And the Oscar for worst President EVER goes to….

Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Donald Trump.

And the Oscar for the worst supporting actor to the President is…

Stephen Bannon, chief strategist for Donald Trump. CNN.

Stephen Bannon, chief strategist for Donald Trump. CNN.

Stephen Bannon, the chief strategist for Donald Trump. Isn’t he doing a terrific job? Just fabulous. Wonderful. The best. The greatest. Ask him. Ask Donald. They’ll both tell you Stephen Bannon is amazing. He’s done such a fabulous job so far. It’s amazing. Really. It’s amazing.

Trump’s dinner party a bust

 Donald Trump will be attending his first White House correspondents’ dinner as president. ‘There will be minimal celebrities in that room,’ said one media executive. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images


Donald Trump will be attending his first White House correspondents’ dinner as president. ‘There will be minimal celebrities in that room,’ said one media executive. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The White House correspondents’ dinner is a fixture of the Washington scene, a spring event at which the cream of political journalism shares bonhomie, fine food and comedy roasting with the politicians it reports on – including the president. Under Donald Trump, however, the dinner is facing uncertainty.

Trump, who has repeatedly attacked “the very dishonest press” and accused leading news outlets of peddling “fake news” about him, is expected nonetheless to attend the dinner, at the Washington Hilton on 29 April.

Many news outlets, however, are planning to give the event a miss. The New York Times has not sent journalists to the dinner since 2008. The Guardian, which normally attends, will not be represented there this year. Jeff Mason, a Reuters journalist and president of the WHCA, has been obliged to confirm that the event will happen.

Celebrities are also choosing to spend the night elsewhere. Actors from the casts of TV political drama shows such as House of Cards, Veep and Scandal, for example, have attended in recent years. They are not expected to be present this time. And according to the Hollywood Reporter, the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) has yet to secure a comedy headliner.

One comedian, Samantha Bee, will be dining on Washington on the night of 29 April. The Full Frontal host will be debuting what she declines to call a rival party, even though it is titled Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and is being held on the same night at the historic Willard Hotel, a block away from the White House.

Over the years, the dinner has spawned a number of receptions and after-parties. Some of those are now being cancelled or losing co-hosts. Vanity Fair, for example, has pulled out of co-hosting a prestigious after-party, leaving Bloomberg to go it alone. The New Yorker has cancelled its curtain-raiser. It is reportedly unclear if MSNBC will hold its own traditional after-party, while ABC and Yahoo, which have previously co-hosted a pre-dinner reception, have not confirmed if they will do so this year.

Whoever is eventually named as master of ceremonies for the dinner will have a chance to tease, needle or even roast the president, as Stephen Colbert famously did to a not-very amused George W Bush in 2006. And Trump will get a chance to reply in kind.

He may see a chance for revenge. Famously, in 2011 Barack Obama and TV host Seth Meyers roasted a stone-faced Trump, a guest at the dinner who was also a key champion of the widely debunked “birther” movement, which claimed Obama was not born in the US and thus ineligible to be president.

His audience may lack familiar faces. In the past, stars such as Scarlett Johansson, Kerry Washington and the cast of Game of Thrones have been guests at the sprawling, ticketed dinner in the Hilton ballroom, which seats 2,670. This year, an unnamed Washington media executive was quoted as saying: “There will be minimal celebrities in that room … it’s going to be difficult to get any talent there.”

Read the complete article on The Guardian web site here.

Trump fired Flynn, but he’s the wrong guy

The US national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned late Monday amid a flow of intelligence leaks that he had secretly discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador to Washington and then tried to cover up the conversations.

The resignation, with the Trump era less than four weeks old, is the latest and most dramatic convulsion in the most chaotic start to an administration in modern US history.

But Trump fired, oh excuse me, asked Flynn to resign, because Flynn discussed something of a highly sensitive nature in secret then tried to cover it up.

One thing you can say about Donald Trump is he doesn’t discuss anything of a highly sensitive nature in secret, and believe me, he never tries to cover things up. Believe me.

It was not clear what security arrangements, if any, have been made at Mar-a-Lago to allow for classified meetings and communications. Any such protocols would not have applied to the terrace, which was full of members, who pay a $200,000 initiation fee (double what it was before Trump became president), according to CNBC.

At the other end of the scale, the club was hiring foreign workers this winter as cooks, waiters, waitresses and housekeepers, at between $10.17 and $12.74 an hour, according to the Palm Beach Post. There is no mention of vetting. According to the CNN account, the staff “cleared the wedge salads and brought along the main course as Trump and Abe continued consulting with aides”.

national-security-problem

Good old Donald just sits around in public discussing highly sensitive national security documents while anyone within earshot is listening in or recording the idiotic event on their cellphone.

national-security-problem2

Speaking of cellphones, good old Donny boy used his own cellphone and not a secure cellphone to discuss national security matters. Duh!! What a dolt. What an embarrassment.

