Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump's Big CON: 'God Stopped the Rain for My Speech'

UPDATE:  "I don’t believe that President Trump was lying when, the day after he swore the oath of office, he told a roomful of CIA employees that the crowd at his inauguration 'looked like a million, a million and a half people' and 'went all the way back to the Washington Monument.' I don’t believe he was lying when he recounted that the rain 'stopped immediately' when he began delivering his inaugural address and that 'it poured right after I left.' And I don’t believe he was lying when, on Monday, he repeated in front of lawmakers his post-election falsehood that 3 million to 5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote.

Instead, Trump was doing something far worse.

Lying, as defined by philosopher Harry Frankfurt, is an act undertaken intentionally to obscure the truth . Liars look at the truth and go in the other direction; but in doing so, they recognize implicitly that there is such a thing as the truth and such a thing as its opposite.

Trump, however, often operates without any connection to the truth. For him, truth is not an enemy so much as an irrelevance. As a real estate developer and cultural figure, his routine spouting of falsehoods could be comparatively harmless, even entertaining. As president, however, his disregard for the truth could easily become disregard for democratic norms and the rule of law. . .

Trump’s habitual disregard for the truth raises serious questions about his presidency: How will it affect his ability to carry out the duties of his office? And what is the relationship between disregard for truth and disregard for law? . .

Both truth and law provide constraints on human action, binding us to the facts of the world and to certain agreed-upon norms of behavior. In that way, they limit our freedom, yet they also create the shared space within which we interact with one another. . .

In a sense, Trump and his post-truth team have embraced the same post-structuralist critique of the notion of stable truth that the American right has railed against for the past 30 years. Shortly after the election, Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes defended his false claims about illegal voting by asserting that “there’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts.” She was arguing, however incoherently, that Trump supporters and opponents are each entitled to their own versions of what is true.

But this comparatively democratic vision of a world without truth is not quite what Trump seems to have in mind. He wants to make up the “alternative facts” and impose them on the rest of us, as well. And so, for example, Spicer not only berated the press for accurately reporting attendance at Trump’s inauguration, he also provided the administration’s version of reality and angrily demanded that reporters adhere to that reality. . .

In the simplest terms, a conception of truth outside what the government tells us to be so is foundational to democracy because it allows us to stand up against power. It’s also necessary to lay the groundwork for any kind of democratic deliberation among citizens. After all, if we cannot persuade one another to agree with reference to some shared system of meaning, the only thing left is to compel agreement through force — which is to say that there’s a potentially dangerous relationship between sustained disregard for truth in political leaders and authoritarian coercion."

Read the Washington Post, Can a president who disregards the truth uphold his oath of office?

Read also the Washington Post, In China, torture is real, and the rule of law is a sham.

Trump is a psycho-narcissistic delusional con man.

"The most worrisome moment for me in a very ominous week was not President Trump’s bizarre rant about crowd size, his bogus claims about election fraud or his moves toward bringing back torture, blocking refugees and provoking a trade war with Mexico.

The most troubling moment was when he spoke about the weather.

'It was almost raining,' the new president told CIA workers in Langley, recounting his inaugural address, 'but God looked down and he said, we’re not going to let it rain on your speech. In fact, when I first started, I said, oh, no. The first line, I got hit by a couple of drops. And I said, oh, this is too bad, but we’ll go right through it. But the truth is that it stopped immediately. It was amazing. And then it became really sunny. And then I walked off and it poured right after I left. It poured.'

Really sunny? I was there for the inaugural address, in the sixth row, about 40 feet from Trump, and I remembered the exact opposite: It began to rain when he started and tapered off toward the end. There wasn’t a single ray of sunshine, before, during or after the speech. . .

I rehash this weather history because it’s not subject to debate. This is tantamount to Trump declaring black is white or day is night. It was overcast, and he declared that it was “really sunny.”

This disconnect from reality is my biggest fear about Trump, more than any one policy he has proposed. My worry is the president of the United States is barking mad.

