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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Notations On Our World: On Inauguration Week & Change in Washington


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On January 20, 2017, President Elect Trump will take the Oath of Office as the 45th President of the United States.   


Although the depiction above is humorous, it underscores the uncertainty and unpredictability of the new era.       Some key agencies of the Obama Administration issued out Exit Memos that is available for all by clicking here.    There debate on the Obama Legacy will continue as he leaves office, goes on an extended vacation and begins to build his library.    It is of note, though, that when President Obama took office, there  were nearly 200,000 Troops fighting in wars and the Dow Jones was dipping below 6600.   HIs approval ratings were 55% and after a massive explosion in deficits in the aftermath of the financial collapse of 2009, there was a steady decrease in it.  Unemployment dropped to below 5% awhile the gross domestic product increased from a little under 15 trillion to almost 20 Trillion Dollars.   

On January 13, The Dow Closed as follows (Source: BigCharts.com):




The Obama Administration has been quite busy as they are winding things down.    The President used his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to expand Natural Resources--including a number of key resources here in our home State of California--including an expansion of the      There is also a "sense of resistance" as epitomized by Senator Schummer--this is as we went to press, we saw reports of some 20 Democrats boycotting the inauguration ceremonies in the aftermath of  Mr. Trump having attacked Congressman John Lewis.     This is as Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post just declared the honeymoon over before the President-Elect takes the Oath.   

One of the other key challenges we have been witness to was the confirmation process.    Cabinet nominees have appeared before US Senate Committees giving testimony as they gear up all for confirmation.     The drama began when the US Senate Majority Letter sent off this letter: 



All Senator Schummer did was to change the name.   The letter was sent by Senator McConnell as the nominees for President-Elect Obama were before Congress in 2009.      This is, of course, as the GOP had committed to stifle the Obama Agenda and wanted to make sure Mr. Obama was a one term President.   Partly as a result of the moves by Democrats,  A number of key Trump Administration nominees were delayed--including nominees for Department of Education and Department of Labor who have been quite controversial.   What was also interesting was how key nominees differed from the President-Elect on some key views in this regard.    This is as Mr. Trump has just come out and again called NATO obsolete during an interview he granted to the Times of London and one of the leaders of Brexit, Michael Gove.   

Beyond the nominations, The House GOP Majority was back at work as we received this snapshot of their week as all of us look to inauguration week--with the key focus having been the repeal and replacement of Obamacare (That our Team reported on over the W-End):   

The Weekly Essentials

A quick weekly newsletter to keep you up to date on the top things happening for the House GOP
Inauguration
Next week is Inauguration! Get the latest information and behind-the-scenes updates on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram
 VISIT WEBSITE 
McCarthy
House passed legislation to limit the power of bureaucrats in Washington and undo damaging regulations from the Obama administration.
 READ STORY 
Ryan and Tapper
Speaker Ryan joined CNN's Jake Tapper for a town hall on everything from GOP plans to repeal and replace Obamacare to tax reform.
 SEE RECAP 
McCarthy
Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady gives preview of the work coming out of his committee, including tax reform.
 LEARN MORE 
Rep. Collins
GOP Congressmen expose the failures of Obamacare.
 READ MORE 

JUST IN...

The House voted to take the first procedural step towards repealing Obamacare.

As we tried to get a sense of the transition, our team picked up this from the First Week in Washington courtesy of a political activist posted on Facebook: 

1. Trump fires all Ambassadors and Special Envoys, ordering them out by inauguration day (This came up during the confirmation hearings of Rex Tillerson and apparently a number of them have launched appeals).
2. House brings back the Holman rule allowing them to reduce an individual civil service, SES positions, or political appointee's salary to $1, effectively firing them by amendment to any piece of legislation. We now know why they wanted names and positions of people in Energy and State.
3. Senate schedules 6 simultaneous hearings on cabinet nominees and triple-books those hearings with Trump's first press conference in months and an ACA budget vote, effectively preventing any concentrated coverage or protest.
4. House GOP expressly forbids the Congressional Budget Office from reporting or tracking ANY costs related to the repeal of the ACA.
5. Trump continues to throw the intelligence community under the bus to protect Putin, despite the growing mountain of evidence that the Russians deliberately interfered in our election.
6. Trump breaks a central campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the wall by asking Congress (in other words, us, the taxpayers) to pay for it.
7. Trump threatens Toyota over a new plant that was never coming to the US nor will take jobs out of the US.
8. House passes the REINS act, giving them veto power over any rules enacted by any federal agency or department--for example, FDA or EPA bans a drug or pesticide, Congress can overrule based on lobbyists not science. Don't like that endangered species designation, Congress kills it.

