ALLAN SLOAN IN THE WASHPOST: TRUMP’S CODDLING OF WHITE SUPREMICISTS & HATE GROUPS BETRAYS MORE THAN AMERICAN VALUES — HE FAILED TO DEFEND HIS OWN FAMILY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/trumps-biggest-failure-not-standing-up-for-his-own-family/2017/08/18/e90f1bc4-8423-11e7-902a-2a9f2d808496_story.html?utm_term=.f40245641dbb

Sloan, a business columnist, writes:

“But Trump’s behavior shows, unfortunately, how right I was two weeks ago when I wrote that he’s making a classic business mistake — by surrounding himself with flunkies who kiss up to him and by not listening to the handful of strong subordinates whom he’s appointed.

If you’re a competent chief executive, you try to surround yourself with competent subordinates who don’t shrink from telling you when they think you’re wrong. You put them in a room and let them duke it out. And if you’re smart, you pay attention to what they say, because you’re secure enough to realize that they may know more about certain things than you do.

As we’ve seen from Charlottesville, Trump isn’t remotely like that.

As a business columnist, I know that I’m expected to write how some CEOs bailed on two presidential advisory committees that Trump created. And how Trump, true to form, disbanded the committees and embarrassed the CEOs who had stood by him, just so he could claim to get the last word.

But when it comes to analyzing the big picture, which is what I’m trying to do here, the advisory committees debacle isn’t even a rounding error. What really matters is that Trump is exhibiting the same behavior that led businesses he controlled into six Chapter 11 bankruptcies (which is why I call him Donald 66 Trump) as his casino-real estate empire collapsed in the 1980s and 1990s.

But that’s just business. What makes me truly angry about Donald 66 — who, like me, has Jewish children and grandchildren — is that he can’t be bothered to defend his own family. Unbelievable, isn’t it? But true.

It’s inconceivable to me that Trump, whose daughter Ivanka joined the Jewish people, married a Jew and has produced three Jewish grandchildren, can’t bring himself to tweet (let alone say) that he has a problem with a crowd chanting “Jew will not replace us.” Or with them chanting “Heil, Trump”— the Nazi salute — while wearing Trump gear.

What is wrong with this man? You can argue politics and taxes and health care and other bones of contention 100 different ways. But for God’s sake — pun intended — Trump isn’t even defending members of his own family, two of whom are among his closest advisers, against religious bigotry.

I’m especially sensitive to this because I’m an American who’s Jewish. Please note that “American” comes first; I loathe identity politics. Trump and I are from the same generation. I know, as Trump must know, what the Nazis were about. One of the many reasons that I love this country is that without America, I think the Nazis would have won World War II and murdered every Jew on Earth.

 

It’s one thing for Trump to use “America First” — a phrase that evokes 1930s Nazi sympathizers like Charles Lindbergh (a onetime aviation hero) and Father Charles Coughlin (the “radio priest” from Royal Oak, Mich., who spewed hate, was finally silenced by the pope, and whose Shrine of the Little Flower I passed twice daily during my first year at the Detroit Free Press). I’ll give Trump the benefit of the doubt on that one, and say he didn’t know what “America First” evoked before he started using it.

But for Trump to not tweet that he doesn’t want to see “heil” and “Trump” in the same sentence? To not come to the defense of the Jewish members of his family? Or the Jews among his presidential appointees? What the hell is wrong with this man?

The best thing I’ve read since Charlottesville erupted was what Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said. To wit, “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged.” That’s exactly right. And my late father-in-law, who was a total mensch, didn’t spend five of the prime years of his life in the Seabees for Nazi ideals to go unchallenged. Nor did the millions of other Americans who took up arms to defend our country against overwhelming evil.

 

The Charlottesville counter-demonstrators were fools who fell into the demonstrators’ trap. (That’s one thing that Trump has gotten right. As the saying goes, “Even a blind pig can find an acorn.”)

But the counter-demonstrators, however foolish and out of control, aren’t remotely equivalent to swastika-toting provocateurs and Ku Klux Klan Kreeps demonizing blacks and Jews and immigrants, praising Hitler’s evil crew and by implication demeaning the Americans who fought to subdue the Nazi menace.

To return to sports analogies, you deal with these trolls by using what the late Muhammad Ali called “rope a dope” strategy. You let them march, you don’t physically confront them, you don’t help them get the attention they crave, you let them punch themselves into exhaustion. No harm, no foul, no mainstream publicity. They’re publicized by the Daily Stormer, today’s iteration of the Nazis’ anti-Semitic Der Sturmer newspaper? Who cares? Let it go.

 

At this point, unfortunately, I don’t think Donald 66 can change enough to become a competent chief executive instead of a faux CEO, even if he wants to. But maybe he can learn to be a decent father and grandfather, and stand up for his kids and grandkids. We need a lot more from him than that, but I’ll take what little I can get.”

**********************************************

PWS

08-19-17

SARAH POSNER IN WASHPOST: Trump, Base, White Nationalist Agenda Virtually Grarantee Kelly’s Failure, Demise!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/08/07/john-kelly-is-doomed-to-fail-the-reason-why-isnt-what-you-think/?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-d:homepage/story&utm_term=.ed3335ab0013

Posner writes:

“But that’s not the real reason he cannot succeed. Rather, it’s because Trump’s base, and in particular, his media and social media base, thrives on West Wing dysfunction that is rooted in what is portrayed as an existential battle between Trump’s “nationalist” staff and advisers, and the dreaded “globalists” in his midst. Because Trump has displayed no real interest in taming that beast, and in fact seems to relish feeding it, any effort by Kelly to slap Trump’s hand away from Twitter will have little impact on the persistent unrest roiling the White House.”

*************************************

Read the complete op-ed at the link. I have been predicting for some time now that Kelly’s association with the congenital liar and bully Trump and his gonzo White Nationalist agenda will lead to a badly tarnished reputation.

We’ll see. But seems to me that Posner has it pegged about right (or, perhaps, “alt right”).

PWS

08-08-17

Continue reading SARAH POSNER IN WASHPOST: Trump, Base, White Nationalist Agenda Virtually Grarantee Kelly’s Failure, Demise!

NEWSWEEK: Gonzo Apocalypto’s Next Targets: The 1st Amendment & Reporters — Truth-Challenged Press Conference Assails “Leakers!”

http://www.newsweek.com/sessions-leaks-trump-fired-fake-news-media-cnn-mueller-comey-obama-golf-646838?spMailingID=2132659&spUserID=MzQ4OTU2OTQxNTES1&spJobID=850160461&spReportId=ODUwMTYwNDYxS0

Jeff Stein reports:

“Another day, another Donald Trump show. The president was absent from the elaborate press conference that Attorney General Jeff sessions held at the Justice Department on Friday to showcase the administration’s intent to crack down on leaks.

But his looming presence was palpable. The president reportedly often watches and critiques the TV performance of his officials.