Last summer, observing a series of Trump falsehoods that were easily disproved, I wrote that these may not be deliberate 'lies,' that Trump 'may not be able to tell fact from fiction.' He didn’t just spout conspiracy theories about Muslims celebrating in New Jersey on 9/11, or about a U.S. general who executed Muslim prisoners with bullets dipped in pig blood. He often claimed he never said or did things contradicted by his own previous words and actions: that he didn’t 'know anything about David Duke,' that he 'never mocked' a disabled reporter, that he opposed the Iraq invasion 'loud and strong' from the start, and so forth.

'More than anyone else I have ever met,' Tony Schwartz, Trump’s ghostwriter for 'The Art of the Deal,' told the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer at the time, 'Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.'

My Post colleague Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger, picked up on this theme in an important post this week, recalling Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Tex.) description of Trump as somebody who 'doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies' and 'his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.'

Rubin raised the prospect that Trump might eventually need to be declared unfit to serve under the 25th Amendment if he can’t 'separate what he wants to believe and what exists.'

That’s why his assertion that it was 'really sunny' during his inaugural address is so terrifying. . .

When Trump caused international havoc with tweets about China, North Korea and others, there was speculation that he was pursuing the “madman theory” to unsettle adversaries by making them think he’s crazy.

He’s doing such a convincing job of it that I worry being a madman isn’t Trump’s theory but his reality."

Read the Washington Post, In Trump’s mind, it’s always ‘really sunny.’ And that’s terrifying.

I'm starting to think Trump doesn't last four years. The question is whether he leave office voluntarily, or has to be removed. 

Trump's Big CON: 'Only I Can Protect Us From Terrorism'

UPDATE IV:  "I am not surprised by President Donald Trump’s antics this week. Not by the big splashy pronouncements such as announcing a wall that he would force Mexico to pay for, even as the Mexican foreign minister held talks with American officials in Washington. Not by the quiet, but no less dangerous bureaucratic orders, such as kicking the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff out of meetings of the Principals’ Committee, the senior foreign-policy decision-making group below the president, while inserting his chief ideologist, Steve Bannon, into them. Many conservative foreign-policy and national-security experts saw the dangers last spring and summer, which is why we signed letters denouncing not Trump’s policies but his temperament; not his program but his character.

We were right. . .

[In the end Trump]will fail most of all because at the end of the day most Americans, including most of those who voted for him, are decent people who have no desire to live in an American version of Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, or Viktor Orban’s Hungary, or Vladimir Putin’s Russia. . .

There is nothing great about the America that Trump thinks he is going to make; but in the end, it is the greatness of America that will stop him."

Read The Atlantic, A Clarifying Moment in American History.

UPDATE III:  "The more you look at [Trump’s executive order on immigration], the more clearly un-serious it is in addressing any real problem. It's Breitbart-like boob bait for the bubbas."

UPDATE II:  "Trump came to power promising that masterful leadership would replace the 'stupid' kind. This action was malicious, counterproductive and inept — the half-baked work of amateurs who know little about security, little about immigration law and nothing about compassion. . .

When Ronald Reagan spoke on foreign policy, tyrants sat uneasy on their thrones and dissidents and refugees took heart. When Donald Trump speaks on foreign policy, tyrants rest easier and dissidents and refugees lose hope."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s half-baked travel ban is a picture of American shame.

UPDATE:  "The seven nations targeted for new visitation restrictions by President Trump on Friday all have something in common: They are places he does not appear to have any business interests.

The executive order he signed Friday bars all entry for the next 90 days by travelers from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya. Excluded from the lists are several majority-Muslim nations where the Trump Organization is active and which in some cases have also faced troublesome issues with terrorism."

Read the Washington Post, Countries where Trump does business are not hit by new travel restrictions.

"President Trump first pitched a ban on Muslims more than a year ago, proposing it in the wake of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., in December 2015. He revived the idea after the Orlando club massacre last summer. And when Trump announced Friday that he was suspending travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, his order mentioned the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks three times.

No one involved in those attacks was born in the countries Trump’s order included. . .

The list of countries the ban affects also did not include countries where people behind several other attacks in recent years — along with high-profile plots that were not carried out — were born. . .

Yet the list of countries included in the ban — Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya — leaves out countries tied to extremist attackers or plots."

