April, 2017

Turkey Purges 4,000 Officials and Blocks Wikipedia

“The Turkish government expanded its crackdown on dissent and free expression over the weekend, purging nearly 4,000 more public officials, blocking access to Wikipedia and banning television matchmaking shows,” the New York Times reports.

“The crackdown has also affected leftists, liberals and members of the secular opposition across most sections of public life, many of whom have long voiced their opposition to the Gulen movement. Those in jail or out of a job include academics, public transport employees, teachers and at least 120 journalists — more than in any other country in the world.”

Trump Is Changing the Presidency

New York Times: “As Washington pauses to evaluate the opening phase of the Trump presidency, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that, for better or worse, the capital has headed deep into uncharted territory. On almost every one of these first 100 days, Mr. Trump has done or said something that caused presidential historians and seasoned professionals inside the Beltway to use the phrase ‘never before.'”

“He has assumed even more power for the presidency, expanding President Barack Obama’s use of executive orders to offset the inability to pass major legislation and making it more independent of the Washington establishment. He has been more aggressive than any other president in using his authority to undo his predecessor’s legacy, particularly on trade, business regulation and the environment. And he has dominated the national conversation perhaps more thoroughly than any president in a generation.”

Trump’s Next 150 Days Won’t Be Much Better

Stan Collender: “The three major failures of Donald Trump’s first one hundred days in office set him up for even more spectacular failures in the next significant period of his presidency: the approximately 150 days between now and the start of fiscal 2018 on October 1.”

“This five-month time frame is when Trump will be expected to make good on the biggest promises he made during his campaign. These include large domestic spending cuts and military budget increases, a $1 trillion infrastructure program, tax changes (“reform” is no longer appropriate given the outline the White House released last week), Affordable Care Act repeal and replace and, of course, the wall.”

“This will be more of a mandatory requirement than just an opportunity for Trump. He promised his supporters rapid action on most of these plans and the next 150 days may well be his last chance to get something done this year.”

Ros-Lehtinen Will Retire from Congress

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), “the dean of the Florida legislative delegation and the first Cuban American elected to Congress, is retiring at the end of her term next year,” the Miami Herald reports.

“Her unexpected retirement marks the end of a storied career in which Ros-Lehtinen repeatedly broke political ground as a Cuban-American woman — and gives Democrats an opportunity to pick up a South Florida congressional seat in 2018.”

Trump Calls North Korea’s Dictator a ‘Smart Cookie’

When asked for his opinion of North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, President Trump told Face the Nation that, “I really, you know, have no comment on him.”

Then he gave an extensive comment.

Said Trump: “People are saying, ‘Is he sane?’ I have no idea. I can tell you this, and a lot of people don’t like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others. And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.”

Democrats Give Up Any Hope of Working with Trump

Politico: “The crisis of confidence they felt after Trump’s shocking win has faded and his record-low poll numbers have killed any incentive in their minds to suck it up and compromise with him.”

“As far as Democrats are concerned, the idea of a moderate, post-partisan staff rising to guide Trump into building bridges with them—even for the sake of building actual bridges as part of infrastructure investments Trump talks about and they agree are needed—has now entered the realm of complete fantasy.”

Biden Keeps 2020 Options Open

“Joe Biden has been saying yes to nearly all the political invitations coming his way, with new ones arriving almost daily. Privately, the former vice president and his staff have started talking about how to begin planning a strategy with a roughly 18-month timeline so that if he decides on another presidential run, he’ll be best positioned to get it off the ground,” Politico reports.

“Biden will be 77 by the time of the next Iowa caucuses, but Biden 2020 just might happen.”

Trump Invites Duterte to the White House

President Trump “invited the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, to the White House, embracing an authoritarian leader who is accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug suspects and who crudely disparaged Mr. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs has resulted in the deaths of several thousand people suspected of using or selling narcotics, as well as others who may have had no involvement with drugs. Human rights groups and many Western governments have condemned Mr. Duterte for the bloody campaign.”

The Next 100 Days Are Tougher

Dan Balz: “Trump got no honeymoon after the contentious 2016 election. He started his presidency less popular than any president in the history of polling. At the 100-day mark, his approval rating is lower than any past president since polling began. He has governed in a way that has cost him little-to-nothing among the voters who put him in office, but in ways that have not allowed him to expand his support or his appeal. Republican elected officials should hope that something changes.”

“What’s particularly worrisome for Republicans is another pattern about presidential approval: Most presidents who have governed in the modern era have seen their approval ratings slide between the 100-day mark and the subsequent midterm election 18 months later.”

Trump Chooses Wild Rally Over Press Dinner

Washington Post: “On the 100th day, the president had fun. He zipped up to the nearest Rust Belt state full of the forgotten men and women who put him into office. He bashed the bad guys of the media and Hollywood and the swamp he’d just left behind. He promised jobs and greatness. It was like last year again, all lusty cheers and smiling faces, a refreshing tonic after three months of stubborn lawmakers, naysaying judges, carping protesters, frenetic days and lonely nights.”

“Donald Trump could have stayed home and had dinner with 2,700 card-carrying members of the Washington elite, many of whom make their living inspecting his every move for missteps, most of whom probably didn’t vote for him anyway. But he said no to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, where the swells in tuxedos and gowns feasted on jokes at his expense.”

Politico: Trump savages media as Washington roasts him from afar.

North Korea Defies Trump

“Hours after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for tough new action towards North Korea on Friday, the nuclear-armed dictatorship thumbed its nose at the Trump administration with the latest in a series of missile tests that Trump officials say could provoke a military conflict,” Politico reports.

“The test’s timing implied an act of calculated defiance by North Korea’s 33-year-old leader Kim Jong Un. It came a day before President Donald Trump’s 100-day mark and less than 24 hours after Trump warned of the potential for a ‘major, major conflict’ over Kim’s expanding nuclear capability.”

“The message seemed to be that two weeks of saber-rattling — which included military deployments and a visit by Vice President Mike Pence to the North Korean border ‘so they can see our resolve in my face’ — had failed to intimidate Kim.”

Trump Declares May 1 As ‘Loyalty Day’

President Trump proclaimed May 1 as “Loyalty Day” as a way to “recognize and reaffirm our allegiance to the principles” upon which America was built and express pride in those ideals, Fox News reports.

Said the proclamation: “The United States stands as the world’s leader in upholding the ideals of freedom, equality, and justice. Together, and with these fundamental concepts enshrined in our Constitution, our Nation perseveres in the face of those who would seek to harm it.”