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.”

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.”

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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

 

Kushner In Hot Water As Russia Investigation Heats Up — White House Caught Up In Web Of Deceit!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/26/us/politics/kushner-talked-to-russian-envoy-about-creating-secret-channel-with-kremlin.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

The NYT reports:

“President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, at the White House last week. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, spoke in December with Russia’s ambassador to the United States about establishing a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and Moscow to discuss strategy in Syria and other policy issues, according to three people with knowledge of the discussion.

The conversation between Mr. Kushner and the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, took place during a meeting at Trump Tower that Mr. Trump’s presidential transition team did not acknowledge at the time. Also present at the meeting was Michael T. Flynn, the retired general who would become Mr. Trump’s short-lived national security adviser, the three people said.

It is unclear who first proposed the communications channel, but the people familiar with the meeting said the idea was to have Mr. Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues. The communications channel was never set up, the people said.

The three people were not authorized to discuss the December meeting and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

News of the discussion was first reported by The Washington Post. The revelation has stoked new questions about Mr. Kushner’s connections to Russian officials at a time when the F.B.I. is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s presidential election and whether any of Mr. Trump’s advisers assisted in the Russian campaign.

Current and former American officials said Mr. Kushner’s activities, like those of many others around Mr. Trump, are under scrutiny as part of the investigation. But Mr. Kushner is not currently the subject of a criminal investigation.

In the days after the meeting with Mr. Kislyak, Mr. Kushner had a separate meeting with Sergey N. Gorkov, a Russian banker with close ties to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.

American intelligence agencies first learned about the discussion several months ago, according to a senior American official who had been briefed on intelligence reports. It is unclear whether they learned about it from intercepted Russian communications or by other means.

Mr. Trump came into office promising improved relations with Russia on numerous issues, including greater cooperation to try to end the civil war in Syria. During the presidential campaign, he frequently criticized the Obama administration’s Syria policy as unnecessarily antagonistic toward Russia.

The idea behind the secret communications channel, the three people said, was for Russian military officials to brief Mr. Flynn about the Syrian war and to discuss ways to cooperate there. Neither side followed up on it. And less than two weeks later, the idea was dropped when Mr. Trump announced that Rex W. Tillerson, a former chief executive of Exxon Mobil who had worked closely with Russian officials on energy deals, was his choice to become secretary of state.

The interactions between Mr. Trump’s advisers and Mr. Kislyak have been a constant source of trouble for the new administration.”

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Read all about it at the link.

No matter what Trump might say or do, this story isn’t going away. Obviously, the Administration from top down has been unwilling to “come clean” on exactly what was going on.

PWS

05-26-17

BREAKING: WashPost Reports That Russia Probe Now Involves Trump Top Aide! — Is The “House Of Cards” Beginning To Wobble?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russia-probe-reaches-current-white-house-official-people-familiar-with-the-case-say/2017/05/19/7685adba-3c99-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_fbiprobedeck-315pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.2f64c5fc8b83

Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky Report:

“The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.

The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.

The revelation comes as the investigation appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the people said.

The sources emphasized that investigators remain keenly interested in people who previously wielded influence in the Trump campaign and administration but are no longer part of it, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Flynn resigned in February after disclosures that he had lied to administration officials about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Current administration officials who have acknowledged contacts with Russian officials include President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tikkerson.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

I think “we’ve got trouble, right here in River City!” Stay runed!

PWS

05-19-17

 

GRIFTER REPORT: Kushner Family Hawks EB-5 Visas In PRC — “Hurry, hurry, hurry, folks, step right up and buy your visa before Jared’s Daddy-In-Law ends immigration forever! Not to worry, we’ve got “connections!”

https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/flip.it%2F1jpx-y-kushner-family-in-beijing-invest-500000/f-b48e7285ec%2Fcnn.com

From CNN:

“THE KUSHNER FAMILY HOPES TO LURE INVESTMENTS FROM WEALTHY BUSINESS OWNERS IN CHINA WITH THE PROMISE OF AMERICAN VISAS.

