If you watched the whole of President Donald Trump’s extraordinary, 77-minute press conference on Thursday, you'll need the name of a good chiropractor. Because it’s almost certain you’ve got a bad case of whiplash. From the Associated Press:
The president denounced media reports of a chaotic start to his administration marked by a contentious executive order — now tied up in a legal fight — to place a ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
"This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine," Trump declared. He said he would announce a "new and very comprehensive order to protect our people."
…Amid reports of widespread leaks within his administration, Trump also warned that he would clamp down on the dissemination of sensitive information, saying he had asked the Justice Department to look into the leaks. "Those are criminal leaks," adding, "The leaks are real. The news is fake."
How to embrace Trump and his contradictions poses a problem for the thousands of Republicans in the race for former congressman Tom Price’s Sixth District seat.
The election is April 18. The object is to obtain one of two berths in a June 20 runoff. Which means a solid, 15 percent performance could do the trick. Democrats in the race – there are five -- intend to make Trump their punching bag.
Two Republicans, Bob Gray of Johns Creek and Bruce LeVell, are pitching themselves as thorough Trump men. But the Sixth District as a whole wasn't terribly enthusiastic about Trump last November. On the western side of the Sixth, in east Cobb, here’s how state Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, attempted to thread the needle with a statement that followed Trump’s Thursday performance:
“The flood of sensitive, classified information coming out of our intelligence agencies could inflict long-term harm to the relationship between these agencies and the civilian leaders we elect to run the federal government,” Hill said. “If the president of the United States can’t trust intelligence agents to follow the law, that poses a direct threat to our national security. I believe strongly that Congress must provide oversight and root out this illegal behavior.”
Hill didn’t latch onto the president’s attack on the press. Candidates in campaigns, if they’re not Donald Trump, need decent relations with scribblers and TV types. But Hill is siding with Trump against the spies. To continue:
"By no means am I stating that members of this administration or any other should operate with impunity, nor do I take lightly the danger posed by Russia to the United States and its allies," Hill said. "If inappropriate or illegal acts occurred, there's a legal way to blow the whistle, and it's not through selective leaks from intelligence agencies to the media."
Security-wise, we may have the most expensive president on record. From the Washington Post:
On Friday, President Trump and his entourage will jet for the third straight weekend to a working getaway at his oceanfront Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla.
On Saturday, Trump’s sons Eric and Don Jr., with their Secret Service details in tow, will be nearly 8,000 miles away in the United Arab Emirates, attending the grand opening of a Trump-brand golf resort in the “Beverly Hills of Dubai.”
Meanwhile, New York police will keep watch outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, the chosen home of first lady Melania Trump and son Barron. And the tiny township of Bedminster, N.J., is preparing for the daunting prospect that the local Trump golf course will serve as a sort of northern White House for as many as 10 weekends a year.
The Gallup organization has an explanation for President Trump’s Thursday assault on the press, and for Saturday’s “campaign” rally in Florida:
President Donald Trump's 40% job approval rating about one month into his presidency is 21 percentage points below the historical average rating for elected presidents in mid-February (61%). It is also 11 points below the lowest mid-February reading for any other president.
It might be time for the Georgia GOP to edit its voice-mail directory:
If you listen to the clip above, the last extension belongs to Joe Dendy, the former Cobb County GOP chair who has been in the local lock-up since last May, awaiting trial on child molestation charges. Dendy had been the “director of party development” for the state operation.
The ground in Gwinnett shifted ever so slightly on Thursday, when Charlotte Nash, chairman of the county commission, acknowledged the possibility of a future vote on mass transit. From the Gwinnett Post:
Nash said during her State of the County Address that county officials will conduct a Comprehensive Transit Plan study this year to gather information ahead of a transit referendum. Afterward, however, the details of when a vote would happen, or whether it would be on a T-SPLOST or joining MARTA were a bit squishy.
“It’s going to depend on what happens with legislation at the state level,” Nash said. “There are other tools that are being looked at by the state legislature for transit, so we are keeping our eye on that very closely … We want to see what the full range of options will be before we move forward, and we’ve got a lot of work that has to be done this year on this Comprehensive Transit Planning development.”
An interesting caucus is forming under the Gold Dome. Josh McKoon, who lost his Senate Judiary Committee chairmanship last month, has rushed to state Rep. Matt Gurtler's aide after the latter said Gov. Nathan Deal's top aide had "threatened" him for refusing to vote for the midyear budget.
See for yourself below:
An Atlanta-based federal appeals court ruling that struck down a Florida law barring doctors from asking patients whether they have have guns in their homes on First Amendment grounds could have implications in Georgia. Here's The Associated Press story:
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the law does not trespass on patients' Second Amendment rights to own guns and noted a patient who doesn't want to be questioned about that can easily find another doctor.
"The Second Amendment right to own and possess firearms does not preclude questions about, commentary on, or criticism for the exercise of that right," wrote Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan in one of two majority opinions covering 90 pages. "There is no actual conflict between the First Amendment rights of doctors and medical professionals and the Second Amendment rights of patients."
Circuit Judge William Pryor, who was a finalist in President Donald Trump's search for a Supreme Court nominee, said in a separate concurring opinion that the First Amendment must protect all points of view.
"The promise of free speech is that even when one holds an unpopular point of view, the state cannot stifle it," he wrote. "The price Americans pay for this freedom is that the rule remains unchanged regardless of who is in the majority."