The Fourteenth Amendment states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”  My guess is that Trump isn’t that stupid to sign such an Executive Order.

It has succeeded.   Trump wanted more media coverage.  He sure as hell got it.   It is only a desperation ploy, given early voting in the mid-term elections has started.

Next is the caravan.   I’ll go as far as saying Trump’s  characterization of the caravan as being an invading force is pure fiction.   Now, the truth is, there is widespread chaos in Honduras. According to the New York Times:

Trump has consistently conflated Central American migrants with members of gangs like MS-13, even though many Hondurans joined the caravan precisely to escape the gangs. And while migrants have a right under both international and U.S. law to seek asylum at the border, Trump has continuously voiced his opposition to their arrival. He urged Mexican authorities to prevent the caravan from reaching the United States, called for 4,000 members of the National Guard to be deployed to the border and urged U.S. lawmakers to vote for stricter immigration laws.

Immigration stories by bloggers, are  almost all false.   Unfortunately even Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security,  Kirstjen Nielsen, joined with them, spreading false stories:

There are billboards in Central America in the Northern Triangle countries advertising how to grab a kid to get into the United States illegally. Because that loophole is so big. Billboards,” Nielsen said during a July 19 interview with NBC’s Peter Alexander at the Aspen Security Forum.

Politifact labels her statement “false” as there has been no evidence of any billboards.   The US during the Obama administration, did help support billboards to help prevent illegal immigration, not promote it.   See link at the bottom.

Just as I went to post this blog, Trump double down on his false claims:

The Democrats want to invite caravan after caravan of illegal aliens into our country. And they want to sign them up for free health care, free welfare, free education, and for the right to vote.”

The statement is false in every aspect. See link below.   In fact, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schummer, got it right responding to Donald Trump’s  actions as simply trying to distract attention from other issues, many health care.  Further Pelosi added:

Pelosi reiterated that message in another statement: “Despite Republicans’ fear-mongering, this group of families may not even make it to the U.S. border, and those migrating for economic reasons will not qualify for asylum.”

The qualifications for asylum are based on the rules of Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS).    Trump doesn’t have the authority to unilaterally change the rules.  The Department of Justice, and AG Jeff Sessions will be involved in any changes.   The courts will likely decide if it is within the executive branch’s authority to make changes.

The false claims on the caravan are too long to discuss all of them.  The caravan has existed since 2008.  The people are poor.  Many are women with children.  Many are fleeing gang violence in their countries.     George Soros, a billionaire and strong Democratic supporter, is not funding the caravan.  In fact, just about every claim against Soros, spread through social media is untrue.

The mid-term election might turn the House of Representatives to Democrat.  That’s what this heated rhetoric on immigration is about.

At this point, Trump would light a school bus on fire if he could get an extra 5 minutes of air time.  And distract the electorate from horrible policies – ranging from pulling out of the  Paris climate accord,  eliminating many rules governing clear air and water, and the attempted elimination of health care for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Unfortunate there will be a slew of more lies as we get to Nov 6.   VOTE!

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

False statements on the caravan

Kirstjen Nielsen falsely says there are billboards in Central America on illegal immigration.

Trump says he will restrict asylum, claims troops will shoot at rock throwers