Saturday, March 17, 2018

..... Out Like a Lamb

Here's the door:

"Trump’s Cabinet remains intact, for now" by Michael D. Shear New York Times   March 16, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Trump took no immediate action Friday to remove top members of his administration, despite continuing reports of a coming reshuffling that has left White House aides uncertain and unsettled.

Two embattled Cabinet secretaries — Ben Carson at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and David Shulkin at the Department of Veterans Affairs — remained in their posts despite speculation that they would be replaced because of the president’s unhappiness with their use of public funds.

There have also been strong indications that Trump intends to fire Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, his second national security adviser, after the dismissal earlier in the week of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But during Friday morning’s national security briefing, Trump told McMaster, “You’re not going anywhere,” an official said.

John F. Kelly, White House chief of staff, met at the White House with Carson on Friday morning, but no announcement was made about his future or that of Shulkin.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Kelly had assured a group of staffers that their jobs were safe, at least for now.

They call that a vote of confidence.

A day before, the president reflected on the latest staff departures during an Oval Office conversation with Kelly and Vice President Mike Pence. With a laugh, Trump said: ‘‘Who’s next?’’

But on Friday the absence of any formal announcements — or firings by presidential tweet — suggested that the White House was seeking to tamp down the anxiety inside the West Wing and the impression that the Trump administration is gripped by dysfunction.

But the lack of any resolution to the reports of coming firings is leaving many of the president’s top advisers in a kind of political limbo that threatens to undermine their effectiveness until their fates are revealed. 

First of all, you never begin a sentence with a but, never mind a paragraph, in a report. That is Writing 101 stuff.

Beyond that, the impression I'm getting is it is the pre$$ that is creating the "Apprentice"-type atmosphere here. They are the ones wanting to know and asking who is getting fired today.

McMaster, whose job requires him to negotiate internal disputes among factions within the administration, as well as deal directly with foreign officials, is operating with the public expectation that every day may be his last.

That's because he got Kushner's security clearance downgraded. 

Btw, why no mention of him in this article?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions remains at odds with the president, leaving it an open question how much longer he will remain in charge.

Kelly, too, is trying to run a White House under the cloud of reports that the president is looking for a replacement, and both Carson and Shulkin are presiding over complex departments, and those efforts are likely to be more difficult if career officials and outside interest groups believe they could soon be ousted.

Both of them should be gone and what is with the apologetic pre$$ excuses for their corruption?

The Veterans Affairs inspector general issued a scathing report this year describing “serious derelictions” related to a trip that Shulkin took last year to Britain and Denmark that cost more than $122,000.

The report prompted bitter infighting within the department among Shulkin and his top lieutenants, generating politically damaging headlines for the administration.

Carson, the highest-ranking African-American man in an overwhelmingly white administration, had been dogged by the continuing story of HUD’s purchase of a $31,000 dining set for his office.

So what, his race should protect him from charges of corruption?

Carson initially claimed that neither he nor his wife, Candy, were involved in the selection of the dining room table, chairs, and hutch when he was confronted with reports that the purchase far exceeded the $5,000 federal limit on office renovations.

But this week, the department released e-mails showing that Ben Carson and his wife were, in fact, involved, and even reviewed a dozen swatches of material used on the seats of the 10 chairs, each costing taxpayers $600 to $700.

And his lies?

Kelly has told confidants that he believes he can weather the current storm and that he does not plan to quit. But he has grown increasingly frustrated with the constant turmoil in the West Wing.

That's where the print copy cut it.

Kelly believes at times that Trump intentionally fuels the chaos to keep his staff on its toes and his name in media headlines, the Associated Press reported, citing a person familiar with the chief of staff’s thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity. 

He's going to be there anyway! He's president of the United States! This is nothing but more NYT garbage!

As Trump seeks out people more in line with his policies and disposition, Trump’s administration has set records for turnover among senior administration aides. Top economic adviser Gary Cohn and communications director Hope Hicks are leaving the White House in coming weeks.

Tillerson was just unceremoniously ousted. And junior-level aides were particularly troubled by the abrupt exit this week of Trump personal assistant John McEntee, who was removed from his job and escorted off White House grounds — then quickly handed a job on Trump’s reelection campaign.

Though the ongoing investigation of Russian election meddling continues to edge closer to Trump and his staff, the president believes that his recent decisions on tariffs and North Korea have breathed new life into his administration, and he is eager to take more bold steps that make his own mark.

He has told confidants he wants to rid himself of staffers who hold him back.

Trump chafes at McMaster’s manner, complaining that his aide lectures him, three current and former administration officials told the Associated Press. Officials said McMaster has been sidelined in some internal discussions, with Kelly taking on a more active role in foreign policy decisions, because of the personal tensions.

The president and McMaster have disagreed on several issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and the US approach to North Korea. The national security adviser has also clashed with Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to the officials.