Under the Trump presidency, however, operational security has taken a backseat. He has held on to his insecure Android phone, from which he tweeted when he was about to sit down with Abe.

At all times during their huddle over the missile launch, the two leaders were surrounded by aides and guests brandishing their own mobile phones, each one of which, it has been known since Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA surveillance, can be used as an unwitting conduit for electronic eavesdropping by the world’s intelligence agencies.

Donny boy, you fired the wrong guy. Only a honest-to-goodness doofus like Donald Trump would discuss national security issues in public. I’m afraid old Donny boy, the oldest person ever elected president, has entered his senility stage and should be put to pasture like old dogs usually are.

Palm Beach businesses stung by cost of hosting Trump’s weekend retreat

 Donald Trump arrives at Palm Beach international airport on 3 February. County aviation officials say the president’s four-day visit cost more than $250,000 in lost revenue. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Donald Trump arrives at Palm Beach international airport on 3 February. County aviation officials say the president’s four-day visit cost more than $250,000 in lost revenue. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Trump’s four-day visit last weekend caused more than $250,000 in lost revenue from fuel sales and landing fees, according to a dossier released this week by county aviation officials, mostly at Palm Beach international airport, where Air Force One lands and departs.

At Lantana general aviation airport, inside the 30-mile flight restriction zone around Mar-a-Lago imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration, all operations cease during presidential visits. Jonathan Miller, chief executive of airport operator Stellar Aviation, said the repeated groundings, including training and sightseeing flights, are forcing several Lantana tenants to consider their futures. Palm Beach Aircraft Services estimates losses could reach $2m a year and several private plane owners have already switched to other airports, Miller said.

“When [the president’s] here for three days we lose at least $30,000. Our small businesses can’t survive, they’ll either shut down or leave,” said Miller, who added that more than 400 people work at the airport.

“People will just say I’m not going to stay in the Palm Beaches, I don’t need the aggravation. It’s going to grind our economy to a halt,” said Jeff Greene, a hotel owner who says that he has already lost bookings from prospective guests at his upmarket Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa further south along Ocean Boulevard from Trump’s waterfront estate.

“And basically the opportunities in a town like this are exactly the times he’s planning on being here, Christmas, New Year, Presidents’ weekend, Easter and all these other weekends, like last weekend and this coming weekend. In our hotel we depend on February and March to make 50% of our annual profit.”

While hoteliers such as Greene are unable to yet put a dollar figure on their expected losses, Palm Beach County’s airports, flight schools and other aviation-related businesses are already counting the cost.

While the airports’ losses grow, Palm Beach is also seeking relief for security costs to protect Trump, including policing of demonstrations. About 3,000 people took part in a peaceful protest at Mar-a-Lago last weekend and another is planned for Sunday.

The Palm Beach sheriff’s office did not respond to the Guardian’s request for cost details of last weekend’s visit, or Trump’s extended Christmas and New Year break at Mar-a-Lago, but its overtime bill alone topped $250,000 for the then president-elect’s short Thanksgiving sojourn.

“Back in the 1960s John F Kennedy was here but it was a different town then, much smaller and quieter,” said Laurel Baker, a longtime Palm Beach resident and executive director of the town’s chamber of commerce.

Baker said tourists had always come to gawk at the Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Maseratis parked outside the upscale jewellery and fashion stores along Worth Avenue, but the challenge now is turning Trump’s notoriety into financial gain for the island’s business owners.

“People want to see the winter White House but they’re drive-bys, which is a terrible word to use, but that’s what it is,” she said. “It’s all well and good, but it doesn’t help unless they also stop for a bite to eat.”

There are, of course, no such worries inside Mar-a-Lago, where the opulent dining room is full every dinnertime when Trump is in residence, and the non-refundable membership fee doubled to $200,000 within weeks of his election victory.

Read the complete article on The Guardian web site here.

 

 

Some people just don’t know when to shut up

You hear it everywhere, gobbledygook spewing forth from the frothing lips of fools. When the speaker knows the goobledygook is so completely unbelieveable but wants the audience to believe he or she actually knows what he or she is talking about, the speaker uses a catch phrase so you the listener should blindly accept what is spoken as true.

Using this catch phrase implies the speaker holds some magical knowledge or experience or wisdom only the speaker posseses, and the audience should be very grateful of such mendacity.

“Believe me” is a very popular catch phrase. “They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me”, “We will. Believe me”, “Believe me, I’ll win that case.”, “Believe me. Oh, believe me. And it’s a bad deal.” are a small sample of Donald Trump’s believe me’s.

“It’s almost like he’s trying to convince himself that he’s right,” said David B. Cohen, a professor of political science at the University of Akron. “Believe me — that’s the phrase really of a used car salesman. ‘Believe me, this car is great. Just wait till you get this baby out on the highway.’ ”

Many politicians have their own verbal crutches. President Obama, in search of a way to crystallize muddy issues, often says, “Make no mistake,” “Let me be clear,” and “Here’s the deal.” Hillary Clinton, striking a more common note, often addresses her audience as “folks.”