“This culture of leaking must stop,” Sessions said, echoing Trump’s increasingly bitter tweets.

Flanking Sessions were Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Director of National Intelligence, Daniel Coats and William Evanina, head of the little-known National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

“Conspicuously absent,” The Washington Post noted, “were representatives for the FBI, which generally investigates leaks.” Rosenstein said the new FBI Director, Christopher Wray, wasn’t there because he had just started his job this week.

Unlikely. Wray’s office is just a short walk across Pennsylvania Avenue from the Justice Department. If Wray were unavailable, plenty of other top FBI officials certainly were. Under a president obsessed with how his officials come across on television, the exclusion of them seemed deliberate.

. . . . .

The tableau presented by Sessions, who is struggling to hold on to his job after weeks of withering criticism from Trump for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, seemed designed to suggest to the president’s political base that other, more trusted security agencies would play a prominent role in the leak investigation.

Not going to happen. As opposed to what the TV pictures might suggest, U.S. intelligence agencies are barred from criminal investigations of leaks (although they conduct their own internal probes).  

“Only the FBI has jurisdiction to conduct that type of investigation,” Robert L. Dietz, who has held senior legal positions at the CIA, NSA, the National Geo-Spatial Agency and the Defense Department, tells Newsweek. “Indeed, the entire intel establishment has no authority over leaks.”

. . . .

Historically, critics of leak investigations, including government officials, have called them “a fool’s errand.” They can often lead right back to the offices of the White House or cabinet official who demanded them.

But Sessions added a dark element to his Friday announcement, suggesting he might start issuing subpoenas to reporters. The secret monitoring of media organizations could well accompany such investigations, history shows.

Press freedom organizations denounced the idea. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said it would “strongly oppose” a revision of Obama administration guidelines generally prohibiting such subpoenas. It also announced it had set up a toll-free hotline for reporters to call for legal advice if they got a subpoena.

Most leaks involving controversial Trump administration policies and its in-fighting and chaos have not included classified information. But some national security officials, both Democrats and Republicans, said Thursday they were shocked by the leaks of complete transcripts of Trump’s private telephone conversations with the president of Mexico and prime minister of Australia. Both transcripts revealed Trump saying things in stark contrast to his public positions. He had denounced previous reports characterizing the calls—accurately, as it turned out—as “fake news.” Sessions indicated he was going to get to the bottom of who leaked the transcripts.

But far from being investigated and punished, whistleblowers should be recognized as playing an important role in a democracy, says Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington, D.C. nongovernmental organization. Leak probes, she said, can stumble onto rightful efforts to expose crimes by government officials.

“Whistleblowers are the nation’s first line of defense against fraud, waste, abuse and illegality within the federal government,” Brian told The Washington Post. “The last thing this administration wants to do is to deter whistleblowing in an effort to stymie leaks.”

*************************************************

Notable that Sessions’s so-called “press conference” (is it really a “press conference” if you don’t take questions from the press?) was actually a performance aimed at reassuring President Trump that he was “on message” after being accused (falsely) by the President of being “weak on leaks.”

There is one major disclosure of classified information that should concern all Americans: Trump’s cavalier offering of sensitive documents to the Russians, who are not our friends or allies. Other than that, most of the “leaked” information consists of what NBC’s Chuck Todd would call “water cooler stuff” that more likely than not was “leaked” by members of Trump’s own “inner circle” as part of the never ending “palace intrigues” and “power struggles” surrounding the West Wing. While it’s easy to understand why truth could be embarrassing to Trump and his minions, its not by any means a threat to national security. No, the biggest REAL thereat to our national security remains President Trump himself.

PWS

08-07-17

THE HUMAN COST OF GONZO POLICIES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trumps-travel-ban-is-leaving-these-orphans-stuck-in-refugee-camps/2017/07/28/58195d24-6d52-11e7-8fb5-d101fa38cebd_story.html?utm_term=.c1979f167906&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

Justin Wm. Moyer reports in the Washington Post:

“The tranquil home of James Isaacs, an Episcopal priest, and wife Maggie Brewinski Isaacs, a pediatrician, sits on a hill above a creek on 5½ wooded acres in suburban Maryland. Inside, an unoccupied bedroom awaits a refu­gee ready to join the family.

But the 16-year-old girl, blocked by the Trump administration’s travel ban, is stuck in an Ethio­pian refu­gee camp and might never see the room.

“The children ask us when their big sister is going to arrive,” James Isaacs said of his sons, ages 4 and 2, one of whom was adopted from South Africa. “We are left in this time of uncertainty because of the administration and the Supreme Court decision.”

The girl, from the East African nation of Eritrea and identified to The Washington Post only by her initials “M.T.” to protect her privacy, is an “unaccompanied minor refu­gee” — a young, displaced person without a parent or guardian who is seeking refuge in the United States.

Jimmy Isaacs, 4, left, and his brother, Joseph, 2, play on the bed inside the room that the family prepared to foster an “unaccompanied minor refugee” from Africa. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

A painting is seen inside the room that Irene Stevenson prepared to foster an “unaccompanied minor refugee” from Africa. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

On July 19, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration’s travel ban to stand, leaving about 100 unaccompanied minor refugees stranded overseas. The decision comes after months of judicial back-and-forth over the ban, casting doubt on the children’s plans to live in the United States.

“They are youth that are on their own,” said Autumn Orme, a director at Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, which works with unaccompanied minor refugees. “I find it pretty extraordinary that they are managing this all on their own. These are children that don’t have parents to care for them.”

The result: M.T., an orphan who fled child labor in Eritrea two years ago and was approved by the State Department to live in the United States, remains in legal limbo.

“Not only is she missing out now, we’re missing out,” Isaacs said.

The Isaacs family is not the only one with an empty bedroom after the ban.”

********************************************

Read the rest of the stories at the link.

So what kind of country bars vulnerable kids in need while letting the real threats to our national security — Trump, his family, and his cronies — have free rein at the seat of Government? Trump, his family, and some of his advisers probably wouldn’t be able to pass the type of security screening to which overseas refugees are subjected.

PWS

07-28-17

HISTORY: In January 1972, A.G. John Mitchell Sat In His Paneled Office At The DOJ, Puffed On His Pipe, And Listened To Plans For A Whacko Criminal Conspiracy (Which Sent Him To Jail) — Since Then The Vaunted “Independence” Of The DOJ Has Been More Myth Than Reality — Trump Wants To Make The DOJ Part Of His Corrupt Political Empire — GOP Pols Talk Big But Do Little When It Comes To Standing Up To America’s Corruptor In Chief!

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/07/27/jeff-sessions-is-the-canary-in-the-coal-mine-215424?cid=apn

Joshua Zeitz writes in Politico:

“President Trump’s condemnation of his own attorney general may seem bizarre and unprecedented, but here’s something many in America’s gobsmacked chattering class are forgetting: The vaunted independence of the Justice Department took over a century to build, and it’s a far more fragile institution than we realize.

