Trumplandia: Jan. 12 — 19, 2019

What A Friggin’ Clown Edition

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APPROVAL ALERT AT PRESS TIME:
FiveThirtyEight Poll: 39.9% — down from 41% last week
Rasmussen Poll: 44% — down from 45% last week

Welcome to Trumplandia, a place where with a bit of wit and snark, we keep the world caught up on all of the tasty Nuggets-O-Trump you may have heard about but were too busy to care. Because most of this minutia occurs just below the massive headlines about the POTUS, it’s in a land of its own. Here, an infusion of social media, video clips and print media meld with our outdated political views to make more delicious “Fake News” about our Commander-in-Chief.

So just like the president, we start it all with a little tweet like this:

Still Ain’t Funny

The week of our Trump — Jan. 12, 2019: As the closed-government crisis stretches to become the longest in history, both sides seem no closer this week to ending the Trump created stalemate over the need for Americans to pay $5 billion to construct a wall right now.

In fact, President Trump announced late last night that he plans to deliver an address about the government shutdown and border wall today at 3 p.m. on what would be the 28th day of the crisis.

Such a reckless approach to a self-manufactured crisis is one of the things we have grown to expect from Donald, who currently holds 800,000 federal workers and their families hostage in a negotiations to have a wall only he wants built.

But more than anything we confirmed that our president is a joke. A pathetic farce of a leader who is mocked by his detractors and hounded by legal action at every turn.

He is a red-nosed clown who will make the argument for the construction of a wall to any and all who will listen. Last week he pitched the wall to a group of struggling farmers from the American Farm Bureau Federation in New Orleans. The only problem was he prefaced the address in a tweet that celebrated his love for farmers and their annual event, which he believed was again being held in Nashville, Tenn.

I could laugh, but now a month into the unrelated partial government shutdown, it’s simply not funny.

Some of the fine points about the shutdown are lost in the rhetoric from Trump and his Republican cohorts who continue to blame the folks who never wanted the wall for still not wanting it.

We all remember The Donald’s numerous calls for construction of a Mexico-financed wall during his successful run for the White House in 2016. At the time, I felt the nation had no need for such a wall, but at least felt assured that if somehow the edifice were to be erected, it would only happen if this blowhard could somehow get a foreign nation to pay for it.

During his almost two years with a Republican controlled Congress the wall was never prioritized as a necessary project and was only discussed as a possible item as a tradeoff for DACA reform. At that time, Democrats offered Trump $25 billion over five years for his wall and it was rejected.

In recent times, as much a $1 billion has been offered for the wall, only to be rebuffed by Trump, who until Dec. 18, 2018 was ready to accept a funding bill that did not include wall funds in order to keep the government open.

Following several comments by conservative talk show hosts, Trump changed direction and the current shutdown began. At the time, the president had sent 6,000 troops to the border to handle a migrant crisis and was prepared to use force to keep the migrants from entering the United States.

We are unaware if the troops were ever allowed to return to their respective bases, but we do know an immediate need to construct a $5 billion wall became a priority for this administration and Trump said he was going to get it and would not negotiate at any other prices point.

To make matters worse, Mr. Art of the Deal will not negotiate in good faith. He decided holding federal workers hostage would leverage his demands for the wall that Mexico was supposed to finance.

Over the last month he has lied and lied about those workers, at one point stating they were so behind the wall that they would work for free or gladly sit at home and forego pay in order to get it.

Touting secret polls and insider information that only he read, Trump, in the next breath, said most of the furloughed workers had voted Democrat and therefore were being given the business by their own leaders who refused to negotiate.

Then came the threat that not building the wall right away would cause him to label the alleged migrant crisis a national emergency so he could work his way around Congress to fund his campaign promise.

This week, 36,000 Internal Revenue Service workers were called in to work for free. The Food and Drug Administration recalled hundreds of workers to their jobs to conduct inspections for free, and the Secret Services and airport NTSB workers all have been expected to bite the bullet and work for free.

The stalemate even gained an audience from Hip Hop superstar Cardi B., who in a profane post on social media called for Trump to let the people return to work.

Then, finally, there was a break.

Spearheaded by Democratic members of Congress, on Jan. 16, Trump signed into law a provision that at least guarantees furloughed workers will receive their back pay and allows employees who are required to work during the shutdown the same.

National Treasury Employees (NTE) Union President Tony Reardon praised the move, which gained bi-partisan support, as a “glimmer of hope,” but noted Trump needs to reopen the government now to give those workers a chance to pay their bills.

However, as a democracy and not an autocracy, there are usually checks and balances in place to ensure such an abuse of power is not possible. The mechanism exists, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to entertain a vote on methods to pay for reopening the government unless it has funding for Trump’s wall.

As many know, with a Senate vote, one of several possible funding measures could reach the president’s desk swiftly. He does reserve the right to veto any measure without his $5 billion in wall funding, but such a veto could then be overridden by the Senate vote.

McConnell, for his part, has remained out of the spotlight during Trump’s shutdown and simply says he knows there are not enough votes in the Senate to pass the House’s funding bills. He could at least test his theory by calling it to a vote.

Only history can tell whether Trump and the Senate Republicans will make America great again and re-open the government.

Kids Meal

In a weak attempt at diversion, President Donald Trump invited the NCAA Football National Champion Clemson University Tigers to the White House this week to celebrate their victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Trump paid tribute to the young, hungry champions with a fast-food feast in the White House’s East Room on Jan. 14, paid for out of his very own pocket.

