Monday, July 31, 2017

Trump's Big CON: The Reality TV President (AKA Stupid Is As Stupid Does, CONt.)

UPDATE IV:  "The Court of Mad King Donald is not a presidency. . .

The problem is not just that President Trump is selfish, insecure, egotistical, ignorant and unserious. It is that he neither fully grasps nor minimally respects the concept of honor, without which our governing system falls apart. He believes 'honorable' means 'obsequious in the service of Trump.' . . He believes everyone else’s motives are as base as his.

The Trump administration is, indeed, like the court of some accidental monarch who is tragically unsuited for the duties of his throne. . .

Why bring in Scaramucci? Because, I fear, the mad king is girding for war. Trump is reckless enough to fire Mueller if he digs too deeply into the business dealings of the Trump Organization and the Kushner Companies. . .

Do not become numb to the mad king’s outrages. The worst is yet to come."

Read the Washington Post, The worst is yet to come

UPDATE III:  The Donald has no morals or character. So what did you expect?

Are you surprised that he appointed "a communications director who, before even unpacking his bags, is disparaging the president’s chief of staff as a 'f—ing paranoid schizophrenic' and the president’s chief strategist as a man who is just 'trying to suck [his] own c—.' A staffer who professes loyalty to the president but demeans the presidency and everything it stands for. Who tweets one thing, then retracts it and lies about what he meant.

You might say, what do you expect? This is the kind of person who will be hired by a president who boasts about grabbing “p—-,” mocks a disabled journalist, hijacks a Boy Scout rally, publicly humiliates his own attorney general — and yet dares call himself 'more presidential' than Ronald Reagan, Franklin Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson or George Washington."

Read the Washington Post, The most appalling line in Scaramucci’s rant contained zero profanity.

UPDATE II:  "Donald Trump, like many a businessman-turned-politician before him, argued that if he was elected, he would bring his managerial acumen to Washington, making government run like a business with efficiency and skill.

What we’ve seen instead is the most chaotic and incompetent White House in living memory. And it’s only getting worse.

Let’s begin with the Trump administration’s new media superstar, communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Despite having no experience in politics or press relations, Scaramucci was hired because President Trump saw him on cable TV, and he is indeed a perfect creature of that medium: not well-informed, but absolutely confident in everything he says. Scaramucci has some other critical qualities, especially his over-the-top love for Trump, but what makes him unique is his propensity for moments of absolutely shocking candor, of a kind we don’t normally expect from professional spinners.

So now, in a White House that Trump once described as 'a fine-tuned machine,' the chief of staff and the communications director are in open war with one another. . .

The Sessions story is another indication of what an incredible mess this administration is. While the communications director is seemingly accusing the chief of staff of committing a felony, the president is giving interviews and tweeting about what a terrible job his attorney general is doing. . .

Or look at how Trump went about announcing a dramatic policy shift at the Defense Department, in which transgender service personnel will be banned from the military. He first sent a tweet saying:

    After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……

… which was followed by a nine-minute pause. Pentagon officials had no idea what was coming, and BuzzFeed reports:

    At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action…Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter.

The announcement caught everyone off guard. Even the president’s own spokeswoman seemed to have no idea how it might be implemented.

While this was happening, the secretary of defense was on vacation, and it’s unclear if he approved this policy change. Interestingly enough, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has reportedly been frustrated with Trump and the White House, is also 'taking a little time off,' according to a spokesperson. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t taken a vacation since Trump was inaugurated, and my job is somewhat less critical to the fate of the nation than the secretary of state or the secretary of defense.

I’m sure this all makes the Trump administration an exciting place to work — from one day to the next you never know who’s at war with whom, who’s getting fired, what sweeping policy changes will be made, or what the president will tweet next. Most of Trump’s agenda is stalled, half the key jobs are vacant, senior officials can’t wait to get out of town, and everybody’s leaking to the press about what a mess it all is. This is one fine-tuned machine all right."

Read the Washington Post, Incredibly, the White House is spiraling even further into chaos.

UPDATE:  "If Thursday morning is any indication about what the Scaramucci Era will look like, it will make the first six months of the Trump administration look tranquil.

The new White House communications director just called into a morning show and suggested that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who would be his boss in any normal West Wing, may be behind the leaks that are plaguing the administration. He also mused openly about their strained relationship and suggested the president may have to decide between them.

What's more, he did it all in response to a story written by a reporter who says nobody leaked anything to her, as Scaramucci had alleged. . .

This is the kind of reality-TV drama that the president thrives on: Having two of his closest advisers battle it out for loyalty, including one of them doing it in an impromptu appearance on Trump's obsession, cable news. To the extent Scaramucci is now running the show in the West Wing — and Priebus's stock certainly seems to be declining — we can apparently expect plenty more of this.

But even if Trump approves of all this — and it seems likely he does, particularly given that Scaramucci said he had been talking to Trump just before calling in — it's still his top advisers engaging in a very public battle, live on cable TV. It's really difficult to see what benefit all of that has.

Lizza's response to the scene pretty much said it all.

Ryan Lizza

This is surreal
6:10 AM - Jul 27, 2017 " [Twitter link added.]

Read the Washington Post, The Trump White House just went full reality TV.

"In many ways, President Trump behaves just how poor people imagine rich people do — with garish, ostentatious displays of wealth, imperiousness toward the common folk and disregard for the rules others must follow. He and his staff also act how dumb people imagine smart people behave. Trump talks in circles, repeating stock phrases so as to deflect any questions that might reveal his ignorance. (Heaven forbid someone should ask him what was in the House health-care bill). He says he has a very good brain, something people with very good brains never say. He never apologizes, because he is never wrong; the facts others cite are wrong. He is smarter than all the generals, you see. In Trumpland, it’s axiomatic that everyone with experience and detailed knowledge is “stupid”; by contrast, they (the Trumpkins) require no expertise or experience because they are so darn smart. Trumpkins are certain that getting rich (even by inheritance) is evidence of competence and smarts.

The sight of people much less smart than they think they are shooting themselves — and each other in the foot — would be uproarious if not for the dire consequences to the country. We saw the case of Jared Kushner, a sitting duck for Russian intelligence operators. . .  A 30-something-year-old convinced of his own brilliance and whose knowledge and experience is scant outside the real estate world seems to have thought he could fake his way through governing at the highest levels. Better that he should have taken an internship on the Hill instead.