Read the Washington Post, Trump and his aides keep justifying the entry ban by citing attacks it couldn’t have prevented, which includes this graph:

Trump's Big CON: Voter Fraud

UPDATE II:  Does this surprise anyone?

Read the Daily Mail, President Trump's voter fraud expert who he cites for his claim that 'millions of people voted illegally' is registered in THREE states.

UPDATE:  "Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and one of his closest White House advisers, is registered to vote in both New Jersey and New York, while White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is on the rolls both in Virginia and his home state of Rhode Island, according to elections officials and voting registration records."

Read also the Washington Post, It turns out Jared Kushner and Sean Spicer are also registered to vote in two states.


"President Trump says he will launch an investigation into his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. But one of the potential areas he highlighted for probing — voters who are registered in two different states — appears as though it would snag his own top adviser.

Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that his 'major investigation into VOTER FRAUD' would be 'including those registered to vote in two states.'"

Among those registered to vote in two states:

  • Trump's daughter, Tiffany Trump, 
  • Trump's Treasury secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin, and 
  • Trump's chief White House strategist, Stephen K. Bannon.

Read the Washington Post, Donald Trump’s definition of ‘voter fraud’ appears to include his own daughter and top adviser.

All I can say is LOCK THEM UP!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump's Big CON: 'I'm an Environmentalist'

UPDATE:  "From the start of his short, truculent and unabashedly populist inaugural address, President Trump called out the Washington establishment . . .

He painted a dystopian picture of the United States and promised: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Trump is about to discover that he can’t simply order up the change he wants. In his first two days in office, Trump has appalled the CIA’s professionals and declared open war on the media. His inauguration sparked some of the largest women’s demonstrations ever in the nation’s capital and across the world. Only two of his Cabinet appointees joined him in office, the rest struggling to overcome questions about financial conflicts of interest, ideological extremism and simple competence. . .

Trump’s Cabinet is composed of various establishments. A large portion is drawn from the Davos class, the international bankers and chief executives who gather each year in Switzerland to celebrate the global system that has been rigged so effectively to their benefit. Six of Trump’s leading economic aides come from Goldman Sachs, the investment bank that previously supplied the treasury secretaries under Presidents Clinton (Robert Rubin) and George W. Bush (Henry Paulson), architects of the corporate trade system that Trump promises to upend.

Trump has shown himself a master at populist stunts — such as cowing Carrier to save 700 or so jobs — and at populist rhetoric. Nationalist posturing and racial signaling — on immigrants, on African Americans, on Muslims — can provide red meat to his movement. But the jobs aren’t coming back. Coal won’t revive without massive subsidy. His Republican Congress and Davos Cabinet aren’t going to embrace a robust industrial policy or a plan to rebuild America. Tax cuts and deregulation will shaft the very people Trump promises to help. Real billionaires in both parties — George Soros and Michael Bloomberg — have called Trump a con man. But even a good con can’t last forever. It won’t be long before working people catch on to Trump’s game and we start seeing lawn signs saying 'Dishonest Donald.'

Read the Washington Post, Why Trump’s con can’t last forever.

"'I’m a very big person when it comes to the environment. I have received awards on the environment.'
— President Trump, remarks during a meeting with business leaders, Jan. 23 . . .

Are there any facts to support this claim to environmental fame?

The Facts

The short answer is: No. Media outlets and environmental groups have tried to find evidence of this claim since 2011 but have come up short. We could not readily find references to Trump’s environmental awards in news coverage over the past 10 years. We checked with the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Sierra Club, and none had any record of Trump’s environmental awards.

In fact, environmentalists have criticized many of Trump’s projects." 

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s unsupported claim he has ‘received awards on the environment’.

The more he talks, the sooner people will realize that Trump is a con man.

The Republi-CON Ethics CON

UPDATE III:  "While all eyes were focused on failed House efforts to eliminate the Office of Congressional Ethics — the only independent watchdog with jurisdiction over House members — Republican congressmen led by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) quietly succeeded on another dubious ethical front: They adopted a rule designating records created, generated or received by a member’s congressional office 'exclusively the personal property' of that member and granting members 'control over such records.'

