Paul Manafort Never Really Left The President’s Campaign/ Rick Gates

Compared to the building corruption in the White House, with many, many more shady Russian connections than even most conspiracy-theorists ever imagined, Watergate was a minor faux pas, and Nixon merely a scamp. I have been keeping an eye on the unfolding of what I believe will end up being confirmed treason, but have not written about it because … fellow-blogger-friend Gronda has been hard on the trail and is doing an excellent job of providing factual information and trying to help us all decipher this tangled web. Today I share her post about the ties to Paul Manafort and her conclusion that in reality, Manafort never really left the Trump campaign back in August. Please, if you have any desire to stay abreast of the unfolding events, take a moment to read Gronda’s excellent post. Thank you, Gronda, for all your hard work and dedicated research … and for implied permission to re-blog!

Gronda Morin

Related imageRemember that Paul Manafort and our republican President Donald Trump go way back at least three decades. Mr. Manafort has been a long term resident at Trump Towers since 2006.

Mr. Manafort bought his upper-floor apartment in Trump Tower in 2006, under the LLC he controlled, John Hannah LLC. Public records show a purchase price of $3.675 million for a condo around 1,500 square feet. But in 2015, he places the Trump Tower property in his own name. He and his wife own several high value properties.

Around 2006, a young gentleman by the name of Rick Gates became an assistant to Paul Manafort.

When Paul Manafort left the president’s campaign in August 2016 when his Russian/ Ukraine ties were being questioned, it was his deputy Rick Gates who took over the management of the Republican convention events.

Image result for photos of paul manafort and rick gates Paul Manafort

As per a 3/23 CNN report by Elizabeth Landers and Jeremy…

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Time For Amendments #28 & #29 !!!

My father was a ‘self-made’ man.  Armed with only an eighth-grade education, after serving in the military during World War II, he worked his way from the bottom up to become a successful hotel manager for one of the largest hotel chains at the time (1950s-1960s).  With a few exceptions, those days are over and today an education is a ‘must’ in order to achieve a lucrative and satisfying career.

constitution

The framers of the U.S. Constitution wished to make the office of president accessible to a wide range of people, common people, people who understood the needs of the nation and its people.  Therefore they did not stipulate an educational or experience requirement in Article II, clause 5.  The only eligibility requirements are:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

In 1787, when the Constitution was drafted and subsequently ratified, it was rare for a man to be college-educated, and in fact only about 60% of adults, excluding slaves, were literate. Making a college degree a requirement would have limited the number of people eligible to run to a handful of scholars.  And making experience in federal government was a no-brainer … the Constitution was establishing the federal government, so there was no possibility in 1787 for anyone to have experience in the newly-created government.

Throughout the years, as times and attitudes have changed, there have been a number of amendments to the Constitution … 27 times, to be exact. Some amendments are to correct oversights in the original document, others to accommodate more modern thinking, such as the 13th amendment, ratified in 1865, prohibiting slavery, or the 19th, which prohibits denial of the right to vote based on gender.  The original Constitution has proven to be a viable foundation for a democratic government, and has certainly withstood the test of time.  The world, however, is dynamic, constantly-changing, and there are areas of the Constitution that need tweaking from time to time in order to keep up with ‘progress’.

I think the time has come to seriously consider two new amendments to the U.S. Constitution: First …

  • Limits the number of times that a person can be elected to Congress to two terms of six years each for senators, and three terms of two years each for representatives.

Term limits for Congress were initially left out of the Constitution because the framers, though several had concerns, ultimately feared such a rotation could lead to governmental dysfunction.

Pros:

“Even good men in office, in time, imperceptibly lose sight of the people, and gradually fall into measures prejudicial to them.” – anti-federalist Melancton Smith, 1788

“I apprehend that the total abandonment of the principle of rotation in the offices of president and senator will end in abuse. But my confidence is that there will for a long time be virtue and good sense enough in our countrymen to correct abuses.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1788

Cons:

[The] greater the proportion of new members, and the less the information of the bulk of the members, the more apt will they be to fall into the snares that may be laid for them.” – James Madison, 1788

constitution-2

Constitutional Convention – 1787

By 1995, some 23 states had adopted term limits for their Congressional delegations.  But in May 1995, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that in the absence of a constitutional amendment, neither states nor Congress may limit the number of terms that members of Congress can serve. Today, there is still debate over the value of term limits, but a recent poll shows that 3 out of 4 citizens are in favour of limiting Congressional terms.