Nicole Kushner Meyer, the sister of White House adviser and President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, spoke at an event in Beijing on Saturday. She was marketing a Kushner-owned property in New Jersey — invest in the development and get into the United States on a so-called EB-5 visa.

The EB-5 visa allows immigrants a path to a green card if they invest more than $500,000 in a project that creates jobs in the United States.

An ad for the event, held at a Ritz-Carlton hotel, said “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.”

An advertisement for the Beijing event touts a Kushner Company investment opportunity.

The EB-5 visa has been used by the Trump and Kushner family businesses. Foreigners, particularly wealthy Chinese nationals, have used the EB-5 program as a ticket into the states. And that promise has helped attract foreign investments for U.S. real estate projects.

President Trump has taken an anti-immigration stance and vowed to severely tighten the use of work visas. The EB-5 program has come under fire by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

Lawmakers say the program essentially sells citizenship to high-income foreigners.

On Saturday, potential investors in the Kushner project were told they should act quickly because possible policy changes to the EB-5 program might raise the required minimum investment.

Nicole Kushner Meyer also told the crowd how her grandfather immigrated to the United States and built a business from the ground up.

And she mentioned Jared’s new position in the White House. Though she did not reference President Trump by name, his photo appeared on a slide that listed the “key decision makers” on the EB-5 program.

“In 2008, my brother Jared Kushner joined the family company as CEO, and recently moved to Washington to join the administration,” she said.

Jared Kushner serves as an influential senior adviser to the president. Trump has at various times said he would lead or play a key role in many policy areas from foreign affairs to business innovation.

The event was meant to draw investors for 1 Journal Square, a $976.4 million residential and commercial project underway in New Jersey. The company says about 15% of it will be funded through the EB-5 program.

Jared Kushner has stepped away from the business since taking a key role in Trump’s White House.

His attorney, Blake Roberts, said Kushner is not involved in the operation of Kushner Companies and divested his interests in the Journal Square project by selling them to a family trust that he, his wife and his children are not beneficiaries of, which was suggested by the Office of Government Ethics.

“As previously stated, he will recuse from particular matters concerning the EB-5 visa program,” Roberts said in a statement.

The Beijing event, which was organized by Chinese immigration agency Qiaowai, was open to the public. Reporters from the Washington Post and the New York Times attended but said they were later asked to leave.

Kushner Companies declined to comment. Qiaowai could not be immediately reached for comment.”

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These folks are shameless. But, try as they might, they will never be able to achieve the level of the “Grifter-In-Chief!” Thanks to Nolan Rappaport for alerting me to this!

PWS

05-07-17

 

TRUMP’S “DISSING” OF MEXICO MIGHT BACKFIRE — BIG TIME! — If Mexico Plays The “China Card” The U.S. Might Regret Electing A Bully As President!

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/05/mexicos-revenge/521451/

Franklin Foer writes in The Atlantic:

“The Mexico–U.S. border is long, but the history of close cooperation across it is short. As recently as the 1980s, the countries barely contained their feelings of mutual contempt. Mexico didn’t care for the United States’ anticommunist policy in Central America, especially its support of Nicaraguan rebels. In 1983, President Miguel de la Madrid obliquely warned the Reagan administration against “shows of force which threaten to touch off a conflagration.” Relations further unraveled following the murder of the DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985. Former Mexican police officers aided drug traffickers who kidnapped and mercilessly tortured Camarena, drilling a hole in his skull and leaving his corpse in the Michoacán countryside. The Reagan administration reacted with fury at what it perceived as Mexican indifference to Camarena’s disappearance, all but shutting down the border for about a week. The episode seemed a return to the fraught days of the 1920s, when Calvin Coolidge’s administration derided “Soviet Mexico” and Hearst newspapers ginned up pretexts for a U.S. invasion.

. . . .

