News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: Budget Passes Senate, McMaster Down, Citibank and Much, Much More

Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and current National Security Advisor John Bolton (Rex Features via AP Images)

Good Friday morning.

Here’s what is on the President’s agenda today:

  • The President receives his intelligence briefing
  • President Trump meets with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Deputy Secretary of State
  • President and Mrs. Trump depart Washington, D.C. en route to Palm Beach, FL
  • President and Mrs. Trump depart Palm Beach International Airport en route to Mar-a-Lago

Senate approves dumpster fire omnibus, sends to Trump to sign

Early Friday morning, the Senate approved the bloated and grotesque omnibus bill. I’m certain they didn’t read it.

Senators voted 65-32 on the measure, well over the simple majority needed to approve it, despite late drama after the bill easily cleared the House on Thursday afternoon. It now goes to the White House where Trump is expected to sign it.

The vote early Friday morning came after conservatives, including libertarian-minded GOP Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), backed down from a showdown that could have forced a brief, hours-long partial closure of the federal government.

Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), who held a late meeting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), was reportedly also holding up the bill.

Apparently the cause for objection from Risch was that he didn’t want a nature preserve named after his political rival. Do you see what kind of crap these weasels are willing to fight over? Not spending or appropriation items but ego stuff.

Rand Paul (R-KY) tried to stop the bill but he didn’t have the votes, as usual.

At least the politicians don’t have to work on the weekend now.

Related:

‘Dreamers’ fix blocked in Senate

Here Are The Nearly 100 House Republicans Who Voted Against The Spending Bill

McMaster out, Bolton in

Yesterday, President Trump announced that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster was being replaced with former Ambassador John Bolton.

After weeks of speculation about McMaster’s future, Trump and the respected three-star general put a positive face on the departure, making no reference to the growing public friction between them. Trump tweeted Thursday that McMaster had done “an outstanding job & will always remain my friend.” He said Bolton will take over April 9 as his third national security adviser in just over a year.

The national security shakeup comes as the president is increasingly shedding advisers who once eased the Republican establishment’s concerns about the foreign policy and political novice in the White House. McMaster is the sixth close adviser or aide to announce a departure in a turbulent six weeks, joining ally Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was unceremoniously fired last week.

The White House says the replacement is not due to any one incident, referring to a leak earlier this week of notes to the president instructing him not to congratulate Putin on a phone call following the RUSSIAN elections.

An internal investigation into the leak is underway, said a White House official who — like others interviewed about the announcement and the White House shakeup — demanded anonymity to discuss internal matters.

In a statement released by the White House, McMaster said he would be requesting retirement from the U.S. Army effective this summer, adding that afterward he “will leave public service.”

Politico calls Bolton the “anti-McMaster.”

Bolton can thus be expected to provide the president with just the intellectual gasoline he needs to ignite new hostilities on any number of global fronts, including an escalated trade war.

During his decades in Washington, Bolton has earned a reputation as an uncompromising nationalist hawk. What is less understood is that Bolton arrived at these positions carefully, thoughtfully and consistently, as a militant libertarian thinker who has believed passionately that the United States has surrendered its sovereignty for far too long to multilateral treaties and organizations of all kinds, including the United Nations

Apparently, the WH was going to announce the Bolton appointment along with other appointments.

Politico reported that White House chief of staff John Kelly and other senior aides were waiting for potentially bruising inspector general reports on Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.

The White House planned to then announce the departure of McMaster and other top aides at once, Politico reported.

However, White House officials were caught off guard when Trump tweeted late Thursday afternoon that Bolton would replace McMaster, effective April 9.

I wonder who else is waiting in line to fill these empty positions.

Related:

John Bolton reportedly promised Trump ‘he wouldn’t start any wars’ as national security adviser

Citigroup jumps on the antigun train

Citigroup, a financial institution, has decided to place restrictions on how its business partners can sell firearms.

Citigroup(C) also banned its clients from selling high-capacity magazines and bump stocks, a gun accessory that was used by the shooter that murdered more than 50 people in Las Vegas in October.

The news was reported earlier by The New York Times and confirmed by the company.

The rules will apply to Citigroup clients “across the firm, including to small business, commercial and institutional clients, as well as credit card partners, whether co-brand or private label.”