More recently, in January of this year, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Representative Ron DeSantis from Florida, proposed a Constitutional amendment calling for term limits similar to those I stated above. In order to become law, the proposed amendment would need to be passed by a 2/3 majority in both chambers of Congress, then be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures before going into effect. It faces an uphill battle, at best.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is against the idea, said, “We have term limits — they’re called elections.”

Until the last decade or so, my thinking was along the same lines as Senator McConnell.  I believed that only those congressmen and women who were doing a good job would be re-elected.  But, Mr. McConnell himself is a prime example that sometimes even the worst of the lot will be re-elected, for whatever reason.  It is too bad, in a way, because we will likely lose some valuable talent if term limits are imposed, but I do think that it is an idea whose time has come.

Second, I would propose that we have a combined education/experience requirement in order to run for president, requiring a relevant four-year degree OR at least one of the following:

  • Served as vice president of the United States.

or

  • Completed one six-year term in the U.S. Senate

or

  • Served at least six years (three full terms) in the U.S. House of Representatives

or

  • Served at least four years in a cabinet post requiring Senate confirmation

or

  • Completed a four-year term as governor of a state

or

  • Retired from the military after achieving the rank of four-star general or admiral

If this sounds too restrictive, consider that every president dating back to President Truman would have qualified under these requirements except the current officeholder. In addition, the candidate should at least have read and understand the U.S. Constitution.  Perhaps a simple written test?  He/she should at least understand what it is they are swearing to uphold when they take the oath of office, unlike the current officeholder.

I do not anticipate either of these to become ratified amendments, at least not any time in the foreseeable future, but I do think that both are ideas whose time has come.  Both have been proven to be shortcomings in our current law, allowing Congressmen to stay in office long after they have forgotten that their purpose is to serve We The People, and allowing a thoroughly incompetent, unqualified man to become president. Just something to think about …

Encourage a No vote on the AHCA

As Trump is is bullying and threatening our elected Representatives in the House, demanding a vote be taken today on his terrible healthcare plan, it appears there will not be sufficient votes to pass it. Fellow-blogger Keith has drafted an excellent, short piece that he posted to his representative’s website today, and I recommend that anyone who wishes to “just say ‘no'” to this bill use it as a guideline to send a message to your own representative! Thank you, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

The following is an email posted to my US Representative’s website today.

As a retired benefits actuary, consultant and manager, I encourage you to vote no on the AHCA vote today. The CBO says the modifications made do not alter the expectation that over ten million people will lose coverage. Plus, two hospital groups, two Doctor groups and the AARP have all recommended a no vote.

As a benefits professional, my strong recommendation is to improve the imperfect ACA. It is disappointing that my former party has highlighted the negatives of the ACA, while downplaying the many positives.

I would recommend the ACA be improved with a few changes:
– fully fund the risk corridors to reimburse insurers for adverse selection, the absence of which drove premiums up and forced some insurers out of the market,
– introduce a public option in areas that have no competition,
– encourage the…

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Son of a B#$%&!!!

caduceusThe healthcare bill, known in the House of Representatives as the American Health Care Act, but more commonly called Trumpetcare, or Trumpcare, stood very little chance of passing the House, and even if it did, stood zero chance of passing the Senate.  According to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), some 24 million people are likely to lose their healthcare coverage once the bill is passed.  That in itself was reason enough for the bill to fail, and it needed some serious alterations before it would become palatable to We The People.  A number of representatives were committed to voting “nay” for that reason alone.  There was another group of uber-right-wing-conservatives, however, who felt the bill did not go far enough in stripping healthcare from the poor and middle-income citizens.

