A speech that lasts an hour and 20 minutes has a lot of different messages, but it seemed like President Donald J. Trump was reaching out to the Democrats in Congress with an olive branch tied to a sword.

Everyone in Washington knows what a good economy does for the party in power, and particularly for the president. It gives them a huge boost. Presidents rarely lose a reelection bid if the economy is doing well.

The economy is doing well, which gives Trump a lot of clout. It seemed to me he was telling the Democrats that they could work with him or he would get it done without them.

People are going to start seeing more money in their paychecks this month. That doesn’t mean much to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is one of the richest members of the House, but it is going to mean something to a lot of hardworking Americans trying to make ends meet.

It’s going to be tough for the Democrats to go out to the American people in the fall and explain that they really don’t need the money that the Republicans sent back to them without a single vote from a Democrat.

Then there was the government shutdown over immigration. The Republicans always get blamed for government shutdowns, but somehow or another Trump turned the tables on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who got the blame and promptly caved.

It is incredible that so many in the mainstream media still think that Trump doesn’t know what he is doing. Trump knows exactly what he is doing, which is why he keeps winning. It’s why he was able to beat 16 Republican opponents in the presidential primary and why he was able to beat Hillary Clinton, a woman who many Democrats worship.

It hasn’t received a lot of domestic press, but I bet it has overseas: Trump said he was going to start giving money to America’s friends not their enemies. When the United Nations voted against the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem, Trump said there would be consequences. Now he has said it again. Trump, whether you like him or hate him, has a way of doing what he says he’s going to do. Some of those countries that trash the US publicly and then depend on US funding are going to be surprised, as is the UN.

The Democrats won’t admit it, but Trump has made major concessions on immigration reform. His base doesn’t like the idea of giving illegal immigrants, regardless of their age, a path to citizenship, but Trump is willing to trade that for a wall.

You can bet that the next time Schumer is negotiating with Trump, in the back of his mind he’s going to be thinking about how Trump turned the tables on him and got Schumer, a Democrat, blamed for the government shutdown.

The mainstream media are predicting another government shutdown on Feb. 8, but Schumer got burned once and it doesn’t seem likely he’s going to want to take the chance and get burned again. The Democrats still haven’t figured out how they got blamed with the last government shutdown, and it is an election year; do they really want to take the blame for a second shutdown?

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Trump got a big dig in at the NFL on the eve of the Super Bowl, talking about standing for the national anthem.

Another point Trump made during his State of the Union that doesn’t seem to be getting much play is that he asked that his Cabinet be given the power to fire government employees.

This would bring about an enormous change for the better in government. One of the problems in Washington is that once someone gets a job with the federal government, there are only two ways out: They can resign or retire. Under the current rules it is nearly impossible to fire someone.

If Trump gets the power to turn that around so that working for the government is more like working for the private sector, overnight the federal government will be far more responsive, and thousands of former federal employees will be out in the real world wondering what happened.

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The mainstream media, which means the Democrats, keep saying that the Republicans are going to lose big in the midterm elections this year if Trump can’t make bipartisan deals. Translated that means – if Trump doesn’t give the Democrats more of what they want.

Fortunately for Republicans, Trump doesn’t pay much attention to the purveyors of fake news. It’s a clever argument to make, and in the past Republicans have fallen for the argument, which boils down to – if you want to get reelected you have to be more like us.

So far the Republicans have forged ahead without any Democratic support. It seems a much more reasonable argument would be that Democrats are not going to get reelected if they don’t start making some compromises. Democrats had no say in the tax reform bill. They could have crafted a bill more to their liking if they had been willing to compromise, but they weren’t.

Trump isn’t suddenly going to give in on his core issues, like building a wall. The Democrats say that he hasn’t given them anything on immigration, which isn’t true. Trump has offered a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and it will take Democratic votes to pass it because the most conservative Republicans are not likely to vote to give citizenship to any illegal immigrants.

If the Democrats remain the party of “no” in Congress, they may find that their friends in the mainstream media will decide they were wrong and want to elect people to Congress who want to do something and not simply stop others from doing something.

