Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He's Not Lying Because It is a Performance

UPDATE III:  "Trump, unlike most politicians and, frankly, most people, will nonchalantly argue two logically inconsistent points at the same time."

Read the Washington Post, The fake news is coming from inside the White House, which compares Trump's criticism of leaks and his frequent use of anonymous sources to praise himself and denounce critics, while in office and for many decades before.

UPDATE II:  "[I]t has become obvious that Trump’s words about protecting programs like Medicaid were not 'positions' in the sense of being a stance he took based on something he believed. They were passing impulses, probably based on his reading of whoever was in the room with him at a particular moment. Once they escaped his mouth and faded into the ether, they exercised no more hold on him than a promise to release his tax returns or make Mexico pay for a border wall. If they were things Trump genuinely believed in, the White House staffers who wrote his budget would know they’d have to take them into account. But they didn’t."

Read the Washington Post, Sorry, suckers: Trump is perfectly happy to help Paul Ryan shred the safety net

UPDATE: Trump loved criticizing others for being tired, bowing to foreign leaders, not wearing headscarves in Saudi Arabia, refusing to say the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism”, etc.

"The issue here is that Trump scored political points on each of these topics. Now he has shifted in dramatic ways without even nodding to the changes. Meanwhile, many of his supporters who expressed outrage when Obama was president are silent."

Read the Washington Post, Trump hypocrisy continues at home and abroad.

Better than anything, this explains Trump:

"For most of his life, Donald Trump has found words to be his friends. He has used them to build his business, dramatize his achievements and embellish his accomplishments. As important, he has used them to explain away his missteps and to paper over his problems. . .

The Post’s reporters Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee describe Trump as 'the most fact-challenged politician' they have 'ever encountered.' They pointed out that, after having received a whopping 59 'Four Pinocchio' ratings during the campaign, Trump in his first 100 days made 492 'false or misleading claims,' at an average of 4.9 a day. These fact checkers clarified that 'those numbers obscure the fact that the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements means that we cannot possibly keep up.' By their count, there were only 10 days in the first 100 days in which Trump did not make a false or misleading claim. . .

Trump’s approach has never been to apologize because it wouldn’t make sense to him. In his view, he wasn’t fibbing. As his sometime rival and now friend Steve Wynn, a casino tycoon, put it, Trump’s statements on virtually everything 'have no relation to truth or fact.' That’s not really how Trump thinks of words. For him, words are performance art. It’s what sounds right in the moment and gets him through the crisis. So when describing his economic policy to the Economist, he explained that he had just invented the term 'prime the pump' a few days earlier. Never mind that the phrase was coined a century ago, has been used countless times since and was in fact used by Trump repeatedly in the past year. At that moment, it seemed the right thing to say." [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, The president who cried wolf.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Trump's Big CON: A Déjà Vu Nixon Presidency (Cont.)

Read the Washington Post, Reporting from 1974 confirms: Trump and Nixon are uncannily similar, which states that “to look back at news coverage in the months before Nixon’s resignation is to find remarkable echoes. Americans in 1974 focused on the same personality traits, debated many of the same issues, and experienced the same sense of news overload and impending national nervous breakdown that seem so familiar today.’

The article notes that that Nixon and Trump are both:

Stingy and using the presidency for personal and family profit

"[D]escribed as their own worst enemies, unable to ignore a slight or let go of a grudge. Nixon was privately obsessed with revenge, ‘a battle to be fought and won, no quarter given,’ observed Post writer William Greider. Likewise, they shared a tendency to choose staffers more on the basis of loyalty than expertise, and observers debated whether working for the president would degrade those associated with him or was justified by the need to keep capable people serving their country. . .

[E]ngaged in a strange and long-standing love-hate relationship with the media — even as they sought to bypass it to speak directly to the people. . . 'For the loyalists … slanted newspapers and television commentators are out to destroy the President.'"

Have as their own worst enemy something inside themselves

From the same party whose members are grappling "with the idea that they should be loyal, that 'our fortunes are as one'"

"[A]cted with such impunity seemed like a symptom of something gone terribly wrong. As Times columnist Anthony Lewis lamented of the Nixon White House and its impact on the country, 'There is no respect for truth, and the community loses the belief that knits it together. … Americans may hesitate at what seems to some regicide, but they understand that their sickness comes from the king.'"

"[M]anaged to entangle us in another round of the same traumatic psychodrama."

Read also Trump's Big CON: A Déjà Vu Nixon Presidency.

Trump's Big CON: Ha Ha Ha, The Scams on You

UPDATE VI:  "The Trump economic team has not engaged in serious analysis or been in dialogue with those who are capable of it so they have had nothing to say in defense of their forecast except extravagant claims for their policies. Taking their supply-side perspective, do they really believe that through tax cuts and deregulation they are going to accomplish more than Ronald Reagan, who after all reduced the top tax rate from 70 to 28 percent? Between 1981 and 1988, GDP per adult grew by an average of 2.5 percent, distinctly slower than what they are forecasting. Even this figure reflects a substantial cyclical tail wind from the decline in unemployment from 7.6 percent to 5.5 percent (which from Okun’s law implies adding about half a percent to GDP growth) — something unavailable in the present context. . .

A business trying to sell stock on the basis of a document half as hype-filled as the Trump budget would be a joke. No reputable investment bank would underwrite their offering. A great mystery here is why the experienced investment bankers in senior positions in the Trump administration hold the budget of the United States to so much lower standards of integrity than they applied in their earlier lives."

Read the Washington Post, What history tells us about Trump’s budget fantasy

UPDATE V:  There is a unifying theme in Trump’s health care proposals and budget.  "And that theme is contempt — Donald Trump’s contempt for the voters who put him in office.

You may recall Trump’s remark during the campaign that 'I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.' Well, he hasn’t done that, at least so far. He is, however, betting that he can break every promise he made to the working-class voters who put him over the top, and still keep their support. Can he win that bet?

When it comes to phony budget math — remember his claims that he would pay off the national debt? — he probably can. We’re not talking about anything subtle here; we’re talking about a budget that promises to 'abolish the death tax,' then counts $330 billion in estate tax receipts in its rosy forecast. But even I don’t expect to see this kind of fraud get much political traction.

The bigger question is whether someone who ran as a populist, who promised not to cut Social Security or Medicaid, who assured voters that everyone would have health insurance, can keep his working-class support while pursuing an agenda so anti-populist it takes your breath away.

To make this concrete, let’s talk about West Virginia, which went Trump by more than 40 percentage points, topped only by Wyoming. What did West Virginians think they were voting for?

They are, after all, residents of a poor state that benefits immensely from federal programs: 29 percent of the population is on Medicaid, almost 19 percent on food stamps. The expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare is the main reason the percentage of West Virginians without health insurance has halved since 2013.

Beyond that, more than 4 percent of the population, the highest share in the nation, receives Social Security disability payments, partly because of the legacy of unhealthy working conditions, partly because a high fraction of the population consists of people who suffer from chronic diseases, like diabetics — whom Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, thinks we shouldn’t take care of because it’s their own fault for eating poorly.

And just to be clear, we’re talking about white people here: At 93 percent white, West Virginia is one of the most minority- and immigrant-free states in America.

So what did the state’s residents think they were voting for? Partly, presumably, they supported Trump because he promised — falsely, of course — that he could bring back the well-paying coal-mining jobs of yore.

But they also believed that he was a different kind of Republican. Maybe he would take benefits away from Those People, but he would protect the programs white working-class voters, in West Virginia and elsewhere, depend on.

What they got instead was the mother of all sucker punches. . .

So many of the people who voted for Donald Trump were the victims of an epic scam by a man who has built his life around scamming. In the case of West Virginians, this scam could end up pretty much destroying their state."

Read The New York Times, It’s All About Trump’s Contempt.

Read also the Washington Post, The White House kept contradicting itself this week on many of Trump’s biggest promises.

UPDATE IV:  "President Trump’s budget demonstrates the costs of accepting lies as a normal currency in politics, broken promises as a customary way of doing business, false claims of being 'populist' as the equivalent of the real thing and sloppiness as what we should expect from government. . .