Speaking of comical dunces, Anthony Scaramucci seems to have styled himself as a character out of 'Goodfellas.' . .

This clownish performance is now a familiar one in Trump’s administration — arrogant man, well out of his depth, whose hunger for the limelight exposes his own stunning lack of judgment and gravitas.

But it’s no mystery why Kushner and Scaramucci are where they are. They were hired by the person most grievously out of his depth and most embarrassingly ignorant, the president. Trump only wants a few people around him whom he knows really well and who are in no position to recognize the president’s intellectual shortcomings. He relies on family and other businessmen whose obsession with moneymaking has left little time for anything else and whose arrogance prevents them from acknowledging what they do not know (most things). In other words, he hired people much like himself with exactly the same flaws, just a little less rich. He’s an intellectual giant, you see, among the apple-polishers he has put in high offices.

The Keystone Kop administration stumbles on. Unfortunately, this is real life and the results they produce are anything but funny."

Read the Washington Post, The gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

Honestly, I have no idea how The Donald, and his family and friends, got to where they are?

Stupid is as stupid does, and Trump has proven himself to be too stupid to be president.

Read also Trump's Big CON: Stupid Is As Stupid Does.

Trump's Big CON: His Supporters Love the CON, CONt. (AKA Broken Campaign Promises, Health Care Edition)

UPDATE:  "A large segment of Republican voters should try turning off Fox News and allowing reality to permeate the shell they’ve constructed to keep out ideas that interfere with their prejudices and abject ignorance. Unfair? Take a look at the latest poll to suggest that Trump voters like their cult hero feel compelled to label inconvenient facts “fake news.' .  .

[As reported on Morning Consult:] . .

Allan Lichtman, a professor of history at American, said in an email Tuesday that Trump has 'perfected the technique of the Big Lie' — which, as he wrote in an op-ed last fall, is to 'repeat a lie loudly, over and over until people come to believe it.'

'These results show that again that like ‘Birtherism,’ which launched Trump’s political career, the Big Lie continues to work, at least among those who want to believe it,' noted Lichtman, a professor who won professional acclaim last year after correctly predicting Trump’s victory. . .

I’m sure all this makes the Trump staff and surrogates laugh uproariously as they admire their handiwork in bamboozling the angry mob. But they and the network of right-wing enablers have done real damage to our society and politics, making differences impossible to bridge and reasoned debate nearly impossible. . .

And here’s where the executives at Fox News, the 'serious' conservative media, elected GOP officials and even self-identified conservative pundits need to be held to account. They know much of the rubric of the Trump cult is absolutely false, yet they repeat, propagate or just tolerate it. It’s a game in which the only rule is to beat 'liberal elites' or run a successful money-making operation where gullible donors can be fleeced with an appeal to stop perceived enemies (i.e., those who won’t drink the Kool-Aid).

Democracy presupposes a minimally informed, responsible adult electorate. Right now it is clear the GOP is dominated by fact-deniers and willfully ignorant folk. Whether they got that way because sleazy politicians conned them and Fox News lulled them into a stupor or whether spineless pols are simply filling a niche remains a matter of debate. But here’s the thing: The rest of the country should empathize with their economic plight and sense of alienation, but that does not mean we should coddle them in their ignorance nor defer to judgments based on fabrication. They feel 'disrespected' when fellow Americans point to reality? Trumpkins think elites are condescending when they call them 'low information' voters? (It should be non-information voters.) Sorry, economic hardship does not bestow moral authority to lie, invent facts, smear opponents, blame foreigners or support lawlessness. And for elected Republicans to defer to the ignorant, beguiled voters is an abdication of their role and oaths.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) bellowed at his colleagues to 'stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet.' Here’s a better idea: Stop deferring to a horde of know-nothings."

Read the Washington Post, The frightful state of the GOP.

"As Republicans struggle to figure out which spectacularly unpopular, viciously cruel, and perfunctorily considered version of their health care bill they want to become law, one former member of the House leadership has come out with an extraordinary admission about what a scam the whole project is. In an interview with Elaina Plott of Washingtonian magazine, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was defeated in a primary in 2014 by a Tea Party extremist, explains that Republicans knew they were lying to their base about their ability to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but they just couldn’t help themselves . . .

What’s truly remarkable isn’t that a bunch of cynical politicians thought they could ride their base voters’ anger into control of Congress by lying to them about what they could actually accomplish, it’s that their voters actually believed it. And then those voters got even angrier when it turned out that the president had the ability to veto bills passed by a Congress controlled by the other party. Who knew! So instead of looking for a presidential candidate who would treat them like adults, they elected Donald Trump, a man who would pander to their gullibility even more.

Which brings us to where we are today. Republicans couldn’t be bothered for seven years to actually think about what repealing and replacing the ACA might involve, or whether there would be tradeoffs and choices to make, or whether setting up a system that accorded with their conservative philosophy might not actually solve the problems of the health care system. They thought it would be enough to tell their voters to get mad, and worry later about what it would take to keep the promises they made.

So now they find themselves with a bill that nearly everyone hates. If it passes (in whatever form), it will be a disaster for the health care system, and will be a political disaster for them as well. But they’ve convinced themselves that the only thing worse politically would be to not pass anything, because that would incur the wrath of those same base voters. In other words, their current position is, “We know how catastrophic this bill would be. But we got here by lying to these knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers for years, and if we don’t follow through, they’ll punish us.” They believe that their voters will say, 'Okay, so I lost my health coverage because of you, but you’ll get my vote again because you kept your promise.' . .

That was just one of the many lies they were told, and they ate it up. Now we’ll all have to pay the price."

Read the Washington Post, Trump and Republicans treat their voters like morons.

Read also Trump's Big CON: His Supporters Love the CON.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Broken Campaign Promises, LGBTQ Edition

UPDATE III:  "Welcome to the United States of Anarchy.

Health-care legislation languishes without presidential leadership. The Senate fails to pass a measure crafted by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, fails to pass an outright repeal and even fails to pass a proposal to go back to the drawing board.

Huge majorities in Congress, declining to bless President Trump’s love affair with Vladimir Putin’s regime, vote for new sanctions against Russian officials; legislation passes the Senate, 98 to 2, and the House, 419 to 3. The veto-proof rebuke to the president seizes a foreign-policy function from an unreliable commander in chief.