"President Trump, in a phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, reiterated that a ‘‘brighter future is available for North Korea, if it chooses the right path.’’

Now Japanese officials are unnerved by Trump’s unpredictability!

One thing you don't want to do is incur the president’s wrath:

FBI’s McCabe is fired a little more than 24 hours before he could retire

Hours after McCabe’s firing, Trump attacks him on Twitter

McCabe calls his firing part of the Trump administration’s ‘war on the FBI’

They are going to send him over to the CIA:

Don’t put a torturer in charge of the CIA

She'll ruin the film:

"The lawyer for Stormy Daniels said Friday the former porn star was physically threatened to keep quiet about her claims of an extramarital affair with Donald Trump before he assumed the presidency. Attorney Michael Avenatti declined to specify who threatened Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, during a round of media interviews, but he said she will provide proof in a CBS interview for “60 Minutes” scheduled to air later this month....."

The skanky farce of an affair was never actually consummated and the Trump people paid her off in what would be the equivalent of $10 for her to just shut up.

"In N.H., Senator Jeff Flake rips Trump for ‘propaganda-fueled’ conservatism" by James Pindell Globe Staff  March 16, 2018

Setting up what could be a primary challenge to the sitting president, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake delivered a blistering message in New Hampshire on Friday, accusing President Trump of hijacking the Republican Party with a “propaganda-fueled, dystopian view of conservatism,” while positioning himself as a staunch supporter of free-market, small-government values.

“I think that the Republicans want to be reminded what it means to be a traditional, decent Republican. And what the party stands for: limited government, economic freedom, free trade, embracing immigration. These are things that have made the party what it is over the years.”

Flake was well received by about 150 attendees who comprised the business-minded crowd. The group gave Flake a standing ovation as he finished his speech.

Neil Levesque, director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, which hosted the event, said he had never seen a standing ovation for a potential candidate at Politics and Eggs. “He spoke truth to power,” Levesque said.

Big deal; power already knows truth and spends an inordinate amount of time concealing or distorting it.

Still, Flake is pondering a run for president after announcing last year he would not seek reelection to the Senate in 2018. He suggested in a recent interview that conventional conservative beliefs seem to be out of vogue.

“As a Republican who believes in free trade, limited government, economic freedom, I couldn’t be reelected in my party right now,” Flake said last Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s tough to be reelected in a Republican primary.”

This is especially so, as Flake notes, because he has been a chief critic of the president. Last year, Flake released a book that was largely viewed as a screed against Trump.

At the breakfast, Flake introduced himself as a real conservative who grew up on an Arizona ranch riding horses. He says he’s modeled himself after his political idols, Barry Goldwater, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan.

“I stand before you today the rarest of species, the American conservative,” Flake said, before describing himself as an endangered species he dubbed, “Americanus NeverTrumpus.”


Were he to take on the president in a primary, Flake would face a steep climb. The president remains popular among Republicans in New Hampshire, where Trump easily won the state’s 2016 presidential primary.

And they are moderates when compared to those outside New England and the Northeast -- or so I've been told.

However, there is room for a primary challenge should a traditional Republican, like Flake, want to try. A poll conducted last month by New Hampshire’s Saint Anselm College showed Trump with just a 36 percent approval rating overall. One in four Republicans polled don’t approve of Trump as president.


A University of New Hampshire poll last November showed only 47 percent of Granite State Republicans were willing to say they would vote for Trump in the next presidential primary.

So much for being popular. 


Who would go to hear him speak?

"President Trump to talk about opioid epidemic at community college in N.H." by Dylan McGuinness Globe Correspondent  March 16, 2018

The visit will disrupt about 40 classes at the college, which will be held online instead of in the building where the president’s speech will take place. Manchester Community College President Susan Huard said the adjustments were made because of security concerns and a lack of available parking.

The Concord Monitor also reported that the president would stop at a fire station in the city earlier Monday. Trump gave the department a “shout-out” in the fall for its Safe Station program, which allows addicts to seek help at any time, the newspaper said.

Last year, Trump called New Hampshire a “drug-infested den” during a phone call with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, according to a transcript of the call released by The Washington Post.....


Speaking of disrupting classes:

"Many students face terror of lockdowns in which threats are not carried out" by Kelly Virella New York Times  March 16, 2018

NEW YORK — School gun violence and the terror it creates have riveted America again since the Florida school massacre, but acts of violence aren’t the only source of school terror.

For each heinous attack successfully carried out, there have been hundreds more threats in schools across the country. And while no one dies just because of a threat, fake or foiled attacks can be terrifying, too.

Or a drill.

After the Parkland, Fla., attack, The New York Times reached out to students across the country, asking them about threats their schools have received. The Times heard from more than 100 teenagers, some describing hiding in dark closets and classrooms, sometimes for hours, as they braced for an attack.

In the five months from August to December 2017, there were at least 671 bomb or gun threats — or both — directed at US schools, according to the Educators School Safety Network, a nonprofit that provides school safety training. 

