Sunday, March 26, 2017

Electoral Vote Winner Turmp's Had the Week That Was.....

This past week marked the two month anniversary of electoral vote winner Donald Trump taking the oath of office and the time of his term in the Oval Office.  While on the campaign trail, he swore o supporters there would be instant change that would automatically make everything better.  There'd be less regulation, and painted an impression that our military is weak and underfunded (even though the U.S. has the largest defense budget in the world and has had the largest budget on this front for years).  He promised that things would be different than they were under the Obama administration.  This past week proved that right - just not in a way he or his co electoral vote winner Mike Pence would imagine.

In the midst of unfounded claims that former President Obama had spied on his campaign before the election, the week got off to a shocking start when FBI director James Comey said they were investigating the Trump campaign and administration for any signs of collusion with Russia - and may prosecute if necessary.  All of this during a televised hearing at the House Intelligence Committee.  Comey also shot down claims of Obama spying on the new electoral vote winner, countering several weeks of tweets that seemed far etched even if Trump is given the benefit of a doubt.

That this was just on Monday, it came as somewhat of a revelation in the midst of claims that Russia may have played some role in the election and at least (at last count) seven Trump campaign officials (including his son in law Jared Kushner and new Attorney General Jefferson Sessions) having met with Russian officials.  While the mainstream media still did some more stuff regarding the spying tweets, they were moved to the back burner largely by this revelation.

Now, while the investigation is news, it should be taken with a grain of salt.  First, if the reports of true that they were investigating the Trump campaign since July then why did he reamin mum on this while making a big deal of reopening the investigation on HIllary Clinton's e-mails roughly a week before the election.  Given that some media reports call parts of the FBI Trumplandia, it seems a little strange that Comey would rise now.  Since investigations don't automatically mean convictions or impeachment (in this case), it's hard to predict how this will play out.  However, at a time when electoral vote winner Trump wanted glowing media and hype towards the planned vote on the American Health Care Act (sometiems known as Trumpcare of Ryancare [for Paul Ryan].  I prefer Tryancare, giving both of them the blame myself) it was a pothole that he didn't want - or need - to hir along the way.

Then the House subcommittee investigation gets weirder on Wednesday when chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R, CA) went to the White House to give a briefing to the Trump administration.  While for someone unaware of how these committees work that may not be a big deal, the fact he went to DOnnie and Mike before revealing any information to his own committee raised eyebrows and has many wondering whether Nunes is interested in where the truth lis or in GOP party politics and not pissing off the electoral vote winner.

Which leads to the question - should Nunes be investigated for this?  Given that he went to Trump with some possibel information regardin gthe probe on Russia before clearing it with his subcommittee, or even revealing said information to them, I think the answer should be yes on this.  Or at the very least, one should wonder why Nunes still has that seat to begin with. 

Still, all this pales in comparison to the administration pulling Tryancare just an hour or so before coming up for a vote because they were 10 votes short of the bill passing. With a bill that was would've caused either 24 million (CBO estiamte) or 26 million (a White House study) to lose their insurance as just the tip of the iceberg, the bill seemed hell-bent on removing any good thing that was in teh Affordable Care Act from removing maternity care to defunding Planned Parenthood to, according to some reports, possibly removing hopsital stays from things covered by insurance. 

While this bill would obviously be opposed by Democrats, te Hous e Freedom Caucus (a caucus that grew out of the tea party takeover of the gOP a few years back) were against it on the grounds that it still left a remote trace of Obamacare.  After an attempt by White House counsel Steve Bannon to crack the whip and make the GOP Senate support the bill, ten people went from supporting the bill to opposing it.

So who does Trump blame after having to pull a horrible bill that would've likely spent more time in court than in law at this point?  He acted indignant in wondeirng why he didn't have any support from Democrats.  Did Trump and company really believe that the Democratic Party would jump sides to vote to strip the legacy of previous Democratic president Barack Obama?  If he actually thought this he's more naive than even I thought.

More likely he's aware that enough of his followers will believe anything bad is the Democrats fault if he tells them it is.  Thus, rather than take responsibility for this fiasco he can just wind up his base by aiming their rage at the other side rather than figure out how government works. 