The spectacle of Trump attacking Jeff Sessions, one of his earliest and most stalwart supporters, as “beleaguered” and “unfair” is certainly jarring. The president seemingly cannot help but vent his frustration over the attorney general’s decision to step aside in the Department of Justice’s probe into Russian election interference—a step that led indirectly to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. If Sessions “would have recused himself before the job,” Trump told the (“failing”) New YorkTimes. “I would have said ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’”

The prospect that the president might fire Sessions, whose immigration policies and draconian approach to law enforcement are anathema to the left, places Democrats in an unusual position. They despise the attorney general but find themselves bound to protect the independence of his office. But the real test lies with Republicans, who have largely looked the other way as Trump has laid waste to one political norm after another. Will they draw a sharp line in the sand, or bury their heads in it?

It took well over a century for the office of the attorney general to accrue the very power and independence that Trump now stands poised to blow up. Originally a minor position with little authority or autonomy, over the years the AG emerged as the nation’s top law enforcement official and a key adviser to the president. The office withstood considerable strain in the latter quarter of the 20th century. But like so many civic institutions today, it is imperiled precisely because it is largely the product of traditions, and administrative rules that capture those traditions, rather than permanent statutes or laws. Once broken, it may not be so easily reassembled.”

*******************************************

Read the complete article, which contains a fascinating short history of the DOJ, at the link.

Washington was, in fact, built on swampland with Tiber Creek running through it. I’m sort of expecting that the old swamp will just open up again some day and swallow Trump and the whole corrupt mess surrounding him.

PWS

07-27-17

 

 

UNDER THE RADAR: Trump Administration Implementing “Muslim Ban” Without Fanfare!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/18/opinion/trump-muslim-ban-supreme-court.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170718&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=3&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

“Lost amid the uproar over the Trump administration’s travel restrictions on citizens from Muslim-majority countries and the impending showdown at the Supreme Court are the insidious ways that the government has already begun to impose a Muslim ban.

It’s doing so through deceptively boring means: increasing administrative hurdles and cementing or even expanding the current travel restrictions that are not under review at the court. The collective impact of these changes will be that a permanent Muslim ban is enshrined into American immigration policy.

. . . .

The Twitterverse and cable news pundits are unlikely to be mobilized by policy changes that come about through these types of bureaucratic processes. Most people are not closely following the intricacies of visa vetting and screening.

That’s a shame because there is already evidence that they are working. The number of visas issued to citizens from Muslim-majority countries has decreased by double digits. Among nearly 50 Muslim-majority countries, nonimmigrant visas declined almost 20 percent in April, compared with the monthly average from 2016. Visas issued to people from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, the six countries on the travel ban list, were down 55 percent. Those figures will continue to get worse if these other provisions are implemented.

Finally, consider an embarrassing incident. An Afghan girls’ robotics team was initially denied entry into the United States to participate in a science competition. It was only after public outcry and an intervention by President Trump that they were granted passage. Situations like that are also likely to have a chilling effect on people from Muslim-majority countries, resulting in further decreases.

A Muslim ban, even when implemented through seemingly mundane bureaucratic processes, simply has no place in our country.

COLBERT I. KING IN WASHPOST OP-ED: “Americans put Trump in the Oval Office. What does that say about the country?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americans-put-trump-in-the-oval-office-what-does-that-say-about-americans/2017/07/14/e6dd8996-67e8-11e7-a1d7-9a32c91c6f40_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.490e8d0e535b

King writes:

“The vaudeville show that’s running at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue didn’t book itself into the White House. Nearly 63 million Americans sent that burlesque comedy with headliner Donald Trump to Washington. That 66 million other voters thought otherwise is beside the point. Trump didn’t anoint himself president. Millions put him in office.

What does that tell us about the country?

Was hatred of President Barack Obama, fear of Hillary Clinton, outrage over America’s perceived direction enough to transfer the reins to Trump?

It’s not as if the Trump on display in the Oval Office is not the same Trump we saw on the campaign trail or on reality TV or out and about touting his businesses. He was, by any yardstick, the most unqualified presidential nominee in modern history.

Trump didn’t seize the presidency by deception. For months on end, he was out there for all voters to see, measure and judge. Some of us did offer our preelection assessments, based upon his campaign, well before time came to cast ballots.

In my view, Trump showed himself to be one who could be neither out-demagogued nor out-nastied.

Well in advance of the vote, the country heard Trump’s vile insults and claims: Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists; Obama wasn’t born in the United States and was an illegitimate president.

 

And his attacks on people. Megyn Kelly: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Jews: “The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): “He’s not a war hero . . . I like people that weren’t captured.” My journalist colleague Serge Kovaleski, who has limited mobility in his arms: “Now the poor guy, you ought to see this guy,” Trump said, before contorting his arms in an apparent impersonation.

Trump the candidate showed himself to be an ignorant, undisciplined, ranting bully who exaggerated and lied without shame. A man who wore a tough-guy masculinity but was actually a coward, who picked on women, demeaned minorities and was thoroughly lacking in human decency.

Trump’s character defects were on full display well before the polls opened.

President Trump’s behavior in the White House has been equally as disgusting and beneath the dignity of that high office.

And now our nation’s capital is being wrenched apart by the Trump-Russia scandal and congressional and federal investigations into the Kremlin’s intrusion in the election.

The country can’t claim not to have seen this coming.”

****************************************

Read King’s full op-ed at the link.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the Trump fiasco is that although he might be “historically unpopular,” his support in the polls has remained steady at around 35% – 40%. That means that at least 1/3 of Americans are willing to accept incompetence, dishonesty, bias, racism, xenophobia, intentional cruelty and divisiveness, nepotism, bullying, anti-intellectualism, scientific ignorance, undermining national security, and misogyny as the “new norms” in America. It essentially means that a substantial number of our fellow Americans have put themselves out of reach of rational political dialogue. That’s going to make America “tough to govern” no matter who wins the next round of elections.

PWS

07-15-17

NYT: CONFEDERACY OF LIARS!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/opinion/donald-trump-jr-russian-lawyer.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170711&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=0&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

Today’s NY Times Editorial:

“At a critical juncture in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign last year, his son Donald Trump Jr. met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who promised to share political dirt on Hillary Clinton. Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, and Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a key strategist, also attended.

The June 9, 2016, meeting is of obvious interest to Robert Mueller III, the Justice Department special counsel investigating the Trump team’s potential involvement in Russia’s effort to influence the presidential election. In two clumsy statements over the weekend, the younger Mr. Trump on Saturday said the meeting was related to Russia’s freezing of an adoption program popular with Americans. When confronted a day later with a Times story citing authoritative sources that Ms. Veselnitskaya had promised damaging material on Mrs. Clinton, he said that the information she supplied was essentially meaningless and merely a “pretext” for discussing the adoption issue.