And cui bono $$$????

In the past month, since the Parkland shooting, there have been more than 465 bomb or gun threats or both.

Winifred Chung, a freshman at the University of California Berkeley, was a senior at Westview High School in San Diego when her school was threatened last March. No gun was found.

“I was sitting in physics last year when suddenly, we heard, ‘This is a lockdown, this is not a drill.’ We calmly crawled under the desks, not thinking too much of it,’’ Chung recalled. “And then rumors started flying on social media.”


“Our substitute teacher could not figure out how to lock the doors. Kids started making jokes out of the situation, and we were instructed to put our phones away,’’ she said. “All I could think was, ‘I can’t believe my biggest fear could possibly come true in this moment.’ I texted my parents that I loved them.”

Rachael Lombardo, a senior at Upper Darby High School in Drexel Hill, Pa., was a freshman in October 2014, when her school received a shooting threat.

“Instead of focusing on my biology work, I was thinking about how I would hide and where I could exit the building discreetly,’’ she said. “Certainly, this is not what a 14-year-old high school freshman should be forced to think about.”

Students across the country staged walkouts Wednesday to demand action to make schools safer in the wake of the Parkland killings.

On Friday, officials said about 1,100 students at two suburban Chicago high schools will serve hour-long detentions for participating in this week’s walkout to protest gun violence. Students at Downers Grove North and South High Schools can serve their detentions before or after school on weekdays or on Saturdays.

Community High School District 99 spokeswoman Jill Browning said the detentions were given after school officials met with students before Wednesday’s walkout and offered alternatives ‘‘that would not disturb the educational environment.’’

In a separate development, nearly three out of four teachers oppose letting staff members carry guns in schools, according to a poll that shows little support for a proposal that has become central to President Trump’s response to the Florida shooting. Seventy-three percent of teachers oppose the idea of arming staff members, while 20 percent support it, according to the nationwide survey of almost 500 teachers of kindergarten through 12th grade conducted by Gallup and released Friday.

Not separate; otherwise, it wouldn't appear in the article. Subtle deceit and deception, but you know. That's muh pre$$.


What's waiting for you in Florida after you graduate:

"Engineer of Florida bridge reported cracks days before collapse" Globe wire reports  March 16, 2018

MIAMI — An engineer reported cracks on a newly installed pedestrian bridge two days before it collapsed on a busy roadway here, killing at least six people, state officials said Friday.

The report, by the lead engineer with the company in charge of the bridge’s design, was made in a voicemail message for a Florida Department of Transportation employee. That employee was out of the office, however, and did not receive it until Friday, a day after the collapse.

The cracking was on the north end of the span, according to the message, but the company did not consider it a safety concern, according to a transcript released by the transportation department.

“We’ve taken a look at it and, uh, obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done, but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there so we’re not concerned about it from that perspective,” said the engineer, W. Denney Pate. “Although obviously the cracking is not good and something’s going to have to be, you know, done to repair that.”

A spokesman for Pate’s company, Figg Bridge Group, did not immediately comment on the transcript.

“The responsibility to identify and address life-safety issues and properly communicate them is the sole responsibility of the FIU design-build team,” the transportation department said, referring to Florida International University, the owner of the bridge project.

Earlier Friday, authorities said that cables supporting the bridge were being tightened after a stress test when the 950-ton concrete span collapsed over traffic, killing at least six people, injuring 10 others, and flattening an untold number of cars.

Officials said they expect to find more bodies in the rubble. People who haven’t heard from their loved ones congregated near the scene Friday.

Jorge and Carol Fraga drove from West Palm Beach, fearing their relative’s car was trapped beneath the bridge at Florida International University. Rolando Fraga, 60, Jorge’s uncle, lives in the area and frequently takes the nearby turnpike to work, but no one has heard from him since midday Thursday.

The $14.2 million project was supposed to be a hallmark of the faster, cheaper and less risky method of bridge-building promoted by the university.

Slated to open in 2019, it would have provided safe passage over a canal and six lanes of traffic, and created a showpiece architectural feature connecting the FIU campus and the community of Sweetwater, where many students live.

As state and federal investigators worked to determine why the five-day-old span failed, Florida politicians pointed to the stress test and loosened cables as possible factors, and a police chief asked everyone not to jump to conclusions.....


Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said crews had conducted a stress test on the span the same day, and Senator Marco Rubio said the engineering firm involved had ordered a tightening of cables that had become loosened.

Experts from the NTSB and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration joined police in taking over command of the scene Friday from first responders, who had spent hours racing to find survivors in the rubble of the 175-foot span using high-tech listening devices, trained search dogs, and cameras.....


If nothing else, it gives a boost to Trump's infrastructure plan.

Also see:

US report finds abortion is safe

Unless your the fetus.

I guess it is better than lifeIt's a small world, after all.