Once the threat of Soviet expansion into the Western Hemisphere vanished, the United States paid less-careful attention to Latin America. It passively ceded vast markets to the Chinese, who were hunting for natural resources to feed their sprouting factories and build their metropolises. The Chinese invested heavily in places like Peru, Brazil, and Venezuela, discreetly flexing soft power as they funded new roads, refineries, and railways. From 2000 to 2013, China’s bilateral trade with Latin America increased by 2,300 percent, according to one calculation. A raft of recently inked deals forms the architecture for China to double its annual trade with the region, to $500 billion, by the middle of the next decade. Mexico, however, has remained a grand exception to this grand strategy. China has had many reasons for its restrained approach in Mexico, including the fact that Mexico lacks most of the export commodities that have attracted China to other Latin American countries. But Mexico also happens to be the one spot in Latin America where the United States would respond with alarm to a heavy Chinese presence.

That sort of alarm is just the thing some Mexicans would now like to provoke. What Mexican analysts have called the “China card”—a threat to align with America’s greatest competitor—is an extreme retaliatory option. Former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda told me he considers it an implausible expression of “machismo.” Unfortunately, Trump has elevated machismo to foreign-policy doctrine, making it far more likely that other countries will embrace the same ethos in response. And while a tighter Chinese–Mexican relationship would fly in the face of recent economic history, Trump may have already set it in motion.

The painful early days of the Trump administration have reminded Mexico of a core economic weakness: The country depends far too heavily on the American market. “Mexico is realizing that it has been overexposed to the U.S., and it’s now trying to hedge its bets,” says Kevin Gallagher, an economist at Boston University who specializes in Latin America. “Any country where 80 percent of exports go to the U.S., it’s a danger.” Even with a friendly American president, Mexico would be looking to loosen its economic tether to its neighbor. The presence of Trump, with his brusque talk of tariffs and promises of economic nationalism, makes that an urgent task.Until recently, a Mexican–Chinese rapprochement would have been unthinkable. Mexico has long steered clear of China, greeting even limited Chinese interest in the country with wariness. It rightly considered China its primary competition for American consumers. Immediately after nafta went into effect in 1994, the Mexican economy enjoyed a boom in trade and investment. (A flourishing U.S. economy and an inevitable turn in Mexico’s business cycle helped account for these years of growth too.) Then, in 2001, the World Trade Organization admitted China, propelling the country further into the global economy. Many Mexican factories could no longer compete; jobs disappeared practically overnight.Mexico’s hesitance to do business with the Chinese was also a tribute to the country’s relationship with the “Yanquis.” A former Mexican government official told me that Barack Obama’s administration urged his country to steer clear of Chinese investment in energy and infrastructure projects. These conversations were a prologue to the government’s decision to scuttle a $3.7 billion contract with a Chinese-led consortium to build a bullet train linking Mexico City with Querétaro, a booming industrial center. The cancellation was a fairly selfless gesture, considering the sorry state of Mexican infrastructure, and it certainly displeased the Chinese.

But China has played the long game, and its patience has proved farsighted. The reason so many Chinese are ascending to the middle class is that wages have tripled over the past decade. The average hourly wage in Chinese manufacturing is now $3.60. Over that same period of time, hourly manufacturing wages in Mexico have fallen to $2.10. Even taking into account the extraordinary productivity of Chinese factories—not to mention the expense that comes with Mexico’s far greater fidelity to the rules of international trade—Mexico increasingly looks like a sensible place for Chinese firms to set up shop, particularly given its proximity to China’s biggest export market.Mexico began quietly welcoming a greater Chinese presence even before the American presidential election. In October, China’s state-run media promised that the two countries “would elevate military ties to [a] new high” and described the possibility of joint operations, training, and logistical support. A month and a half later, Mexico sold a Chinese oil company access to two massive patches of deepwater oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico. And in February, the billionaire Carlos Slim, a near-perfect barometer of the Mexican business elite’s mood, partnered with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile to produce SUVs in Hidalgo, a deal that will ultimately result in the production of 40,000 vehicles a year. These were not desultory developments. As Beijing’s ambassador to Mexico City put it in December, with the American election clearly on the brain: “We are sure that cooperation is going to be much strengthened.”. . . .

