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Washington Report March 23, 2018
23 Mar 2018

Washington Report March 23, 2018

To Spend Or Not To Spend … March Madness … Without a Dowd … The Anti-McMaster … This Can Be A Very Mean-Spirited Town (mic drop) … Do. Not. Congratulate. Putin. … Trump’s Trade War With China … WTF(acebook) … Students Say “ENOUGH”- March For Our Lives  …  and other news of the week.


Joyce Rubenstein


To Spend Or Not To Spend?

For Congress, the answer is SPEND. The $1.3 TRILLION OMNIBUS that funds government through September passed last night. “[I]t was a tricky road to avoid a government shutdown.

Among the winners in the congressional spending spree in the so-called omnibus package … CLICK HERE

7:55 A.M. Trump stunned even his closest advisors earlier in the day when he tweeted that he was ‘considering a veto’ of the bill that Congress had passed, just hours earlier. His reason: because it did not solve the DACA issue or fully fund his southern border wall. Can You say HYPOCRISY? … Trump: The Kid Who Kills His Parents and Asks For Mercy Because He’s an Orphan. Democrats were quick to point out the hypocrisy of Trump’s claims on DACA. Reminder:  Trump created DACA chaos.  He was the one who decided to end the DACA program.

1:30 P.M. Politico “Trump To Sign Spending Bill”

Just another episode of Trump’s White House Reality TV Show. Jeez.


Congress is Pretty Much Done for 2018.  Ya Got What Ya Got

Axios “There are 228 DAYS between now and Election Day. But after this omnibus spending bill passes, legislating is effectively over, and a big part of the political picture of the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency is frozen and ready for the voters’ review. Some might argue that if Democrats take the House, the heaviest period of legislating for Trump’s first term ends this week.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR FOR THE REST OF 2018 : Republicans will give vulnerable lawmakers a chance to score some minor legislative victories for messaging purposes. The Senate has confirmations to handle, as well. BETWEEN NOW AND ELECTION DAY, you might see a few more items pop up from time to time, but the next six or so months are about campaigning for control of Congress.”


March Madness

Politico IT’S BEEN A WHIRLWIND MARCH SO FAR … FOR THOSE HAVING A HARD TIME KEEPING TRACK AT HOME, LET’S RECAP: President Donald Trump fired national security adviser H.R. MCMASTER this week. He appointed JOHN BOLTON, a Republican who appears frequently on Fox News. Bolton is a hawk who has advocated for a preemptive war with North Korea, and overthrowing the government of Iran. This comes just days after Trump fired Secretary of State REX TILLERSON and decided to swap in CIA Director MIKE POMPEO in his place. TRUMP ANNOUNCED CNBC contributor LARRY KUDLOW as GARY COHN’S replacement at the National Economic Council. And don’t forget Attorney General JEFF SESSIONS fired FBI Deputy Director ANDREW MCCABE, who was just days away from retiring.

Without A Dowd

And … he has shuffled his legal team – JOHN DOWD the lead lawyer on the Russia investigation, resigned and Trumps legal team is now led by conspiracy theorist — and Fox News  pundit — JOSEPH DiGENOVA.”

FLASHBACK: @realDonaldTrump on March 11 at 9:41 a.m.: “The Failing New York Times purposely wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case and am going to add another lawyer to help out. Wrong. I am VERY happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow. They are doing a great job and…..”

More Changes To Come? “Amid White House Turmoil, Trump Mused About Life Without A Chief of Staff” [Yes.  Really.]


“This Can Be A Very Mean-spirited Town” Mic Drop.

“In closing, I’d like to ask that each of you undertake to ensure one act of kindness each day towards another person. This can be a very mean-spirited town. (Laughter and applause.) But you don’t have to choose to participate in that. (Applause.) Each of us get to choose the person we want to be, and the way we want to be treated, and the way we will treat others.

— Outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, delivering farewell remarks yesterday at the State Department


The Anti-McMaster … Who Has Spent His Career Spitting In The Face Of Global Cooperation

Politico Magazine. Click Here for article.

Axios “We can’t overstate how dramatic a change it is for Trump to replace H.R. McMaster with John Bolton: It’s not just that Bolton is more hawkish on Iran and North Korea — though of course he is. It’s that Bolton knows his way around the bureaucracy and won’t take anybody’s crap. He won’t show deference to Mattis or the generals, say sources who know him well.

Until now, Mattis and Tillerson have been trying to restrain what they consider some of the president’s more dangerous instincts, and have been on the opposite side of major issues, including moving the U.S embassy to Jerusalem and trying to persuade Trump not to tear up the Iran nuclear deal. Sources who know Bolton expect he will stare down Mattis … Now that Tillerson is gone, he could fundamentally tip the balance of power on Trump’s national security team, senior officials expect.  …  “This is a guy that you cannot control — that’s the most important thing to know.”


Do. Not. Congratulate. Putin.

“An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,”

– Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, Chair, Senate Armed Services Committee

One of the most startling leaks — and stunning revelations — of this whole administration has left President Trump and his senior staff furious and rattled. WaPo “Trump did not follow specific warnings from his national security advisers [Tuesday] when he congratulated … Putin on his reelection — including a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating ‘DO NOT CONGRATULATE.'”

“Trump also chose not to heed talking points from aides instructing him to condemn the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain with a powerful nerve agent.”


Trump Bumbles Into A Trade War With China

The Atlantic “In an early morning tweet on March 2, President Donald Trump avowed that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” We’re about to find out if he’s right. Trump … just started one with China.