On the face of it, this seemed a clear though perhaps unintended admission by Donald Trump Jr. that he had gone into the meeting expecting damaging information, and the episode is clearly grist for Mr. Mueller’s mill. As is a report Monday night by The Times that the president’s son had received an email saying Ms. Veselnitskaya’s information came from Moscow. But his shifty statements are also further evidence of how freely his father and the people around the president contort the truth. Only six months in, President Trump has compiled a record of dishonesty — ranging from casual misstatements to flat-out lies — without precedent in the modern presidency. Equally disheartening is his team’s willingness to share in his mendacity.

On Sunday, before Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged that there was a Clinton-related aspect to the meeting, Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, was on Fox News suggesting that the Veselnitskaya episode was “a big nothingburger” for the Trump campaign.

If a culture of dishonesty takes root in an administration, how can Americans believe anything its officials say? Take, for instance, the matter of whether President Vladimir Putin of Russia personally directed Moscow’s hacking of the 2016 presidential election. In statements dating from his first days in office until the eve of his meeting with Mr. Putin in Germany last week, when he said “nobody really knows,” Mr. Trump has deflected and sought to discredit his own intelligence agencies’ finding that Moscow, at Mr. Putin’s direction, tried to disrupt the election to help him win. Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, said after the American and Russian presidents met in Hamburg that they “had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject” and that Mr. Trump had “pressed” Mr. Putin on the issue. Later, Mr. Trump made much the same claim on Twitter. The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, had quite a different version of the facts, suggesting that Mr. Trump had characterized the hacking controversy as a “campaign” against Russia in which “not a single fact has been produced.” So whom should Americans believe? In a more credible administration, who would ever ask?

On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. hired a lawyer, while maintaining on Twitter that he’d been forthright in answering questions about the meeting last year. Meanwhile, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy press secretary, blew more smoke: The “only thing I see inappropriate” about the meeting, she said, is that it was leaked to the media.”

********************************************

Not only are they congenital liars, but they aren’t even very good at it!

PWS

07-11-17

POLITICS: WASHPOST OPINION: Harvard’s Danielle Allen Has Some Advice For Dems!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-should-democrats-be-trying-to-achieve-submit-your-ideas/2017/07/03/d1e06aa6-5ddc-11e7-9fc6-c7ef4bc58d13_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-d%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.90fd322b7995

Allen writes:

“By now, we should all be bored to death with despairing Democrats’ decrying the non-appeal of their “brand.” If they remembered that we were citizens, not consumers, they might bother to develop some ideas and propose to lead us somewhere, anywhere. Perhaps the anti-Trump resistance could tackle the challenge of building a positive vision. “Resist and rebuild” might be the mantra.

The original Independence Day was one of construction. By July 4, work on the Articles of Confederation and state constitutions was already well advanced. Maybe the thing to do is have a competition. Hear ye, hear ye, all Americans, what do you think Democrats should be trying to achieve? Submit your ideas!

I, for one, would love to see somebody stand up on some platform somewhere and say something like the following:

We are better than this, America. Better than this division, disdain and despair. We will chase away the clouds and let the sun shine through. The sun of honor and truth. The sun of freedom, fairness and equality.

We will connect, empower and emancipate Americans.

How? By transforming transportation, housing, criminal justice and health care.

We will get our fiscal house in order — achieving a new social contract across generations to rebalance Social Security and Medicare. With our own resources — and without Saudi infrastructure investments being arranged at the same moment that sales of arms to the kingdom are being hammered out — we’ll rebuild our transportation infrastructure. We’ll reconnect rural America to mobility and break the grip of deadening traffic on the lives of urban and suburban residents. By banishing remoteness, we’ll restore opportunity. With less time in cars, we’ll have more time for neighbors; parents will have more time for kids.

We will tackle the true housing crisis: the high cost of rent and the limited availability of affordable housing in places where there is economic opportunity. While real estate developers get rich on the tax treatment of commercial real estate losses, ordinary Americans keep taking hits. We will address underwater mortgages that continue to trap people in undesirable situations and make moving a threat to one’s retirement. An America on the move is an America empowered, firing up engines of opportunity now stalled out.

We will end the war on drugs, build universal health care and reinvest in education. Criminal justice isn’t the tool for the problem of addiction. Health care is. We can and should fight high-level traffickers, but we should emancipate those who suffer from addiction, by calling on the blessings of medicine. We can and should rally the international community against international trafficking, but we must emancipate young people entrapped as low-level employees in international cartels’ predatory distribution systems. They need pathways out — through education and jobs. And we must emancipate communities of color from mass incarceration’s devastation. We must liberalize our drug laws at last.

The time has also come for universal health care. Where Medicaid has expanded, states are better able to fight opioid addiction. When children go to school healthy, they learn better. As Thomas Paine, author of “Common Sense,” argued, everyone needs a starting kit for life. Congress has proved that our health-care system is a mess — too complicated, too byzantine — for any group of 535 honorable women and men to sort out. Let’s make it simple. Forty percent of the nation’s children are already on Medicaid. We can offer Medicaid to all.

With Medicaid for all, we can secure what most of us now recognize as a basic right: routine access to modern medicine. This should be, for all Americans, like access to our highway system. Sure, some will use toll roads for a superior journey. But the road to good health should be open to all. Empowered with a strong foundation of health and education, all Americans will at last have a shot at the American dream.

America is woven of many strands: religious and secular; black, brown and white; male, female; gay, trans and straight; rural and urban. We would recognize it and let it so remain. We will connect, empower and emancipate all Americans, new and old, the sons and daughters of ancestors who have been here for generations, the sons and daughters of those just arrived.

We ask in return that you begin to speak to each other again with civility and decency, whether online or off, and in the expectation of securing goodwill from one another. We didn’t get to be the richest, freest country in the world on a fuel of mutual disdain. What we have we’ve built with the mutual respect that makes working together possible. We ask that all Americans aspire to prove themselves trustworthy to one another, to stand beside each other, and to hope to guide one another generously, in a spirit of equality, upholding justice for all, with the grace of Lady Liberty.

We will also ask Americans to welcome a set number of new immigrants every year and another set number cycling through on work permits. We will bring order to our immigration system. But remember this: Families coming from distant lands seek us out because we are the country of good hope. This is our pride and joy. To see that hope reflected in the faces of newcomers is an honor indeed. By asking for entrance, new immigrants tell us that we have done well. We have built something of value to all humankind.

Connect. Empower. Emancipate. This is what we will do for the American people. This is what we ask you, the American people, to do for yourselves. Connect. Empower. Emancipate.

We will banish the dark. We will again lift the lamp of human dignity.”

*****************************************************

I wonder how many times the word “dark” has been used to describe various aspects of the Trump Administration?

PWS

07-05-17

WHAT’S TRUMP’S TRAVEL BAN PROTECTING US FROM? — DUH, NOTHING, OF COURSE — But, It IS Distracting Attention From The REAL Threat To Our National Security!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/06/26/supreme-court-partially-restores-trump-travel-ban-which-wouldnt-have-kept-out-anyone-behind-deadly-terrorist-attacks/?utm_term=.b3e979184075

Mark Berman writes in the Washington Post:

“The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to let a limited version of President Trump’s travel ban take effect, so we are republishing an updated version of this story.