We demean ourselves if we cynically normalize the reality that every Trump promise is meaningless claptrap aimed at closing a deal — and that the vows will be forgotten even before the ink on the agreement is dry. Many who did business with Trump learned the hard way not to trust anything he said. His supporters are being forced to learn the same dreary wisdom.

Trump lies so often that journalists tied themselves up in an extended discussion of when it was appropriate to use 'lie' and when it was better to deploy such euphemisms as 'misstatement' and 'fabrication.' We should stick to the short and simple word. Allowing Trump any slack only encourages more lying.

Although fibbing with numbers is an old trick, the etiquette of budget discussions leans toward references to 'rosy scenarios' and the like. But how can you explain a budget that counts $2 trillion in claimed economic growth twice? It’s used once to 'pay for' massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and another time to paint Trump’s budget as reaching balance in a decade.

This can’t just be careless math.

Companies that make comparable errors in their prospectuses for public offerings can face legal action. No wonder former Obama administration economic adviser Seth Hanlon called this plan 'the Bernie Madoff Budget.'

Another sign of fiscal fraud: the budget’s blithe assumption that we will hit 3 percent annual growth in gross domestic product over an extended period. That would be nice. But no respectable economic forecaster thinks this is credible. Trump is asking us to bank our country’s fiscal future on his signature catchphrase, 'Believe me.' We should know by now that we can’t.'

Martin Wolf, the Financial Times columnist, captured Trump’s ideology with precision when he called it 'pluto-populism.' It involves 'policies that benefit plutocrats, justified by populist rhetoric.'"

Read the Washington Post, The Trump scandal that has nothing to do with Russia

UPDATE III: A "bedrock of the Trump budget: an economic growth assumption of 3 percent . . . is sharply more optimistic than those projected in recent Obama administration budgets and by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. . .

[and the budget assumes] 'not only will we not have a recession — though we’re in the third-longest economic expansion in history — but it’s going to keep going for another 214 months.'"

Read the Washington Post, A Freedom Caucus Republican says the foundation of the Trump budget is ‘a lie’.

UPDATE II:  "Between the health-care plan it supported, its tax-reform outline and its budget, the Trump administration has demonstrated an unusual degree of intellectual dishonesty. Most administrations take liberties with economic projections and re-interpretations of campaign promises, but it is rare to see a team of advisers so blatantly and ineptly trying to conceal what they are up to. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s recent testimony in front of the Senate Banking Committee (in which he insisted that the administration was for a '21st-century Dodd-Frank' but not for breaking up banks — something akin to adopting a healthy diet but not giving up chocolate sundaes at every meal) and an interview with CNBC reveal the five major head fakes the Trump administration is trying to pull off.

First, the Trump administration refuses to acknowledge that it has reneged on its vow not to touch entitlements . .

Second, the Trump administration will not admit it is engaged in a massive giveaway to the rich. . .
Third, the Trump administration has no plausible explanation for why its policies won’t lead to a mammoth increase in the debt. . .

Fourth, the Trump administration won’t own up to the anti-growth aspect of its immigration stance. . .

Fifth, the Trump administration won’t present a budget that has a ghost of a chance of passing.

As we have pointed out, this incorporates draconian cuts that already are proposed in the “skinny” budget. That didn’t fly, nor will anything resembling this."

Read the Washington Post, The Trump team’s five major shams

UPDATE:  "President Trump's budget only pretends to balance itself in 10 years' time by assuming that the economy will grow at a 3 percent pace between now and then, which is somewhere between wildly optimistic and wildly implausible.

It also might be the most realistic part of Trump's budget.

Now, it was always pretty obvious that Trump was relying on rosy economic projections, but the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has figured out by just how much. It turns out that even if the economy started partying like it's 1999, that'd only be good enough to get growth back up to 2.9 percent today. Trump's budget promises are akin to when he promised to make "every dream you ever dreamed come true." And if neither of those propositions seem likely — if you don't think Trump can make things better than they were at the height of the tech bubble — well, then you clearly haven't taken enough classes at Trump University. . .

[In addition,] Trump appears to be double-counting these phony savings. . . The administration, of course, has belatedly tried to say this isn't what they're doing, but budget tables don't lie. It is what they're doing. So if you add it all up, Trump's budget is built on $5 trillion of fairy dust.

But — stop me if you've heard this before — it's actually worse than that. . .

You'd think that fake savings this big would just be a cover for the fact that there weren't any real ones, but you'd be wrong. Trump wants to turn the safety net into a few strands of string. Over the next decade, his budget would cut Medicaid by 47 percent, food stamps by 25 percent, and welfare by 13 percent. It's a reverse Robin Hood on a scale unseen anywhere other than an Ayn Rand novel. And it might be the least realistic part of Trump's budget. After all, even congressional Republicans think it's too 'draconian.'

Trump's budget is an incredible political document, a self-parodic exercise in hostility to arithmetic, economics and everyone who has the misfortune of being poor or sick. You can tell he only hires the best people."

Read the Washington Post, Donald Trump’s $10 trillion magic asterisk

"There are numerous Trump lies being forced out into the open right now. Trump claimed he would not touch Medicaid and simultaneously that he’d repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better for all. It was a lie for Trump to claim he wouldn’t touch Medicaid; it was a lie to suggest preserving Medicaid and repealing Obamacare were compatible; it was a lie to claim that his repeal and replace plan would result in coverage for everybody. If anything, the White House’s justifications only throw the scale and audacity of these intertwined scams, lies, and betrayals into even sharper relief.

The scam may end up running even deeper than this. One might argue Trump promised his voters something better than safety net protections: Good jobs with benefits. Indeed, as Catherine Rampell reports, the White House is defending its cuts by arguing that the true measure of success is 'the number of people we get off of those programs.' This is compatible with Trumpism’s promise to restore an old economic order via a revival of manufacturing and coal. But what if those jobs don’t ever materialize?"

Read the Washington Post, The enormity of Trump’s scam is coming into view., which asks: "Are you tired of all the winning yet?"

Friday, May 26, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Our Boy President

UPDATE:  "For months now, Trump’s vice president, secretary of state, defense secretary and national security adviser have bent over backward trying to confirm our commitment to NATO. In just one appearance, Trump undid months of work and handed Russia’s Vladimir Putin a symbolic victory. . .

Thomas Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute argues, 'The failure to reconfirm Article V of the NATO charter — a failure to meet an explicit expectation — becomes the headline of the whole trip, especially in the context of the browbeating he administered in the speech. This trip, above all, was meant to reassure allies around the world that, after [former president Barack] Obama, the United States would again be a reliable partner.' He adds, 'Trump is not ‘leading from behind’ but kicking our allies in the [rear end].' . .

Trump lacks impulse control to such an extent that whatever flashes through his brain (Pay up, NATO! I got the intel from Israel!) comes out of his mouth. Indeed, the New York Times has reported that aides are careful in briefing not to tell him something he shouldn’t say; that apparently only increases the chances he will blurt it out. This is the behavior of a 7-year-old, not the leader of the free world.

The entire purpose of Trump’s trip was to show leadership and solidarity with allies. In flubbing his best opportunity to do so with our closest allies in our most important alliance, he reminded them, the American people and our adversaries that he is not ready for prime time."

Read the Washington Post, No, Trump can’t get through a trip without creating chaos.

One was "the boy-King of Westeros, while the other is the 45th President of the United States.

But according to Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin, Joffrey Baratheon and Donald Trump are one-and-the-same.

'I think Joffrey is now the king in America,' the multi-millionaire author said during an interview with Esquire magazine.

'And he's grown up just as petulant and irrational as he was when he was thirteen in the books', Martin added. . .

In the same interview Kit Harrington, the actor behind Jon Snow, also couldn't resist taking a dig a Trump.

He told the magazine: 'Mr. Donald Trump - I wouldn't call him President, I'll call him Mister. I think this man at the head of your country is a con artist.'"

Read the Daily Mail, Game of Thrones creator likens Trump to arch-villain Joffrey and says President is 'petulant and irrational'.