Not so long ago—for most of the postwar era, in fact—the United States and Mexico were an old couple who lived barely intersecting lives, hardly talking, despite inhabiting the same abode. Then the strangest thing happened: The couple started chatting. They found they actually liked each other; they became codependent. Now, with Trump’s angry talk and the Mexican resentment it stirs, the best hope for the persistence of this improved relationship is inertia—the interlocking supply chain that crosses the border and won’t easily pull apart, the agricultural exports that flow in both directions, all the bureaucratic cooperation. Unwinding this relationship would be ugly and painful, a strategic blunder of the highest order, a gift to America’s enemies, a gaping vulnerability for the homeland that Donald Trump professes to protect, a very messy divorce.”

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Remember, folks, you read about the potential “Chinexico” disaster first on Courtside! http://wp.me/p8eeJm-AF

Pretty scary when we elect a President who might understand even less about the global politico-economic situation than a retired U.S. Immigration Judge!

PWS

04-234-17

 

 

 

THE PRESIDENCY: Draining The Swamp? — Hardly! — Now “it looks like we’ve got the Creature from the Black Lagoon in the White House.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-no-populist-hes-a-swamp-monster/2017/04/17/7029a4e0-23a2-11e7-b503-9d616bd5a305_story.html

Dana Milbank writes in an op-ed in today’s WashPost:

“Last year, Mark Meckler, one of the founders of the tea party movement, had concerns about Donald Trump but gave the Republican nominee the benefit of the doubt, because Trump “at least says he’s going to attack” the crony-capitalist system.

Now the conservative activist has revised his opinion. Trump “said he was going to D.C. to drain the swamp,” Meckler said in a recent Fox Business interview, but “now it looks like we’ve got the Creature from the Black Lagoon in the White House.”

For everybody else who believed Trump’s populist talk about tackling a rigged system, it’s time to recognize you’ve been had. The president of the United States is a swamp monster.

The billionaire has embraced a level of corporate control of the government that makes previous controversies involving corporate influence — Vice President Dick Cheney’s attempt in 2001 to keep secret the names of industry officials who participated in his energy task force, for example — seem quaint by comparison.

. . . .

Steven Aftergood, who runs the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, said Trump’s actions are testing “the character of the U.S. government” and raise the possibility of the government “devolving into some kind of corporate mutation where the wealthy and well-connected rule.”

Trump has made a series of policy reversals in recent days from his populist campaign positions — on Chinese currency, trade, the Export-Import Bank and more — as the nationalist influence of Steve Bannon fades. This isn’t solely because Trump has stocked his administration at the highest levels with fellow billionaires, corporate types such as son-in-law Jared Kushner and veterans of Goldman Sachs.

ProPublica and the New York Times reported over the weekend that the Trump administration is being populated with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who are making policy for the industries that had been paying them. The arrangement has violated Trump’s (already weakened) ethics rules, and the administration is secretly issuing waivers exempting the former lobbyists from rules blocking them from working on issues that would benefit their former clients. Trump White House officials had more than 300 recent corporate clients and employers, the Times reported, and more than 40 former lobbyists are now in the White House and federal government. The director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics says even he has “no idea how many waivers have been issued.”

And these corporations are set to get what they paid for.

My Post colleague Juliet Eilperin reported Sunday on some of the 168 requests corporate interests have made, and are likely to be given, for regulatory relief, many of them seeking reduced environmental protections and worker rights. BP wants to make it easier to drill in the Gulf of Mexico. The pavement industry wants a halt to research on the environmental impact of coal tar. And my favorite: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s request that employers no longer be required to report their injury and illness records electronically to the Labor Department.

This should give the lie to Trump’s claims that deregulation is about creating jobs. The Chamber is upset that the government “intends to post the injury and illness records on the internet for anyone to see,” because this “will provide unions and trial attorneys with information that can be taken out of context.” As The Post’s James Hohmann noted, Trump already signed legislation removing a rule requiring businesses seeking large federal contracts to disclose serious safety and labor-law violations.