President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travelers from six Muslim-majority nations due to “heightened concerns about terrorism” was quickly frozen by the courts, much like an earlier version of the ban, until the Supreme Court acted on Monday.

The justices said they would let the ban partially take effect and, in the ruling, announced plans to consider the case later this year. The Supreme Court made a key exception, saying the ban could not be “enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” But otherwise, the Trump administration is now free to impose a 90-day ban on travelers from six countries that it had said posed certain “national security risks.”

The second travel ban had something big in common with the first version: It would not have kept out of the United States anyone responsible for a deadly terrorist attack since 2001.”

*******************************************************

Read the complete article (with charts and map) at the above link.

Question of the Day:

In any “normal” Administration, how many of the characters holding positions in the Trump White House would be granted high level security clearances (including, of course, the “Tweeter-in-Chief” himself)?

PWS

06-30-17

 

 

 

Israel & The Middle East Are A Powder Keg — The Obvious Solution — Send A 30-Something Relative With Neither Expertise Nor Diplomatic Experience To Straighten Things Out — Nepotism Is Not Just An Ethical Problem (For A Prez Who Can’t Spell Ethics), But A Danger To The World’s Security!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/06/jared-kushners-road-from-jerusalem-to-nowhere.html

Jonah Shepp reports in New York Magazine:

“President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner spent the better part of last week in the Middle East, meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an attempt to relaunch U.S.-brokered peace talks. Shockingly, the trip was not a great success.

Kushner, who has carved out a foreign-policy portfolio for himself at the White House despite having no relevant experience, arrived in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Accompanied by Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, he began his trip with an apparently friendly meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and a visit to the the family of Hadas Malka, a 23-year-old border police officer who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian attacker in East Jerusalem the previous Friday.

. . . .

Perhaps fortunately, Kushner will likely be busy in the near future defending himself in the developing investigation into his communications with Russian officials and bank executives, as well as his personal finances and business dealings. But it should go without saying that anyone dogged by such questions should under no circumstances be running foreign policy on behalf of the United States government. If Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis can’t convince Trump to stop listening to his wunderkind adviser, that’s a big problem.

Maybe Trump thinks Kushner has some special insight into the Middle East on account of his Jewish heritage, or maybe Kushner just fancies himself a budding statesman and convinced his doting father-in-law to let him play action-hero diplomat in the most volatile region of the world. In any case, Trump’s willingness to hand his daughter and son-in-law the keys to the government whenever they want to drive it constitutes a level of reckless, corrupt nepotism the likes of which this country has rarely seen.”

*************************************

“Amateur Night at the Bijou” continues, with YOUR security at stake.

PWS

06-28-17

SESSIONS FAILS IN BID TO BE NAMED “CABINET’S WORST” — FINISHES IN DEAD HEAT FOR RUNNER-UP WITH EPA’S PRUITT — DE VOS JUST “TOO BAD TO LOSE!”

Sports fans, I thought I had this one pegged for sure! Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions was an early favorite in the NY Times/Gail Collins Reader’s Poll Competition for “Worst Cabinet Member.”  And, to be honest, I didn’t see any way he could blow this one (after all, it’s not like having to remember whether you met the Russian Ambassador a few months ago) despite the undeniably fierce and well-unqualified competition. But, in the end, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wouldn’t be denied; she “out-worsted” the field. I have to admit that I had underestimated her worst characteristics (although not by much). Still, as pointed out below, timing could have hurt Sessions’s bid.

Collins reports:

“It was a hard-fought race, people. But the results of our Worst Trump Cabinet Member reader poll are in.

And the winner is — Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos!

With a near tie for second place between Scott Pruitt of the Environmental Protection Agency and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “It’s hard to be worse than Sessions or Pruitt. But DeVos deals with … children,” wrote a Michigan reader.

DeVos really hates public schools — something you don’t find often in a secretary of education. Her goal seems to be replacing them with charter schools, none of which will need much oversight because, you know, the choice thing.

Many readers noted that our secretary of education does not seem to be … all that bright. (“DeVos is a solid choice based on irony alone.”)

But I can’t help thinking Sessions might have taken the prize if his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee had gone on just a little longer. He clearly wowed viewers with his alleged inability to remember things. (“Wins by a Pinocchio.”) Some were taken by his resemblance to a bad hobbit or gremlin (“malevolent pixie”). But others simply found Sessions … bad. (“He is detestable and should have little tiny horns on the back of his head.”)

. . . .

Let’s be extremely clear that this was not a scientific survey. In fact, it was pretty hard to get any count at all since many readers couldn’t resist the temptation to take the easy route and pick all of the above. (“I’ve seen better cabinets at Ikea.”) Or to name five. Or to complain that selecting one Worst was too hard. (“Trying to pick a winner from this bunch is like trying to knit a sweater with wet spaghetti.”)

It’s not that everyone was negative — there were a few kind words for James Mattis, the secretary of defense, and some mixed reviews on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But a lot of folks still seem to be in a state of trauma over that big meeting President Trump called last week, in which the cabinet members tried to one-up each other in the fulsomeness of their praise for their commander in chief. (“That cabinet meeting looked like one of those cheap TV ads you see where people praise a tomato slicer. …”)

Unfortunately, we couldn’t count the Worst Cabinet Member votes that were given to somebody who wasn’t actually in the cabinet. Donald Trump cannot get the prize. Nor can Jared or Ivanka or Omarosa. Also we cannot name Eric Trump’s wedding planner, even though she has just been named to one of the top jobs in the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

One reader was unnerved by rumors that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, after having finished wrecking his state’s economy, is now in line for a federal job and asked if he could be nominated Worst in advance.

Special tip of the hat to readers who chose Rick Perry. I have to admit I didn’t even mention him when I wrote the column proposing the Worst vote-off. But a number nominated him, generally pointing to the fact that when Perry took the job, he was unaware that the Department of Energy’s main responsibility was tending the nation’s nuclear arsenal, not traveling the world to boost the sale of American oil and gas.

Just as balloting came to a close, Perry gave an interview on CNBC in which he downplayed carbon dioxide’s role in global warming, explaining that “most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.”

This is a man who just keeps on campaigning. Plus, as one correspondent noted, if Perry ever won the Worst award “his acceptance speech would be epic.”

We saw a lot of votes for Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, for his heroic efforts to ruin national health care and the social safety net. And Ben Carson got a surprising amount of support, considering that we barely ever hear about him doing anything. One reader was apparently won over by the painting the secretary of housing and urban development has in his home, showing Jesus with his arm around Ben Carson.

But DeVos is definitely our Worst Cabinet winner. For now. Do you think we should do this every few months? And what should the award look like? Anything’s possible. After all, we’ve got another three and a half years.”