Making congressional records the personal property of members seems tailor-made for the next lawmaker who, like former congressman Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), hopes to evade criminal responsibility by barring access to material allegedly showing how he misspent public funds."

Read the Washington Post, A new House rule is a gift to lawmakers trying to hide criminal acts.

UPDATE II:  "Rep. Tom Price last year purchased shares in a medical device manufacturer days before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company, raising new ethics concerns for President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Health and Human Services secretary.

Price bought between $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares last March in Zimmer Biomet, according to House records reviewed by CNN.

Less than a week after the transaction, the Georgia Republican congressman introduced the HIP Act, legislation that would have delayed until 2018 a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulation that industry analysts warned would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet financially once fully implemented."

Read CNN, Trump's Cabinet pick invested in company, then introduced a bill to help it.

UPDATE:  "For two weeks now, the majority leadership in the new Congress and the incoming Trump administration have been conducting a war on ethics. This has ranged from the effort to cripple the Office of Congressional Ethics to the Senate’s rush to confirm President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees before their financial conflicts disclosures were complete to Trump’s own inadequate plan to address his ethical problems.

The latest front involves the Office of Government Ethics and its director, Walter Shaub Jr., who has had the temerity to speak up against Trump’s plan to deal with his conflicts of interest as 'meaningless.'

Both of us, former ethics counsels for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, respectively, have worked with Shaub, a career public servant who, in our experience, provided nonpartisan and wise advice. Now, Shaub is being pilloried — and may be at risk of losing his job — for doing just that, and asserting correctly that Trump’s approach 'doesn’t meet the standards .?.?. that every president in the last four decades has met.'"

Read the Washington Post, Just when you thought the Trump ethics disaster couldn’t get worse, it did.

"House Republicans, overriding their top leaders, voted on Monday to significantly curtail the power of an independent ethics office set up in 2008 in the aftermath of corruption scandals that sent three members of Congress to jail.

The move to effectively kill the Office of Congressional Ethics was not made public until late Monday, when Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced that the House Republican Conference had approved the change. There was no advance notice or debate on the measure.

The surprising vote came on the eve of the start of a new session of Congress, where emboldened Republicans are ready to push an ambitious agenda on everything from health care to infrastructure, issues that will be the subject of intense lobbying from corporate interests. The House Republicans’ move would take away both power and independence from an investigative body, and give lawmakers more control over internal inquiries.

It also came on the eve of a historic shift in power in Washington, where Republicans control both houses of Congress and where a wealthy businessman with myriad potential conflicts of interest is preparing to move into the White House."

Read The New York Times, With No Warning, House Republicans Vote to Gut Independent Ethics Office.

Notwithstanding his comments, I'm betting Trump had something to do with this.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Trump's Big CON: 'Mine's Bigger/Better/Awesomer Than Everyone Else's'

UPDATE VII:  "President Trump has not been in office for a week, but already’s he wilting under the pressure. 'President Donald Trump is the first elected president in Gallup’s polling history to receive an initial job approval rating below the majority level,” Gallup reports. “He starts his term in office with 45% of Americans approving of the way he is handling his new job, 45% disapproving and 10% yet to form an opinion. Trump now holds the record for the lowest initial job approval rating as well as the highest initial disapproval rating in Gallup surveys dating back to Dwight D. Eisenhower.'

That reality — the rotten poll numbers, the low turnout at his inauguration, the massive turnout at worldwide protests, his widely panned appearance at the CIA and his press secretary Sean Spicer’s disastrous debut with the White House press corps on Saturday — seems to have thrown the narcissistic ex-mogul into an emotional tailspin. . .

[A]s events unfolded on Friday and Saturday 'Trump grew increasingly and visibly enraged.' We know two things from this: 1.) He’s an emotional train wreck before much of anything has happened and 2.) Those close to him already started spilling the beans, perhaps to exonerate themselves and perhaps to communicate to their boss through the media. Trump’s ire simply confirms what we already knew, namely that his insatiable need for approval and his rage when he does not receive it make for an alarmingly unpresidential demeanor. . .

