Trump-a-day

President Trump on Friday touted himself as the “most tweeted about” world leader at the United Nations General Assembly, retweeting a graphic that put him at the top of the list, although not because he said anything clever.

The Trump Speech at the U.N.: bombastic noise that drowned the frail signals of common sense.


While North Korea’s nuclear program is at the forefront of concern all around the world, the US President could have made his point about Kim Jong Un’s regime in a measured way to prevent escalating tensions and misinterpretation by North Korea (which is exactly what happened). Instead, Trump went with words as “rocket man” to satisfy his base, which feeds on his tweets and slogans. As Jane Harman of the Wilson Center put it “Tuesday was a missed opportunity. Trump may have won the street, but he lost the hall.”


In his speech to the U.N. in San Francisco in 1948, Harry Truman warned the founders that “we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please.” This is something Trump will never learn.

When you peel away the inflammatory language of the General Assembly speech, here’s what the president really said: 

– The world should reject threats to sovereignty (think: Ukraine); 

– condemn and counter humanitarian abuses by North Korea in addition to its nuclear program; 

– Iran should cease its bad behaviour across the Middle East (even US Congress has gone on record to address this);

– a political solution is needed to end the crisis in Syria. 

Most would consider these positions fairly mainstream. But then Trump spiced things up with “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

Kim responded to Trump’s comments in a statement on Thursday, calling the U.S. president “mentally deranged” and warning that he would “pay dearly” for his threats against Pyongyang. Kim referred to Trump as a “gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician” in the statement filled with colourful insults, which was reported by North Korea’s state news agency KCNA.

“The mentally deranged behaviour of the U.S. president openly expressing on the U.N. arena the unethical will to ‘totally destroy’ a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking think about discretion and composure,” Kim said. “A frightened dog barks louder. I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire,” he said.

Pyongyang’s provocation came the same day that Trump announced new sanctions on the isolated country.

Despite crushing sanctions, Pyongyang has continued its weapons testing, launching ballistic missiles over Japan and, earlier this month, detonating what North Korean officials claim was a hydrogen bomb.

President Trump fired back at North Korean leader on Friday.


Also today, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that North Korean leader will be “tested” by the new sanctions. “Our diplomatic efforts continue unabated. We have put in place the strongest economic sanctions ever to have been assembled against Kim Jong Un, so he is being tested with these sanctions,” Tillerson said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Voices from every corner of the world are calling on him to cease his program, come to the table and let’s talk about the future of North Korea and the North Korean people,” he added.

As if the name calling football was not enough, a former foreign policy adviser to President Obama is warning there could be trouble if Kim chides President Trump over the fact that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

God save us if Kim Jong Un makes a comment about Hillary’s popular vote victory https://t.co/mW2SJtmIrF

— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) September 22, 2017

Trump and Kim have been locked for months in a war of words and threats that has prompted concerns among foreign leaders who fear Washington and Pyongyang may be hurtling toward a confrontation. Donald Trump’s proximity to the USA’s arsenal of some 6,800 nuclear warheads could hardly comfort anyone at the best of times.

In the meantime, Google suggested that I might be interested in the following:

  

No, you can’t survive a nuclear attack by sitting in a fridge. Do not believe everything Hollywood shows you. 

A tale of two tweets…

Hillary Clinton’s book What Happened is finally out, and Donald Trump could not find it in himself to stay mute on the subject. All things Hillary still matter a lot to him (call it the pain of not winning the popular vote). 

Anyway, Trump, as is his habit, took to Twitter with a short review of the book he most likely did not read:


Hillary had some advice:


Donald, do what feels right – this one has pictures! Go for it! You might learn something, as one would hope. 

Trump-a-day

President Donald Trump has sent more than two dozen tweets about Hurricane Harvey before flying to Texas to view the damage himself. Up to 30,000 people lost their homes in Houston alone. Altogether 450,000 people are victims of the tropical storm turned hurricane. 


For the first time in their lives the president and the First Lady have travelled to a natural disaster zone, and their briefing did not cover dresscode. Or did it?

For those who care, Melania had a change of shoes on Air Force One. By the time they landed in Corpus Christi, where Harvey made landfall, she’d changed into white sneakers. She has also succumbed to the branded hat. For the first time. Although, unlike her shoes, that did not break Twitter.


