April, 2017

Kasich Advises ‘Surgical Strike’ In North Korea

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said that President Trump ought to “eradicate” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his top lieutenants in a surgical military strike designed to give rise to a more benign leadership in Pyongyang, the Washington Post reports.

“Kasich stopped short of explicitly recommending that U.S. forces assassinate North Korea’s leaders, but what he described would be a military and intelligence exercise.”

Surge In LLC Contributions Masks True Donors

Donald Trump’s inaugural committee “received about $10.6 million — or about 10 percent of its total raised — from roughly 60 limited liability companies, or LLCs — structures often set up by small businesses that provide favorable tax treatment while also protecting their owners’ assets,” according to Open Secrets.

“But some exist mainly to mask people’s identities.”

The Ad Hoc Presidency

Michael Warren: “The decisions he makes are by and of the moment, with his aides and staffers and supporters racing to fit them into a message and a policy… It’s not unusual for a new administration to have problems with disarray or confusion. The beginning of a term is when the president is the strongest politically, but the weakest operationally. Staffing takes time and vetting, and political appointees have to learn to get along with career bureaucrats. The job of the president—the biggest job in the world—takes some getting used to.”

“But the Trump presidency is unique in how this early disorder is defined and shaped by the tendencies of the principal at the top.”

Dan Balz: “When Trump won his surprise victory in November, one big question was how he would govern. The answer, with some caveats, is that he has governed as he campaigned — unconventionally, unpredictably, in constant motion and unbowed in the face of criticism.”

Economy Barely Grew In Q1

The Commerce Department said the U.S. economy barely grew in the first quarter of 2017, expanding at an annual rate of only 0.7 percent.

New York Times: “The first-quarter performance upset expectations for a Trump bump at the start of 2017. The economy’s weakness reflected new caution among consumers. Other sectors like housing and business investment turned in a stronger showing, but not enough to offset factors like weaker retail sales.”

Associated Press: “The slowdown primarily reflected slower consumer spending, which grew by just 0.3 percent. That was the poorest showing in more than seven years.”

State Department Wants Haley’s Remarks Cleared First

New York Times: “The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has often been the first, most outspoken member of the Trump administration to weigh in on key foreign policy issues, on everything from military strikes on Syria to sanctions against Russia and how to approach human rights. Much of that has come as a surprise to the State Department, and the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has often been far from the limelight.”

“Now, in an apparent attempt to foster greater coherence in American foreign policy, State Department officials are urging her aides to ensure her public remarks are cleared by Washington first.”

Trump’s 100-Day Moneymaking Success Story

Matthew Yglesias: “Yet since his ascension to the White House, conventional wisdom has developed an odd tendency to describe his inability to make major legislative changes as an indication that his presidency is failing. It’s certainly true that Paul Ryan’s speakership of the House is failing, arguable that Mitch McConnell’s tenure as majority leader of the Senate is failing, and indisputably true that the Koch brothers’ drive to infuse hardcore libertarian ideological zeal into the GOP is failing.”

“But Trump isn’t failing. He and his family appear to be making money hand over fist. It’s a spectacle the likes of which we’ve never seen in the United States, and while it may end in disaster for the Trumps someday, for now it shows no real sign of failure.”

Trump Stopped Interview to Hand Out Electoral Map

From President Trump’s interview with Reuters:

More than five months after his victory and two days shy of the 100-day mark of his presidency, the election is still on Trump’s mind. Midway through a discussion about Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.

“Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers,” the Republican president said from his desk in the Oval Office, handing out maps of the United States with areas he won marked in red. “It’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.”

Many Republicans Just Don’t Want to Repeal Obamacare

Byron York: “Republicans have 237 seats in the House. Repealing Obamacare will require 216 votes. Even with unanimous Democratic opposition, Republicans could lose 20 votes and still prevail on repeal. Why haven’t they done it?”

“By this time, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Republicans have not repealed Obamacare because a lot of Republicans do not want to repeal Obamacare. They don’t even want to sorta repeal Obamacare. The bill currently on the table, like the bill pulled in March, falls far short of a full repeal of Obamacare. And yet Republicans still cannot agree on it.”

Rick Klein: “Quick – who’s excited about the Republicans’ health care bill? Hint: It’s not Republicans. House leaders’ decision to delay a vote on their modified legislation is an acknowledgement of political realities, since they just don’t have the votes. But it also puts off a day that a growing number of Republicans view with dread, as House members are being asked to be put on record on a flatly unpopular bill that almost certainly won’t become law even if it passes the House. ”

David Nather: “The votes aren’t there yet. If more than 22 Republicans oppose the bill, it will fail. So far at least 15 have come out against it and many more are undecided.”

Christie Vows to Referee Election to Replace Him

Charles Stile: “Outgoing governors tend to fade into the background as they round the final lap of their tenure. And as a general rule, they tend to lend at least tacit support for the next standard bearer of their own party or refrain from making overt criticism.”

“Not Christie so far. The self-anointed truth teller is vowing to suit up in a referee’s zebra stripes and call out the candidates if he believes they are trying to ‘hoodwink’ the public with reckless or unrealistic promises.”

Said Christie: “I’m going to referee this stuff and if people are making irresponsible claims, I’m going to let the public know what to expect as a result.”

On Leaving the White House

Michelle Obama hit the paid-speaking circuit yesterday and spoke about leaving the White House, the Washington Post reports.

“She shared a story about her emotional final day at the White House. Her daughters were in tears as they said goodbye to the staff, and she felt herself choke up, too — but she resolved to keep her emotions hidden before the Inauguration Day cameras.”

Said Obama: “I didn’t want to have tears in my eyes because people would swear I was crying because of the new president.”

How Presidents Handle Frustrating Moments

Former President Obama “made another $400,000 on Thursday when he appeared at the A&E Networks advertising upfront at The Pierre Hotel. He was interviewed over 90 minutes at the Midtown Manhattan event by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in front of the cable network’s advertisers,” the New York Post reports.

“Goodwin asked Obama how, while president, he handled frustrating moments. She mentioned Lincoln would write angry letters and then put them in a desk and not mail them.”

Responded Obama: “For starters, by not having a Twitter account.”

Trump’s Red Button

Financial Times: “Sitting across from Donald Trump in the Oval Office, my eyes are drawn to a little red button on a box that sits on his desk. ‘This isn’t the nuclear button, is it?’ I joke, pointing. ‘No, no, everyone thinks it is,’ Trump says … before leaning over and pressing it to order some Cokes. ‘Everyone does get a little nervous when I press that button.'”