The picture suggests an unhinged president, too many weak aides and an administration that cannot control itself, let alone coverage of its breakdowns. To repeat, nothing much of substance, certainly no major policy defeat, has yet occurred. One shudders to think what will happen when setbacks do occur.

Trump’s inability to acknowledge his own lack of support prompts him to seek refuge in 'alternative facts' — to lie to himself and others. . . 'Days after being sworn in, President Trump insisted to congressional leaders invited to a reception at the White House that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for millions of illegal votes … Two people familiar with the meeting said Trump spent about 10 minutes at the start of the bipartisan gathering rehashing the campaign. He also told them that between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote.' The obsession with replaying the election and concocting a phony excuse for losing the popular vote reminds us that despite mockery for constant lying, Trump cannot help himself. He lies because reality won’t conform to his narcissistic view of the world."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s emotional tailspin was predictable.

UPDATE VI:  What a narcissistic con man!!

Read the Washington Post, Trump names his Inauguration Day a ‘National Day of Patriotic Devotion’.

UPDATE V:  "It matters that the crowd for the Women’s March on Washington was far bigger than that for President Trump’s inauguration. The new president often boasts of having started a great movement. Let it be the one that was born with Saturday’s massive protests.

If size is important, and apparently to Trump it is, there was no contest. The Metro transit system recorded 1,001,613 trips on the day of the protest, the second-heaviest ridership in history — surpassed only by ridership for President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. By contrast, just 570,557 trips were taken Friday, when Trump took the oath of office.

Those are the true facts, not the 'alternative' ones the administration wants you to believe. A president obsessed with winning began his term by losing."

Read the Washington Post, Trump inspired a movement, all right.

UPDATE IV:  "If America had a parliamentary system, Donald Trump — who spent his first full day in office having a temper tantrum, railing against accurate reports of small crowds at his inauguration — would already be facing a vote of no confidence. But we don’t; somehow we’re going to have to survive four years of this.

And how is he going to react to disappointing numbers about things that actually matter?

In his lurid, ghastly Inaugural Address, Mr. Trump portrayed a nation in dire straits — “American carnage.” The real America looks nothing like that; it has plenty of problems, but things could be worse. In fact, it’s likely that they will indeed get worse. How will a man who evidently can’t handle even the smallest blow to his ego deal with it?

Let’s talk about the predictable bad news.

First, the economy. . .

A second front on which things will almost surely get worse is health care. . .

On a third front, crime, the future direction is unclear. The Trump vision of an urban America ravaged by 'the crime and the gangs and the drugs' is a dystopian fantasy: Violent crime is, in fact, way down despite highly publicized recent murder increases in a few cities. Crime could, I suppose, fall further, but it could also rise. What we do know is that the Trump administration can’t pacify America’s urban war zones, because those zones don’t exist.

So how will Mr. Trump handle the bad news of rising unemployment, plunging health coverage, and little if any crime reduction? That’s obvious: He’ll deny reality, the way he always does when it threatens his narcissism. But will his supporters go along with his fantasy? . .

Mr. Trump made big promises during the campaign, so the risk of disillusionment is especially high.

Will he respond to bad news by accepting responsibility and trying to do better? Will he renounce his fortune and enter a monastery? That seems equally likely.

No, the insecure egomaniac-in-chief will almost surely deny awkward truths, and berate the media for reporting them. And — this is what worries me — it’s very likely that he’ll try to use his power to shoot the messengers.

Seriously, how do you think the man who compared the C.I.A. to Nazis will react when the Bureau of Labor Statistics first reports a significant uptick in unemployment or decline in manufacturing jobs? What’s he going to do when the Centers for Disease Control and the Census Bureau report spiking numbers of uninsured Americans?

You may have thought that last weekend’s temper tantrum was bad. But there’s much, much worse to come."

Read The New York Times, Things Can Only Get Worse.

Read also The New York Times, White House Pushes ‘Alternative Facts.’ Here Are the Real Ones. and ‘Alternative Facts’ and the Costs of Trump-Branded Reality.

UPDATE III:  "From his speeches to his tweets, Trump does not speak truth. Instead, he speaks in two modes. One, he says what his audience wants to hear, and two, he does his 'Art of the Deal' shtick, trying to put perceived enemies and negotiating opponents back on their heels.

