Trump Taunts China On Twitter

We had the ‘selfie’ President in Barack Obama. Will we now have the Twitter President in Donald Trump?

Several days ago, Trump took a phone call with Taiwan’s President, a move that breaks protocol going back nearly 40 years. Trump and his team downplayed the call, but China raised a complaint:

“We have noticed relevant reports and lodged solemn representation with the relevant side in the United States,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, according to CNN.

Everybody had to know Trump was going to see this as a slight and it was only a matter of time before he reacted. He did.

On Twitter.

This is only going to make things worse. Donald Trump is not President yet, and that makes this behavior that much worse and for two reasons:

  1. Since he is not the President, this puts President Obama and his team in a bind. They’re in office for fifty days.
  2. He is going to be President. He hasn’t nominated a Secretary of State but the more Trump antagonizes China, the more his eventual Secretary of State is going to have his or her work cut out for them.

In short, somebody needs to get a hold of his phone.



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Fake US Embassy In Ghana Issued Fake Visas And Other Documents For A Decade

A complete bogus US embassy run by an organized crime outfit issued fake documents out its location for ten years. The building flew an American flag three days as week and inside they had a photo of President Obama and signs inside that made it look real.

How did they manage to get away with this for so long?

The fake embassy remained opened so long because “the criminals running the operation were able to pay off corrupt officials,” according to the State Department.

The report states the elaborate scheme was run by Ghanaian and Turkish organized crime rings and a Ghanaian attorney who practices immigration and criminal law.

They advertised services:

The operation even advertised its services through fliers and billboards and charged customers as much as $6,000 — with options to buy fake supporting documents such as phony birth certificates and bank records.

The obvious question is this: Who received the fake documents and what countries did people go? Officials didn’t answer:

Two State Department officials confirmed to on Sunday that the report was real, amid a proliferation of so-called “fake news.”

However, the officials declined to provide additional information including details about how many bogus passports might have been issued or on how many people from the West African nation could be living illegally in other countries.

I am going to go out on a limb and say the have no clue. If the documents are fake, how can any of them be traced? Hearings need to be held by oversight committees. State Department officials need to answer for how this could go on so long and if there is any risk that terrorists utilized the bogus embassy to make it to other countries.



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What Trump’s Cabinet Choices Tell Us About the Way He Will Govern

The transition team of Donald Trump hasn’t finished their work yet but we’re seeing some broad outlines of what his cabinet will look like. We have successful and influential men (Mnuchin and Ross) at Treasury and Commerce. We have a successful and influential reformer at Education (DeVos). The names being bandied about for Defense (Mattis) and State (various) are also successful and influential in their own right. Most of them have power bases independent of the Trump campaign.

This also gives us a hint of how his administration will function.

Historically, presidents have come into office wanting to push a couple of signature programs. George Bush was touting himself as the “education president” before 9/11 intervened. Obama wanted to restructure a lot of how America operated. This usually leads to the appointment of strong figures in areas where the president has no interest (with Bush it was Rumsfeld and Powell, Heaven only knows who would be considered strong and competent in Obama’s administation) and they pick symbolic but weak and symbolic figures in the cabinet departments where they want to meddle (Bush put Rod Paige in Education and Obama appointed Erick Holder as Attorney General).

Right now we aren’t seeing symbolic appointments or campaign trash getting major positions. What does this tell us?

Back in May, alleged Russian mob fixer and money-launderer and Donald Trump confidant Paul Manafort gave a longish interview to Huffington Post:

The vice presidential pick will also be part of the process of proving he’s ready for the White House, Manafort said.

“He needs an experienced person to do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do. He seems himself more as the chairman of the board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO.”

