Finding the Fight: the Trump Challenges as They are Today

One of the biggest challenges in writing about the new administration is the rapid pace at which everything changes. No sooner is the research wrapped than it becomes dated and irrelevant. The past few weeks have brought a new reality and the events that define that reality are already set in stone. Depending on which side your opinions fall, you may or may not agree with your neighbor, your husband or even the Twitter handles you follow. Here are a few things that aren’t likely to fade into the background anytime soon.

The incredulous insistence of the president regarding wiretapping has taken on new meaning. After weeks of going back and forth about whether he has any kind of secretly recorded media of his meetings or conversations, he finally pulls back and says he has nothing. By my count, he’s not only wrongly accused the previous president of wiretapping him, but he also wrongly accused himself of wiretapping…himself.

Healthcare

The new healthcare plans have been hashed out, argued, debated and picked apart by every media outlet in the country over the past 48 hours. Keep in mind, for all the bickering and tweeting and debating, this bill is not likely to pass as there are at least five Republicans who’ve been vocal about the shortcomings of the bill. If just two Republicans opt to vote the bill down, it quickly becomes a has-been and a waste of time. Some have laughed at what’s included in this latest version. Here are a few of the biggest obstacles:

Medicare’s going to take a hit. They can dance around it and sugar coat it, but most are saying a hit between 15 and 20 percent reduction of services is how it shakes out. As the bill stands now, it’s a kick in the teeth to those who depend on these programs. AARP estimates 17 million older and/or poverty-stricken Americans will lose with this bill if it’s passed as-is. Just like the House bill a few weeks ago, many groups have come out against this latest effort, including many nursing and physician organizations.

As it stands (and the figures differ somewhat, though not substantially) around 500,000 veterans will lose Medicaid coverage.

Some media outlets are now saying the Senate decided at the last minute to include penalties, similar to the Obama tax, on those who have no coverage at all.

The Senate bill will also likely be to updated to reflect a six month suspension from coverage if even one insurance premium is not paid on time. That’s not been cemented, but there’s no doubt it’s going to be heated if it comes full circle.

Jobs

At the end of November, 2016, Carrier announced it had reached an agreement, courtesy of President-elect Trump’s negotiations, to keep nearly 1,000 jobs in Indianapolis, IN. One worker told Fortune, “I just couldn’t believe that this guy, all this stuff he said the whole campaign—he’s not even president yet and he worked on this deal with the company. I’m just in shock. A lot of the workers are in shock. We can’t believe something good finally happened to us. It felt like a victory for the little people.”

This week, those same workers learned their jobs were being relocated to Monterrey, Mexico.

In South Carolina, Trump was able to round up support – and votes – by striking a deal with Boeing to keep jobs in the state. He claimed success and said those workers’ jobs were safe.

This week, those same workers learned their last day at the Boeing plant will be August 25th.

Qatar

On June 9th, the president accused Qatar of being a “high level sponsor of terrorism”. On June 14th, he announced a newly-inked deal with Qatar, worth $12 billion, that would provide several fighter jets to the country.

Of course, this barely scratches the surface, but these topics are sure to remain front and center in the coming days. In the meantime, I’m working on an executive orders list of what’s been passed, what’s worked and what’s failed. I’m trying to figure out how to ensure it remains a living document, of sorts, with updates. I’m open for suggestions if anyone wants to toss any my way.

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Did Obama Admin Just Sell Out the Military?

No one doubts the seriousness of the Iran nuclear deal; the problem is, few believe the U.S. has found a way to lead the rest of the world in accomplishing it. No one, with the exception of Secretary of the State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the rest of the Obama Administration, believes the solution presented is the solution that prevails.