Trump's Big CON: Make Saudi Arabia (Which Supports Terrorism) Great Again

Read the Washington Post, How Saudi Arabia played Donald Trump, which stated in part:
"For five decades, Saudi Arabia has spread its narrow, puritanical and intolerant version of Islam — originally practiced almost nowhere else — across the Muslim world. Osama bin Laden was Saudi, as were 15 of the 19?9/11 terrorists. . .

[I]n recent years the Saudi government, along with Qatar, has been 'providing clandestine financial and logistic support to [the Islamic State] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.' Saudi nationals make up the second-largest group of foreign fighters in the Islamic State and, by some accounts, the largest in the terrorist group’s Iraqi operations. The kingdom is in a tacit alliance with al-Qaeda in Yemen.

The Islamic State draws its beliefs from Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi version of Islam. . . .

[And] Saudi money is now transforming European Islam. . .

In Kosovo, the New York Times’ Carlotta Gall describes the process by which a 500-year-old tradition of moderate Islam is being destroyed. . .

Trump’s speech on Islam was nuanced and showed empathy for the Muslim victims of jihadist terrorism (who make up as much as 95 percent of the total, by one estimate). He seemed to zero in on the problem when he said, 'No discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists .?.?. safe harbor, financial backing and the social standing needed for recruitment.'

But Trump was talking not of his host, Saudi Arabia, but rather of Iran. Now, to be clear, Iran is a destabilizing force in the Middle East and supports some very bad actors. But it is wildly inaccurate to describe it as the source of jihadist terror. According to an analysis of the Global Terrorism Database by Leif Wenar of King’s College London, more than 94 percent of deaths caused by Islamic terrorism since 2001 were perpetrated by the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and other Sunni jihadists. Iran is fighting those groups, not fueling them. Almost every terrorist attack in the West has had some connection to Saudi Arabia. Virtually none has been linked to Iran.

Trump has adopted the Saudi line on terrorism, which deflects any blame from the kingdom and redirects it toward Iran. The Saudis showered Trump’s inexperienced negotiators with attention, arms deals and donations to a World Bank fund that Ivanka Trump is championing. (Candidate Trump wrote in a Facebook post in 2016, 'Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays. Hillary must return all money from such countries!') In short, the Saudis played Trump."

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Our President Queeg

"Back in 1951, Herman Wouk published the definitive book about the Trump administration. He set it in the 1940s, during the war in the Pacific, aboard a destroyer-minesweeper skippered by a paranoid man with a compulsion to blame others for his mistakes. . .

We have many such similarities with Trump. Maybe the most psychologically egregious occurred right after the inauguration when he sent out Sean Spicer to lie about the size of the crowd. This was seemingly a small matter, but the inability to distinguish between the trivial and the consequential is, we now know, a Trump character malfunction.

In Queeg’s case, the telling incident has to do with some missing strawberries. The captain orders an investigation and has the ship laboriously searched for a nonexistent duplicate refrigerator key. 'They laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, with geometric logic, that a duplicate key to the ward room icebox did exist,' Queeg says when he takes the stand at the court-martial of his mutinous officers.

But the actual mutiny is yet to come. It occurs when the Caine gets engulfed by a typhoon. Queeg seems unsure how to handle the boat in the storm. He does not come around into the wind, and the ship starts to founder. It is then that his officers take over — mutiny. They had already researched Article 184: 'It is conceivable that most unusual and extraordinary circumstances may arise in which the relief from duty of a commanding officer by a subordinate becomes necessary.'"

Read the Washington Post, The definitive book about the Trump administration was written in 1951.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trump's Big CON: President Chaos!

"Some are born catastrophic, some achieve catastrophe, and some have catastrophe thrust upon them.

So far President Trump falls only in the first two of those three buckets. For that, my fellow Americans, we should all be very, very grateful.

Gratitude may not feel terribly warranted right now. Over the past four long months, we have endured scandal after scandal, crisis after crisis, from this White House.

To wit: a national security adviser who was a foreign agent for an authoritarian country and who put the kibosh on a military action that that authoritarian country opposed; the sharing of highly classified intelligence with the Russian government; multiple administration and campaign officials who 'forgot' to mention earlier meetings and other contacts with Russian officials; attacks on the independence of the federal judiciary; multiple indications (including comments from Trump himself, on camera) that suggest potential obstruction of justice; and so on.

Frankly, it’s exhausting.

But here’s the bright side. These have all been all self-inflicted wounds. Perhaps mortal ones, for the Trump presidency, but self-inflicted nonetheless.

Our saving grace — as a country and, perhaps, as a planet — is that so far the United States has not experienced any major external shocks. Woe betide us when the Trump administration is tasked, as it inevitably will be, with handling a crisis not of its own making."

Read the Washington Post, On the bright side, Trump has created all this chaos himself.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Trump's Big CON: 'Woe Unto Me!'

"President Trump believes he is being persecuted, and that is a frighteningly dangerous mind-set for a man with such vast power.

Amid a week of dizzying developments on multiple fronts, Trump gave a graduation speech Wednesday at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy portraying himself as a victim, unfairly besieged by those who would destroy him.

'No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly,' Trump said. That is an absurd claim that cannot be taken seriously, of course, but it does give a sense of how the president feels about the scrutiny he faces."

Read the Washington Post, Trump thinks he’s under attack. That’s very dangerous.

The Donald should remember: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"

Trump's Big CON: The Score Card of False or Misleading Claims & Promises Kept

UPDATE VI:  Read also Trump's Big CON: There is a Database of the Lies.

UPDATE V:  "Perhaps no politician is a bigger flip-flopper than Donald Trump. During the 2016 campaign, we counted flip-flops on four issues, but in some cases (H-1B visas and the minimum wage), Trump flip-flopped so often that it was just about impossible to determine his actual policy position.

After Trump won the electoral college vote while losing the popular vote, he flip-flopped on the unique American system of electing presidents. Whereas he had once called the electoral college 'a disaster for a democracy,' he began to celebrate it as 'genius.'

The pattern has continued during his presidency. It’s hard to keep up with all of Trump’s changes in position, but here are some major ones in recent weeks."

Read the Washington Post, President Trump, the king of flip-flops.

UPDATE IV: Trump's M.O.: watch fake news, tweet false statements, repeat.

Read the Washington Post, You’ll never guess who tweeted something false that he saw on TV, which notes it is " unusual for a president to spend two hours watching television news programs in the morning."

UPDATE III:  It isn't just Trump, the whole party lies.

Read the Washington Post, This lawmaker’s bio touted a business degree. It was actually a Sizzler training certificate.

UPDATE II:  "At this point it’s easier to list the Trump officials who haven’t been caught lying under oath than those who have. This is not an accident.

Critics of our political culture used to complain, with justification, about politicians’ addiction to spin — their inveterate habit of downplaying awkward facts and presenting their actions in a much better light than they deserved. But all indications are that the age of spin is over. It has been replaced by an era of raw, shameless dishonesty.

In part, of course, the pervasiveness of lies reflects the character of the man at the top: No president, or for that matter major U.S. political figure of any kind, has ever lied as freely and frequently as Donald Trump. But this isn’t just a Trump story. His ability to get away with it, at least so far, requires the support of many enablers: almost all of his party’s elected officials, a large bloc of voters and, all too often, much of the news media.

It’s important not to indulge in an easy cynicism, to say that politicians have always lied and always will. What we’re getting from Mr. Trump is simply on a different plane from anything we’ve seen before.

For one thing, politicians used to limit their outright lies to matters not easily checked — hidden affairs, under the table deals, and so on. But now we have the man who ran the Miss Universe competition in Moscow three years ago, and who declared just last year that 'I know Russia well,' then last month said, 'I haven’t called Russia in 10 years.'

On matters of policy, politicians used to limit their misrepresentations of facts and impacts to relatively hard-to-verify assertions. When George W. Bush insisted that his tax cuts mainly went to the middle class, this wasn’t true, but it took some number-crunching to show that. Mr. Trump, however, makes claims like his assertion that the murder rate — which ticked up in 2015 but is still barely half what it was in 1990 — is at a 45-year high. Furthermore, he just keeps repeating such claims after they’ve been debunked.