So, that leaves us to now.  After a golfing trip at a club in Virginia this weekend (though I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if he flew to Miralago for at least one night of the weekend) it's back to the usual chaos.

By many accounts it's the first 100 days that a President's legacy is judged by in the long run.  The fact that any policy Trump can get through is via executive order (though the damage he can cause from it may destroy the whole damn planet way sooner than a lot of people previously thought) rather than through Congress may not be a permanent smear on electoral vote winner Trump's legacy but it does give him a couple of serious black eyes at the time he doesn't need them.  Maybe he;'ll do his damndest to make what he calls "the explosion of Obamacare" a self-fulfilling prophecy but the fact he couldn't make his media play and destroy it on the anniversary of its passing is a telling sign.

If the Democrats in the Senate follow through on filibustering Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, then things will be a lot rockier on Trump's road for a long time to come.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Scandals in Trumplandia - Flynn's BAAAAACCCCCCK!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I know I've been off the blog for a while for several reasons.  One, I've been writing for the print zine and have been focusing content there.  Also, between the holiday season and just trying to adjust to the times means that I've been focusing on other things.  However, with everything going on, some things have to fit here that can't fit in the constraints of the print issue so I'm back.

Our return to the blog focuses at retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who managed to make history with the shortest ever run as a Cabinet member when he was forced to resign as electoral vote winner Trump's national security advisor after only a few weeks when news emerged that he had lied to co electoral vote winner Mike Pence over whether he met with the Russian Ambassador on the campaign trail.  Flynn's revelation managed to keep the focus on possible ties between the Trump administration and Russia as news emerged with several other members of the administration (including Trump's son in law Jared Kushner and now Atty. General Jefferson Sessions) had met with Russia.  While this has managed to dog the Trump administration and shows few signs of going away (their attempts at covering up definitely don't help - as Sessions' near admission during his confirmation hearings would come to bite him in the ass), one thought that Flynn would fade away and become a footnote in the sphere of things.  That would be business as usual and be quite understandable.

However, since we don't live in times that are business as usual it should have been inevitable that Flynn would somehow re-emerge in the scandal sphere surrounding those working with our new electoral vote winner.  Sure enough he has when he retroactively registered as a foreign agent

It turns out that Flynn had earned over $530,000.00 lobbying on behalf of a company that had ties with the Turkish government.   While that alone may raise a few eyebrows, it gets worse when one learns he did this lobbying from August to October 2016, while he was acting as a surrogate for the Trump campaign.  While this alone could be a political flashpoint (especially if Flynn didn't leave his position), when added to the controversy over who met with Russia and whether the electoral vote winner knew about said meetings there leaves an area of murkiness that should shock people.

Which leaves us to a couple of major questions:  Did the Trump administration know Flynn was lobbying in this manner?  If so, did they care?  While White House press secretary Spicer says he doesn't think it was known, it might not be that simple.  As news dips out in regards to this, it appears the Flynn may have met government officials in his lobbying efforts.  In addition, a White House official says Flynn's personal lawyer contacted them before the inauguration about possibly having to file as a foreign agent

While Flynn is out of the administration this revelation leaves a bigger issue in the air.  Did electoral vote winner Trump and co electoral vote winner Pence know they had a possible foreign agent as a national security advisor?  Also, did Flynn's work with Turkey play a role in keeping said nation off of the travel ban (besides Trump's own holdings in Turkey)?  The fact that these questions are being asked at all leaves some obvious ethical questions lingering around us.

For now, the questions will remain unanswered as the Trump administration probably hopes that a new scandal will sweep this under the rug.  However, they also hoped new scandals and tweets would distract from any possible allegations of ties with Russia so that should be taken with a pillar of salt.  What is apparent is that the electoral vote winner somehow hired a national security advisor who lobbied a foreign government while as a surrogate for his campaign.  At that point, whether the administration knew or not is a major issue.

Until these issues are addressed and answered, these ethical minefields will be stomped on by the current administration.  While Flynn's latest revelation does take things by surprise, the fact he was lobbying for a company with ties to the Turkish government while acting as a campaign surrogate does leave some potential explosions that may backfire on the government if it is ignored, and reveals why an independent investigation may not just be a good idea but a necessity to get to the bottom of this whole damn mess.