Trump likes to make deals. If the Democrats continue to choose not to take advantage of that fact then they will continue to be irrelevant.

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If the folks in Washington really want a deal on Dreamers, they should restrict the deal to the people that they keep talking about who were brought to this country as small children and grew up in the US where they and their parents were living illegally.

There is no reason to use the definition of Dreamer that former President Barack Obama devised because, like so many things Obama did, it doesn’t make any sense except from a public relations standpoint.

According to Obama’s definition of Dreamer, someone could have illegally crossed the border at age 16 and qualify for special consideration because, according to all the rhetoric, their parents brought them here as a small child and they grew up here.

Nobody classifies a 16-year-old person as a small child. Also, DACA only applies to people who entered the US illegally before June 15, 2007. What about children who have entered since then? It seems like it would be far more fair to include children who entered later and eliminate those in their teens.

And DACA is only good for two years; after that it has to be renewed. If DACA is such a necessary program, why did Obama grant it for only two years?

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The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the now famous four-page memo that reportedly outlines some of the abuses of the FBI and Justice Department during the presidential race in 2016.

Trump has indicated he would agree to release the memo, but there seemed to be some doubt if he would. After the State of the Union speech Trump was caught on an open mic saying that the chance of him agreeing to the release of the memo was 100 percent. So if there was any doubt, there shouldn’t be.

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Sunday, FBI Director Chris Wray read the House Intelligence Committee memo. Monday, Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe cleaned out his desk and went home. Technically McCabe is still and employee of the FBI and will be until he officially retires in March. McCabe is using the vacation he has accumulated to finish out his time until he can retire with full benefits.

If that is a coincidence, then it is a huge coincidence. What is far more likely is that after reading the memo, Wray called McCabe and advised him to clean out his desk and stay away from the office during his last month.

Former FBI Director Jim Comey, whom Trump fired, praised McCabe, which for many Republicans proves that forcing McCabe out was the right move.

The evidence is mounting that Comey and McCabe mishandled the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails to the point where it was not an investigation at all, but more of an attempt to figure out what they had to do to clear someone who had broken numerous federal laws with impunity.

It is now known that the Hillary Clinton-is-not-guilty memo that Comey released was largely written before Hillary Clinton and her top aides were interviewed. Since Comey and McCabe had already decided how the “investigation” was going to end, the interviews with Hillary Clinton and her staff were perfunctory at best.

It’s also clearer now why Hillary Clinton’s staff was granted immunity. What if they had said something during their interviews that could not be covered up? The FBI would have been caught between a rock and hard place.

It has also come to light that early versions of the memo noted communications with Obama from adversarial countries on an unsecure server. Those references were entirely eliminated, since they would have proven that Obama lied to the American people when he said he found out about the private email server at the same time as everyone else – by reading the newspaper.

Obama knew about the server because he sent emails to it and evidently tried to hide the fact by using an alias when he did so.

That alone is corruption at the highest levels of government.

Comey may think that McCabe’s actions – in helping him cover up what would have been a huge scandal for the Democratic presidential candidate and the Democratic president – were worthy of praise. Those who still love Hillary Clinton will no doubt agree.

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The White House keeps saying that the president has every confidence in FBI Director Wray, but in Washington that is what people say the day before someone is fired. Translated into American English it would be, “The president is not going to fire Wray today because of the potential political fallout.”

Trump and Obama are a lot alike in one aspect of their presidencies: Obama could do anything he wanted because he knew that whatever he did the mainstream media were behind him. Trump can do whatever he wants because he knows that whatever he does the mainstream media are against him.

Other recent presidents like George W. Bush and William Jefferson Blythe Clinton were constantly trying to manipulate events so they would get good press.

Obama knew he had it and Trump knows he will never get it.

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It took far too long, but finally FBI Deputy Director McCabe – who ran the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails and made sure nobody found anything, or at least got FBI Director Comey to say that they didn’t find anything – is gone.