And the question is, who’s going to stop him?"

Read The New York Times, Goodbye Spin, Hello Raw Dishonesty.

UPDATE:  "Trump’s agenda is not just unpopular; it is being undermined by flimsy rationales and policy confusion and incompetence."

Read the Washington Post, Trump faces a huge problem, and Bannon’s con-artistry cannot make it disappear.

"Throughout President Trump’s first 100 days, the Fact Checker team will be tracking false and misleading claims made by the president since Jan. 20.

Read the Washington Post, 100 days of Trump claims, which notes that in "the 33 days so far, we’ve counted 132 false or misleading claims."

Read also the Washington Post, Trump Promise Tracker, "tracking the progress of 60 pledges he made during his campaign — and whether he achieved his goals."

Friday, May 19, 2017

Trump's Big CON: 'I Can Win in Afghanistan'

"Why are we still there? We went into Afghanistan after 9/11 to get Osama bin Laden and to punish the Taliban for harboring al-Qaeda. Now bin Laden is dead; al-Qaeda is dispersed; the Taliban has been battered. Afghan civilians have been killed, wounded or displaced in increasing numbers. The United Nations reports that there were more than 11,000 war-related civilian casualties last year, and 660,000 Afghans were displaced, adding to the country’s massive refugee crisis.

The war has now cost us over $1 trillion, making it the second-costliest U.S. war, after World War II. In fiscal year 2017, the war will cost about $50 billion, nearly a billion every week. We’ve lost over 2,350 soldiers, with 20,000 more suffering injuries. And as Trevor Timm of the Guardian noted, in a couple of years, there will be soldiers fighting in Afghanistan that weren’t even born at the time of 9/11.

We’re no longer fighting to defeat an enemy; we’re engaged in “nation-building.” Good luck with that. . .

The military has no strategy for victory, merely a plan to avoid defeat. After 15 years, no president wants to accept defeat. Yet a feature of Trump’s campaign was his scorn for the United States wasting $6 trillion in Middle Eastern wars we 'don’t win.' He ought to read his 2013 tweet: 'We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first.'"

Read the Washington Post, The U.S. will never win the war in Afghanistan.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Trump's Big CON: When Loyalty Is Valued Above Principle and Honesty

UPDATE IV:  "What would it take for Republican politicians to finally turn on, or even gently criticize, the current president?

For context, here’s an example of righteous fury one Republican congressman levied at President Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

'There’s no way any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday,' said Peter King (R-N.Y.).

The unforgivable sin that triggered this rebuke?

Wearing a tan suit.

Other unacceptable scandals of the Obama administration vociferously condemned by right-wing politicians and pundits: asking for mustard on a burger, putting his feet on his desk, standing under an umbrella held by a Marine, playing too much golf.

By contrast, here are some of the actions Trump has undertaken that have not caused most Republican officials to abandon their support, or even offer especially sharp criticism (if any criticism at all): multiple attempts at a Muslim ban, boasts about sexual assault, mocking people with disabilities, attacking a Gold Star family, making baseless claims that Obama wiretapped him, making baseless claims that 3 million people voted illegally, comparing the intelligence community to Nazis, firing the FBI director investigating his campaign, betraying a critical ally by sharing highly classified information with the Russians."

Read the Washington Post, What would it take for Republican politicians to finally turn on Trump?

UPDATE III:  "It’s quite easy to image how the applause-starved, ego-driven president let the cat out of the bag. 'In his meeting with [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat,' The Post reports. ''I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,' the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.' Trump behaves like a child, prone to boasting and exaggeration to make himself look bigger. Unfortunately, this child with no impulse control or grasp of what he is doing is our commander in chief. . .

The enabling needs to end; otherwise, Republicans will as culpable as Trump for the potential parade of reckless, stupid and/or illegal actions yet to come."

Read the Washington Post, The fallout from Trump’s blabbing to the Russians.

UPDATE II:  "It was this last piece of news [about disclosure of highly classified intelligence to the Russians] that led me to form a hypothesis:

Daniel W. Drezner

I think we need to consider the possibility that Trump's White House is populated by morons. …
7:49 AM - 11 May 2017

Somehow the hard-working staff at Lawfare managed to write a pretty comprehensive assessment of what this latest story means. The whole thing is worth reading, but this is the part that stood out to me:

    Trump’s alleged screw-up with the Russians reveals yet again what we have learned many times in the last four months: The successful operation of our government assumes a minimally competent Chief Executive that we now lack. Everyone else in the executive branch can be disciplined or fired or worse when they screw up by, say, revealing classified information or lying about some important public policy issue. But the President cannot be fired; we are stuck with him for 3 1/2 more years unless he is impeached, which remains a long-shot.

The president is a vainglorious clown trying to act like a world-historical figure and revealing himself to be a bad salesman. His staff lacks both the competence and the ability to rein him in. And now he has gone from puzzling allied nations to alienating them.

After nearly four months as president, there is little evidence of growth or change from the president. There is only the beclowning. For the United States, the next few years will be nothing better than an exercise in damage control."

Read the Washington Post, The continued beclowning of the Trump administration.


Read the Washington Post, Trump doesn’t embody what’s wrong with Washington. Pence does., which I republish in full:

"When history holds its trial to account for the Donald Trump presidency, Trump himself will be acquitted on grounds of madness. History will look at his behavior, his erratic and childish lying and his flamboyant ignorance of history itself and pronounce the man, like George III, a cuckoo for whom restraint, but not punishment, was necessary. Such will not be the case for Mike Pence, the toady vice president and the personification of much that has gone wrong in Washington.

On any given day, Pence will do his customary spot-on imitation of a bobblehead. Standing near Trump in the Oval Office, he will nod his head robotically as the president says one asinine thing after another and then, maybe along with others, he will be honored with a lie or a version of the truth so mangled by contradictions and fabrications that a day in the White House is like a week on LSD.

I pick on Pence because he is the most prominent and highest-ranked of President Trump’s lackeys. Like with all of them, Pence’s touching naivete and trust are routinely abused. He vouches for things that are not true — no talk of sanctions between Mike Flynn and the Russians, for instance, or more recently the reason James B. Comey was fired as FBI director. In both instances, the president either lied to him or failed to tell him the truth. The result was the same: The vice president appeared clueless.

I don’t feel an iota of sympathy for Pence. He was among a perfidious group of political opportunists who pushed Trump’s candidacy while having to know that he was intellectually, temperamentally and morally unfit for the presidency. They stuck with him as he mocked the disabled, belittled women, insulted Hispanics, libeled Mexicans and promiscuously promised the impossible and ridiculous — all that “Day One” nonsense like how the wall would be built and Mexico would pay for it.

I also have little sympathy for Sean Spicer, who plays the role of a bullied child. Trump routinely sends him out to lie to the American people, which he has done ever since his insistence that the inaugural crowd was bigger than the photos showed. He persists at his job even though Trump broadly hints that he will soon fire him. When Spicer is gone, he will be easily replaced. Washington is full of people who have no honor and no pride, either.

I think of Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, and Wilbur Ross, at Commerce. What possessed them to back Trump for the GOP nomination? Didn’t they know the sort of man he is? Did they think a lower tax rate and fewer regulations are worth risking American democracy and our standing in the world? When they watched the bizarre way Trump sacked Comey, were they proud of their candidate?

The swamp that Trump kept mentioning in the campaign is not really one of tangled bureaucratic mangroves, but of moral indifference. Washington always had a touch of that — after all, its business is politics — but Trump and his people have collapsed the space between lies and truth. The president uses one and then the other — whatever works at the time.

The president cannot be trusted. He cannot be believed. He has denigrated the news media, not for its manifest imperfections but for its routine and obligatory search for the truth. He has turned on the judiciary for its fidelity to the law and, once, for the ethnic heritage of a judge. Trump corrupts just about everything he touches.