As the deadline looms to avoid a default on U.S. debt, Susan Collins (R-Maine), a Senate committee chairman, is heard on a hot mic saying she’s “worried” about the president’s stability and calling his administration’s handling of spending matters “just incredibly irresponsible.” She says she doubts Trump even knows how the budget process works.

Trump, baffling and alarming allies, goes on the attack against his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who was an outspoken supporter of Trump’s candidacy. Trump clearly wants Sessions to resign, but Sessions is ignoring him. Sessions’s former colleagues in the Senate back him over his boss — and they hope Trump isn’t crazy enough to start a crisis by firing Sessions and then special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Meanwhile, the president continues to sow chaos with perpetual distractions. He fires off a tweet Wednesday morning announcing he is banning transgender people from serving in the military. The tweet apparently catches even the Pentagon by surprise and draws rebukes from pro-military Republicans who argue that all able-bodied, patriotic Americans should be allowed to serve.

And the ship of state sails on, rudderless. This is what it might look like if there were no president at all: stuff happens, but nothing gets done."

Read the Washington Post, Welcome to the United States of Anarchy.

UPDATE II:  "From Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is up for reelection in one of the reddest and most socially conservative states in America:

I don't think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them. I look forward to getting much more information and clarity from military leaders about the policy the President tweeted today.

Senator Hatch Office

Senator Hatch's full comments on the issue of transgender Americans in the military. #utpol
11:43 AM - Jul 26, 2017
" [Twitter link added.]

UPDATE:  "For decades leading up to President Trump’s Wednesday tweets announcing a ban on transgender people in the military, the businessman-turned-politician has approached the LGBT community on nonideological terms.

Trump’s relationships with LGBT people, and his evolving positions on issues, have been transactional, according to people who have interacted with him, focused largely on how the community might affect his interests in the moment.

Only a year ago, candidate Trump presented himself as a social liberal seeking to move the Republican Party left on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.

He vowed that he would do more than Democrat Hillary Clinton to protect LGBT people. He defended the rights of Caitlyn Jenner, the country’s most well-known transgender advocate, to use whichever bathroom she wanted in Trump Tower. And he added 'Q' to his discussion of the 'LGBTQ community' in his Republican National Convention speech to show he was in the know.

'People are people to me, and everyone should be protected,' he told The Washington Post in a May 2016 interview.

But circumstances have been changing since Trump entered the White House. . .

Trump’s tweets on Wednesday delivered yet another a victory to the political right — including many House Republicans whose support he needs for his policy agenda — while surprising many Republican LGBT activists who had hoped he would end the culture war within the party.

Those familiar with Trump say his stances aren’t contradictory, but rather illustrate the consistency of his instincts to shape his views depending on the moment.

'I don’t believe Donald Trump has an personal animus toward LGBT individuals,' said Gregory T. Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, which represents gay conservatives and allies. 'This smacks of politics, pure and simple.'"

Read the Washington Post, ‘It’s not my thing’: A history of Trump’s shifting relationship with the LGBT community.

Think about it, the announcement show The Donald has no principles, or empathy.

For the sake of political expediency, The Donald will say or do anything, and he cares nothing about the lives he destroys in the process.

If his supporters had any character, they would be ashamed.

"During his campaign, Mr. Trump promised to “do everything” to protect members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. But his administration’s small-minded and ignorant policies toward transgender people — first students, and now service members — are doing just the opposite."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s dishonest betrayal of America’s transgender troops, which noted that The Donald "claimed that he had consulted “with my Generals and military experts” before deciding that transgender individuals would not be allowed “to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military” — a reversal of the policy adopted by the Obama administration. In fact, Mr. Trump appears to have made his decision hastily, interrupting an ongoing Pentagon review and taking key military and congressional players by surprise. He asserted that allowing transgender personnel to serve would result in “tremendous medical costs and disruption” — though careful studies and the experience of other nations have shown just the opposite."

So why do it, and do it now?

It serves as a distraction to The Donald's many other problems.

Trump's Big CON: He Is Clueless, Health Care Edition

UPDATE: "It’s fitting that President Trump reacted to the epic collapse of the GOP repeal-and-replace push by vowing to keep up his campaign to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. 'Let Obamacare implode, then deal,' Trump tweeted, meaning the administration should continue undermining the law, to force Democrats to the table to…well, it’s not clear what he wants from them, but it is clear is that he will continue sabotaging the ACA out of sheer rage and spite.

For Trump, this has never been about improving our health care system. Trump, who visibly had no idea how the ACA works or what was in the various GOP replacements, and who openly said he would sign whatever Republicans put in front of him, just wanted to boast of a 'win' while triumphantly using Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement as his own personal toilet paper roll.

Trump has not yet secured that opportunity for himself. The 'skinny repeal' bill failed . . .

Republicans spent years voting to repeal the law, secure in the knowledge that Obama would veto those attempts and spare them from owning the consequences."

Read the Washington Post, Now that Trumpcare has failed, it’s time to drop all the lies.

Why do you never hear The Donald try to explain his positions or policies?

Because he is incredibly ignorant.

Read the Washington Post, What was Trump talking about with $12-a-year health insurance?

Trump's Big CON: Be Afraid (of That "Retiree Strolling Around the Woods")

"There is a specter haunting the United States, or at least the Republican Party and its friendly news outlets. You may think it’s just a former government official who holds no office and won’t be running for anything again, but they know the truth. America needs to get worried and, more important, angry at Hillary Clinton. . .

President Trump himself seems to be practically obsessed with Clinton, as Philip Bump explains:

    Whatever Trump does or doesn’t do, he’s always willing to point out what Clinton did or didn’t do that’s worse.

    So she comes up in his interviews a lot. In fact, in 19 interviews that he’s conducted since becoming president, we found that Clinton tended to be mentioned much earlier than a number of Trump’s other favorite topics: The 2016 election, the votes he received, the electoral college and Barack Obama. …

    In 17 of 19 of his interviews, Clinton came up, on average about 36 percent of the way in. . .

Without going back and checking, I’m pretty sure Obama didn’t bring up how he beat John McCain in 90 percent of the interviews he conducted during his first six months in office. I don’t recall George W. Bush talking about Al Gore at all after he became president. So what’s going on here?