Last week, we saw an interesting – and uncomfortable – debate unfold when Kerry, Ernest Moniz, the energy secretary, and Jack Lew, the treasury secretary appeared before the Senate. If you didn’t see it, you should – it’s fascinating to watch these folks go nine rounds, all the while knowing it serves no purpose in the long run. We heard Kerry’s vehement disgust over the 47 senators who wrote to Iran’s leaders before the nuclear deal was signed. He insisted that act could have jeopardized world security (and in all fairness, that stunt by the Republicans, whose pockets are lined by the big oil companies, was done for very selfish reasons. Read about it here.) We also heard Senator Bob Corker (R TN), Senator Jim Risch (R ID) use words like “bamboozled” and “fleeced”: as in “You were bamboozled with this deal and now you’ve fleeced the American people”. Oh, and a delightful scolding from Barbara Boxer towards both Corker and Risch for using the words “bamboozled” and “fleeced”.

But let’s not forget this little well-hidden nugget:

Kerry claimed the U.S. has “the capacity’ to ‘knock out ISIL’ on its own, but we’re not going to get suckered into that.”

Yes. He really said that. And then skipped to the next topic.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Ash Carter was sent to the Middle East to soothe those frantic fears many of our allies (and even our enemies) have these days. Here’s what’s so disturbing, though: the way the media reported these visits and the quotes it used vary significantly. They’re subtle, but take a look –

Carter is trying to respond to regional concerns about Iran by proposing intensified military cooperation with its longtime allies. With the Saudis, there will be talk of training special forces, cyber security, anti-missile defence and other issues. July 23, 2015 (Read the article here)

and

In an effort to calm these worries, Carter proposes to intensify military cooperation with Washington’s traditional allies in the Middle East. July 22, 2015 (Read the article here)

and

Carter told reporters en route to Tel Aviv.But the point of the nuclear deal is to get the result of no Iranian nuclear weapon without carrying out a military strike.” July 19, 2015 (Read the article here)

The first quote comes from a Pakistani media site, Dunya. The second is Al Arabiya, a Middle Eastern media site. The third quote is from The Washington Post.

It’s amazing how small tweaks in a sentence can change the meaning in its entirety. Any other time, it would matter none and would seem petty, but Google the first two quotes. Not a single American media site comes up; no CNN, MSNBC, USAToday, Fox News. Not one.  The third quote, when Googled, returns The Washington Post and a number of other American based media. Depending on who Carter is speaking with, the U.S. is either wheeling and dealing with propositions to increase our military and other efforts as sort of a reminder to Iran or the U.S. is moving mountains to ensure no military action.

Kerry was quick to remind his adversaries on Capitol Hill that everyone supported this deal. Ash Carter spent the week reassuring the media of the same thing. Only problem is, he was the only one commenting after these meetings.

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VOA

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NY Times

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Times of Israel

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If there is any question at all about the possibility of sincerity from Iran, this should clear it all up:

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Finally, this is off topic, but I come across it while I was researching this post. It’s going to be a huge problem as things begin heating up with the Cuba brouhaha. With embargoes lifted, there’s a new focus and those in the oil industry are definitely paying attention. Back in the 60s, part of the embargo with Cuba included sanctions for any country that sold to Cuba anything made with more than 10% of American supplies/materials. Now, though, allbets are off. Cuba is gearing up to begin drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in what many are saying includes a wealth of oil. Actually, there are four areas that Cuba is focusing on. America could, for all intents and purposes, furnish the wells that will drill the oil. In case you’ve not been following the massacre in the energy sector, oil closed below $48 a barrel on Friday.  Another country entering into the oil market? Not good.

Last year, the Obama Administration insisted that wouldn’t be a possibility, at least not in the short term. Now, though, Cuba is planning on being up and running by the end of 2015 or the first of 2016. If the U.S. bails and refuses to play a role, Cuba could create a massive environmental mess right off the coast of Florida. That was always the fear anyway when it bought materials and supplies from other countries. The U.S. has, by far, some of the safest extraction methods (though far from perfect) in the world. This is not, and never has been, a real priority for Cuba.