Clemson bested the University of Alabama 44-16 to win the College Football Championship a week earlier. The historically fast turnaround on the official presidential celebration was unprecedented for its speed as well as for its menu, which featured no food prepared by the White House chefs.

With federal workers unable to return to work due to Trump’s shutdown, many saw the visit as a public relations coup to divert attention and use sports for political gain.

Silver trays and candelabras tastefully lit the room for the athletes who dined on fast food from the likes of McDonald’s, Domino’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s with a side of hundreds of French fries. White House gravy boats served as receptacles for chicken McNuggets dipping sauces and ketchup — it was a grand affair.

While Trump said the $3,000 meal represented the players’ favorite cuisine as well as authentic American food, the White House said the unique meal was due to the government shutdown for which he’s already accepted responsibility. It is noted that White House staff members, like the executive chef and staff are currently furloughed until he receives money for the border wall.

The unexpected visit delighted Trump, but the gauche fast food pig out seemed to give many indigestion.

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The Twitter-verse trolled the president for a Jan. 15 tweet boasting about service over 1,000 “hamberders etc” to the team. The word was later corrected, to read “hamburgers,” which is a rarity for Mr. Covfefe.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence took to Twitter to clear his name regarding a mysterious quote attributed to him, but he claims he did not write. Published with an image of the 19-year-old freshman under the Pro Trump account of “@CloydRivers,” the young champ was speaking out to defend America.

“President Trump got all our favorite foods, it was the best meal we ever had. Then we go and see the coastal elite media trashing it for not being organic vegan. We’re football players, not bloggers. This was a perfect blue-collar party.”

Lawrence, who Trump described as so “tall and handsome,” that he’d like to be his agent, wrote on his verified account he did not know from where the quote came. He said the trip to the White House was “awesome.” Later that day the phony tweet was deleted.

The rapper Quavo, from the group Migos, was one of the first to voice his concern with Trump’s dinner on the cheap approach to honoring the champs. Given Trump’s billionaire status, the emcee was disappointed that the athletes did not receive a meal fit for a king.

He tweeted he wanted to invite the team to the Atlanta-based headquarters of their record label – Quality Control for a meal fit for champions.

“Good Morning America” host and former New York Giant great Michael Strahan offered to pay for a lobster dinner for the entire team during a segment on the WABC news show on Jan. 15.

On Jan. 15, Nick Kokonas, co-owner of “Alinea” in Chicago, which is considered one of the world’s best restaurants tweeted:

“I could care less about college football. But I’m, personally inviting the Clemson Tigers and coaches to Chicago to experience what an actual celebration dinner should be.”

Celebrity chef and cookbook author Ayesha Curry offered to feed the team at her International Smoke restaurant in San Francisco “any day.” Curry promised a “real feast” with “No 10-cent dipping sauces on silver platters.”

Children! Children!

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One of the most “interesting” things from the week came from the political battle between Republicans, Democrats and Trump’s insistence on getting $5 billion for his border wall.

Because no one does petty like the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it was of little surprise that a childish tiff broke out between the president and the newly elected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) that was tied to the government shutdown.

On Jan. 16, Pelosi sent a letter to the POTUS asking him to move the day of the State of the Union address from its planned date of Jan. 29 due to possible security concerns. Pelosi suggested Trump wait until after the government has reopened to deliver his speech, or perhaps change venues or submit it to Congress. All three scenarios would be unprecedented.

Pelosi’s request, which was also unprecedented, highlighted a little-known custom between the legislative branch and the executive branch. It would appear the Speaker of the House must approve of when the president desires to deliver his speech. To that point, both the House of Representatives and the Senate must approve resolutions to allow the president to deliver the State of the Union.

Democratic members of the House voiced opposition to Trump delivering the speech in light of the federal workers who remain furloughed until the government is reopened.

Pelosi, who referred to the request as “housekeeping,” stated that because the Secret Service members who provide security at the event have not been paid since Dec. 22, 2018, “full security” resources would not be in place for the “National Special Security Event.” During her weekly press conference, Pelosi said:

“I’m not denying him a platform at all. I’m saying let’s get a date when government is open. Let’s pay the employees. Maybe he thinks it’s ok not to pay people who do work. My caucus doesn’t either.”

The request was not met as a benign request, but rather a political challenge that begged for a response. Two days later, because he is petty and has hands two sizes too small, Trump exacted his revenge and denied the Speaker use of a military aircraft to fly overseas.

He delivered news of the canceled trip just before she and other elected officials were to board the plane and fly to Afghanistan. Trump, in part, stated he’d canceled the military transport because of his shutdown. He said Pelosi was free to take commercial transportation, but “I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and Joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown.”

Some Trump staffers allegedly stated the move was to put Pelosi in her place, while the party line appeared to say that the move was necessary to keep Pelosi in the country in the event the two sides arrived at a solution to the shutdown.

The move will certainly go down in history as one of the more blatantly political exchanges between the executive branch and legislative branch.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- S.C.) called the move to cancel Pelosi’s transport “inappropriate,” went on to tweet:

“One sophomoric response does not deserve another. Speaker Pelosi’s threat to cancel the State of the Union is very irresponsible and blatantly political.”

It makes you long for the days when children could be disciplined in a particular way for similar immature acts.

Feeding the Buzz

At press time, reports from Buzzfeed News had become the story itself due to a rare public disclosure by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

As noted in our piece last night, Mueller’s office stated there were factual inaccuracies in the news report from Buzzfeed that stated the president had ordered his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about a deal he was pursuing for a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Buzzfeed has continued to stand by its reporting on the matter. Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith also asked for the Special Counsel to clarify what items in the explosive piece is being disputed.

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