For Trump personally, I think it’s mostly about the deep insecurity that comes through every time he opens his mouth. It’s why he’s always telling everyone how smart and knowledgeable and accomplished he is, something that people who are actually smart and knowledgeable and accomplished don’t do. He feels a need to remind everyone that he won the election, usually embellishing the story by characterizing it as bigger and more emphatic a victory than it actually was. As his vanquished opponent, Clinton is a symbol of his potency and dominance. . .

Trump got elected in large part by getting his voters mad — at immigrants, at Muslims, at politicians and at a supposedly rigged political system. But as president, he’s had a hard time sustaining that anger and constructing that story of himself as a warrior fighting against a threatening enemy.

Other Republican presidents had it much easier. President Ronald Reagan had a natural counterpoint in the Russians, an enemy Americans had hated for decades. The Cold War provided opportunities for threat and confrontation — invade a tiny island country here, make a speech in Berlin there, and you have a drama that never gets old. President George W. Bush spent eight years telling Americans they were about to be annihilated by villainous Middle Easterners, first al-Qaeda, then Saddam Hussein. By the end of his tenure the story had lost its punch, but it did get him reelected.

Trump, on the other hand, has no villain to fight. So he and his allies are left looking backward to the person who was supposed to be the villain of the moment but now is just a retiree strolling around the woods in Westchester County. No wonder they seem so dispirited."

Read the Washington Post, Why Trump and the conservative media are still obsessed with Hillary Clinton.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Trump is a Psycho-Narcissistic Con Man, Boy Scout Edition (AKA Part 6)

Thje Donald spoke at the National Scout Jamboree, calling "the nation’s capital city a 'sewer.' He informed the religiously mixed crowd that more people would say 'Merry Christmas' under his watch. He spent much of the speech glorifying his election victory: 'Do you remember that famous night on television? On Nov. 8th?' Trump said, as he insisted that winning the popular vote — which he failed to do — is a lot easier than his feat, winning the electoral college. He explained how he took Michigan’s electoral votes and attacked his former rival, Hillary Clinton, whom some in the audience booed. He offered his usual substance-less babble about the evils of Obamacare and quipped that he would fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price if a repeal-and-replace bill did not pass the Senate. 'U-S-A, U-S-A,' some in the audience chanted.

Worst of all, the president twisted the meaning of the scout law. 'As the scout law says, a scout is trustworthy, loyal — we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that,' he said in an apparent reference to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump has recently demeaned Sessions, one of his oldest allies, because the attorney general recused himself from the Russia investigation, in accordance with Justice Department ethics guidelines. Loyalty for Trump is personal and flows in one direction — he expects it but does not give it. The loyalty that the scouts — and, for that matter, the Justice Department — stand for belongs not to a single man but to the country and its democratic system. . .

Trump’s lesson for 30,000 young men was that the bullies are right and that humility and self-sacrifice are for suckers. Exulting in his election victory, attacking his political opponents and railing on about killing Obamacare, the president celebrated winning — and, specifically, his winning — above all else. His boastful speech did not model public-spiritedness; it showcased the immodesty and one-upmanship that the organization expects its boys to grow out of. Instead of addressing the crowd, the president could have learned something from its finer members, decades his junior."

Read the Washington Post, Trump insults everything the Boy Scouts stand for.

Read also the Washington Post,

From ‘fake media’ to Clinton, Trump brings political attacks to the Scout Jamboree, and

Trump’s Boy Scouts speech broke with 80 years of presidential tradition.

Trump's Big CON: What Might Have Been If He Only Had Ideas or Principles (Or Even Common Sense)

UPDATE:  "President Trump seems to live atop his own petard. Every time it seems like he should have an advantage, he squanders it by torpedoing a legislative package, firing a government official, making absurd utterances to foreign leaders or ranting on Twitter, often against the better judgment of many who work for him. No wonder that, since Inauguration Day, his approval rating has never risen higher than the 46 percent of the vote he won last November; a Washington Post-ABC News poll out last weekend showed it at 36 percent.

But these unforced errors don’t quite explain his inability to take advantage of a boost in economic confidence or to expand, even slightly, the passionate base that carried him to victory. The problem lies with that very victory — the one that won him not only the presidency but also 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. The legacy of such deficits suggests there’s little he can do to gain the trust of the majority. American history is clear: Presidents who’ve lost the popular vote don’t win popular support. . .

[Make matters worse, Trump has refused] to alter his style of political persuasion. When the president lies that millions of votes were cast illegally for Clinton in 2016, he betrays an insecurity that stems both from his personality and from knowing that most Americans wanted someone else to run the country. If Trump had begun his administration by reaching out to Democrats on a plan to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, he may have had a chance to confuse, if not divide, the opposition. Instead, he decided to wage a relentless battle against the federal bureaucracy and the news media — which comes off as defensive instead of confident. Any chance Trump has to gain majority support and get reelected probably depends on changing his behavior. That is a difficult task for any politician, much less an inexperienced one in his 70s. The knowledge that millions of Americans consider his 2016 victory undemocratic and illegitimate could render it impossible."

Read the Washington Post, No matter what he does, history says Trump won’t win people over.

"There are many ways to evaluate the Trump presidency at the six-month mark. What I am struck by is the path not taken, the lost opportunity. During the campaign, it was clear that Donald Trump had many flaws, but he tapped into a real set of problems facing the United States and a deep frustration with the political system. Additionally, he embraced and expressed — somewhat inconsistently — a populism that went beyond the traditional left-right divide. What would things look like at this point if President Trump had governed in the manner of a pragmatic, jobs-oriented reformer relentlessly focused on the 'forgotten' Americans of whom he often speaks?. .

Trump could have quickly begun reshaping American politics. He discerned voices that others didn’t, understood what those people wanted to hear and articulated much of it. But when it came time to deliver, it turned out that he had no serious idea or policies, nor even the desire to search for them. He just wanted to be president, meeting world leaders, having Oval Office photo ops and flying on Air Force One, while delegating the actual public policy to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) or Vice President Pence. So far, Trump has turned out to be something far less revolutionary than expected — a standard-issue, big-business Republican, albeit an incompetent one, wrapped in populist clothing."

Read the Washington Post, Donald Trump’s lost opportunity.