Trump, realizing that his bill was doomed to fail in today’s vote, understood (or, more likely, somebody explained to him) that changes would need to be made in order for the bill to stand a chance at surviving the initial vote.  So, he made a change.  No, he did not restore any of the benefits we previously had under ACA (Obamacare).  Instead he caved to the demands of the far-right, further stripping away any semblance of a universal healthcare bill.  He opted to remove federal requirements that health insurance plans provide a basic set of benefits like maternity care, emergency services, mental health and wellness visits.  So, in the simplest of terms, if your child is running a fever of 104° in the middle of the night and you need to take him to the emergency room, expect to pay, out of pocket, upwards of $500 just for a doctor to look at him, maybe do a strep test, give him some antibiotics and ibuprofen, then send him home.  Your insurance, unless you opt for the high-premium plan, will not cover it.  And God forbid that you get pregnant and expect your insurance to cover your monthly/weekly doctor’s visits, ultrasound, and other tests.

white men

Notice that there are only wealthy, white males making the decisions here …

Even with the change, legislators were not convinced they would have enough votes for the bill to pass this afternoon, so they delayed the vote until Friday morning, although some doubt that a vote will be held before Monday. As of this writing (7:00 p.m, Thursday 23 March) there are some 47 Republican representatives either undecided or planning to vote against the bill.  This is encouraging in that it says some have managed to remember who their employers truly are.

There are some level-headed people in the House.  Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts urged House Republicans to ‘slow down’, saying, “This health care repeal affects millions upon millions upon millions of Americans. Don’t jam a disastrous bill through the House with patched-up fixes.”  And Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said, “I believe this bill, in its current form, will lead to the loss of coverage and make insurance unaffordable for too many Americans, particularly for low- to moderate-income and older individuals.”  And Representative Andy Harris of Maryland said, “This legislation simply won’t lower premiums as much as the American people need, and lowering the cost of coverage is my primary goal.”

The delay in putting the bill to a vote is intended by boot-licking Republicans to give Paul Ryan a chance to talk the bill through … to convince holdouts to vote ‘yea’ instead of ‘nay’.  But, as noted by the New York Times Thursday evening, “as Mr. Trump and House leaders focus on the Republican Party’s conservatives, they are losing House moderates.”

Back on the campaign trail, as I have previously noted, Trump made certain, specific promises regarding universal healthcare:

“We’re going to have insurance for everybody. here was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”

“I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.”

“I am going to take care of everybody … Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

It appears that with the bill currently under consideration in the House of Representatives, each of the above promises is an alternative truth.  ‘Everybody’ will not have insurance, many of us will not be able to afford any health insurance, Medicaid will be cut out within the next two years, and Trump is taking care of nobody other than himself and his wealthy backers.

As of March 1, there are 237 Republicans in the House, and 193 Democrats.  What this means is that for a simple majority, it only requires that 23 Republican representatives remember to whom they answer and say ‘NAY’ when the vote comes up.

What happened to his promises?

Note to Trump supporters:  this bill will affect you just as much as anyone.  This is what you wanted?  Whether or not it is, your representatives apparently believe it is, and they are acting ‘on your behalf’, to shove this piece of crap legislation through the House with a speed that they have not seen during the entire past eight years!  I sincerely hope that you will be happy with the choices you made back in November, as this, my friends, is the result.  Enjoy the rest of your short lives.

Do We Even HAVE A Secretary Of State???

Self-absorbed says it best.  The U.S., if not fully isolating itself from the international community, is so self-absorbed that it is pulling back from global commitments.  Already in his eight weeks in office, Trump has done much to anger and concern allies and adversaries alike. As Keith Wilson mentioned yesterday in his post, our allies are already concerned and mistrustful of the current administration, quite understandably.

On February 1st, Rex Tillerson was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Secretary of State, but is he qualified, and does he have the power of the office, or is he merely a shadow figure? Trump failed to consult with Tillerson on his policy change on Palestinian statehood or putting Iran “on notice” for its most recent ballistic missile test, and he nixed Tillerson’s choice for his deputy, Elliot Abrams, because last year, Abrams questioned Trump’s fitness for the job of president. Abrams, by the way, is highly qualified, having served under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and is currently a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. In reality, Abrams is more qualified to be Secretary of State than Tillerson, who has no prior government experience.

Tillerson was absent from the president’s key meetings with the leaders of Israel and Canada and largely invisible in Trump’s encounters with the prime ministers of Japan and the United Kingdom, as well as the White House’s diplomacy with Mexico so far.