From most of the Republican Party comes not a whisper of rebuke. The congressional leadership is inert, cowed, scurrying to the White House for this or that ceremonial picture, like members of the erstwhile Politburo flanking Stalin atop Lenin’s mausoleum. They are appalled, but mute. They want to make the best of a bad situation, I know, and they fear the voters back home, but their complicity ought to be obvious even to them.

America is already worse off for Trump’s presidency. He was elected to make America great again, but his future is more like other nations’ sordid past. His own party has been sullenly complicit, showing how little esteem many politicians place in our most cherished values, not the least of them honesty and dignity. For all of them, an accounting is coming. When they are asked by history what they did during the Trump years, the worst of them will confess that they bobbled their heads like dumb dolls, while the best will merely say they kept their heads down."

Who will be "added to the heap of unhappy people who cast their lots with Trump and were repaid with misery.

Trump entities have filed for bankruptcy protection six times. Investors, lenders and workers took hits — and Trump moved on. Trump was caught on tape boasting to Billy Bush about sexually assaulting women — and Billy Bush lost his job. Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort poured themselves into Trump’s campaign and were unceremoniously dumped.

The carnage has increased since Trump came to Washington. National security adviser Michael Flynn is out and potentially in legal trouble. The FBI’s Comey arguably handed Trump the election — and learned of his dismissal from TV. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tarnished his sterling reputation in just two weeks.

As my Post colleague Abby Phillip documented, Vice President Pence has been “unflagging in his loyalty,” only to be made “the public face of official narratives that turn out to be misleading or false.” Trump humiliated Steve Bannon by publicly downplaying their association. Trump repaid House Speaker Paul Ryan’s loyalty by winking at calls for Ryan’s ouster. Attempts to defend Trump by aides Reince Priebus and Kellyanne Conway and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have left them sounding clownish.

Trump takes what he can from each of his aides and allies and then moves on. "

Read the Washington Post, Trump has sucked the lifeblood out of Sean Spicer.

Read also the Washington Post:

McMaster and Tillerson are complicit in Trump’s dishonesty, so must they resign?,which notes:  "In one fell swoop, Trump revealed his abject unfitness and exposed McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell — all who personally attempted to knock down the story — as dishonest hacks."

Trump is dangerously incompetent, which stated:

"Given his many business failures, the only realms in which Trump has proven himself adept are those of popular manipulation and treachery, along with the related arts of show business. No doubt he will use them in the coming days to mislead and scapegoat his way out of accountability. . .

Republicans who savagely attacked Hillary Clinton over the petty email server scandal will now show where their true concerns lie — with party or with country. No agenda is worth pretending this presidency is good for the nation."

Trump's Big CON: To Evangelicals: I Will Protect You'

"Even in an era of marriage diversity, it remains the most unlikely match: President Trump and his loyal evangelical base. In the compulsively transgressive, foul-mouthed, loser-disdaining, mammon-worshiping billionaire, conservative Christians 'have found their dream president,' according to Jerry Falwell Jr.

It is a miracle, of sorts. . .

The essence of Trump’s appeal to conservative Christians can be found in his otherwise anodyne commencement speech at Liberty University. 'Being an outsider is fine,' Trump said. 'Embrace the label.' And then he promised: 'As long as I am your president, no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith.' Trump presented evangelicals as a group of besieged outsiders, in need of a defender.

This sense of grievance and cultural dispossession — the common ground between The Donald and the faithful — runs deep in evangelical Christian history. . .

Evangelicals have become loyal to a leader of shockingly low character. They have associated their faith with exclusion and bias. They have become another Washington interest group, striving for advantage rather than seeking the common good. And a movement that should be known for grace is now known for its seething resentments."

Read the Washington Post, Trump is evangelicals’ ‘dream president.’ Here’s why.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trump's Big CON: LOCK HIM UP!!

UPDATE IV:  "Another day, another damning news story about President Trump and Russia that Republicans can’t immediately (or perhaps ever) defend. And Republicans’ frustration with having to deal with this is showing, bigly."

Read the Washington Post, Republicans’ extreme frustration with Trump, in one congressman’s middle finger.

Sorry Republi-CONs, the truth does not change after you give it the middle finger.

UPDATE III:  Who is to blame for the current Child President?

Republi-CONs, who refuse to acknowledge the truth.

But the truth always wins.

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s careening toward an inevitable showdown with an undeniable truth.

UPDATE II:  "Just about every Watergate cliche has relevance. The coverup really is worse than the crime. Don’t bet against the FBI. When there is concrete evidence of obstruction (the memo, the firing) it is very hard for the president’s party to stick with him."

Read the Washington Post, Comey may have gotten his man.

UPDATE:  "So why did the president ask his vice president and attorney general to leave the room?

The New York Times reports — and the Washington Post and other news organizations confirm — that President Trump, at a meeting with then-FBI Director James B. Comey the day after national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned, asked Vice President Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to leave him and Comey alone in the Oval Office.

At which point Trump, according to a contemporaneous memo written by Comey, asked the FBI director to drop the Flynn probe. 'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,' Trump told Comey, according to the memo as reported by the Times. 'He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.'"

Read the Washington Post, Trump made Pence and Sessions leave before he talked to Comey. What was he hiding?

First the disclosure of classified information to Russia.

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s disclosures to the Russians might actually have been illegal.

Now the attempt to obstruct justice.

Read the Washington Post, Notes made by former FBI director Comey say Trump pressured him to end Flynn probe.

What goes around comes around.

Trump's Big CON: Is Trump a Russian Agent? (CONt., Part 3)

UPDATE IV:  "It is not at all surprising to learn that — during a conversation that shouldn’t have been happening, one that was photographed by a Russian journalist who shouldn’t have been there — the president revealed details of an ongoing intelligence operation. Once again, this was not part of a deliberate plan. Instead, it happened because the president is a braggart who wanted to show off his access to “great intel” and to impress his important guests.

All of this was not only predictable — it was also predicted. Read, again, the statement issued by 50 prominent Republican national security experts issued last August. Note that it was not “pro-Clinton” or left-wing, or even ideological at all. It simply pointed out that Trump — a man who would not, under normal circumstances, ever be given a high-level security clearance — was unfit to be president. Here is the central section:

    In our experience, a President must be willing to listen to his advisers and department heads; must encourage consideration of conflicting views; and must acknowledge errors and learn from them. A President must be disciplined, control emotions, and act only after reflection and careful deliberation. A President must maintain cordial relationships with leaders of countries of different backgrounds and must have their respect and trust. In our judgment, Mr. Trump has none of these critical qualities. He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander in-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Read the Washington Post, The experts were right: Trump isn’t fit to be president.

UPDATE III:  "Hypocrisy watch: Trump slipping secrets to Russia is ironic because a major reason that he became president was Hillary Clinton’s private email server. As a candidate, the president constantly said her mishandling of sensitive information was disqualifying. 'This is really, if we bring it up, this is like Watergate, only it’s worse, because here our foreign enemies were in a position to hack our most sensitive national security secrets,' Trump said at a rally last September. 'We can’t have someone in the Oval Office who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘confidential.’' (Philip Bump rounds up a bunch more examples like this.)

The president tweeted dozens of times last year about Clinton’s mishandling of classified information:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrumpHillary Clinton should not be given national security briefings in that she is a lose cannon with extraordinarily bad judgement & insticts.7:57 PM - 29 Jul 2016 · Denver, CO

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrumpThe real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by "intelligence" like candy. Very un-American!7:13 AM - 15 Feb 2017

He even quoted Comey in this one from last July:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrumpCrooked Hillary Clinton and her team "were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information." Not fit!6:12 AM - 6 Jul 2016  

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s chaotic White House once again makes a bad story worse.

UPDATE II:  "For the second time in a week, President Trump is in hot water — this time for sharing highly classified information with Russia during an Oval Office meeting last week. And for the second time in a week, he stepped forward to defend himself in an entirely unhelpful and contradictory way."

Read the Washington Post, Trump just threw his top advisers under the bus … again.

Read also the Washington Post, The White House isn’t denying that Trump gave Russia classified information — not really.

UPDATE:  "President Trump appeared to acknowledge Tuesday that he revealed highly classified information to Russia — a stunning confirmation of a Washington Post story and a move that contradicted his own White House team after it scrambled to deny the report.