You can read Collin’s entire piece (I “shorted” the coverage of Scott Pruitt) at this link: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/22/opinion/betsy-devos-trump-worst-cabinet-member.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170622&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=1&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1

If Trump doesn’t fire him or force him to resign first, I think Gonzo has a realistic shot at destroying the entire U.S. legal system that it has taken us more than 200 years to build and putting half our population in privately run prisons or detention centers to boot. Now, that would have to make him the hands-down “winner!”

PWS

06-22-17

VEEP “LAWYERS UP” — KUSHNER UNDER INVESTIGATION, AS RUSSIA PROBE EXPANDS! Trump’s Call For “Civil Tone” Lasts About 10 Min As “Divider-In-Chief” Unleashes Ill-Advised Tweet Barrage!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-lashes-out-at-russia-probe-pence-hires-a-lawyer/2017/06/15/aee870ce-51da-11e7-be25-3a519335381c_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_trumpobstruct-8pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.95044b73fe55

The Washington Post reports:

A heightened sense of unease gripped the White House on Thursday, as President Trump lashed out at reports that he’s under scrutiny over whether he obstructed justice, aides repeatedly deflected questions about the probe and Vice President Pence acknowledged hiring a private lawyer to handle fallout from investigations into Russian election meddling.

Pence’s decision to hire Richard Cullen, a Richmond-based lawyer who previously served as a U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, came less than a month after Trump hired his own private lawyer.

The hiring of Cullen, whom an aide said Pence was paying for himself, was made public a day after The Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is widening his investigation to examine whether the president attempted to obstruct justice.

A defiant Trump at multiple points Thursday expressed his frustration with reports about that development, tweeting that he is the subject of “the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history,” and one that he said is being led by “some very bad and conflicted people.”

************************************************************
Read the complete story at the above link.
Shortly after Trump took office, I predicted that while he was unlikely to be able to keep most of his promises about “job creation,” he was likely to be a boon for at least one segment of our economy:  the legal industry.
By the time this ends, however it ends, Trump will be ruing the day that he got rid of Jim Comey (who, apparently, wasn’t investigating him). While Trump and his White House and Cabinet cronies have had little but open contempt for government service and public servants, he’s finding out the hard way that lots of public servants take their jobs and their oath to uphold the Constitution seriously, and that they are very good at what they do. This isn’t “reality TV,” SNL, or some real estate deal where he can schmooze and BS his way through. And, he’s not going to be able to “settle up” by throwing a few million on the table and expecting everyone to go away happy. Nope. This is the “reality” of being President of the US. And, Trump is quickly cementing his place in history as the most unqualified individual ever elected to the job.
PWS
06-16-17

SESSIONS SUMMARY: Irritated, Indignant, Not Very Informative! — Selective Memory On Display!

Of the many summaries floating around the internet, I found this one from “Will Drabold at Mic” to be the most useful:

Navigating Trump’s America — Special Jeff Sessions Edition — Tuesday, June 13, 2017
YOUR DAILY READ ON HOW THE
COUNTRY IS CHANGING UNDER DONALD TRUMP.
By Will Drabold at Mic.

 

Today’s question: Will Jeff Sessions’ testimony come to haunt him? Or did he hold up well under the spotlight? Email us at trumpsamerica@mic.com and join us for $1 a month to discuss this in our Facebook group.

 

Please respond to this email with your thoughts. You can read this in your browser here. And if someone forwarded this to you, do the right thing: Subscribe here.

 

Share #NTA on Facebook and Twitter.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was defensive during his hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Sessions was adamant he — and the Trump campaign — had zero collusion with Russia. This special edition of Navigating Trump’s America recaps Sessions’ hearing and what comes next.

Read a blow-by-blow of the hearing here.

 

6 takeaways from Jeff Sessions’ Senate testimony

1. The attorney general gave conflicting answers about his reported meetings with the Russian ambassador.

 

The attorney general said he “did not have any private meetings, nor do I recall any conversations with any Russian officials” at an event for the president’s first major speech on foreign policy last year at a Washington, D.C., hotel. During questioning, Sessions’ tone grew shiftier.

 

Further, Sessions said he could not “recall” any meetings with Russian officials that have not been disclosed, nor did he have memory of conversations with other people tied to Russia.

 

This matters because Sessions, who was under oath, could later be grilled on this waffling by investigators running the Russia inquiry. Sessions seemingly acknowledged the need to give himself an out from that line of questioning, saying he cannot guarantee his recollection of events is correct.

 

2. Sessions said James Comey was fired because of how he handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

 

Sessions said Comey’s decision to publicly recommend not seeking charges in the email investigation was a “breathtaking usurpation of the responsibility of the attorney general.”

 

That doubled down on what Sessions put in his signed letter, but it contradicted Trump’s comment after Comey’s firing that the Russia investigation factored into the firing. Sessions said Tuesday that Trump’s words speak for themselves and he could not discuss more than the letter.

 

The attorney general shared his belief that it did not violate his recusal from the Russia investigation to be involved in firing Comey, something Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said did not “pass the smell test.” The attorney general was adamant it was his job, despite the recusal, to choose the leadership of the FBI.

 

3. The attorney general emphatically denied he had any involvement in allegations related to Russia.

 

Perhaps Sessions’ most sweeping statement came during his opening, when he said, “I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.”

 

The attorney general added that he did not recall anyone trying to influence him in his role with the Trump campaign.

 

4. The attorney general would not comment on whether he talked to Trump about firing Comey and whether the Russia investigation was part of the conversation about the firing.

 

“I am not stonewalling,” Sessions said in response to an accusation he was covering up conversations with the president.

 

Sessions repeatedly cited Justice Department regulations that he said bar him from discussing conversations he had with Trump. “I’m protecting the president’s constitutional right,” he said, by not discussing private conversations with Trump. “I think your silence speaks volumes,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

 

5. Sessions said he effectively recused himself from the Russia investigation the day after he was confirmed by the Senate.

 

Sessions said he has never had a briefing about the role of Russian interference in the U.S. election. The attorney general added that his recusal was made because of department regulations, not because he felt he could be a subject of the investigation.

 

“I recused myself that day,” Sessions said of the day after he was confirmed. “I never received any information about the campaign.”

 

6. The tone of the attorney general’s testimony was noticeably defensive.

 

“This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me,” Sessions said, raising his voice as he defended himself. Sessions called it an “appalling and detestable lie” to suggest he colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

 

The attorney general criticized anyone suggesting he has ties to Russia, saying there is no evidence he or fellow Trump supporters colluded with Russia.

 

A note on Sessions’ dodges:

 

Throughout the hearing, Sessions repeatedly dodged questions by claiming the president’s right to executive privilege. There’s just one problem: The president never invoked executive privilege, and the legal basis for Sessions’ dodges is questionable.

 

Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-N.C.) asked Sessions to work with the White House to identify which questions the attorney general refused to answer on Tuesday could be addressed later on, in writing.

 

So where does the Russia investigation stand now?