Trump has a simple answer to those who question his attempts to conceal the corporate influence in his administration. As he tweeted Sunday in response to protests about his failure to release his tax returns: “The election is over!”

Can Trump marginalize those who question his plutocracy? Eric Liu, an expert on mobilization and author of the new book “You’re More Powerful Than You Think,” sees Trump’s abandonment of the little guy as an opening for a “nascent progressive populism.”

But be careful: You don’t have to have seen “Creature from the Black Lagoon” to know that, in the swamp-monster genre, the beast seldom goes quietly.”

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When the most “popular” things our President has done since taking office are to shoot missiles, drop a big bomb, and threaten a “rogue nation” with an unstable leader and lots of weapons, without the semblance of an achievable “end game,” you know our country is in big trouble. Big time!

PWS

04-18-17

FLASH: Kushner Wins West Wing Battle! Bannon Banished To Basement! (On SNL) — WARNING: THIS IS FAKE NEWS! (But, Very Funny)

See Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin) choose Jared (Jimmy Fallon) over Steve Bannon (The “Little” Grim Reaper).

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/donald-trump-cold-open/3503043?snl=1

And, while you’re at it, watch Melissa McCarthy do “Spicey the Easter Bunny” apologizing while giving us a lesson in “Jewish History.”

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/easter-message-from-sean-spicer/3503046?snl=1

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Happy Monday!

PWS

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Urges Trump To Visit Refugee Camps!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/malala-yousafzai-donald-trump-refugee-camps_us_58ecde9fe4b0c89f91217965

Hayley Miller reports in HuffPost:

“Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has an urgent message for President Donald Trump: Visit refugee camps.

“President Trump needs to go and see refugee children,” Yousafzai said in an interview with “CBS This Morning” scheduled to air Wednesday. “He needs to go and visit the refugee camps. He needs to know what the real life is like in a refugee camp.”

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Sounds like a good plan. Perhaps he could at least send Jared!

PWS

04/13/17

 

 

 

LA TIMES EDITORIAL #5: “Conspiracy Theorist In Chief”

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-conspiracy-theorist-in-chief/

“It was bad enough back in 2011 when Donald Trump began peddling the crackpot conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not a native-born American. But at least Trump was just a private citizen then.

By the time he tweeted last month that Obama had sunk so low as to “tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process,” Trump was a sitting president accusing a predecessor of what would have been an impeachable offense.

Trump went public with this absurd accusation without consulting the law enforcement and intelligence officials who would have disabused him of a conspiracy theory he apparently imbibed from right-wing media. After the FBI director debunked it, Trump held fast, claiming he hadn’t meant that he had been literally wiretapped.

Most people know by now that the new president of the United States trafficks in untruths and half-truths, and that his word cannot be taken at face value.

Even more troubling, though, is that much of his misinformation is of the creepiest kind. Implausible conspiracy theories from fly-by-night websites; unsubstantiated speculations from supermarket tabloids. Bigoted stories he may have simply made up; stuff he heard on TV talk shows.

. . . .
This is pathetic, but it’s also alarming. If Trump feels free to take to Twitter to make wild, paranoid, unsubstantiated accusations against his predecessor, why should the nation believe what he says about a North Korean missile test, Russian troop movements in Europe or a natural disaster in the United States?

Trump’s willingness to embrace unproven, conspiratorial and even racist theories became clear during the campaign, when he repeatedly told tall tales that seemed to reinforce ugly stereotypes about minorities. Take his now famous assertion that he watched thousands of people in “a heavy Arab population” in New Jersey cheer the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11, an astonishing account that no one has been able to verify. PolitiFact rated that as “Pants on Fire.”

Or his retweeting of a bogus crime statistic purporting to show that 81% of white homicide victims are killed by blacks. (The correct figure was 15%.)