Trump's tweets tried to explain away the news, which emerged late Monday, that he had shared sensitive, “code-word” information with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a White House meeting last week, a disclosure that intelligence officials warned could jeopardize a crucial intelligence source on the Islamic State. . .

Trump's tweets undercut his administration's frantic effort Monday night to contain the damaging report. The White House trotted out three senior administration officials — national security adviser H.R. McMaster, deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — to attack the reports.

The president's admission follows a familiar pattern. Last week, after firing FBI Director James B. Comey, the White House originally claimed that the president was acting in response to a memo provided by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

But in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt, Trump later admitted that he had made the decision to fire Comey well before Rosenstein's memo, in part because he was frustrated by the director's investigation into possible collusion between his presidential campaign and the Russian government."

Read the Washington Post, Trump acknowledges ‘facts’ shared with Russian envoys during White House meeting.

Is Trump a Russian agent (albeit an unwitting agent -- Putin has the kompromat to control Trump, and Trump knows it since he knows his own compromising financial and personal information)?

Or just really, really stupid?

I say both, but you decide.

Read the Washington Post, Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador, which noted that:

"In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. 'I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day' . . .

Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat. . .

Trump has repeatedly gone off-script in his dealings with high-ranking foreign officials, most notably in his contentious introductory conversation with the Australian prime minister earlier this year. He has also faced criticism for seemingly lax attention to security at his Florida retreat, Mar-a-Lago, where he appeared to field preliminary reports of a North Korea missile launch in full view of casual diners.

U.S. officials said that the National Security Council continues to prepare multi-page briefings for Trump to guide him through conversations with foreign leaders, but that he has insisted that the guidance be distilled to a single page of bullet points — and often ignores those.

'He seems to get in the room or on the phone and just goes with it, and that has big downsides,' the second former official said. 'Does he understand what’s classified and what’s not? That’s what worries me.'"

Bragging and freelancing, typical characteristics of Trump, a psycho-narcissistic con man

Read also:

Trump's Big CON: What's He Hiding: Is Trump a Russian Agent?,

Trump's Big CON: What's He Hiding: Is Trump a Russian Agent? (Cont.) and

Trump's Big CON: What's He Hiding: Is Trump a Russian Agent? (Cont., Part 2).

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He's Not Very Smart or Curious

UPDATE II:  "As my colleague Julia Ioffe reported, and Politico’s Susan Glasser confirmed, the Russians had been pressing hard for an in-person meeting with Trump, 'a man who is now known for starkly reversing his positions if exposed to in-person pleasantries.' . .

Throughout his campaign for president, Trump repeatedly mocked Obama’s prowess as a negotiator, saying the U.S. was getting rolled in trade deals and diplomacy alike. He promised he would be very tough, taking a much harder line with allies and adversaries alike, and said he would renegotiate the nuclear deal with Iran. Given how much he has conceded in his discussions so far, it’s a wonder Tehran isn’t practically panting for Trump to follow through."

Read The Atlantic, Foreign Leaders Have Realized Trump Is a Pushover.

UPDATE: "As a policy leader, Trump is unique among recent presidents. He doesn’t lead on policy. Normally a president who wants action on health care would try to unite the caucus by putting forth his own substantive ideas and getting legislators to support them. Trump never had a substantive proposal and never showed any command of the details involved, so he could not play that role. He forcefully pushed House Republicans to vote on something, anything, but he didn’t help resolve differences among them.

The system is adapting to the vacuum at its heart. . .

Trump is giving an entirely new meaning to 'Rose Garden strategy.' His goal is successful votes and Rose Garden ceremonies, with the content of those victories subcontracted. Trump, no doubt, views this as a strong executive focusing on the big picture. But this is not the result of management theory. It is the only possible choice for a chief executive who is being introduced to substantive issues and debates for the first time and seems to find them tedious. 'Nobody knew health care could be so complicated,' Trump said at one point, in a statement more fitting to a congressional intern.

It is useful, even necessary, for outsiders to arrive in periodic political waves. It is part of the way that democracies renew themselves without coups and violence. But this kind of outsider perspective is precisely what Trump is not providing.

Some of the reason is just the swift, merciless education provided by reality. Yes, Middle East peace is just 'as difficult as people have thought.' No, building a wall across a continent isn’t really possible. Yes, health-care policy is complicated. . .

This is the price of Trump’s emptiness. On major economic issues, he has not produced policy that tilts toward the needs of the working class. He has not rallied his party to address these problems in practical ways. Instead, he has outsourced his policy priorities and thus outsourced his political uniqueness.

During the presidential election, we heard, time and time again, that Trump is not a politician and would do what he said he’d do. The two points are actually in tension. Because Trump knows little about governing and less about policy, he can’t do what he said he’d do. And this only adds to the sum of American cynicism."

 Read the Washington Post, Why Trump can’t do what he said he’d do.

"It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about President Trump’s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence."

Read the Washington Post, Trump has a dangerous disability.

So why is The Donald not very smart or curious?

Because psycho-narcissistic con men never are.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Trump is a Psycho-Narcissistic Con Man (CONt., Part 2)

I just have to repeat an earlier post, with slight modifications, mostly adding the newest statement from The Donald, then the latest evidence that Trump is a psycho-narcissistic con man.

"Trump is an incredible narcissist.

Read the Washington Post, Trump can’t stop saying things that aren’t true, which notes:

"President Trump thinks he invented a term “a couple of days ago” that he has been using for months and that economists have for more than a century, and it wasn't even the least accurate thing he said in his latest interview.

Now, everyone is understandably laughing at Trump's history of the phrase “priming the pump.” That, of course, is the long-standing idea that the government should fight recessions by cutting taxes and increasing spending. It really entered the lexicon in the 1930s — that's the first time the Economist used the term — but it goes back to at least 1916. Trump, though, has some alternative facts. 'Have you heard that expression used before?' he asked the Economist, before explaining that 'I haven't heard it ... I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good.' This is puzzling. First off, Trump's question doesn't make any sense on its own terms. How could they have heard of it if he just came up with it? And second, how could he think he just coined it when he used the very words 'priming the pump' back in March and December?

Who knows.

But the bigger point is that Trump doesn't show any more ability to distinguish fact from fan fiction when it comes to his policies, either. He said in the interview, for example, that his health-care plan means that 'we're going to have much lower premiums, and we're going to have much lower deductibles.' This is false. . .

It's no different with taxes. Trump has claimed that he will 'massively' cut taxes for the middle class, but even the most generous analyses conclude the opposite — he'd help the rich much more than anybody else. . .

This is the kind of thing that only works as long as your plans haven't passed. Because once they do, there's no hiding from the fact that what you said would happen is the opposite of what is actually happening.

Not that Trump would necessarily notice."

That is a incredibly revealing, and scary, interview.

Read also:

Trump is a Psycho-Narcissistic Con Man, where I first noted that Trump is a psycho-narcissistic con man and

Trump is a Psycho-Narcissistic Con Man (Cont.).

Friday, May 12, 2017

Trump's Big CON: The Beginning of the End

UPDATE:  Trump doesn't know it, but he is done.

"It’s the moment Stephen Colbert has been waiting for.

CBS’s “Late Show” host has spent months eviscerating President Trump on television, clearly trying to provoke a reaction.

It didn’t work. Until Thursday."

Read the Washington Post, Stephen Colbert gleefully responds to President Trump calling him a ‘no-talent guy’.

Better yet, watch it:

I got this from a Southern "conservative", who got it from social media:

In the past, when the President needed to be protected, the Secret Service would say "Get down Mr. President."

Now they say "Donald Duck!"

If conservatives, his core supporters, are telling jokes about The Donald, it's only a matter of time.

Watch for Republi-CONs to realize the utter seriousness of the situation and start to abandon The Donald.

Or it might be Hedgehog News.

In either case, it's the beginning of the end.

Trump's Big CON: The Comey Conspiracy and Russian Agent Coverup

UPDATE V: Trump must go!

Read the Washington Post, Trump reportedly sought a loyalty pledge from Comey. The FBI says this ‘leads to tyranny.’