I think the appointments that we’ve seen so far hint that Trump is going to do exactly what Manafort said. He has every intention of being chairman of the board with Mike Pence acting as CEO/COO. This has a lot of advantages if a) the cabinet secretaries have the requisite skills to handle their positions and b) if they are allowed a great deal of leeway in selecting sub-cabinet appointees. (Too often, and by this I mean virtually always, under- and assistant secretarial positions are filled by the White House based on services performed during the campaign or as a way of satisfying some constituency or interest group. It is not unusual for a cabinet secretary to have no senior subordinates loyal to him but rather they are beholden directly to the president.) If Trump truly does delegate the running of cabinet departments and agencies to their secretary/administrator and he can keep he White House staff from meddling this could be a significant and potentially successful departure from the model that has been in use for decades.

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John Kerry Laments That Trump Team Hasn’t Asked Him for Input

Is Secretary of State John Kerry feeling a little melancholy and left out? President-elect Trump’s transition team hasn’t called him for input.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday it would be valuable for President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team to seek State Department recommendations before contacting foreign leaders but that it had yet to do so.

“We have not been contacted before any of these conversations. We have not been requested to provide talking points,” Kerry said during a question-and-answer session at a think tank conference.

Maybe it’s just me but having watched this election unfold and having witnessed Donald Trump’s bull-in-the-China-shop (pun intended) approach to things, I find it difficult to imagine a situation where he would seek the counsel of John Kerry.

“I do think there’s a value, obviously on having at least the recommendations, whether you choose to follow them or not is a different issue, but I think it’s valuable to ask people who work the desk, and have worked it for a long period of time, their input on what’s the current state, is there some particular issue at the moment,” Kerry added.

“I think that’s valuable, and I would certainly recommend it, but, obviously, that hasn’t happened in a few cases.”

Kerry is obviously referring to the phone call Trump had with the President of Taiwan.

Trump’s call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday triggered a diplomatic protest from China and raised questions about whether the Republican president-elect might be signaling a change to U.S. policy. Vice President-elect Mike Pence denied that on Sunday, describing it as a “courtesy call.”

The telephone conversation was the first by a U.S. president-elect or president with a Taiwanese leader since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition to China from Taiwan in 1979, acknowledging Taiwan as part of “one China.”

Senator Ted Cruz has expressed some support for Trump’s handling of Taiwan, but the support was of the “at least he didn’t do what Obama did” variety. RedState’s Patterico isn’t ready to treat that call as a signal or a geopolitical chess move. It may have just been a rookie mistake.

If we all believed that this was a deliberate move by Trump to signal a different policy towards China and Taiwan, that would be one thing. One might even admire it . . . with some trepidation. After all, Taiwan should have a right to its independence, right? The U.S. should respect that and recognize that, right?

But instead, I can’t shake the feeling that Trump just didn’t bother to read his briefing books and had no idea of the significance of what he was doing

That would probably be John Kerry’s assessment too. That’s the challenging aspect of all the 2016 political upheaval. You sometimes find yourself in agreement with people whose opinions you would normally dismiss reflexively.

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Pizzagate: Internet Hoax Draws Dangerous Attention to D.C. Pizza Parlor

If you’ve been paying attention to some of the psychotic conspiracy theories floating around social media, you’ve likely seen the hashtag, #PizzaGate.

The origins of the hashtag were born of conspiracy theories that began on a Reddit board dedicated to Donald Trump. The rumor alleges that a Washington D.C. pizza parlor, called Comet Ping Pong, loosely connected to an associate of Hillary Clinton was the hub of an organized, underground pedophile ring.

Even though the original Reddit posts were deleted, the hashtag caught fire and no amount of debunking could extricate Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, or Democrats, in general, from the power of an internet hoax.

And as happens with hoaxes, there are people in the world who will take them and run with them.

On Sunday afternoon, D.C. police were called to deal with the consequences of the internet hoax.

According to the Washington Post, police received a call about a man with a weapon after 3 p.m.

The man was quickly apprehended and there were no reports of injuries or shots fired, D.C’s Fox News affiliate reports.

Widely spread fake news stories published during the presidential campaign claimed that Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief were running a child sex ring from the restaurant’s back rooms.