Trump’s budget plan, submitted to Congress last week, calls for a 29% cut to the State Department budget, a cut that even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, an enthusiastic Trumpeter, called ‘inappropriate’.  “America being a force is a lot more than building up the Defense Department. Diplomacy is important, extremely important, and I don’t think these reductions at the State Department are appropriate.”

Many analysts believe that Tillerson has been largely kept out of the loop when it comes to key foreign policy decisions.  Neither he nor his staff were consulted on Trump’s initial executive order imposing a travel ban. When Trump decided over a dinner to approve a special forces counter-terrorist raid in Yemen, there was no one from the state department present who would normally have highlighted the dangers of civilian casualties from such operations for wider US interests in the region. The raid on 29 January went badly wrong and 25 civilians were killed, including nine children under the age of 13. The purpose of having advisors is to listen to their advice, but this thought apparently evades Trump.

Analysts further suggest that the budget cuts, lack of staffing, and keeping Tillerson in the dark on key issues may be the work of none other than Steve Bannon, self-professed disruptor of the Washington establishment and its normal ways of functioning. Early on, Bannon gave himself, through an executive order signed by Trump but drafted by Bannon, a full seat on the Principals Committee of the National Security Council (NSC). It is speculated that Bannon is second only to Jared Kushner in terms of influence on Trump.  Neither Bannon, nor Trump, nor Kushner are educated in matters of foreign affairs and none are qualified to be making decisions.  But then, neither is Secretary Tillerson, whose background is in business, and whose Russian ties are circumspect, at best. And in fact, Tillerson claims he never wanted the job to begin with:

“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job. My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.”

Which brings us to this week, and the endpoint of this post.  Tillerson has announced his plans to skip an April meeting of NATO foreign ministers in lieu of attending a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Washington.  This is seen by some of our closest allies as a snub.  Some reactions from the foreign policy community:

“Unprecedented.” – Ivo Daalder, former US ambassador to NATO and current president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

“US allies are alarmed and worried.” – Jenny Mathers, a Russia expert at Aberystwyth University.

“I would say as a NATO veteran, a NATO junkie, that the presence of a U.S. secretary of State, particularly his first opportunity to join his counterparts, at a ministerial is something that shouldn’t be passed up, especially when we face so many challenges.” – Alexander Vershbow, the former No. 2 official at NATO

“I think it’s a most unfortunate signal. I would blame it on schedulers. I do think that is part of the problem. He will have met with a lot of ministers in other venues, but given the discussion that’s going on about NATO, I think it’s an unfortunate scheduling problem.” -Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The NATO meeting of foreign ministers is April 5-6, and Xi Jinping will be in Washington April 6-7, so conceivably Tillerson could have worked his schedule to accommodate both.  To add insult to injury, at the same time he announced he would skip the NATO meeting, he also announced that he would travel to Russia the week after.

President Trump has come under scrutiny for his overtures on improving relations with Russia. Trump has also repeatedly blasted NATO as “obsolete” and questioned whether he would come to the defense of allies if they didn’t pay more for their defense. And now the Secretary of State is casually blowing off an opportunity to meet with NATO ministers, but planning a trip to Russia.  One must ask the question:  do we actually have a Secretary of State, or is Rex Tillerson merely another of Steve Bannon’s puppets?

The Bully Pulpit …

bully-pulpitIn 2013, Doris Kearns Goodwin published The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.  It is an excellent book and I strongly recommend it, however the book is not the focus of this post.  Rather, I borrow the term “Bully pulpit” to apply to the current occupant of the Oval Office, Donald Trump.

The headlines that captured my attention:

Trump tells GOP critics of health-care bill: ‘I’m gonna come after you’

Trump Threatens Republicans Who Oppose His Health Care Bill With ‘Political Problems’

Trump warns GOP: Vote for Obamacare repeal or lose your seat

trump-ugly-face

This is not even what could be called ‘subtle manipulation’.  This is nothing short of bullying.  The fact that he is using such tactics against Congress is offensive to We The People, as the fates of every Senator, every Representative, rest in our hands, not those small hands of the blustering, bullying president.  It is we who will decide whether to send our Congressmen & women back to the Capitol next year, or to tell them to go home.  Frankly, from where I stand, if my senators and representatives bow to the pressure from this bully in the Oval Office, I will certainly tell them to go home and I will vote for men and women who have the courage of their convictions, who are not afraid to stand up to this menial bully.