Republicans are cognisant of President George W. Bush’s widely criticised handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and some have urged Trump to take a more proactive approach. Trump promised swift emergency funding to help Texas recover from the hurricane, though Republican congressional leaders haven’t yet sent clear signals on how they will proceed. The full scope of damage isn’t yet known with rain expected to last several more days. 

My thoughts are going to all the people who lost everything and are full of uncertainty about their future. Is Trump capable of achieving more than sending tweets? 

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As the internet has pointed out several times throughout President Trump’s first months in office: there is always a tweet for that. 

As Trump heads to Texas to survey the flooding and damage brought by Hurricane Harvey, a number of Twitter users have pointed out that the president is about to do exactly what he criticised former President Barack Obama for doing when Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast in 2012.


The irony of Trump doing exactly what he criticised Obama for doing was not lost on people. In fact, there is an entire Reddit community dedicated to finding old tweets of Trump’s that criticise things he’s doing as president. 


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Americans do not hold President Trump in high regard, with most suggesting he is dishonest, unstable, prejudiced and selfish, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center. The criticisms of the country’s 45th president do not end there, with a strong majority (58%) of Americans similarly indicating that they largely disagree with both Trump’s policies and his conduct since entering the White House. While 25% of respondents have mixed feelings, only 16% said they liked how the president conducted himself.

Split that up by political affiliation, and the results show that Democrats and those who lean Democratic are much more likely to disapprove of Trump’s conduct (89%), while Republicans and people who lean Republican are more likely to have mixed feelings about it (46%).

The poll surveyed 1,893 Americans from Aug. 15 to Aug. 21.

Trump, however, sees things differently.

ISIS? What Bills? Who’s ‘fake news’ now?

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The holiday season is over and now is the time for highly anticipated political reads, hot off the press. Last week, we talked about the upcoming release of Hillary Clinton’s memoir with an existential title What Happened.

Another soon to be released must read comes from Alec Baldwin: 

In this parody, Baldwin brings his famously satirical Saturday Night Live impersonation of the commander in chief to book form. Published by Penguin Press, the book is on sale in the US on 7 November. 

This year, I have lost quite a few friends to parenthood, so the next choice is very reflective of that.


The book contains “helpful tips like what to do if you met Trump in the woods – never acknowledge his bragging, never respond to his taunts. Most importantly, without an audience a Trump shrivels into an orange pile of nothing…” (quote from a person who made me aware of this book).

Trump also shared his book recommendation a few days ago.

That’s it for today. If North Korea and Trump do not blow up the world overnight, please check for new posts tomorrow.

Trump-a-day

President Trump on Wednesday called for the nation to come together in “shared humanity” and “citizenship,” one day after giving a speech which resembled a “greatest hits” package from his presidential campaign (including pledges to boost the economy; crack down on illegal immigration, in part by building the border wall; and drain the Washington swamp).

“It is time to heal the wounds that divide us and to seek a new unity based on the common values that unite us,” Trump told a crowd of veterans at an American Legion conference in Reno, Nevada.

Sticking largely to his prepared remarks, the president pointed to the military as a positive example for all Americans when it comes to patriotism, hard work and common purpose, saying “we are one people, with one home and one flag.” (Minus, the transgender military ban, of course.)

“We are not defined by the colour of our skin, the figure on our pay check or the party of our politics,” Trump said. “We are defined by our shared humanity, our citizenship in this magnificent nation and by the love that fills our hearts. We are people who love. We are people with heart. We are people who adore. We are people who are great — there is no country like the United States of America. We have no division too deep for us to heal,” the president said, concluding his remarks. We are people who adore? Was his speechwriter previously employed as a junior screenwriter for Hollywood’s summer rom-coms?!

Many Republicans wish Trump would move on from Charlottesville, an incident that resulted in one of the worst stretches of his presidency (clearly testing his “no division too deep for us to heal” theory). Trump seems to believe it’s an issue that animates his core supporters. That says a lot about the true colour of his adoration. Remember Michelle Obama’s quote “being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are.”

For all the rhetorical fireworks, it is difficult to see how this week’s speeches changed anyone’s opinion of him — for better or for worse.