While none of the stories were true, the restaurant’s owner had to contact the FBI, local police and social media platforms to remove the articles.

According to Fox, the D.C. Police Department will continue keeping an eye on those threatening the restaurant and its employees.

Nobody was hurt this time, thanks to authorities, but it could have been so much worse, all based on an internet lie.

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Stein’s Lawyers Argue Recount Could Change Outcome

FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2016 file photo, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein speaks during a news conference at South Austin neighborhood in Chicago. Most voters who plan to support third party candidates like Libertarian Gary Johnson and Stein say their minds aren’t completely made up about which candidate to support in November, lending an element of unpredictability to the presidential race this fall. (AP Photo/Tae-Gyun Kim, File)

The Detroit Free Press reports that during the three-hour federal court hearing in Detroit about Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s request for an immediate start to a presidential vote recount in Michigan, an attorney for Stein argued that the 75,000 ballots with no vote for president is “sufficient to change the result” of the election.

Until now, Stein has said she wasn’t expecting to change results, but wanted to test the integrity of the system against possible mistakes or fraud.

The assertion that the outcome could change in Michigan caused a lawyer representing President-elect Donald Trump and the Michigan Republican Party, to question whether Stein’s lawyer, a former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, was acting for Stein or for Hillary Clinton.

Stein wants the court to order the recount to start immediately, or Monday morning. She argues a waiting period set out in Michigan law that will result in the recount not starting Wednesday morning is unconstitutional, because it endangers the voting rights of Michigan residents.

According to the Free Press, judge was asking skeptical questions Sunday about Stein’s request to start the recount immediately. To get a court order, Stein must show she will suffer “irreparable harm” if the recount doesn’t start immediately. Lawyers for the Michigan Republican Party argued that there can be no irreparable harm, if the recount can still get done with a Wednesday start.

Also, state officials disclosed at the hearing that the state election results, showing Trump as the victor, have already been certified and Gov. Rick Snyder has already certified the Trump electors and sent that information to Washington. Therefore, the federal “safe harbor” requirement that Electors be certified six days prior to the electoral college meeting on Dec. 19, has already been satisfied.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said shortly after 4 p.m. he would soon issue his decision in writing.

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‘Drain The Swamp’ Trump May Skip Submitting A Budget To Avoid Criticism

Every President elected since the passage of the Congressional Budget Act has submitted a budget to Congress between January 2nd and February 6th. Incoming President Donald Trump is hinting he may not submit a budget as is customary. 

Every in-coming president since the Congressional Budget Act went into effect in the mid-1970s has submitted a budget. In many years, those budgets (or amendments to the outgoing president’s final budget) were submitted months after the first-Monday-in-February deadline and were truncated versions of the usual multi-volume presentation. But, a fiscal plan with the new president’s priorities was consistently released for over 4 decades.

The Forbes article goes on to explain with some reasons why Trump would go this way. There are two key reasons, and both have to do with Trump avoiding criticism. We know much he hates criticism.

First, there wouldn’t be any hearings in the House or Senate that are designed to question the administration over their projections, as well as their priorities related to taxation and spending.

Secondly, the new administration wouldn’t be required to publish a table showing the inflated GDP estimates they’re relying on to sell the public on their tax plan.

Paul Ryan indicated before the election if Trump won, Republicans would utilize the reconciliation process with the budget to be able to pass Donald Trump’s sweeping tax cut plan.

The reconciliation process is what Democrats used in 2010 to get Obamacare through and signed into law. I don’t necessarily have an issue with Trump and Congressional Republicans doing something similar to get Trump’s tax plan passed. What I object to is taking the next step in budget trickery so that criticism by Democrats can be avoided.

Donald Trump is the one who rode to primary wins and an election win via the tailwind of being an “outsider” who is going to clean up the corruption in Washington DC. By not submitting a budget, it allows him to avoid the kind of scrutiny he claims he welcomed during his campaign.


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