He’s left the FBI, presumably getting the “I’m with Her” buttons out of his desk drawer and going home.

Next should be Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He not only hired his old friend Robert Mueller as special prosecutor to investigate Trump, but he put almost no restrictions on the investigation. Mueller may still be there interviewing people and charging them with serious crimes like jay walking and littering when Trump is leaving office in seven years.

Rosenstein is supposed to be a good attorney, but evidently his thinking was clouded by partisan politics. Mueller is investigating something that is not a crime. What if Mueller discovers that Trump was talking to Russian President Vladimir Putin every day? It isn’t against the law, even if Putin was giving him campaign advice.

Despite what the mainstream media and the FBI would have you believe, it was not illegal, or even improper, for Carter Page to go to Russia. Americans, even Americans involved in a presidential campaign for a person the FBI hates, retain their freedom of speech. They can talk to anyone they want, and as long as they are not planning a crime, it’s OK.

We now know that two of the leakers from the FBI were FBI agent Peter Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page. Does the FBI have a policy against leaking? The evidence that they were leaking is right there in their text messages on FBI phones.

They should be gone also because it is clear from their text messages that their primary loyalty is not to the United States of America, but to private citizen Hillary Clinton.

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Special Prosecutor Mueller’s investigation has gone far enough. He interviewed his good friend, long time colleague and mentee FBI Director Comey. I bet that was a tough interview. Mueller got his job because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any dealings with investigating a collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Kremlin because he was involved in the campaign and talked to the Russian ambassador.

Mueller has ten times more conflicts of interest than Sessions, and it appears he is no longer investigating anything that has to do with the Russians, but investigating the firing of his close personal friend Comey. It’s time for Sessions to un-recuse himself and reign in Mueller.

It is clear that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, who is also a long time colleague of Comey and Mueller, is not going to do anything to bring Mueller back to his task because Rosenstein, like a lot of the people working for Sessions, is actually working for former President Barack Obama, or perhaps he thinks he is working for Hillary Clinton. He is definitely not working for the actual president, Donald Trump.

It makes no difference what Rosenstein’s personal views are or who he voted for in the last election, his allegiance has to be to the president.

Trump correctly described Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt,” and it is. It appears Mueller has been unable to find any credible evidence that the Trump campaign was illegally colluding with the Russian government and now he is looking for something else.

Mueller should have been called on the carpet and told he had to behave when he used Gestapo tactics breaking into Paul Manafort’s house in the wee hours of the morning with guns drawn to arrest Manafort for money laundering charges that pre-dated the Trump campaign by years. There was no reason to think that Manafort was a flight risk, was dangerous or was destroying evidence. The break down the door, guns drawn routine was simply Mueller demonstrating how much power he had.

As much as he doesn’t want to admit it, Mueller got that power from the president.

Trump seems determined to see this investigation out because he knows that there is nothing to find.

The entire Mueller campaign has gotten out of hand. Mueller needs to explain to some congressional committee how it happened that he has so many people on his team who supported Hillary Clinton financially.

Most of all, Trump needs to order Sessions to clean house at the Justice Department and order Wray to do the same at the FBI. If either of them doesn’t want to do it then Trump needs to fire them and bring in people who do.

Sessions can play the slightly befuddled, avuncular Southern gentleman for the cameras all he wants, but behind closed doors he has to be fierce because the people he is up against want to bring down the government.

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Democrats keep claiming that employees in the FBI and the Justice Department can’t be removed because they aren’t loyal to Trump. Actually, they should be removed if they aren’t loyal to the president of the United States, and that happens to be Trump.

Everyone in the government should be loyal to the president. He is the elected representative of the people. You can’t be loyal to the US Constitution and not be loyal to the constitutionally elected president.

When Obama was in office their loyalty should have been to Obama, not because they liked him or agreed with him but because he was president, and as the duly elected president he deserved and required their loyalty.

Government employees don’t get to pick their boss, the American people do, and even if government employees think most Americans are stupid, it doesn’t matter because that is our form of government.