“Trump Closes Era of Constructive Economic Engagement With China,” per Bloomberg:  “After nearly half a century of trying to woo China into the club of major market-based economies, Trump made clear his administration plans to brandish sticks, not carrots, to achieve U.S. trade goals with Beijing. Trump ordered tariffs on Chinese imports worth $50 billion and investment curbs on Chinese companies.”

SO… per Reuters: “China showed readiness to retaliate by declaring plans to levy additional duties on up to $3 billion of U.S. imports including fresh fruit, wine and nuts.”

NYTs Quote of the Day … Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, warning that Chinese leaders have been slow to realize the gravity of a brewing trade battle with Washington: “People in the U.S. and China have for years said the wolf is coming, the wolf is coming, but the wolf hasn’t come. This time, the wolf is coming.”

The Real Tragedy

The Atlantic … in all of this is that Trump is right to be saying enough is enough. But his administration is going about it all wrong. Leading with global tariffs on steel was not only bad economics, it picked fights with America’s closest allies in Europe and Asia who should be indispensable partners in combatting China’s predatory practices.

Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership was another self-inflicted wound. The trade deal, covering 40% of global GDP, was designed to defend against many of China’s unfair policies, including on intellectual property, government procurement, and state-owned enterprises. Tariffs and investment restrictions make for good defense, but what American businesses really need is a fairer global economy that connects high-standard trade agreements between Asia and Europe. That’s not fighting a damaging trade war—it’s besting Beijing without firing a shot.

The Trump administration has the right idea. But America First keeps translating into America alone. And Trump’s trade policies continue falling short in making the United States more competitive, rather than just more confrontational, with China.”


About Those Tariffs

Politico “Trump exempts EU, 4 other allies from steel, aluminum tariffs,” – “The Trump administration said Thursday it would exempt the European Union and four other allies — Australia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea — from steel and aluminum tariffs set to take effect Friday. … The president initially announced that he would exempt Canada and Mexico from the 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% duty on aluminum.”

BEN WHITE (@morningmoneyben): “Trump has now exempted the majority of steel and aluminum exporters to the U.S. from his tariffs (Canada, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea) which raises the question: What was the point of this in the first place?”



theSkimm “The real Mark Zuckerberg finally stood up.

Since last week, Facebook has been going through a major crisis.  Remind me what’s going on here.

Cambridge Analytica is a political consulting firm that helped the Trump campaign with targeted ads. Back in 2015, a psychology professor gave the firm access to the info of 50 million people based on personal data from Facebook. Some of them had given the researcher permission to access their data…most did not. None of them gave Cambridge Analytica permission to use it. What did Facebook do? It told Cambridge Analytica to delete the data – which didn’t happen. Instead, it was used for targeted political ads. What are people saying That it’s pretty F’d up that Facebook knew this data was being wrongly used, but didn’t do a whole lot about it. Now, people are wondering how else their data is being used without their knowledge. Some say it’s time to #deletefacebook. What does Zuckerberg have to say? That he’s “really sorry.” That he’s open to regulating Facebook and to testifying before Congress. That privacy is a big deal. And that he’s taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

The Economist “Facebook needs a full, independent examination of its approach to content, privacy and data, including its role in the 2016 election and the Brexit referendum. This should be made public. Each year Facebook should publish a report on its conduct that sets out everything from the prevalence of fake news to privacy breaches.”

“Next, Facebook and other tech firms need to open up to outsiders, safely and methodically. They should create an industry ombudsman — call it the Data Rights Board. Part of its job would be to set and enforce the rules by which accredited independent researchers look inside platforms without threatening users’ privacy.”

P.S. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, to CNBC’s “Closing Bell” yesterday:

“Mark has said, ‘It’s not a question of ‘if’ regulation, it’s a question of what type.’ … We’re open to regulation. We work with lawmakers all over the world.”


“This is a slow roll” – Silicon Valley insiders think that Facebook will never be the same after the Cambridge Analytica Scandal.


Ill – i – nois[e]

Politico [Illinois Gov] “Bruce Rauner’s (R) in Big Trouble in November: Yes, it’s a win. But it was a weak, lifeless victory – an anemic performance from an incumbent governor who vastly outspent his competitor. … The Chicago machine is still humming: J.B. Pritzker was criticized for being too close to the ‘machine,’ the Chicago political organization powered by Democratic Party Leader Mike Madigan. So was Dan Lipinski and Kwame Raoul. Yet they all won – Billionaire Pritzker won the Dem nomination, Raoul captured the Democratic nomination for attorney general against a crowded field – ensuring that the machine lives on and remains a force to be reckoned with. … Democratic Dan LIPINSKI won despite opposition from much of the Illinois delegation in the House.

“Democratic energy is surging: Democratic primary turnout was up across the state – overall, it was triple what it was in 2014, according to the Democratic Governors Association”





Check out Capstone founder John Rogers’ Blog “The Cassandra Syndrome.”

Click Here .


March For Our Lives

“The School Shooting Generation Has Had Enough,”  TIME AP “They can’t buy a beer or rent a car and most aren’t even old enough to vote, yet the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have spearheaded what could become one of the largest marches in history with nearly 1 million people expected in Washington and more than 800 sister marches from California to Japan. … In the wake of a Valentine’s Day shooting that killed 17, the teens have pulled all-nighters, scheduling speakers, petitioning city councils, renting stages and walking march routes with police in a grass-roots movement that has raised more than $4 million.”

“Students will walk down Pennsylvania Avenue during March for Our Lives on Saturday alongside pop stars Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato. They have requested 14 Jumbotrons, 2,000 chairs and 2,000 public restrooms.”

Officials tell Axios the latest tally stands at 832 marches planned worldwide tomorrow.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, that includes marches in 387 congressional districts — covering 89% of the country.”

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