Read also Trump's Big CON: Bad News: He Has No Values or Beliefs, Good News: He Is No Conservative.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He and Family Claim to Be Brilliant, AND Incompetent At the Same Time

UPDATE III:  "Does Jared Kushner know anything about anything?

A) Yes. Of course.

He is a wunderkind. (You get to be a wunderkind well into your 30s when you look like him.) . .

B) No, of course not.

He is but a tiny, beardless youth! Look how young he is! Barely out of short pants! What can he know of life in this world? What can he know of business? . .

He does not understand how to fill out a simple form. Of course not! He is but a simple man, if you can even call him a man yet. (You should not.) But someday, when he is old enough, he will learn. In the meantime, he should be put somewhere where he cannot do any damage, perhaps in charge of making peace in the Middle East or revamping all of government or fixing the opiate crisis left in his bounce castle with his bear and his chocolate milk. . .

He is very sorry, but he cannot help you and he would like to go home now, he is tired, and it is time for his nap.

c) He is a true miracle of science who, amazingly, can persist in both states at once, even when observed.

But not observed too closely."

Read the Washington Post, Jared Kushner: Boy wizard or total ignoramus?

UPDATE II:  When The Donald "needed somebody to negotiate peace in the Middle East, he asked Kushner. When he needed somebody to be his point man with China and with Mexico, he asked Kushner. When he needed somebody to solve the opioid epidemic, reform veterans’ care, overhaul the criminal justice system and reinvent the entire federal government, Trump again turned to Kushner. Even when he just needed somebody to strap a flak jacket over his navy blazer and fly off to Baghdad, Kushner was the one he asked. . .

Kushner explained how a full accounting of his foreign contacts fell through the cracks 'amid the scramble of finalizing the unwinding of my involvement from my company, moving my family to Washington, completing the paper work to divest assets and resign from my outside positions and complete my security and financial disclosure forms.' A 'miscommunication' led his assistant to file his form prematurely.

He said he omitted not only meetings with Russians, but “over one hundred contacts from more than twenty countries.”

And this is supposed to help him?

That’s the trouble with Kushner’s defense in the Russia imbroglio. He’s essentially arguing that he isn’t corrupt — he’s just in over his head. He didn’t really know what he was doing, and he was too busy. Coming from the man charged with handling everything from Middle East peace to opioids, this isn’t reassuring.

This inexperience defense is consistent with Kushner’s filing Friday showing that he had previously neglected to disclose more than 70 assets, as required, including an art collection (with wife Ivanka Trump) worth as much as $25 million. The Middle East peace negotiator also did not disclose that he held Israeli government bonds.

Yet Kushner’s father-in-law entrusted him with what is arguably the most difficult portfolio ever to be assigned to a White House aide. His previous experience: running his family real estate business, which he took over in 2005 when his father was convicted of tax evasion. The next year, Kushner bought a $1.8 billion Manhattan building, near the top of the real estate cycle, and his family has been trying to find investors to keep the project afloat.

So now Kushner is defending himself by playing the ingenue: 'All of these were tasks that I had never performed on a campaign previously,' and 'I could not even remember the name of the Russian ambassador.' Kushner, arguing that he didn’t seek to create a 'back channel' with Russia, explained that he merely asked the Russian ambassador if he “had an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use.'

The defense leaves one big question unanswered: Why is a man of such inexperience in charge of so much?

Don’t ask."

Read the Washington Post, Jared Kushner’s only excuse: He has no idea what he’s doing.

Read also the Washington Post, Jared Kushner ‘forgets’ to disclose his assets? Seize them.

UPDATE:  "Donald Trump, the first president in American history to take office with no prior governing or military experience, [like to appoint friends with no related professional experience]. . .

These two things are not unrelated. Trump has repeatedly dismissed the knowledge and wisdom of experts while elevating nonexperts who lack relevant experience into important jobs across the federal government. This gets less attention than other story lines, but it has been a hallmark of the president’s first six months in power.

The administration is heavily populated with people who lack qualifications that would have been prerequisites to get the same jobs in past Republican and Democratic administrations. It starts at the top: No one not named Trump seriously believes that the president’s daughter and son-in-law could have gotten their plum West Wing jobs if not for nepotism. . .

In a new book entitled 'The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters,' Tom Nichols describes Trump’s victory last November as 'undeniably one of the most recent—and one of the loudest—trumpets sounding the impending death of expertise.'

The president defended his lack of specific policy knowledge during a rally on the eve of the Wisconsin primary in 2016. 'They say, 'Oh, Trump doesn’t have experts,'' Trump said. 'You know, I’ve always wanted to say this: … The experts are terrible! They say, 'Donald Trump needs a foreign policy adviser.' … But supposing I didn’t have one, would it be worse than what we’re doing now?'

Nichols, a professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island, believes the 'death of expertise and its associated attacks on knowledge fundamentally undermine the republican system of government.'

'The abysmal literacy, both political and general, of the American public is the foundation for all of these problems. It is the soil in which all of the other dysfunctions have taken root and prospered, with the 2016 election only its most recent expression,' Nichols writes. 'Americans have increasingly unrealistic expectations of what their political and economic system can provide. This sense of entitlement is one reason they are continually angry at ‘experts’ and especially at ‘elitists,’ a word that in modern American usage can mean almost anyone with any education who refuses to coddle the public’s mistaken beliefs. When told that ending poverty or preventing terrorism is a lot harder than it looks, Americans roll their eyes. Unable to comprehend all of the complexity around them, they choose instead to comprehend almost none of it and then sullenly blame experts, politicians and bureaucrats for seizing control of their lives.' . .

The 252-page book is packed with illustrations. 'What I find so striking today is not that people dismiss expertise, but that they do so with such frequency, on so many issues, and with such anger,' Nichols laments. 'It may be that attacks on expertise are more obvious due to the ubiquity of the Internet, the undisciplined nature of conversation on social media, or the demands of the twenty-four-hour news cycle. But there is a self-righteousness and fury to this new rejection of expertise that suggest, at least to me, that this isn’t just mistrust or questioning or the pursuit of alternatives: it is narcissism, coupled to a disdain for expertise as some sort of exercise in self-actualization.'"

Read the Washington Post, Trump marginalizes experts, debases expertise.