Mode one is particularly easy to see; it’s what he does in front of crowds. He tells coal workers he’ll bring their jobs back. He tells those unhappy with their health insurance that his plan will provide more coverage for less money. He reassures the New York Times editorial board that he’s a moderate on climate change ('I’m looking at it very closely').

He can’t bring back coal jobs; he’s got no plan for better health insurance, in no small part because it’s impossible to provide more comprehensive coverage while spending less. Days after his meeting with the Times, he nominated Scott Pruitt, an avowed enemy of climate policy, to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

His inaugural speech was full of populist rhetoric about helping those who’ve been on the wrong side of globalization and inequality. He boldly asserted that 'every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.'

How likely is that? . .

Mode two is obvious in tweet-shaming China, threatening to punish companies that offshore jobs, 45 percent tariffs, the wall that he still claims Mexico will pay for, and most recently, falsely accusing the press of dishonestly reporting the size of the crowd at his inauguration. The idea here is that when actual negotiations on these matters commence, his opponents, which clearly include the media, will already be playing defense. That may or may not be an effective strategy — my guess is that it gets old pretty quickly — but that’s what’s going on.

I don’t believe a word he says, and neither should you. . .

But how can we possibly figure out what he’s really up to?

For one, as alluded to above, you look at who he’s surrounding himself with, which, contrary to his populist campaign, are Wall Street bankers, education privatizers (Betsy DeVos), anti-safety-net advocates (Ben Carson), and business-oriented globalizers (Rex Tillerson). It’s unclear whether he’ll listen to them — for the most part, their unifying theme is that they’re really rich and were loyal to him during the campaign — but I have an easier time seeing this crew cutting taxes on the wealthy and regulations on business/finance than lifting the living standards of the working class. (And note that, thus far, their announced agenda is all the former and none of the latter.)

Read the Washington Post, Breaking news: You can’t believe what President Trump says.

UPDATE II:  "All White Houses spin and try to pressure the media into reporting stories their preferred way. But [Trump's obsession with the crowds size at his inauguration] looks like something considerably more: A concerted effort to erode the core idea that the news media is legitimately playing its role in informing the citizenry. If the media challenges or factually debunks the fabricated, Trump-aggrandizing narrative that is coming out of the Trump White House, it will respond by simply repeating relentlessly that the fabricated story-line is the truth. Needless to say, there cannot be any shared agreement on facts or reality, except on the ones that the Trump White House has validated. This is why the most important thing about Spicer’s statement is the word 'period.' When the Trump White House declares what the truth is, the discussion is over.

This is not a conventional dispute over the facts. It is not about 'relations' between the press and the White House. It is about truth and power. The message this is designed to send is that Trump has the power to declare what the truth is, and the news media does not. The Trump White House is maintaining this posture while telling enormous, demonstrable lies, but no matter — according to the new White House Ministry of Disinformation, the truth is what Donald Trump says it is. Bank on it: This will hold true even when Donald Trump contradicts Donald Trump.

Remember the larger context: For many months during the campaign, Trump not only told lies to a degree that was unprecedented in volume and egregiousness; his staff also mostly refused to engage fact checkers at all when they questioned his claims, showing he felt no obligation whatsoever to back them up. And then, even when they were widely debunked, he simply kept on repeating them. Then, and now, this was, and is, an assertion of the power to declare what the truth is regardless of what is empirically, demonstrably true.

Anyone who is not considering the possibility that this may be an outgrowth of Trump’s well-established authoritarian streak is missing what may be happening here. As libertarian writer Jacob Levy has written, Trump may be experimenting with a time-tested tactic, in which a leader 'with authoritarian tendencies' will regularly lie in order to get others to internalize his lies, as 'a way to demonstrate and strengthen his power over them.' It is hard to say how deep Trump’s authoritarianism runs and how it will impact his presidency. But this is something worth being prepared for. What’s more, all of this cannot be disentangled from Trump’s unprecedented conflicts of interest and lack of transparency about them. . .

Have we mentioned that this thin-skinned megalomaniac now controls the nuclear codes?"

