The Trump Administration has a rocky kick off this week due to both things outside of its control and things of its own making. First there was the planned protests against the new President — demonstrations both on Inaugural Day and the next day that I criticized. Those were outside the control of the Administration. However, then there was a remarkably disappointing and lackluster Inaugural speech followed by a truly dreadful press conference. This was the first press conference for the Administration – a key moment for any new Administration. Instead of emphasizing the positive and taking control of the news cycle with strategic announcements, White House Press secretary Sean Spicer largely criticized the press and then made a series a highly dubious factual assertions about the size of Trump’s audience. It was a performance that even stalwart supporters like Charles Krauthammer on Fox called “weird.” Most of us who have previously watched or covered Inaugurations thought that the crowd seemed smaller. So what? Tens of millions of people voted for Trump. That is the measure that counts. Yet, Spicer went on the attack with some shaky assertions and guaranteed that this tempest in a teapot would be the focus of the next news cycle — and gave critics an opening to lambast the new president. I have said this before that friends of this President need to call him out when his Administration goofs if they want this Administration to succeed. This is one such moment and shows an early lack of discipline and message.
The Democratic establishment has been pushing hard on a new narrative that Hillary Clinton lost not because of her record negatives polling going back years on truthfulness or the desire of the voters for an non-establishment candidate or the baggage carried by Clinton into the election. Rather, it was the hacking by the Russians with a bit of help from FBI Director James Comey, according to this universal spin. The media has assisted to a degree by referring to the “Russian hacking of the election,” which is obviously not true. The election was not hacked. No voting machines or tallies were hacked. Emails were hacked and none of those emails appear to have been altered. They were real emails showing highly dishonest conduct by key players. Despite the virtual mantra from Washington, voters are clearly not buying it. A new CNN/ORC poll shows roughly 8 out of 10 voters followed the controversy but 58 percent doubt that the hacking influenced the outcome of the election. [This posting was updated]
There is an interesting controversy in Israel after the rabbinate in Jerusalem issued a letter warning dozens of hotels in the city that it is “forbidden” by Jewish religious law to erect a Christmas tree or stage new year’s parties. It is a reminder of how Israel remains a country without separation of temple and state — a source of continual tension between the government and both secular Jews and other religions. The Washington Post has referred to a virtual “war on Christmas” by some rabbis in the country.
On the heels of a poll showing that 62 percent of Democrats and Independents do not want Hillary Clinton to run again, Vice President Joe Biden delivered perhaps the most honest and most stinging post mortem: “I don’t think she ever really figured . . . out [why she was running].” While Biden gave a sympathetic take on that dilemma for Clinton, many voters had a harsher view that she ran because she and Democratic leaders treated the office as hers by right.
The police have belatedly released a shocking tape from 2015 that was the basis for an almost $400,000 settlement with a man who was found naked and high on LSD. Even though the man clearly did not have a weapon, the police proceeded to order a K-9 to attack him and bite him for 40 seconds. The disturbing videotape is below. There is no record of any officer being fired for this clearly excessive use of force.
This is one that you might actually get, but it involves the curious response of Robert Scott, 78, to a 29-year-old woman who rejected his advances in Louisiana.
Florida lawyer George Vallario Jr., 76, has taken a case before a jury that could be a first of its kind. Vallario has alleged that his former friend and fellow lawyer Peter Lindley, 59, is guilty of a negligent handshake that left him seriously injured. Lindley apparently shook his friend’s hand at a child’s birthday party, but Vallario insists that the shake was “unexpected, unprovoked, uninvited, unauthorized, uncalled for, and most certainly negligent.”