Jared Kushner's explanation of his "meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian attorney, former Russian counterintelligence agent and Russian interpreter" doesn't make sense

"His defense appears to be that he was so naive and oblivious he didn’t know what was going on — and then so memory-challenged and sloppy that he did not fill out his security clearance forms accurately. 'Kushner’s explanations are plausible and reveal what may be even worse than collusion ultimately: incompetence,' [Clinton Watts, former FBI special agent and now senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute] says. 'Assuming Kushner’s accounts are correct, these Russian meetings point to the worst fears about a President relying on family loyalty rather than experience to pursue America’s best interests. They are in over the heads, unaware of how American adversaries exploit their vulnerabilities and completely lacking in strategic policy direction.' He adds, 'Trump isn’t making America great again, he’s making Russia great again as he unwittingly bows to Russian mastery.' . .

If not evidence of malicious deception, the story reveals a young man who is in over his head and out of his depth to such a degree that he does not know he is in over his head and out of his depth."

Read the Washington Post, Kushner’s damning account: At the very least, he’s in over his head.

Let’s not forget, Kushner is “President Trump’s point man with the Chinese . . brokering a durable truce between the Israelis and the Palestinians. 'If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can,' Trump said to the 36-year-old real estate scion, who has absolutely no background in diplomacy, from the stage of an inaugural party. . . [and] supervising the brand new Office of American Innovation, whose modest ambition is a full-scale reorganization of the federal government that makes it more efficient.”

Read also Trump's Big CON: Incompetence and Mismanagement Aggravated by Nepotism and Dishonesty, Trump, You're Fired!

Trump's Big CON: The TrumpDon'tCare (© Health Care Vote

UPDATE: "Republicans’ desperation to pass something, anything, that they can call “Obamacare repeal” and their total lack of concern for the health-care insurance that millions of Americans depend upon have never been more vivid. All Republicans but Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) voted to advance a bill — some kind of bill — that, from what we have seen, would dump millions off the Medicaid rolls, raise insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs for many of President Trump’s voters and return millions in tax cuts to the rich. But we don’t know, and neither does any senator know, where this is going or what consequences might flow. . .

In sum, the consolation for a meltdown in legislative order, rationality and responsible government is that we now know just how incapable the GOP is of governing. Years of antagonism toward government have made them cavalier about the harm they can do to ordinary citizens in their quest to avoid blame. What a shabby group they are. Let’s hope they don’t do real damage before they lose their majority."

Read the Washington Post, A defensive vote on an offensive bill.

"We are hurtling toward a health-care disaster in the next 36 hours or so, for the worst possible reason. Cynicism is seldom completely absent from the operation of politics, but this is truly a unique situation. Republicans are set to remake one-sixth of the American economy, threaten the economic and health security of every one of us and deprive tens of millions of people of health-care coverage, all with a bill they haven’t seen, couldn’t explain and don’t even bother to defend on its merits.

Why? Because they made a promise to their base and now they say they have to keep it — regardless of what form keeping the promise might take and how much misery it might cause.

Tomorrow, the Senate is set to vote on a Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. . .

I’ve often argued that Republicans in Congress aren’t serious about policy, but this is taking their unseriousness to the level of farce. After complaining for years that the ACA was 'rammed through' Congress — in a process that involved a full year of debate, dozens of hearings in both houses and 188 Republican amendments to the bill debated and accepted — they’re going to vote on a sweeping bill that had zero hearings and that they saw only hours before, because who cares what’s in it? It’s only the fate of the country at stake. If taking away health-care coverage from 20 million or 30 million Americans is what it takes to stave off a primary challenge from some nutball tea partier, then that’s what they’ll do.

No one would argue that keeping promises isn’t important. But Republicans have elevated the idea of keeping their promise to repeal the ACA to the point where it’s drained of all substance. You can see it in the way they talk about the various iterations of their bill. You seldom hear a Republican defend it on the terms of the bill itself. They don’t say, 'Here’s how this bill will bring down deductibles' or 'Here’s how the bill will take care of those who lose their insurance' or 'Here’s how the bill will lower costs.' That’s partly because their bills won’t do any of those things, but mostly because they just don’t care.

Instead, what they say is, 'We made a promise, and we’re going to keep it.' If Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) handed them a bill saying that all children on Medicaid would be taken to the desert, buried up to their necks in the sand, and covered in fire ants, at least 40 of them would say, 'It may not be perfect, but we have to keep the promise we made to repeal Obamacare, so I’m voting yes.'"

Read the Washington Post, Senate Republicans take cynicism to a horrifying new level.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He Can't Close the Deal, Trade Edition

"U.S. officials fell short of securing ambitious gains in trade with China in a meeting Wednesday and news conferences planned to cap off the event were canceled as the two countries wrapped up 100 days of trade talks.

The United States unsuccessfully pressed China to make a substantial commitment to cut its steel production, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment on private discussions. U.S. officials also asked China to do more to reduce its trade surplus with the United States and open its market for agriculture, financial services and data flows, the people said."

Read the Washington Post, Trade talks fizzle as China rebuffs key Trump team demand.

Trump's Big CON: His Supporters Love the CON

UPDATE:  Who are some of the people that believe Trump's six month's of "836 false or misleading claims. That’s an average of 4.6 claims a day, not far off his first 100-day pace"?

You'll find them watching "a match race between Michael Phelps and a great white shark" in open water.

Read The New York Times, Michael Phelps ‘Raced’ a ‘Shark,’ Kind Of. Not Really.

Read also the Washington Post, President Trump’s first six months: The fact-check tally.

"About a quarter of Americans strongly approve of Trump’s job performance. A quarter think he’s doing a better job than past presidents. A quarter think America’s position in the world has gotten stronger since he was inaugurated. A quarter think that the way he acts is presidential. A quarter thought it was appropriate for his son, son-in-law and campaign chairman to meet with a Russian lawyer offering negative information on Hillary Clinton.

That is the Trump bubble.

One might be inclined to suggest that it’s everyone else who constitutes the bubble. Such a person is welcome to make that case, certainly, but there are two reasons that the term doesn’t apply as readily to the yellow slices of the pie. For one thing, they vary more in size and constitution. For another, they are the majority. Perhaps you, the rest of the world, are in the bubble that naively doesn’t think that the New York Mets are the best team in baseball (or who couldn’t care less). Or perhaps it’s Mets fans.