UPDATE IV:  "Possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign was once little more than a conspiracy theory, but not anymore. The only way to make sense of this week’s stunning events is to conclude that there is something that President Trump desperately wants to hide. . .

Trump claims to have no business ties with Russia. But in the past, his sons have reportedly bragged about a flood of Russian money boosting the Trump Organization’s fortunes. Trump could settle the question by fully disclosing his finances, including his tax returns. Why the secrecy?

If Trump wanted to end this scrutiny by firing Comey, he may have had the opposite effect. Ask yourself one question: Have you ever seen a coverup with no underlying crime? Neither have I."

Read the Washington Post, Trump seems to be staging a coverup. So what’s the crime?

As I noted before, Trump is trying to hide that he is a Russian agent, he "may be an unwitting agent, but Putin has the kompromat to control Trump, and Trump knows it since he knows his own compromising financial and personal information."

And the more the FBI learns, the more it appears, there was nothing unwitting about it.

At the very least, Trump has been helping Russian mobsters launder dirty money.

UPDATE III:  "This was always the main question: Would President Trump go beyond mere Twitter abuse and move against institutions that limit his power?

By any reasonable standard, we now have an answer.

Trump’s official rationale for firing FBI Director James B. Comey — that the president was suddenly seized with outrage at the shocking treatment of Hillary Clinton by the FBI during the election — is false in a typically Trump-like way. It requires his supporters to demonstrate their loyalty by defending the indefensible. This is apparently the manner in which Trump identifies true believers. They must be willing, when instructed, to say that 2+2=5. On cable television.

In fact, according to media accounts, Trump has been in a spittle-flinging rage since Comey’s March 20 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, in which he confirmed the existence of an investigation of Russian influence on Trump’s inner circle. On May 2, Trump tweeted that the 'Trump/Russia story' is 'phony.' On May 9, Trump fired Comey. The president removed a perceived threat, threw an active FBI investigation into chaos and raised the prospect of a Trump stooge being appointed in Comey’s place. (The correct answer is 4.)

All of this is consistent with — even mandated by — Trump’s contempt for institutions. He has called the FBI investigation process 'rigged.' If the system is dirty, only a fool would not play by the same rules. This is the logic of conspiratorial disdain for government. An independent, nonpolitical FBI? What a joke. It is all political. And politics is power. And power is making people do what you want, or destroying those who get in your way. The gospel according to Nixon. . .

Republicans often talk of judicial restraint; less, recently, of presidential restraint. Presidential limits are often found in norms, not laws — what Lord Moulton called 'obedience to the unenforceable.'

But Trump seems to take pleasure in throwing acid into the face of convention. In his calls to lock up his electoral opponent; in his wink and a nod toward violence at his rallies; in his groundless accusations of being spied upon by his predecessor; in his Twitter taunting of congressional leaders; in his bold and obvious lies; in his dehumanization of migrants and refugees. Grace, dignity, empathy, integrity and kindness are stripped away, leaving the emperor naked but incapable of shame. Trump is the spendthrift of our public character, squandering an inheritance he does not understand or value."

Read the Washington Post, The real test of our tolerance for Trump comes now.

UPDATE II:  Trump can't stop talking.

And since he's not very smart, it only means trouble.

Read the Washington Post, Trump said he was thinking of Russia controversy when he decided to fire Comey.

UPDATE:  Speaking of inconsistent explanation for firing Comey:

Read the Washington Post, Trump says he was going to fire ‘showboat’ Comey regardless of recommendation.

Read also the Washington Post, President Trump just decimated the White House’s entire Comey narrative, which stated:

"I wrote Wednesday that the White House’s explanations for firing James B. Comey were crumbling. Well, President Trump just exploded them.

In one fell swoop, Trump totally contradicted his three top spokespeople and offered a polar-opposite version of events than they had provided.

After they had spent the past 45 hours emphasizing that this was a decision Trump arrived at after receiving a memo and recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, Trump just blurted out that he was going to fire Comey all along. Basically, he admitted the memo was a ruse and a political ploy. . .

It’s clear that the White House wanted to use Rosenstein’s credibility, built up over three decades in law enforcement, to make this decision look apolitical. This made it seem like it wasn’t just the president unilaterally firing the guy who was investigating his 2016 campaign's ties to Russia. This was actually a talking point and narrative that was intended to protect Trump.

But then Trump himself told us the truth."

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. . .

[Yet] Sessions consulted with the president and coordinated the firing of James Comey. . .

Sessions may have some explanation for why he chose to participate in the firing of Comey. But the attorney general may now be in considerable legal peril."

Read the Washington Post, Jeff Sessions is in deep trouble, and here’s why.

Trump's Big CON: What's He Hiding: Is Trump a Russian Agent? (CONt., Part 2)

UPDATE IV:  During the campaign I sometimes wondered whether The Donald was a staged caricature of the Democratic imagination of the typically stupid and hypocritcal Republi-CON politician.

Now I'm beginning to believe Republi-CONs really are that stupid.

"The pictures from the Oval Office on Wednesday — published by a Tass photographer, as no U.S. media were present — are jolly and good-humored. President Trump, who fired his FBI director a day earlier, is grinning for the cameras and shaking hands with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, and the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. They, too, smile and laugh, relishing the many ironies of the moment.

Have a close look at those happy faces; keep the images in your head. Then turn your attention just for a moment to the story of Ildar Dadin, an unusually brave young Russian. Dadin was arrested in Moscow in 2015, one of the first to fall victim to a harsh new Russian law against dissent. His crime was to have protested peacefully and repeatedly, mostly by standing silently in the street with a sign around his neck.

Dadin was sentenced to three years in prison in Karelia, the northwestern province that was once home to the White Sea Canal, one of the most infamous prison camps in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Far away from the capital, he discovered that torture, of a kind also practiced in Stalin’s Soviet Union, was still in use. In Karelia, guards throw a prisoner into an isolation cell as soon as they arrive, Dadin has written, 'so that he understands straight away what hell he’s got into.' Later, he was hung up by his arms, which were handcuffed behind his back. Others in Karelian prisons were beaten on the soles of their feet, drenched with water and left in the cold, beaten on the back and stomach. . .

Neither Trump, nor Lavrov, nor Kislyak is remotely interested in the fate of Dadin or Dmitriev, if they have even heard of them, which seems unlikely. Nor are any of them much interested in the fate of Dan Heyman, the West Virginia reporter arrested recently for persistent questioning of Tom Price, the health and human services secretary. Due process, rule of law, all of the dull rules and procedures that deliver justice are uninteresting to men who believe in personalized power unconstrained by traditions, institutions or constitutions. Look at how pleased they were to see one another — and compare those pictures with Trump’s stiff and awkward news conferences with democratic leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel or Britain’s Theresa May.

I know that investigations should continue, but let’s be clear: Russia would have needed no inducements or collusion to support Trump’s election campaign. His personality is the kind they understand, his cynicism and his dishonesty are familiar, his greed is the same as their greed. Above all, his lack of respect for the law is their lack of respect for the law. Trump fired the FBI director to get him off his television screen; Russian police lock up dissidents to get them out of public view. No, it’s not the same thing. But it’s not that different either.

Read the Washington Post, Don’t forget those smiling images of Trump and the Russians.

UPDATE III:  "Republicans wound up with Trump as their president by marinating themselves in a stew of half-truths, conspiracy theories and self-delusion. They are doing so again as they desperately grab for excuses and explanations to account for egregiously inappropriate behavior. When the Senate majority leader and the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal sound indistinguishable from Sean Hannity in their specious rationalizations, you know the right is intellectually and morally exhausted."

Read the Washington Post, Here are the three dumbest defenses of Comey’s firing.

Read also the Washington Post, The White House explanations for Comey’s firing are crumbling before our eyes.

Then read also the Washington Post, Mitch McConnell may be making the most important mistake of his career, which states:

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is one of the shrewdest politicians of his generation. But by speaking Wednesday on the Senate floor in defense of President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey, McConnell made what is likely to stand as the most important mistake of his long political career.