Read the Washington Post, Dear media: The Trump White House has total contempt for you. Time to react accordingly.

Trump clearly has a little man complex, and I'm guessing that this does not end well for the country.

UPDATE: Of course, Trump's "alternate facts" are always 'bigger, better, more awesome'.

Read the Washington Post, The perfect meme for the ‘alternative facts’ era: #seanspicersays.

Part of Trump's con job is perpetuating the lie that his is bigger, better, more awesome than whatever comparison is being made.

And did anyone really think it would end after the election or inauguration?

Read the Washington Post, The traditional way of reporting on a president is dead. And Trump’s press secretary killed it.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Trump's Big CON: 'I Wrote the Speech'

UPDATE II:  Did Trump plagiarize a comic book villain in his speech?

Read the Daily Mail, Did Trump quote Batman super-villain BANE in his inauguration speech? Comic book fans point out eerie similarity in landmark speech.

UPDATE:  Trump is so obviously a con man that nothing he says should be believed. Consider:

"For all the frequency of his communication and his victory, you’d think President-elect Donald Trump would easily make himself understood. 'Blunt talk' was his strength, we were told. Since the election, however, never have so many aides, nominees and supporters have had to clarify so frequently, so much of what the president-elect says (either in interviews or tweets).

Both Vice President-elect Mike Pence and U.N. Ambassador nominee Nikki Haley on Wednesday had to assure us that Trump didn’t mean that NATO was obsolete when he said NATO is, well, 'obsolete.' Health and Human Service secretary nominee Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) had to explain that health-care insurance for 'everybody' doesn’t mean actual coverage; in the Trump administration that means 'access' for everybody to some type of coverage. When Trump said he had a health-care plan ready to go, he really meant Price would come up with something. Pick a topic and almost every Trump pronouncement gets reinterpreted or dumped. Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway seem to do nothing but explain what Trump meant to say.

The act, frankly, has gotten old. Trump says what he means; the problem remains that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. His impulsive, vague notions about putting America first were sufficient in the campaign to beat a rocky opponent (with help from James Comey and WikiLeaks). Since then, Trump apparently has not bothered to learn much about the world or even what certain phrases ('health care for everybody') mean in the context of grown-up policy discussions. Either that, or he really does intend to destroy NATO, enable Russian President Vladimir Putin, create universal guaranteed health-care insurance, slap tariffs on China, etc. You see the optimistic interpretation remains that he lacks the requisite knowledge and/or the language skills to explain policy positions. . .

Recording accurately and holding him to account for his statements drive Trump up the wall — and onto Twitter where he can attack others instead of explaining with a modicum of detail what he believes. He doesn’t believe much of anything we suspect."

Read the Washington Post,  ‘What Trump meant to say. . .’

And the obvious interpretation is that The Donald is a con man

"Of course the picture is all bullshit — as are the words that Donald Trump tweeted out with it on Wednesday: 'Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago. Looking forward to Friday.'

We know it is bullshit because of the way Trump is bending the notepad up at the corner, as if to conceal that nothing is written on it. We know it is bullshit because he seems to be sitting at the receptionist’s desk at Mar-a-Lago and 'writing' with a Sharpie. (Have you ever tried to do that?) We know it is bullshit because three weeks ago, at the time he was supposedly writing the speech, his transition team announced that Stephen Miller, the Trump aide who wrote most of his major speeches during the campaign, is crafting this one as well, possibly with Steve Bannon. . .

But there is something so obviously phony about the speechwriting photo, as if Trump and one of his kids staged and shot the scene on the spur of the moment in between rounds of golf. A man who famously does not like to read and whose books are all ghostwritten, a man whose aides are often frustrated by his inability to focus on one subject for more than a minute or two at a time, is not a person who is going to sit down and write a speech for his presidential inauguration."

Read Salon, Donald Trump’s claim that he’s writing his own speech isn’t just BS — it’s flimsy, transparent B.S., which notes that the "photo of Trump 'writing' his speech on a blank notepad is just lazy, even for authoritarian propaganda."