 

Sessions had little to say about the investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election given his recusal from the inquiry. But there was news outside the hearing about the investigation.

 

After reports surfaced that Trump was considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller, the president did not answer questions from reporters on Tuesday about whether he was considering firing Mueller. Republican senators said that decision is not within Trump’s jurisdiction. Watch this space.

 

Senators were not eager to speak with reporters after the hearing. Mic could only connect with Sen. Marco Rubio, who said Sessions was forthcoming and answered questions. Neither Burr nor Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) offered public comment, as they did following Comey’s testimony. Journalists were told all other senators, and Sessions, had left the building within 30 minutes of the hearing wrapping.

 

Support NTA
Share Navigating Trump’s America on Facebook and Twitter.

 

This newsletter is produced by Will Drabold at Mic.

Did we miss something you wanted to read about?
Have a tip for the next edition? Email us here.Did a friend forward you this email?

Subscribe to get Navigating Trump’s America in your inbox.

FOLLOW US
Copyright (c) 2017 Mic Network, Inc.

1 World Trade Center, 82nd Floor

285 Fulton Street, New York, NY 10007

 

Unsubscribe from Navigating Trump’s America

*****************************************************

To me, there sure seems to be something fishy about the whole Comey firing. Why would the “new bosses” fire someone for something that happened well in the past and during a time that they were not even in charge of the DOJ? Why would they do it without waiting for the pending Inspector General report? Why wouldn’t they at least have given Comey, a well-respected figure in law enforcement, a chance to explain his side of the story? Why would they fabricate stories about “poor morale” in the FBI which certainly don’t seem to be borne out? It appears that while not universally beloved (who is, except for our “Supreme Leader?”) Comey generally was well-respected and trusted by the line agents. And, most important, why wouldn’t they carefully have considered whether or not Comey’s firing would impede the FBI’s most important pending investigation: into Russian interference with our elections?

That the Russians actively attempted to compromise our election process, the cornerstone of our democracy, is undisputed! Yet nobody, and I mean nobody, in the Trump Administration seems at all concerned about the national security aspect of it. And, notwithstanding the cosmetically bipartisan efforts, it’s clear that the GOP in Congress just wants the whole topic to go away. They plainly couldn’t care less about what Russia does to screw with our system unless they start losing some elections. While Trump gins up bogus national security concerns about a few Muslim countries that don’t send us very many migrants anyway, the real national security threat to America, Trump’s policies and his lackadaisical/permissive attitudes toward Russia are swept under the rug.

As for the “Mueller rumors,” just “send in the clowns.” Oh, no need, “they’re already here.”🤡

PWS

06-14-17

WashPost: Trump Actually Has A Strategy — It’s Ugly!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/06/06/daily-202-trump-signals-to-his-base-that-he-is-a-man-of-action/5935fccce9b69b2fb981dc64/?utm_term=.90d201c44030

James Hohmann writes in the PowerPost:

“THE BIG IDEA: Some have called him crazy. He thinks he’s crazy like a fox.

Let’s dispense once and for all with the fiction that Donald Trump doesn’t have a strategy. It may be a deeply-flawed strategy for reasons the neophyte president is not yet savvy enough to appreciate, but make no mistake: there is a strategy.

The conventional wisdom around Washington is that Trump is being impulsive as he disregards the counsel of his lawyers, who are correctly warning him that the travel ban may not survive a Supreme Court review if he continues to talk about it the way he does.

Yet the president has now explicitly called for a “TRAVEL BAN” five separate times on Twitter over the past four days. Undercutting the spin that he was just reacting to a morning cable segment he saw on TV before coming downstairs to work, his social media team posted a video on Facebook (an account he doesn’t personally control) that featured the tweets set to dramatic music.

He posted this at 9:20 p.m. last night:

If Trump truly cared about the underlying ban and wanted it to be in place for the country’s security, as he claims, he would not be speaking so freely. The billionaire businessman has been mired in litigation off and on for decades and has demonstrated an ability – when his own money was at stake – to be self-disciplined.

The only explanation, then, is that he cares less about winning the case than reassuring his base. The number of posts reflects the degree to which Trump thinks the travel ban is a political winner. He is trying to signal for his 24 million Facebook fans and 31.7 million Twitter followers that he’s fighting for them, regardless of what the judges, the media and the Democrats say. As Trump put it this morning:

— Bigger picture, the president is trying to maintain his populist street cred and show his true believers that he’s not going wobbly on them after five months in Washington, despite back-tracking on more of his campaign promises than he’s kept.

Trump has always been a flashy show horse. Why would anyone think a septuagenarian is suddenly going to buckle down to become a work horse? As a developer, biographers and former associates say, he consistently cared more about the gold-plated façade than the foundation. This is why Trump could obsess about how the lobbies of his properties looked, even as his business ventures careened toward bankruptcy under the weight of bad loans and poor bookkeeping. (Marc Fisher explored this dynamic in February.)

— With his agenda imperiled, Trump increasingly seems determined to create an aura of effectiveness in the hopes that core supporters already inclined to support him won’t be able to tell the difference between optics and substance. Remember, this is the same candidate who once boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his voters would stick with him.

Consider this: “Trump employed all the trappings traditionally reserved for signing major bills into law as he kicked off ‘infrastructure week’ on Monday: the stately East Room full of dignitaries, a four-piece military band to serenade, celebratory handshakes and souvenir presidential pens for lawmakers, promises of ‘a great new era’ and a ‘revolution’ in technology. Yet the documents Trump signed amid all the pomp were not new laws or even an executive order. They were routine letters to Congress, relaying support for a minimally detailed plan in Trump’s budget to transfer control of the nation’s air traffic control system to a private nonprofit group,” the Los Angeles Times’s Noah Bierman reports.

But low-information voters may not be able to tell the difference when they see the b-roll of the ceremony on TV or an image in the paper.

It follows a pattern of Trump over-promising and under-delivering: “He touted the unveiling of his tax overhaul in April but released only a one-page set of bulleted talking points,” Noah writes. “Just last week, he tweeted that his tax bill is proceeding ‘ahead of schedule,’ though he has submitted no bill to Congress … Trump held a Rose Garden ceremony in May to celebrate House passage of a bill to repeal Obamacare … even as Republicans in the Senate served notice that the House bill was unacceptable. His promised ‘beautiful wall’ on the southern border is not yet on a drawing board. Likewise, many of the executive orders Trump has signed failed to live up to the president’s rhetoric.”

Bloomberg’s Toluse Olorunnipa noticed an amusing pattern and just posted a smart trend story about it: “From overhauling the tax code to releasing an infrastructure package to making decisions on NAFTA and the Paris climate agreement, Trump has a common refrain: A big announcement is coming in just ‘two weeks.’ It rarely does. … Trump’s habit of self-imposing — then missing — two-week deadlines for major announcements has become a staple of his administration … The president has used two-week timelines to sidestep questions from reporters or brag to CEOs at the White House. But his pronouncements have also flummoxed investors, Congress and occasionally even members of his staff.”