But for Trump, “believe me” is uniquely his. In the 12 Republican debates, he used it some 30 times — at a rate 56 times greater than his opponents, who used it a combined three times. (Neither Clinton nor Bernie Sanders used the phrase during the Democratic debates.)

“What’s interesting about ‘believe me,’ is the stress is on me,” said George Lakoff, a professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley.

“It assumes that knowledge comes from direct experience,” he added. “Then it says, ‘I have direct experience of that thing. And you should believe someone who has that experience. You should believe me, because I know.’ ”

While it’s unclear when exactly the “believe me” phrase entered Trump’s regular lexicon, it apparently runs in the family.

When his son Eric appeared on Fox News during the Presidential election, he assured viewers, “Hillary’s got real problems. She’s got real, real problems on her resume and — believe me — we’ll talk about them.”

“Trust, but verify” was US president Ronald Reagan’s maxim, particularly when wrangling with Russians. Donald Trump just wants America to trust him.

The 45th president of the United States is indeed banking on Americans offering him massive credence – and not so much for Trumpian policies or doctrine as for Trump himself.

Trump has, after all, refused to reveal to a body politic that just endowed him with great power the more intimate details of his business interests, his foreign entanglements and even, at age 70, his health.

Take Trump’s federal tax returns — windows into his wealth, charity and potential conflicts of interest that go well beyond annual personal financial disclosures that politicians (including Trump) must by law file.

Trump, in departing from modern presidential precedent, says that Americans don’t care “at all” about them. The vast majority of Americans — Republicans included in the lot — have begged to differ, for months saying they’d love to see what Trump’s tax returns contain.

Then there’s the matter of Trump’s very ownership of dozens of businesses with operations in numerous nations — some friends, others frenemies at best, such as Saudi Arabia and China.

Lest we forget that Trump, despite railing against Iran in the most hawkish of terms, once earned $500,000 annually renting space to a state-owned Iranian bank that the US government later determined was funding terrorist organisations, including the Taliban, Hamas and Hezbollah. Or how, with dollar signs in his eyes, he courted former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

For those who dare question his pronouncements and motives, particularly members of the “fake news“-peddling “lying, disgusting media” Trump reserves a special brand of spite.

He’s blacklisted news organisations.

He temporarily ditched the “protective press pool” — a small group of reporters who chronicle a president’s every move, primarily as witnesses to historical events ranging from dignitary visits to assassination attempts and terrorist attacks.

Lately Donald has been bashing Nordstroms for dropping his daughter Ivanka’s losing line.

Yesterday Stephen Colbert talked about Nordstrom, senate confirmations and more…

Donald Trump is a man you just have to trust. Believe me.

Donny boy, your mouth is going to get you in trouble one of these days. Let’s hope you don’t take the rest of America or the world down with you.

 

Donald Trump attacks ‘so-called judge’ over decision to halt travel ban

Seattle judge temporarily blocks Trump’s travel ban.

Donald Trump has insulted and threatened to overturn the ruling of a “so-called” federal judge in Seattle who temporarily halted his travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries and the suspension of refugee admission.

In a series of tweets early in the morning after Friday’s ruling by the Seattle judge James Robart, the president wrote: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”

Trump, who for the first time as president was spending the weekend away from the White House, at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, wrote with characteristic typographical errors: “When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security – big trouble!”

Signed last week, the executive order suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days and from Syria indefinitely, and placed time-limited holds on the admission of travellers from seven countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia – which are mostly Muslim.

The order also provided for preference to people from religious minorities in those countries, and Trump said in an interview he would give Christians priority as refugees.

Robart, who was appointed by George W Bush, granted a temporary restraining order after hearing arguments from Washington state and Minnesota that the president’s order unlawfully discriminated against Muslims and caused unreasonable harm.

The White House said it would appeal against the order, which it first called “outrageous” before issuing an “updated” statement which did not feature that word.

Norwegian ex-PM ‘surprised’ at US airport questioning – video

In a statement, the press secretary Sean Spicer said the Trump administration believed the executive order was “lawful and appropriate”.

The order has caused logistical and political chaos, and the roles Trump’s senior aide Steve Bannon and policy chief Stephen Miller in its writing and rollout have been under intense scrutiny. Trump’s Republican party has backed the order, though some senior figures have opposed it or criticised its implementation.

The attorney general of Washington state, Bob Ferguson, told reporters outside the courtroom: “We are a nation of laws. Not even the president can violate the constitution. No one is above the law, not even the president.

“This decision shuts down the executive order immediately – shuts it down. That relief is immediate, happens right now. That’s the bottom line.”

Read the complete article in The Guardian newspaper web site.