If there was ever a doubt in anyone’s mind, this latest must surely be the final proof that Trump cares not one whit about We The People, since he is threatening and bullying for passage of a bill that will hurt the vast majority of citizens in the nation.  As my friend Ida, a retired special education teacher, posted this morning on Facebook:

“Tomorrow is the day that Congress is voting for cancellation of Medicaid health insurance, against preexisting conditions, no prenatal care for women and children. And large premium increases for folks older than 50 years of age. If you want to do something, make a call to your Congressman and say they work for you not Trump and vote No. Do it today. The vote is tomorrow.”

Yet another friend, Pam, posted this:

“Been calling my Representative for three days now. Message says not accepting calls & mailboxes at both offices are full.

Wanted to ask him to vote no tomorrow on trumpcare.

Now I just want to let him know I’ll be voting next year.”

We The People do not want Trumpetcare, and that even includes a large portion of Republicans!  This may actually end up being the issue that brings the left and right just a bit closer together. It is our right … nay, our responsibility … as citizens of a democracy, to let our elected representatives know our preferences and wishes.  In the case of Trump’s healthcare bill, frankly I see nothing to benefit anybody beyond the wealthy and the insurance companies.  It is a slap in the face to every single person I know in this country.  And yet, our employees, our elected officials, will not even take our phone calls, respond to our emails, or answer our letters?  They have forgotten what the word ‘representative’ means.  And perhaps they have forgotten that we have no commitment to vote for them next time around.

Here is a short snippet from yesterday’s White House Press Briefing:

Q: On healthcare, the President came away from Capitol Hill sounding pretty positive about where he was going to go on Thursday, but then at the same time, Heritage Action came out and said it was going to encourage members to vote “no.”  Club for Growth is taking out ads attacking this bill.  Jim Jordan said the President’s great, but it’s still a bad bill.  This is going to go to a vote day after tomorrow.  What gives the President the sense of optimism that he can get this through, and might he request more changes from Speaker Ryan before it goes to a vote?

Spicer:  There’s been a lot of input from members of Congress, and I think that the meeting this morning really was a huge sign of support. There was a lot of enthusiasm and optimism, not just for the bill itself but for something that, as I noted, conservatives and Republicans and a lot of Democrats, frankly, have been fighting for a while, which is a more patient-centric healthcare system. I think the President is continuing to engage with members. He will continue to do that all the way through Thursday.

So, let me get this straight. In the 2017 version of newspeak, threatening, bullying and browbeating are now known as “engaging”?  And a “patient-centric healthcare system” is one in which only the wealthy are allowed to have healthcare?  Okay … I, or somebody, needs to compile a ‘Newspeak Dictionary’, as Merriam-Webster just doesn’t seem to work anymore.

In response to Trump’s use of his ‘bully pulpit’, Paul Ryan said, “The president was really clear: He laid it on the line for everybody. We made a promise. Now is our time to keep that promise. … If we don’t keep our promise, it will be very hard to manage this.”  No, Paul, the promise was, and I quote:

“We’re going to have insurance for everybody. here was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”

“I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.”

“I am going to take care of everybody … Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

Those are the promises that Donald Trump made on the campaign trail, and not a single one of those promises will be fulfilled with the bill now on the House floor! Do Paul Ryan, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the others think we are too stupid to notice the bait-and-switch that took place between the 2016 campaign and the 2017 administration?

Trump is bullying Congress with a threat that they will lose their seats if they do not pass this bill.  I say they will, and should, lose their seats if they DO pass it!  This is not a universal healthcare bill … it is a scam to profit Trump’s wealthy friends and insurance companies, while ensuring that the average person’s life expectancy will drop dramatically.  Let us hope that enough people have raised their voices loud and clear, and further let us hope that there are at least enough in Congress who will follow their consciences and heed our call to reject this bill!

Zero Credibility

The title of this post by my fellow-blogger and friend, Keith, says it all. Zero Credibility. Credibility, like trust and respect, must be earned. Our current president has earned none of these, and the cost is likely to be our standing among our allies. Please take a moment to read and think about Keith’s post … it sums our current standing in the international community quite accurately. Thank you Keith, for your very good, concise summary and for permission to re-blog!

musingsofanoldfart

If you were a foreign leader, let me ask you a simple question. Would you trust the current President of the United States? Unfortunately, the answer is an obvious no. The sad part is the leaders have less trust in America.