The Democrats are wrong when they say government employees don’t have to be loyal to the president of the United States. They don’t have to like him, and they are perfectly free to think he never should have been elected, as long as they recognize that he was.

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People who want the Mueller investigation to continue should be cautious about what they wish for. Once Mueller has interviewed all 2.8 million federal employees, he may show up on your front door. Or to be more accurate, he may break into you house with guns drawn to search your house and interview you in your pajamas.

The best answer in that situation is, “I do not recall.” Hillary Clinton used it all the time when she was being interviewed. The reason is that you can’t be charged with lying to the FBI if you say you don’t recall, but if you slip up and say for instance that you haven’t been to Russia in the past 10 years and it turns out you took a trip to Russia nine years and 11 months before, you could be charged with a felony.

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The Justice Department claimed last week that the House Intelligence Committee memo should not be released until the Justice Department had a chance to approve it.

I would argue that the Justice Department under Attorney General Sessions gave up its right to approve anything from the House Intelligence Committee when senior Justice Department officials like Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein went before the committee and refused to give meaningful answers to legitimate questions by the committee and refused to release to the committee documents that the committee had every right to see.

You would expect a department run by Sessions to be cooperative with the House and Senate oversight committees, but Sessions and his employees acted like they were either above the law or had something to hide.

Sessions needs to either take control of his department or go home. The Justice Department is full of Obama-era holdovers, like Rosenstein, who appear to be working against the president of the United States and for his many adversaries.

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Here’s breaking news: Trump exaggerates. He in fact seems to exaggerate more than most people, but most people do exaggerate some. It usually isn’t considered a lie unless it is outrageous. But when Trump exaggerates, the mainstream media go nuts and accuse Trump of lying.

Technically, exaggerating is lying because it is misleading, but most of the time it is accepted for what it is – an exaggeration. Not exactly a lie, but that things are not as good or perhaps as bad as reported.

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I don’t really care much that Trump considered firing Special Prosecutor Mueller and I don’t doubt that he did.

Imagine you get the word that you are going to be audited by the IRS and you can fire the person who made that decision; you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t admit you were tempted to fire them.

My understanding is that Trump can legally fire Mueller. He is an employee of the Justice Department and Trump is over the Justice Department. Politically it would be a huge mistake, but that doesn’t mean that it is illegal.

When Trump saw the team that Mueller had put together was full of hardcore supporters of Hillary Clinton and lacking in hardcore Trump supporters, I bet he did want to fire Mueller because at that point it was clear Mueller had no intention of running a clean and fair investigation, but was, as Trump said, on a witch hunt.

There are plenty of good prosecutors and investigators in this country who didn’t publicly take sides in the last election. It doesn’t matter who they voted for, but if they supported Hillary Clinton so ardently that they were willing to have their names down on a list of donors, then that should have disqualified them.

What bothers me about Trump talking about firing Mueller is that Trump can’t have a private conversation with his attorney in the White House without it being on the news.

I am a big believer in open government, but I also know that if anything is going to get done then Trump needs to be able to discuss matters openly and perhaps heatedly with his advisors. Because Trump has refused to get rid of the Obama holdovers in the White House, everything he does leaks.

Maybe Trump likes it, and it does give him more headlines, but Trump needs to be able to work, which means having private conversations and disagreements with his advisors.

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Some people in this country, mainly due to the poor public education system, still think that Hillary Clinton could become president if President Trump died, became incapacitated, was forced to step down or impeached.

It is certainly possible that Hillary Clinton would become president in that case and it is also possible that any naturally born US citizen would become president, but it would take a lot more than Trump leaving office.

After Trump comes Vice President Mike Pence, whose only real job is to break ties in the Senate and become president if necessary.

After Pence it is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, President Pro Tem of the Senate Orrin Hatch, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Veteran Affairs David Shulkin, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao would go right after Ben Carson but, not being a natural born citizen, she is not eligible to be president. The secretary of health and human services is acting, and having not been confirmed by the Senate would not be eligible. But if it ever got down that low on the list, they might decide to make an exception.

Parisian Promenade at Bicentennial Garden