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Trump's Big CON: 'America is a Rotten Place'

UPDATE:  Read also the Washington Post, Trump’s inaugural address offers nothing to soothe the worst fears about him.

"President Trump delivered a campaign speech, not an inaugural address today. That he and his staff do not understand the difference goes to the heart of his insufficiency as a leader. Addressing a shockingly sparse crowd, he painted a picture of a hellish America that can only be restored by turning inward, deciding the world is a burden and our allies are thieves."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s America is a rotten place.

So why such a "dark, false and frightening" vision?  As the article notes:

"Does he see America as a decimated, destroyed and weak country? Apparently yes — or he would like us to believe so in order to, in a year or so, declare how everything has improved. . .

There has never and will not be a better Trump. His vision is dark, false and frightening. He leads by stoking nativism, protectionism (which actually makes us poorer) and seething resentment. God help us all."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Trump's Big CON: 'Universal Health Insurance For Everyone'

UPDATE II: The still unanswered question is who is being conned by Trump, all Americans or just rabid Republi-CONs?

One solution to Trump's promise of 'universal health insurance for everyone' is 'Medicare for All'.

Read Forbes, Trump's Stealth Health Plan Could Be 'Medicare For All'.

If that happens, it will be the Republi-CON party that got conned by Trump.

UPDATE:  Read also the Washington Post, The magnitude of the health-care calamity Republicans are about to cause is becoming clear.

"We should begin with the assumption that nothing Trump says can be taken at face value; the “plan” that he claims is being devised could be no more real than the secret plan to defeat the Islamic State he used to claim that he had formulated. But that’s not the point. What matters is this: Donald Trump just emphatically promised universal health coverage. That’s an absolutely gigantic promise, and it’s one that Republicans have no intention of keeping. . .

That’s because the Republican plan, in whatever final form it takes, will absolutely, positively not cover everyone. Universal coverage isn’t even one of their goals. Republicans believe it’s much more important to get government as far away from health care as possible. In place of the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid and subsidies for the purchase of insurance that have extended coverage to 20 million more people than used to have it, they’ll be offering some tax credits and health savings accounts, which would be very good for the healthy and wealthy, but not so great for other people.

They call this 'universal access,' which is meant to sound like 'universal coverage' but is actually nothing of the sort. The truth is that there are really only two ways you can achieve universal coverage: by having the government cover everyone in some form of single-payer, or with a set of extremely coercive mandates to carry coverage, much more coercive than the ones in the ACA. Republicans would rather pluck out their own eyes than agree to either one of those. So the trick is to make the public think they won’t take away coverage from tens of millions of people, while doing just that.

That requires some rhetorical subtlety, which is something Trump is just not capable of. . .

But Trump says whatever comes into his head, and whatever seems like it might be popular."

Read the Washington Post, Donald Trump may have just destroyed the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Mexico Won't Pay For His 'Great Wall'

UPDATE II: First 'they'll pay', now 'we'll be paid back'.

Read USA Today, Trump says U.S. will be 'paid back' for Mexico wall.

Trump is ever the bamboozling CON man.

UPDATE:  Read also the Washington Post, Trump just said his ‘Great Mexican Wall’ is happening. He’s playing you again.

"President-elect Donald Trump may ask Congress for American tax dollars to pay for a border wall with Mexico, breaking a major campaign promise, according to multiple reports late Thursday".

Read Market Watch, U.S. taxpayers may end up paying for Trump’s border wall with Mexico.

Read also Vanity Fair, Trump Admits Taxpayers Will Pay for His “Great Wall” After All.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Christmas To Be Canceled: The End of the World, Again, Cont., Again!!

UPDATE: So the world didn't end in 2016. There is always 2017!!

Read the Daily Mail, Will the world end in October? Conspiracy theorist claims mysterious planet Nibiru will smash into Earth.

"'In the fall [autumn] of 2016, the 6,000 years of sin on earth will come to an end, everlasting righteousness will be brought in, and Jesus will come again to take His people to heaven.'"

Read the Daily Mail, Will the world END this month? Computer programmer claims Jesus will return to destroy the planet in latest bizarre claim.

Where have we hard that before?!!

Read also: The End of the World, Again, Cont.