With the continuation of his lying and insufficient knowledge of the issues, he has offended several leaders in so little time. His mistakes are unforced, so he has brought them on himself.

His worst mistake which weighs him down as investigations continue are his continuing insistence that his predecessor had his offices wire tapped. He greatly complicated this false accusation by indicting the British in the wire tapping. He damaged a relationship with our best ally, so that he would not be caught in a lie. So, his solution was to lie again.

Adding to these lies are the Russian conspiracy investigation, the incompetently handled travel bans and various…

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A Lie By Any Other Name … Is Still A Lie

The following are excerpts from this morning’s House committee hearing on Russian involvement in the 2016 election (full transcript is available here):

“We have also reviewed whether there is any evidence to support President Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by President Obama in Trump Tower and found no evidence whatsoever to support that slanderous accusation. And we hope that Director Comey can now put that matter permanently to rest.” – U.S. Representative Adam Schiff

 

“With respect to the president’s tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside the FBI. The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components. The department has no information that supports those tweets. I’m not to try and characterize the tweets themselves. All I can tell you is we have no information that supports them. I’m not going to characterize or respond to the tweets themselves”. – FBI Director James Comey

Okay, let us put this one to bed now, shall we? It is time to stop playing Trump’s distracting games and focus on the bigger picture of who in the current administration may have played a role in Russia’s interference in the election.  As I previously stated, Trump’s allegations were designed to deflect and detract attention from the ongoing investigations into the role of the Russian government in the U.S. presidential election. There was never any basis in fact for his accusations. That the leader of a democratic nation would resort to such nefarious tactics says much, I think, about the values, character and ethics of that person.

The Connections Between Deutsche Bank, Russia And Our President, Part V

I have mentioned on more than one occasion that, with all the murky ties of Trump surrogates to the Russian government, it is like a huge, sticky spider web, and that at the end of the day I suspect the threads to lead directly to Trump himself. Friend and fellow-blogger Gronda Morin has been diligently researching and I would like to share one of her posts with my readers. I think that there is far, far too much smoke for there not to be a fire … it is only a matter of time, and of those who are charged with investigating such things to get off their collective posteriors and trace the connections. Please take a moment to read this excellent post, and drop Gronda a comment thanking her for all her in-depth research. Thank you, Gronda, for implied permission to share, and for the hours I know you spent on this series of posts!

Gronda Morin

Image result for PHOTOS OF TRUMP WITH SOHO TRUMP

The year 2008 was a pivotal one for our republican President Donald Trump. This was the year that the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev purchased the president’s property in Palm Beach for the inflated price of $95 million to $100 million dollars when it was appraised for about $60 million dollars.

During the same time frame, the president was suing his largest creditor Deutsche Bank over a $40 million loan that came due. He claimed that the 2008 downward spiral in property values, due to the US recession was as an “Act of God” which absolved him from this obligation. Somehow this whole incident was taken care of and Deutsche Bank continued to loan the president monies.

It is important to note that the president has a history of shady dealings. The information detailed below demonstrates that this is the way he operated to where his having less than above board dealings with Russian officials should not surprise anyone.

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On Hypocrisy

Hypocrite:  a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion;  a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.

“Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf.” – Donald Trump, 13 October 2014

“The habitual vacationer, @BarackObama, is now in Hawaii. This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 million.” – Donald Trump, 27 December 2011

“Why did @BarackObama and his family travel separately to Martha’s Vineyard? They love to extravagantly spend on the taxpayers’ dime.” – Donald Trump, 26 August 2011

And recent headlines:

Trump to spend 7th consecutive weekend at Trump-branded property, at enormous cost to taxpayers. Austerity for us, regular Florida vacations for the president.Think Progress, 18 March 2017

Trump weekend trip to Florida could cost taxpayers $3M: report.The Hill, 03 March 2017