On several occasions he retweeted white nationalists. (Remember the image of Hillary Clinton and the star of David, for instance?)

His engagement with, to put it politely, out-of-the-mainstream ideas has attracted some strange bedfellows. It may not be fair to attribute to his senior aide, Steve Bannon, all the views that were published on the controversial alt-right site Breitbart.com, of which Bannon was the executive chairman. But it is certainly fair to wonder why Trump has elevated to a senior West Wing position a man who has trafficked in nonsense, bigotry and rank speculation.”

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Read the entire editorial, part of a series that has been posted on this blog, at the above link.

For me, the key quote: “But it is certainly fair to wonder why Trump has elevated to a senior West Wing position a man who has trafficked in nonsense, bigotry and rank speculation.”

Apparently, Bannon and his crowd are now locked in a “death struggle” with the “Trump-Kushner Family” over who gets the President’s ear. Consider Bannon’s ouster from the NSC, where he had absolutely no business being in the first place (does this guy really have a security clearance?), as a victory for Kushner and Gen. McMaster. That’s notwithstanding planted “fake news” from the Bannon faction downplaying the move and absurdly attempting to pass it off as “normal evolution.”

But, Bannon is a lifetime “conspirator” and not someone who takes slights in stride (just like his boss). Probably only Kellyanne Conway had more to do with Trump being in the White House today. And, Bannon isn’t someone Trump wants on the “outside” lobbing bombs and grenades back at to Oval Office and talking trash to Trump’s Breitbart-reading base. So, I wouldn’t count him out.

PWS

04/06/17

WashPost OP-ED: Send In The Clowns! — Catherine Rampell Says Trump Needs A Genuine Court Jester!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-court-needs-a-fool/2017/04/03/45d07658-18ab-11e7-bcc2-7d1a0973e7b2_story.html?utm_term=.4256b1f510ab

Rampell writes:

“Think King Lear’s “all-licensed fool,” except in a Cabinet post.

I realize it’s a bit gauche to suggest the administration start talent-scouting clowns when 488 of 533 Senate-confirmed jobs still don’t even have a nominee. But most of those jobs can be filled by Jared Kushner.

Normally, there’s no need for a formal fool position in the White House. That’s because most executives are capable of tolerating some degree of dissent, devil’s advocacy and gentle ribbing. In fact, some presidents have cultivated these things.”

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Rampell’s complete op-ed is worth a read at the above link. There are some funny lines, but the message is dead serious and points to the difficulties ahead for our country.

I must say, that one of the first things that bothered me about Trump was his lack of a sense of humor, particularly about himself. In 44 years, I’ve not only been a senior executive, but I have known, represented, or served dozens and dozens of them, in Government and the public sector. Never met a good one without a sense of humor, the ability to take a joke, and some perspective. Even those who were pretty reserved or appeared self-contained had a wry sense of humor hiding in there that occasionally came to light.

There is a name for those who can dish it out, but not take it.  Not an executive — a bully!

PWS

04-04-17

POLITICS/ENTERTAINMENT: Even With The Demise Of Ringling Bros. Opportunities For Clowns Abound — Daniel W. Drezner On “The Beclowning Of The Executive Branch!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/03/31/the-beclowning-of-the-executive-branch/?hpid=hp_regional-hp-cards_rhp-posteverything%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.0c04325e77c7

Daniel W. Drezner writes in the Washington Post:

“Fewer than a hundred days into the Trump administration, there are two, actually three, competing narratives about how the government is being run. The first narrative is the Trump administration’s claim that things are running so, so smoothly. A brief glance at the poll numbers suggests that not many people are buying this, so we can discard it quickly.

The second narrative, made by the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board among many others, is that America’s system of checks and balances turns out to be working pretty well. President Trump’s more egregious moves have been checked by federal courts and even by the court of public opinion at times. A historically unpopular and costly health-care bill did not pass the House of Representatives, which seems like the right outcome. Irresponsible foreign policy statements made by the president during the transition have been walked back. Efforts by the Trump White House to deny or scuttle investigations into foreign meddling into the election have resulted in congressional investigations, pushback by the intelligence community and recusals by Trump appointees. The administration successfully managed to pick a Supreme Court nominee who is not a laughingstock.