We saw something similar during the campaign. No matter what Trump did, his core base of support stuck with him. Some part or all of that core base of support sticks with him still. While most Americans disapprove of Trump’s job performance, see him as unpresidential and think he’s performing worse than past presidents, this quarter of the public disagrees.

There’s one good reason for that: Trump’s messaging and priorities all seem to target that group. That’s the bubble: Trump’s tweets about the biased media and inaccurate polls may not reflect reality, but they reinforce a message that bounces around within that base. Trump’s policy priorities may not be shared by most Americans, but they are shared by that core base of support. . .

Why the split? In part, certainly, thanks to [a media] divide . . . There are different media environments that cater to those inside and outside that space. If you support Trump and believe that he’s being effective, you can immerse yourself in a world where voices critical of that belief are sidelined or muted. And if you dislike Trump and think he’s failing, you can do the same.

It’s hard to predict what the result of this divide will be on American politics. One interesting side effect is already obvious: Republicans on Capitol Hill are reticent to criticize Trump, in part because his bubble of support overlaps with their primary election voters. It seems to bode poorly for Trump in 2020, except that he still has 3½ years to turn it around — and except that having only a kernel of fervent support didn’t keep him from winning in 2016.

For now, though, the effect is clear. There is a group of Americans who seem distinctly unlikely to ever change their minds about how Trump is doing. And Trump has dived deep into that pool, and is swimming in it gleefully."

Read the Washington Post, Trump and his base live in a bubble where he’s popular and all is well.

Monday, July 24, 2017

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

UPDATE:  "We have a president whose North Star is naked self-interest, not the good of the country. Trump cares about his family, his company and little else. He dishonors the high office he holds, then reportedly spends hours each day railing against cable-news coverage that he finds insufficiently respectful. His ego is a kind of psychic black hole that devours all who come into its orbit."

Read the Washington Post, This country deserves much better than Trump.

Sorry, I disagree. The country had a choice in the election, it deserves who it voted for.

"To hear President Trump tell it, his first six months in the White House should be judged in part by the legislation he has signed into law.

At rallies, in speeches and on Twitter, Mr. Trump repeatedly boasts of the bills he has signed — 42 as of this week. He has said no president has 'passed more legislation,' conceding once earlier this year that he trails Franklin D. Roosevelt, who he notes 'had a major Depression to handle.'

On Monday, he went even further, claiming to have bested all of his predecessors in turning bills into law.

'We’ve signed more bills — and I’m talking about through the legislature — than any president, ever,' Mr. Trump said at a 'Made in America' event at the White House. 'For a while, Harry Truman had us. And now, I think, we have everybody.'

Turning to Vice President Mike Pence, he added an aside about news media fact-checkers: 'I better say ‘think’; otherwise they will give you a Pinocchio. And I don’t like Pinocchios.'

In fact, as he approaches six months in office on Thursday, Mr. Trump is slightly behind the lawmaking pace for the past six presidents, who as a group signed an average of 43 bills during the same period. And an analysis of the bills Mr. Trump signed shows that about half were minor and inconsequential, passed by Congress with little debate. Among recent presidents, both the total number of bills he signed and the legislation’s substance make Mr. Trump about average.

President Jimmy Carter signed 70 bills in the first six months, according to an analysis of bills signed by previous White House occupants. Bill Clinton signed 50. George W. Bush signed 20 bills into law. Barack Obama signed 39 bills during the period, including an $800 billion stimulus program to confront an economic disaster, legislation to make it easier for women to sue for equal pay, a bill to give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco and an expansion of the federal health insurance program for children.

Mr. Truman and Franklin Delano Roosevelt both had signed more bills into law by their 100-day mark than Mr. Trump did in almost twice that time. Truman had signed 55 bills and Roosevelt had signed 76 during their first 100 days."

Read The New York Times, Trump Says He Has Signed More Bills Than Any President, Ever. He Hasn’t.

Remember: it's all 'bout the show, 'bout the show, stupid people!!! (Repeat til you get it).

Trump's Big CON: The Donald is a Russian Agent, CONt.

UPDATE IX:  Could Mueller exonerate Trump?

Possibly, but "[t]hat’s the least likely outcome after Trump has fired former FBI director James B. Comey and threatened the special counsel. Why would he do those things unless there was something really, really bad to find? And if there is something bad, Mueller will find it. You can understand then why Trump sounds frantic. In no scenario does Trump’s presidency recover."

Read the Washington Post, This presidency can’t be saved. It’s all downhill from here.

UPDATE VIII:  "Here's a quick summary of where the White House has pushed the boundaries with its moves toward Russia thus far. . .

1. The Syria decision . . .

2. Possibly returning Russia's U.S. compounds . . .

3. Sharing classified information with top Russian officials in the Oval Office . . .

4. Playing down Putin's human rights abuses . . ."

Read the Washington Post, Here’s what President Trump has done for Russia.
UPDATE VII:  "Trump and his legal team have at least sought to understand how Trump could pardon not just those around him, but also himself. Doing the former would cause major political upheaval; doing the latter would take us into uncharted territory both legally and for our republic, given a president has never attempted to pardon himself. . .

A president attempting to pardon himself would certainly qualify [as a constitutional crisis]; Trump trying to fire Mueller unilaterally — as the White House has suggested he can — would seem to fit the bill as well.

On the surface, that looks a whole lot like Trump being very concerned about what might become of [Mueller's investigation]. If he's done nothing wrong, after all, why not let the investigation play out and let the evidence speak for itself?"

Read the Washington Post, Does President Trump want a constitutional crisis?

Read also the Washington Post, Are we heading towards a constitutional crisis?

UPDATE VI: The Donald really, really wants to hide something. What could it be? ;)

"Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves."

Read the Washington Post, Trump team seeks to control, block Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The Donald is apparently "irritated by the notion that Mueller’s probe could reach into his and his family’s finances.

Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.

Trump has repeatedly refused to make his tax returns public after first claiming he could not do so because he was under audit or after promising to release them after an IRS audit was completed. All presidents since Jimmy Carter have released their tax returns."

Read also the Washington Post, Asking about a pardon for himself is a quintessentially Trumpian move.

UPDATE V:  "In the normal course of events, the revelation of attempted collusion with Russia to determine the outcome of a presidential election might cause an administration to overcorrect in the other direction. A president might find ways to confront the range of Russian aggression, including cyber-aggression, if only to avoid the impression of being bought and sold by a strategic rival.