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The chances of a government shutdown in the fall are growing. Congress returns to Washington next month facing a full plate of radioactive, must-pass legislation and a shutdown threat that looks more serious after President Trump suggested he would not support a spending package that omits new funds for a southern border wall.

Speaker Paul Ryan in his unique self-doubting speaking style pushed back at Trump’s suggestion that border wall funding is worth a shutdown. “I don’t think a government shutdown is necessary, and I don’t think most people want to see a government shutdown, ourselves included,” Ryan said during a visit to an Intel facility in Oregon. He also explained that the president is merely “employing a strategy that he thinks is effective for him.” 

Good luck to GOP leaders in their quest to find a legislative sweet-spot that satisfies the president’s border-wall demand without alienating the Democrats, whose votes will be essential to keep the government running. “Democrats have made clear we will not support funding for President Trump’s misguided, ineffective border wall,” Joseph Crowley, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said this week.

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The White House Self-Appointed Warrior Princess, aka aide Kellyanne Conway, went after Hillary Clinton for “making excuses.” “She failed to make history and she succeeds at making excuses. And that is emblematic of a Democratic Party now that is so bereft of ideas and issues that they have to then play armchair psychiatrists.” 


Conway’s comments come after excerpts of Clinton’s new book “What Happened” were released earlier this week, in which she wrote that President Trump’s attempts to intimidate her during the presidential campaign made her “skin crawl.” Hillary said it as it was. “What would you do? Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space?”

As for Kellyanne, what does she even do when she is not on Fox insulting people and passing her judgment as a gospel?

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This week, the White House reveals its new look, including the new wallpaper personally chosen by Trump himself. My gran used to have a similar wallpaper in the living room, in circa 1989.


Earlier this month, Trump denied that he called the White House a “dump.” Trump responded on Twitter to an article on the website golf.com. The story recounts a scene in which Trump was chatting with some club members at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. He reportedly told the members he visits the property so frequently because “that White House is a real dump.” Hopefully now that he was involved in decision making over the wallpaper, he feels more at home there.


For more visuals of the White House interior designs check https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/gallery/2017/aug/23/white-house-renovations-donald-trump

Trump-a-day

A growing number of White House and Trump campaign officials are hiring their own lawyers to handle the wide-ranging probe into whether the president’s associates colluded with Russia’s 2016 election-meddling effort, The Hill reports.

Trump, Vice President Pence and the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner, have all hired personal lawyers, as did Trump’s long-time lawyer Michael Cohen and several former aides. Trump allies and White House veterans who have dealt with investigations say it’s prudent for staff members who might be swept up in the Russia probe to enlist their own legal help, even though hiring lawyers could place a heavy financial burden on some staff who did not enter government service with large bank accounts. Deep-pocketed Trump aides and confidants have retained veteran Washington lawyers who command high fees to help them navigate the investigation. Kushner, for example, has hired former Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick and renowned defence attorney Abbe Lowell. “There are famous stories from the Clinton White House about these astronomical fees,” said Robert Ray, a former independent counsel during the Whitewater scandal. 

Jennifer Palmieri, a long-time Democratic strategist who served as former President Clinton’s deputy press secretary, told The Hill that the experience of working in a White House under investigation is “even more disorienting than it appears.” “No one in a position of authority at the White House tells you what is happening,” she wrote in an op-ed last month. “No one knows. Your closest colleague could be under investigation and you would not know. You could be under investigation and not know. It can be impossible to stay focused on your job.” Inside the West Wing, staff are fearful that speaking out could result in them becoming entangled in the Mueller investigation. White House officials were reluctant to speak about the probe, even anonymously, out of concern about possible legal pitfalls. A dream job it is not.

President Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to hit back. He praised his son for doing “a good job” in a TV interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News on Tuesday night. 


Parents…the most objective people when it comes to their children. 

Trump also blasted the “fake media” for what he said was the use of imaginary sources (i.e. his son’s emails, which Trump Jr. personally released on Twitter).


Thirdly, Trump hit at Clinton and the Democratic Party, condemning what he implied were double-standards. 


If Trump did not mention Clinton, it would have been most strange. He always seems to turn to her in moments of distress.

Rick Wilson, a Florida-based GOP strategist and a long-standing Trump critic said that “administration is paralyzed from its own actions. Nothing is getting done.” The increasing number of lawyers could make life even more difficult for a White House staff that is struggling to advance President Trump’s policy agenda by limiting communication and creating divisions between aides.