This is a fascinating move. Citigroup is referring to businesses that legally sell firearms, but it’s really a punitive move orchestrated by the anti-Second Amendment crowd to punish the law-abiding gun industry and not criminals, as criminals usually do not go through formal channels to acquire the firearms they use in crimes. The only people affected by this are businesses who operate by the book. What effect will this have on gun violence in Chicago, Baltimore or Detroit? Not a bit. The recent Maryland shooting involved a teenager who stole his father’s gun — would Citibank’s new “stance” have stopped that? No.

Once more, I want to reiterate: this move should be seen as punishment for law abiding firearms businesses and transitively firearms consumers for their participation in the firearmse economy and in no way as a move to reduce gun crime or violence. Corporate America is putting us on notice.

CEO Michael Corbat wrote to his employees on Thursday:

“If they opt not to, we will respect their decision and work with them to transition their business away from Citi,” he wrote, implicitly raising the possibility the bank could lose business over the new policy.

“As an avid outdoorsman and responsible gun owner, I know that some will find out policy too strict while others will find it too lenient,” wrote Corbat. “We don’t have the perfect solution to supporting our Constitution while keeping our children and grandchildren safe. Best practices are going to continue to change, and we understand the limitations of our efforts. But we shouldn’t let that stop us from doing our part.”

Your part? Merely a cosmetic gesture with no tangible results. Congratulations.

Related:

Man gets kicked off Facebook for guns, starts own site for gun lovers

March for Our Lives launches dark money advocacy group

Bipartisan suspicion of the Deep State

This is not a surprise:

A majority of the American public believe that the U.S. government engages in widespread monitoring of its own citizens and worry that the U.S. government could be invading their own privacy. The Monmouth University Poll also finds a large bipartisan majority who feel that national policy is being manipulated or directed by a “Deep State” of unelected government officials. Americans of color on the center and left and NRA members on the right are among those most worried about the reach of government prying into average citizens’ lives.

It’s reassuring that the public is catching on to what has taken place.

Just over half of the public is either very worried (23%) or somewhat worried (30%) about the U.S. government monitoring their activities and invading their privacy. There are no significant partisan differences – 57% of independents, 51% of Republicans, and 50% of Democrats are at least somewhat worried the federal government is monitoring their activities. Another 24% of the American public are not too worried and 22% are not at all worried.

Fully 8-in-10 believe that the U.S. government currently monitors or spies on the activities of American citizens, including a majority (53%) who say this activity is widespread and another 29% who say such monitoring happens but is not widespread. Just 14% say this monitoring does not happen at all. There are no substantial partisan differences in these results.

And it gets better.

Turning to the Washington political infrastructure as a whole, 6-in-10 Americans (60%) feel that unelected or appointed government officials have too much influence in determining federal policy. Just 26% say the right balance of power exists between elected and unelected officials in determining policy. Democrats (59%), Republicans (59%) and independents (62%) agree that appointed officials hold too much sway in the federal government.

Who is watching the watchers?

Historical picture of the day:

Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisc.) poses in Washington, March 23, 1950 after he accused the president of endangering the nation’s security by what he called the president’s “arrogant refusal” to release loyalty files of State department employees accused by McCarthy of pro-Communist leanings. Actually, there has been no refusal by the president to release them. (AP Photo/Herbert K. White)

Other morsels:

Parkland’s David Hogg Promises To Oppose Pro-Gun Democrats

Democrats Busing Supporters To Student Gun Control March

DNC hacker ‘Guccifer 2.0’ reportedly identified as Russian intel officer

Goodlatte subpoenas DOJ over Clinton investigation, McCabe firing

Ex-Playmate on alleged Trump affair: We were in love

Maryland school shooting victim Jaelynn Willey, 16, to be taken off life support, parents say

Roommate’s mom: Son was in custody until police found bomber

“I wish I were sorry but I am not”: Texas bombing suspect recorded statement on cellphone

Bumped United passenger walks away with $10,000 voucher

Massive Fentanyl Grab Yields Enough Fentanyl To ‘Kill Everyone In Toledo’

Trump says he doesn’t know if his success will transfer to 2018 Republicans

New footage of Vegas shooter’s final days is frightening in its banality

Trump Hit With Summons in Emoluments Lawsuit

John Dowd, Trump’s lead Russia probe lawyer, resigns

Gender-fluid baby names are on the rise

25 years ago, Republicans were more educated than Democrats. Now it’s the opposite, study says

Trump hits China with tariffs, heightening concerns of global trade war

China vows to defend its interests against US trade actions

And that’s all I’ve got, not go beat back the angry mob!