There’s a lot to this argument. But if I may, I’d like to proffer just a sampling of the news stories that have broken in the past 24 hours to suggest a third and more troubling narrative: the president and his acolytes are beclowning the American state.

Think I’m exaggerating? Consider the following: . . . .”

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Read Drezner’s complete article at the above link.

In a “normal” Administration, any one of the items described by Drezner would be a jaw-dropper. But, in Trump’s Washington, it’s just another day under the Big Top. After all, “the show must go on.”

PWS

04/02/17

ALERT: Weekly Summary of Trump Administration’s Attack On Human Rights, Civil Rights, Due Process, & America — Blocking Public Monitoring Of Immigration Detention High On List!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2017/03/31/trump-watch-volume-6-more-immigration-crackdowns-sessions-defends-cops-in-st-louis-and-jared-kushner-renaissance-man/?utm_term=.0fc52897ff4c

Radley Balko reports in an op-ed in the Washington Post:

“Here’s the latest from the Trump administration on civil liberties and criminal justice:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement appears to be attempting to end public monitoring of immigration detention centers.
In the battle for control of President Trump’s drug policy, it’s shaping up to be good cop New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (treatment) against bad cop Attorney General Jeff Sessions (enforcement).
When he isn’t brokering Middle East peace, ending opioid addiction and streamlining the federal bureaucracy, Jared Kushner will apparently be handling criminal justice reform.
Democrats in some states are pushing back against Trump’s immigration crackdown by trying to prevent local law enforcement from sharing immigration information with federal officials.
More “bad hombres” — a single dad brought here at age 8 who has raised his daughter by himself for the last 14 years has just been deported over a 17-year-old marijuana possession charge.
Jeff Sessions gave a speech in St. Louis Friday. He said Ferguson has become the “emblem of the tense relationship between law enforcement and the communities we serve.” He also said that cops are “unfairly maligned,” and blamed “viral videos.” He made no mention of the area’s aggressive fines and predatory municipal courts that are such a huge part of the problem.
Other recent ICE and immigration actions: Five Massachusetts immigrants, at least three of whom were there for green card interviews, were arrested when they showed up for appointments at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office this week. In Portland, Ore., three ‘dreamers’ have been arrested. In Chicago, ICE agents broke into a home and shot someone who may have been the father of the man they were looking for. And in Indiana, a Trump voter feels betrayed after her husband is taken into custody and scheduled for deportation.
The Trump administration boycotted the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights conference earlier this month. It’s the first time in at least 20 years that the U.S. government not shown up to the event.
Finally, the man Trump just appointed assistant secretary for health technology at the Department of Health and Human Services has some interesting opinions. Among them, “Not all Goths are drug addicts, but a high percentage experiment with all types of drugs, including hallucinogens,” and “when kids cross the line into pot use, they are crossing the line, figuratively and literally, toward a life of illegal drug use and probable addiction.” He also thinks women who view pornography at a young age may suffer from “a phobia to male genitalia,” and thinks there’s a strong links between drug addicts and people who get tattoos.
Trump again floats the idea of changing libel laws, this time so that truth is no longer a defense in lawsuits against public figures. But he also doesn’t appear to understand how libel laws actually work.”

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Go to the original article at the above link to get links to more in depth reporting on each of these reported incidents.

Trying to block monitoring of immigration detention centers is a particularly nice touch. Given some of the grim reports about conditions, particularly in much-criticized privately-run detention centers which appear to be near and dear to Sessions, I can see why DHS and DOJ don’t want anyone to know what’s really going on. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the Trump Administration the entire immigration detention system will be under some sort of court-appointed monitor.

Sadly, some more folks are probably going to have to die in immigration detention before we get to that point.

PWS

04-02-17