Trump said he’ll be “very angry” if Senate Republicans aren’t able to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obama Care, as GOP leaders get ready to unveil their updated legislation. Trump said Republicans have been promising for years that they’d repeal Obama Care, and now with Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, he said he’s “waiting” to sign a repeal bill. What if Senate Republicans aren’t able to pass their bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act? “Well, I don’t even want to talk about it, because I think it would be very bad. I will be very angry about it and a lot of people will be very upset,” Trump said during an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network’s Pat Robertson.

Meanwhile, in Russia

Trump-a-day

As is its weekly tradition, the White House is facing yet another grave crisis in the wake of the publication of emails between the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and a go-between for a Russian lawyer. The emails from June 2016 call into question the main pillars of the White House’s defence against allegations of Russian involvement in the 2016 election. 


Picture: www.sickchirpse.com
In one of the messages, music publicist Rob Goldstone, who acted as an intermediary in setting up the meeting, said Russian government sources were offering information and documents that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. told Goldstone in an email six days before the meeting occurred.

Trump Jr. published the emails on Twitter moments before The New York Times released them. In an accompanying statement, the president’s son said he was releasing the emails “in order to be totally transparent.” Why wait so long (and until the Times was about to publish) if Trump Jr. is genuinely concerned about transparency? Also this somewhat voluntarily revelation contradicts Team Trump’s repeated statement that while Russia may indeed have meddled in the election, there was no coordination or communication between Moscow and their campaign. Where was Trump Jr. in the last year? Why was a music publicist involved in this? So many questions. All in all, a classic example of inexperienced people jumping above their heads…

The atmosphere of crisis was apparent at the White House and in the broader Trump orbit, where hatches were battened down amid the storm. At a press briefing that was conducted off camera and lasted 22 minutes, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly parried reporters’ questions on the emails by saying their queries should be directed to the personal lawyers of the people involved. Sanders read a brief statement from the president during the briefing. “My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency,” the statement read in full. Well, very predictable and Twitter-friendly (under 140 characters).

The president’s Twitter feed remained free of any mention of the controversy enveloping his son, though he did tweet about his efforts to bring the Olympics to the U.S. and about “big wins against ISIS!”

Joe Sandler, an attorney who specialises in election law and who represents Democratic and progressive clients, said that the email from Trump to Goldstone was “direct evidence that [Trump Jr.] solicited something of value, which counts as a contribution from a foreign national” — a potential violation of campaign law. That interpretation is a source of dispute among legal experts. Sandler also poured scorn on the idea that the kind of exchange represented in the emails is commonplace on political campaigns. “It is very common for people on campaigns and people on committees to talk to people who claim to have damaging information about the opponent. But that is not foreign governments,” he said. “That is the key.”


Picture: Huffington Post 

Trump Jr. said Tuesday he would be willing to testify under oath about his election-year meeting with a Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who offered compromising information about Hillary Clinton.

“And you have nothing to hide,” Fox News host Sean Hannity told Trump Jr. during an interview that aired Tuesday night. “That means you’ll testify under oath, all of that?”

“All of it,” Trump Jr. responded. He also said the meeting “went nowhere and it was apparent that that wasn’t what the meeting was actually about. I wouldn’t have even remembered it until you started scouring through this stuff. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame,” he said. Trump Jr. did not rule out the possibility that he spoke about the campaign with other Russians. “I don’t even know. I’ve probably met with other people from Russia but certainly not in the context of actual formalised meetings or anything,” he said. If he is asked to testify, he’ll need to get his story straight, that’s for sure.

In a Tuesday interview with NBC News, Veselnitskaya offered a different account of the meeting. She said she never had any damaging information on Clinton and it was never her intention to secure the meeting under the impression that she did. “It is quite possible that maybe they were longing for such an information. They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted,” Veselnitskaya said. Veselnitskaya also denied any connection to the Russian government. The Kremlin has said it does not know anything about the meeting.

Although it is not clear what happened in that meeting, contrary to Goldstone’s assurances, there is nothing to say that Hillary Clinton had any incriminating dealings with Russia. Not a statement the Trump family can use anymore.  
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