Eric Trump’s business trip to Uruguay cost taxpayers $97,830 in hotel bills.The Washington Post, 04 February 2017

trump-golfingThe typical work week in the U.S. is five days.  The other two days are theoretically for ‘rest and relaxation’, though the majority of us will tell you that they are used for such things as running errands, catching up on chores at home, paying bills, etc.  At any rate, being the leader of a nation is stressful work, and I would agree that they deserve some time off, family time, relaxing time, whatever.  BUT … a trip to Florida on somebody else’s dime, every single weekend?  And after criticizing his predecessor for taking an average of 2.2 vacation days per month, Trump has, in just two months, averaged 7 days per month.  A trip every weekend to his estate in Florida … at taxpayer expense.  This from the man who said “I would not be a president who took vacations. I would not be a president that takes time off.” Yet every weekend except the first weekend after the inauguration, he has flown our airplane, Air Force One, to his resort in Florida, and played golf, attended social functions, eaten meals that each cost more than most of us spend on groceries for a month, and at a high cost to We The People.  Every weekend.

In the past, it has not been considered necessary to set a limit on the number of vacation days a president has, for we have been able to trust past presidents to use good judgment.  However, the time may have come to either put a limit on the number of days, or a cap on the amount of personal expenses that We The People are willing to pay.  Before taking office, Trump said he would not take his salary.  Not a particularly magnanimous gesture, as he later claimed that at the end of the year he would donate it to charity.  First, this means that he is taking his monthly pay packets, presumably investing them and garnering investment income throughout the year.  Secondly, we have already seen how unreliable his promises of ‘donating to charity’ are … yet another hypocrisy.  So his claim to refuse his salary is a mockery in light of all the extra costs with which he is burdening the taxpayers to ensure his own pleasure.

Trumu-Uruguay

Trump Tower Punta del Este in Uruguay

Of equal, or perhaps even greater concern is the third headline.  Trump refused, before taking office, to divest himself of his business interests, which, though not required, would have gone a long way to deflect conflict of interest concerns.  Now, however, taxpayer dollars are being used in Trump’s businesses, as whenever either of his sons make a business trip, the Secret Service must go along, thus creating travel, hotel and meal expenses.  These should, in my book, be expenses to Trump’s business, not to the U.S. taxpayers!  Understandably, the immediate family of the president receives the protection of the U.S. Secret Service … I do not dispute that.  However, I think there is a slippery slope here regarding at whose expense this protection should occur.  If it is a business trip, it is benefiting Donald’s and his son’s business, but is of no benefit whatsoever to the taxpayers or to the nation as a whole, so why should the protection of the Secret Service not be charged back to the Trump business?  There is simply too much wiggle room here … to much potential for abuse. To me, this reeks of conflict of interest.

I find all of this especially disturbing in light of the 2018 budget that Trump submitted to Congress on Thursday, cutting funding for almost every single program designed to help people, and increasing the military budget unnecessarily.  No more environmental research and far fewer regulations against polluting waterways and air.  Cuts to education.  Extreme cuts to healthcare, housing, public assistance.  But yet his conscience will allow him to spend millions every week to go to Florida to play golf. One must wonder if the ‘man’ actually has a conscience … I have concluded that quite possibly he was born with a silver spoon in lieu of a conscience.

melaniaAnd lastly, there is the additional cost for Melania and son to continue to reside in Trump Towers in New York while young Barron finishes the school year.  The estimate of costs for Secret Service protections are somewhat unclear, but most estimates put it at around $300,000 … per day. How many of my readers even make $300,000 a year???  I hesitate to complain too much about this one, because I have the greatest empathy for the children of public figures who often are forced at a young age to endure public scrutiny, and I understand Melania’s desire to protect her son.  But … on the other hand I do not think that supporting Melania and Barron’s life of luxury is more important than feeding the poor and elderly throughout the nation, or providing healthcare.  So, it still seems to me a clear abuse of power and an expense that this nation can ill afford.

It would seem that after the well-advertised budget cuts presented earlier this week, many who voted for Trump would be experiencing the first pang of regret.  Some are … H tells me that he overheard a conversation the other day whereby a man said he voted for Trump but is now regretting it.  However I am not seeing any large-scale sign of this, and I find it surprising, since many of the programs that Trump calls for cutting out entirely or trimming to bare bones, are the very ones that many of his supporters rely heavily on.  I am uncertain if they simply do not understand what this will mean for them, or if they are still under the influence of whatever substance they took to make voting for Trump palatable.