Is this strategy gimmicky and cynical? Absolutely. Does it work? For millions of people, yes.

Trump hands off a pen after signing a &quot;decision memo&quot; and a letter to members of Congress outlining broad principles of his plan to privatize the nation&#39;s air traffic control system. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)</p>

Trump hands off a pen after signing a “decision memo” and a letter to members of Congress outlining broad principles of his plan to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

— To be sure, Trump’s talent for showmanship has gotten him this far. He developed a valuable brand as a reality TV star and has leveraged his celebrity to get through rough patches before. He brought that skillset to the presidential race and assumes it will continue to work in Washington.

Indeed, White House officials defend Trump by arguing that he’s simply governing as he campaigned. “The president won an election by being somebody who is not a conformist candidate,” Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, told reporters during a conference call last night. “He won by being somebody who the American people were anxious to change the culture in D.C. They understand that they were asking for disruption to the way D.C. operates. And I think that they’re anxious, the American people are anxious to see progress in this town. So he may not have conventional style in doing that, but many of his efforts are extremely helpful to, I think, getting our legislation accomplished.”

Short’s explanation offers a deeply revealing window into Trump’s theory of the case: All of the let-‘er-rip tweets in the wake of the attack on London Bridge have been focused on ginning up the GOP base. The president believes that, so long as grassroots activists back him, his adopted party’s lawmakers will have no choice but to follow. The fact that so many politicians have caved and capitulated over the past two years has taught him that he can get away with his unusual behavior. What the Republican governing class has never understood is that Trump doesn’t really respect people who kowtow to him; he sees it as a sign of their weakness. Seeing such timidity has only emboldened this president to pursue this bottom-up, outside-in approach. There is no evidence he will change until elected Republicans buck him en masse.

— Here’s the rub: There are some fresh signs that Trump’s act is wearing thin. While Trump’s floor of support has thus far stayed surprisingly high, the percentage of Americans who “strongly” approve of the president has continued to slip – from 30 percent earlier in the spring to about 20 percent now.

— More and more GOP lawmakers are also getting sick and tired of either defending the president or dodging questions about his latest provocative statement. “Trump’s refusal to disengage from the daily storm of news — coming ahead of former FBI director James B. Comey’s highly anticipated public testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday — is both unsurprising and unsettling to many Republicans (on the Hill), who are already skittish about the questions they may confront in the aftermath of the hearing,” Robert Costa reports on the front page of today’s Post. “In particular, they foresee Democratic accusations that Trump’s exchanges with Comey about the FBI probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign were an effort to obstruct justice. Some Republicans fear that Trump’s reactions will only worsen the potential damage.”

  • “It’s a distraction, and he needs to focus,” said former Trump campaign adviser Barry Bennett. “Every day and moment he spends on anything other than a rising economy is a waste that disrupts everything.”
  • “Unfortunately, the president has, I think, created problems for himself by his Twitter habit,” John Cornyn, the second highest-ranking Senate Republican, said with characteristic understatement during a Sunday interview on the Dallas TV station WFAA.
  • “We live in a world today where unfortunately a lot of communication is taking place with 140 characters. Probably it’s best to refrain from communicating with 140 characters on topics that are so important,” Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said one day after golfing with the president.

— Efforts to create a “war room” stocked with former campaign officials and top-flight lawyers have stalled.“Three people briefed on the matter said the process has been bogged down by a lack of decision-making in the West Wing over how to proceed, as well as reluctance from some of those the White House hoped to recruit about serving a president who keeps getting in his own way,” the AP’s Julie Pace reports. “The White House has made a conscious decision to avoid answering questions about the Russia probes, referring inquiries to Marc Kasowitz, the president’s outside counsel. Kasowitz has so far had no comment on the investigations, leaving those questions unanswered.”

“Anybody with press chops looks at this and they’re fearful there’s not a path to succeed,” said Sara Fagen, former White House political director for George W. Bush.

— Top lawyers with at least four major law firms rebuffed White House overtures to represent Trump in the Russia investigations, in part over concerns that the president would be unwilling to listen to their advice, Michael Isikoff reports for Yahoo News this morning. “Before Kasowitz was retained, however, some of the biggest law firms and their best known attorneys turned down overtures when they were sounded out by White House officials to see if they would be willing to represent the president.”

Jerry Moran leaves a closed-door GOP caucus luncheon at the Capitol.&nbsp;(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)</p>

Jerry Moran leaves a closed-door GOP caucus luncheon at the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

— Trump wants to blame Democrats for blocking his agenda, but the truth is that he cannot even get 50 Republican senators onboard for his biggest priorities. Consider these two other quotes from yesterday:

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, a former NRSC chairman and one of the most reliable votes in the Republican conference, put out a stinging statement about Trump’s push to privatize the country’s air traffic control system: “Proposals to privatize air traffic control threaten the reliable transportation options provided by small airports and the general aviation community for millions of Americans. All but our largest airports nationwide stand to be hurt by this proposal. Privatization eliminates the chance for Congress and the American people to provide oversight, creates uncertainty in the marketplace and is likely to raise costs for consumers.”

On health care: “I just don’t think we can put it together among ourselves,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told a gaggle of reporters, joining a growing chorus of Republicans who publicly and privately say that Obamacare repeal is unlikely to happen. (Last week, Richard Burr (R-N.C.) made a similar comment and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he doubted a bill could pass before the August recess.)

— “The most effective opponent of the Trump Presidency is Donald J. Trump,” the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board opines this morning. “If Mr. Trump’s action is legal on the merits, he seems to be angry that his lawyers are trying to vindicate the rule of law. Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be justified if he resigned. … If this pattern continues, Mr. Trump may find himself running an Administration with no one but his family and the Breitbart staff. People of talent and integrity won’t work for a boss who undermines them in public without thinking about the consequences. And whatever happened to the buck stops here?”

— “The man is out of control,” Eugene Robinson writes in his column today. “I know his unorthodox use of social media is thought by some, including the president himself, to be brilliant. But I don’t see political genius in the invective coming from Trump these days. I see an angry man lashing out at enemies real and imagined — a man dangerously overwhelmed.”

— “The president has gone rogue,” adds Dana Milbank.“Though Trump’s ineffectiveness comes as a relief, his isolation is no cause for celebration. Whenever his back is to the wall, he becomes even more aggressive. The further he falls, and the more alienated he grows, the greater the danger that he will do something desperate — and there is much that a desperate commander in chief can do.”

Dana flags that an unnamed Trump confidant told CNN’s Gloria Borger last week that the president is a lost man:“He now lives within himself, which is a dangerous place for Donald Trump to be. I see him emotionally withdrawing. He’s gained weight. He doesn’t have anybody whom he trusts.”

***************************************************

Pretty grim outlook for the President, for the country, and for the world. Elections have consequences. And, in this case they are as bad as it gets.

PWS

06-08-17