The Kentucky Republican, who is measured and calculating about everything, should have known better. He chose to ally himself with a man who becomes unhinged whenever the subject of his campaign’s possible collusion with Russian interference in our election arises.

Removing the leader of the nation’s top law-enforcement agency while he was in the middle of an investigation that could touch the president should — no matter what your view — call forth seriousness, sobriety and thoughtfulness. When critics can legitimately wonder if it is part of an effort to obstruct justice, a president would do well to treat the matter in a reflective way."

UPDATE II:  "For all the talk about the unusual nature of President Trump’s decision to fire James Comey, it actually fits comfortably into a well-established pattern that has defined this presidency from its very first day. Trump makes an emotional, impulsive assertion or decision — and then his underlings are forced into a wild scramble to produce a rationale or justification for it.

In this pattern, the decision or assertion often originated in the same place — deep in the recesses of Trump’s entangled megalomania and sneaking dread of the illegitimacy of his presidency. And the Comey firing, it turns out, may not be an exception to this."

Read the Washington Post, The White House’s laughable spin about Comey now lies in smoking ruins, which notes Trump's pathological obsession with the manner and margin of his election victory, and Comey's failure to support him on that issue.

You might remember, during the election Trump's pathological obsession was about the size of  his hands.

Read also the Washington Post, Why Trump expected only applause when he told Comey, ‘You’re fired.’, which highlights examples of how:

"Donald Trump has always acted in the moment, with little regard for the past and proud contempt for the way things are usually done" . . . [and]

"His family coat of arms, a regal symbol featuring a lion and a knight’s helmet, carries this Latin motto: 'Numquam Concedere.'

'Never Concede.'"

UPDATE:  After all the inconsistent explanations by the The Donald and his sycophant, still confused?

It will all be perfectly understandable after you read the Washington Post:

Comey sought more resources for Russia probe days before he was fired by President Trump, officials say and

 With Comey’s dismissal, the Russia investigation will soon be run by Trump allies, which notes that:

The intelligence agencies’ directors will be Trump appointees . . .

The Justice Department leaders are Trump appointees . . . [and]

Trump’s party controls Congress

The Donald fired FBI Director James Comey, who was, among other things, investigating a connection between Trump's campaign and Russia.


Because as I noted before, Trump is a Russian agent, he "may be an unwitting agent, but Putin has the kompromat to control Trump, and Trump knows it since he knows his own compromising financial and personal information."

And the more the FBI learns, the more it appears, there was nothing unwitting about it.

Read the Washington Post:

From Clinton emails to alleged Russian meddling in election: The events leading up to Comey’s firing,

Firing FBI director Comey is already backfiring on Trump. It’s only going to get worse., which noted the "[t]o put it mildly, the optics of firing Comey are terrible. Trump looks like he does not actually want to get to the bottom of Russia’s interference in the U.S. election and the potential wrongdoing of his own staffers."

The weird moment on Colbert’s show that captured our political whiplash, which noted The Donald's freudian slip:

"It will go down in history as having a museum-worthy second paragraph: 'While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.' . .

It is rare for a single sentence to so thoroughly encapsulate one man’s current psyche, and to become such an immediate artifact of the time in which it was written. The letter was grandiose and insecure, highly specific but provided no checkable details. Trump used it to defend himself against Comey’s firing before anybody had asked for a defense."

Trump surrogates are trying to explain Comey’s firing. It’s not going well.

Trump has crossed a once-unthinkable red line, which noted that:

"Since President Richard Nixon forced the resignations of the attorney general and deputy attorney general in 1973 in protest to his order to dismiss a special prosecutor investigating the White House, all senior Justice Department officials have known that there could come a time when they would stand before history and face a defining test: Would they have the courage to say no to a president determined to subvert the bedrock independence of federal law enforcement?

On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein failed this test. By providing President Trump with the cover to fire FBI Director James B. Comey, they betrayed the Justice Department’s long-standing tradition of independence. In doing so, they sent a message to every career prosecutor and investigator working beneath them that they put the president’s personal and political interests ahead of the department’s integrity."

Did Trump already blow his own cover story about Comey’s firing?, which lists the inconsistent explanations for the firing.

Read also:

Trump's Big CON: What's He Hiding: Is Trump a Russian Agent? and

Trump's Big CON: What's He Hiding: Is Trump a Russian Agent? (Cont.)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, Health Care Edition

UPDATE II:  "Republicans have fanned across the talk shows to defend the bill, but what they have really revealed is that they can’t defend it without spewing all sorts of lies and distortions about what’s actually in it. . .

Republicans are broadly sidestepping any defense of what their bill actually does. . .

Untold numbers of people with preexisting conditions will be more vulnerable to losing coverage, financial ruin and, in certain cases, possibly death. Millions of lower-income people will lose coverage. Instead of arguing that these things are worth the trade-off of doing away with the mandate and the high-end taxes, Republicans who support the bill continue to deny that those things will happen at all, in the face of all evidence and expert analysis to the contrary."

Read the Washington Post, The health bill is a total disaster. That’s why Republicans keep lying about it.

Read also The New York Times, Republicans Party Like It’s 1984, which notes:

"[T]he Orwell-level dishonesty of the whole effort. As far as I can tell, every word Republicans, from Trump on down, have said about their bill — about why they want to replace Obamacare, about what their replacement would do, and about how it would work — is a lie . .

Trumpcare breaks every promise Republicans ever made about health. Deductibles will rise, not fall, as insurers are set free to offer lower-quality coverage. Premiums may fall for a handful of young, healthy, affluent people, but will rise and in many cases soar for those who are older (because age spreads will rise), sicker (because protection against discrimination based on medical history will be taken away), and poorer (because subsidies will go down).

Many people with pre-existing conditions will find insurance either completely unavailable or totally out of their financial reach.

And Medicaid will be cut back, with the damage worsening over time.

The really important thing, however, is not just to realize that Republicans are breaking their promises, but to realize that they are doing so with intent. This isn’t one of those cases where people try to do what they said they would, but fall short in the execution. This is an act of deliberate betrayal: Everything about Trumpcare is specifically designed to do exactly the opposite of what Trump, Paul Ryan and other Republicans said it would." 

UPDATE:  "House Republicans have been so fixated on passing anything that they now find it hard to defend their handiwork without resort to exaggeration, deflection and flat-out dishonesty. There is a surefire way to tell they are not accurately representing the bill: Fellow GOP senators want no part of it."

Read the Washington Post, GOP grownups debunk fake AHCA defenses

"There have been a slew of stories about Trump’s indifference to what was in the health-care bill. What he said he wanted repeatedly on the campaign trail isn’t what was passed, but that didn’t keep Trump from telling a Rose Garden audience on Thursday afternoon that the legislation would do things that outside analysis made clear that it wouldn’t. Of all the things we should have foreseen from a Trump presidency, this, in hindsight, is among the most obvious: Trump was more consistent about his desire to win than he was about what those wins would entail. His policy specifics are generally things championed by others: immigration by Stephen K. Bannon, child-care by Ivanka Trump. The thing Trump wanted to accomplish was to win. . .

There seems to have been a collective sense among the caucus, powered in no small part by the White House, that the win was the important thing. The New York Times reports that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus was twisting every arm in sight in an effort to secure a passing majority, so much so that his famously warm relationship with fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan was strained. Kane reports that the positions of the House speaker and other Republican leaders were perceived as being in jeopardy if they couldn’t close the deal. With stakes like that, 217 becomes more important than 24 million — 217 votes was a stronger motivation than the 24 million people who would be uninsured in 2026 thanks to the bill’s passage. . .

It’s certainly not a coincidence that this episode occurred in a moment of unprecedented partisanship. A lot of Republicans across the country likely shared Trump’s attitude: The win was more important than what was won, especially since the win was a victory over the hated Obamacare.

The broader point can be made more simply. Why did Republicans have a Rose Garden ceremony to celebrate a bill moving out of one of the two chambers of Congress? Because the bill wasn’t the point. The passage was."

Read the Washington Post, It’s easy to win if you don’t care what you’ve won