 Fortune shared this during its' Daily Notations on what Mr. Trump was up to with Twitter attacks throughout the week: 
JANUARY 6, 2017
Updating developments in a couple of stories we’ve been talking about this week:
–Trump attacks another carmaker. Having tweet-flamed General Motors on Wednesday for importing Mexican-made Cruzes, and after lambasting Ford for months on similar grounds, Trump yesterday turned his 140-character artillery on Toyota. The company is expanding production of Corollas and Tacoma pick-up trucks in Mexico for import into the U.S. – to which Trump thundered, “NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax,” echoing his message to GM.
Such outbursts make for good theater but pose many problems. After issuing an explicit threat, Trump must deliver or lose all credibility. Yet House Speaker Paul Ryan is adamantly opposed to any new tariffs, let alone Trump’s threatened 35% levy on Mexican imports. Also: Toyota exports about 160,000 cars annually from its U.S. plants, but a trade war could shrink that number substantially and cost U.S. jobs. And those Corollas that Toyota plans to make in Mexico are currently made in Canada. Does Trump intend to impose a heavy tariff on Canadian imports? If so, he doesn’t seem to have mentioned it, but if not, why not?
For now, Fiat Chrysler, Mazda, Honda, Nissan, and Volkswagen – all of which have factories in Mexico – are presumably braced for impact.
-Sears gets more desperate by the day. The company is now officially burning the furniture to stay warm. It announced yesterday that it’s selling its Craftsman tool brand to Stanley Black & Decker. Investors consider Craftsman one of Sears’s three crown jewels, the others being its Kenmore appliance brand and DieHard auto battery brand. How important is Craftsman to Sears? The deal calls for payments by Stanley Black & Decker of about $900 million plus royalties for 15 years, amounting to a deal value that Sears believes could easily top $1 billion. For Sears, that’s a huge number: At the close of trading Wednesday, before the deal was announced, Sears’s market cap was $1.1 billion.
So does Craftsman actually account for virtually all of Sears’s value? Apparently not; the stock price barely budged on Thursday in response to the announcement. Investors probably figured the deal’s present value is well below $1 billion, and they probably had a Craftsman sale priced into the stock already. So maybe instead of accounting for nearly all of Sears’s value, Craftsman accounts for only a half or a third. Still – selling it is a desperate move, one of several in recent days. This week the company announced it would close an additional 104 stores, and last week it announced it had arranged to borrow up to $500 million from CEO Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund.
For the historically minded, it was almost exactly 26 years ago that Sears ceded the title of America’s biggest retailer to Walmart
January 7, 2017 
Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington
At 6:19 AM on Friday morning, hours before Donald Trump huddled with top U.S. intelligence officials for a briefing on Russia’s interference with the election, the president-elect fired up his Twitter account. In the first of seven missives he sent before that midday meeting, Trump called out the “dishonest media” for reporting that American taxpayers could be stuck with the bill for building a border wall, rather than Mexico covering the cost, as he promised on the campaign. (Mexico will reimburse us, he said.) He went on to tweet about how NBC’s rejiggered “Celebrity Apprentice” performed in the ratings; and why he was starting his day by venturing downtown to meet with Condé Nast editors (Vogue’s Anna Wintour invited him); and announced that he’d asked Congressional chairs to investigate how NBC got ahold of the intelligence community’s report on Russian hacking before he did. For those accustomed to Trump’s seemingly stream-of-consciousness social media broadcasts, none of this registered as particularly remarkable. It is. Two weeks before his inauguration, with his transition in full swing and an unprecedented incursion into our democratic process by a hostile foreign power yet to be addressed, the breadth of distractions Trump is invoking could be cause for alarm.
Is it possible, however, there’s a deeper game afoot? Is Trump taking a page from the leadership playbook of the last man to assume the presidency without any prior experience in elected office? Dwight D. Eisenhower frequently presented as an affable but bumbling figure, a profile he cultivated in order to conceal a highly active and aggressive prosecution of his power behind the scenes. The full extent of the strategy — what Princeton historian Fred Greenstein came to call “the hidden-hand presidency” — didn’t become clear until decades later, when Ike’s presidential papers went public. Trump’s closest advisors already insist he’s operating with far more guile than his detractors understand. After all, it’s gotten him this far. Eisenhower, too, was underestimated, starting with the man he succeeded (Harry Truman said Ike’s inexperience in politics would cripple him, predicting, “He’ll sit here and he’ll say, ‘Do this, do that,’ and nothing will happen.”) But Eisenhower secured and preserved the peace, threatening our enemies with nuclear annihilation while leveraging cheap covert force to check Communist ambitions abroad. At home, he oversaw massive infrastructure investments that he balanced against the urgency of Cold War defense spending, reasoning in a 1953 speech, “The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.”
Is Trump up to the task? If he’s successfully playing a hidden hand — say, by dangling shiny objects from his Twitter account to mask a far more disciplined agenda — we may not soon know it. Of course there remains the real possibility, if not probability, that what we’re seeing is precisely what we’re getting. The answer to that question, and many more hovering over a transformed dynamic in Washington, will carry world-shifting consequences for business, as Republicans prepare to overhaul the healthcare system, rewrite the tax code and roll back regulations. That’s why we’re excited to announce the launch of the latest addition to our stable of newsletters. We’re calling it Trumponomics Daily. Five days a week, it’ll bring you breaking news and insights into what the changes out of government mean for private enterprise. We hope you’ll join us by signing up here: http://fortune.com/gettrumponomicsdaily/.


We also picked this up from the conservative columnist Erick Erickson noting his view of Barack Obama's legacy of Division:  
Sandy Hook and Barack Obama’s Legacy of Division
Sandy Hook and Barack Obama’s Legacy of Division
By Erick Erickson | Monday, January 2, 2017
As the nation prepares to formally enter the Age of Trump and leave the Age of Obama, it is worth noting that the
Read More...




However, as America begins to say farewell to President Obama,  our team picked this up in a tribute to President Obama courtesy of the team at @GlobalCitizen: 

44 Pictures of Obama Being a Normal Dude

Basketball, fist bumps, a run-in with Spider-Man. White House photographer Pete Souza caught it all over the last eight years. See more.



 The Democrats are also in a struggle for their future as underscored by this: 




News from WashingtonExaminer.com


Heartland mayor shaking up race for DNC chair

January 7, 2017 07:56 PM
By David M. Drucker
Pete Buttigieg, the 34-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., is threatening to shake up the race for Democratic National Committee chairmanship precisely because he isn't linked to either of the factions warring for control of the party.
He joins a contest that has turned into a proxy battle between the populist progressives, a group led by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that favors Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and the establishment wing of Democratic Party that is tied to President Obama and is lining up behind his labor secretary, Tom Perez.
Read the full story here >


Exciting times indeed....

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