But once again, President Trump — after extended personal contact with Vladimir Putin and the complete surrender to Russian interests in Syria — acts precisely as though he has been bought and sold by a strategic rival. The ignoble cutoff of aid to American proxies means that “Putin won in Syria,” as an administration official was quoted by The Post. Concessions without reciprocation, made against the better judgment of foreign policy advisers, smack more of payoff than outreach. If this is what Trump’s version of “winning” looks like, what might further victory entail? The re- creation of the Warsaw Pact? The reversion of Alaska to Russian control?

There is nothing normal about an American president’s subservience to Russia’s interests and worldview. It is not the result of some bold, secret, Nixonian foreign policy stratagem — the most laughable possible explanation. Does it come from Trump’s bad case of authoritarianism envy? A fundamental sympathy with European right-wing, anti-democratic populism? An exposure to pressure from his checkered financial history? There are no benign explanations, and the worst ones seem the most plausible." [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s breathtaking surrender to Russia.

UPDATE IV:  "President Trump has declared the Russia investigation to be a 'witch hunt' and a 'hoax,' but he sure seems to be concerned about all the people who are leading it. . .

Trump has now repeatedly attacked the people tasked with overseeing federal law enforcement's Russia probe. . .

The trend here is clear. If you are going to investigate Trump, you better be prepared for him to try to send a message or undermine you. Precisely why he feels the need to send that message is the big question."

Read the Washington Post, Trump has now attacked basically everyone in charge of the Russia investigation.

The answer to the question of why The Donald attacks the investigation of his Russian connections and everyone involved is simple: The Donald knows that the investigation will find that he has been financially compromised, and possibly more, by Putin.

UPDATE III:  "Trump’s frustration over Sessions’s refusal to violate ethical standards stands out as further evidence that for Trump, loyalty is everything. Ethical and legal boundaries do not register with him; indeed, his loyal underlings are expected to disregard such niceties to protect him. Nothing better underscores his unfitness for office. He did, after all, take an oath to faithfully execute the laws, not to use government lawyers to shield him from inquiry. That concept is foreign to Trump, who sees the FBI and Justice Department as his supplicants. . .

Trump’s presidency is sinking into the quicksand of the Russia investigation. The more he decries his tormentors, the more support he provides for their investigation. Who can doubt that he was determined to stop the Russia investigation? In lashing out at prosecutors, he commits new acts of intimidation, vainly hoping to curtail their inquiry.

The entire fiasco (in addition to Trumpcare’s failure) is devouring the presidency. Trump — not Sessions, Comey, Mueller or Rosenstein — is solely to blame for his predicament. His grave mistake was thinking that he could avoid scrutiny, just as he has done for decades in a privately held, family business.

So, how is 'Made in America Week' going?

Read the Washington Post, A wounded Trump lashes out over the Russia probe.

Read also the Washington Post, No, President Trump, Sessions’s recusal is not ‘very unfair’ to you. This is Ethics 101., which noted:

What Trump perceives as betrayal is Ethics 101. . .

Who remains Trump’s chief problem, and for that reason perhaps his ultimate target. 'He was up here, and he wanted the job,' Trump said of interviewing Mueller about the possibility of resuming his former role as FBI director. . .

This is the essence of Trump — exquisitely sensitive to conflicts, real or perceived, when they may work against him; resolutely obtuse to the imperative of independence when unquestioning loyalty better serves his needs."

UPDATE II: The Donald knows that the investigation will find that he has been financially compromised, and possibly more, by Putin.

Which is why, in a New York Times interview, "Trump said clearly that if special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is examining his family’s finances, he would view that as an abuse of his role."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s deeply worrisome New York Times interview reveals a lawless president.

It also explains why The Donald has never released his tax returns.

UPDATE: "Walter M. Shaub Jr., the recently departed director of the Office of Government Ethics, offered a startling revelation on CNN this morning. He recounted that a few months into President Trump’s term, the president’s lawyer asked Shaub if Trump could file his federal financial disclosure forms without signing them. The signature certifies that the list of financial holdings, assets and liabilities disclosed in the form is “true, complete and correct to the best of my knowledge,” and Trump’s lawyer apparently sought to find out whether Trump could avoid certifying that. . .

The incident he recounted demonstrates the Trump White House’s willingness to brazenly skirt the ethics standards that his predecessors in both parties have adhered to for decades. . .

Shaub’s revelation about Trump’s lawyer’s request that Trump not sign his disclosure form may seem like a small thing. But in retrospect, it’s not hard to see that as a foreshadowing of much of the flouting of transparency we’ve seen since. And the consequences of it extend beyond Trump’s profiting off his golf courses or hotels. We can now see that there is a web of secrets about the growing Russia scandal. On this matter, Trump wants the public to take his statements that it’s 'fake news' or a 'hoax' at face value. His own conduct makes that impossible, and there’s no telling how bad it could get from here."
Read the Washington Post, A veteran ethics watchdog just revealed something striking about Trump and transparency.

Why is The Donald so obsessed with, and afraid of, Robert Mueller's investigation?

"Trump has been intertwined with Russian interests and actors for decades. While the possibility of campaign collusion is what started this scandal, the financial connections between Trump and Russia may wind up being just as important. 

In case you missed it, that eighth attendee was one Ike Kaveladze, an associate of Emin and Aras Agalarov (the Russian pop singer and his oligarch father who were friendly with the Trumps). Some years ago, Kaveladze was the subject (but never charged) of an inquiry into an enormous money-laundering scheme that involved setting up hundreds of bank accounts and thousands of shell corporations in Delaware on behalf of shady Russians. As Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) put it: “I doubt if this individual who had a history of setting up thousands of fake accounts in Delaware was really there to talk about Russian adoptions.” Good guess.

So you had a lawyer with Kremlin connections, a former Russian intelligence official (though as they say, there’s no such thing as a “former” Russian intelligence official) and a man once suspected of being involved in money-laundering, all coming to peddle dirt on Hillary Clinton, a possibility so enticing that it led the candidate’s son, his son-in-law and closest adviser, and his campaign chairman to all come to a meeting with them. The latest version the Trump camp tells about the meeting is that the promised Clinton dirt was not forthcoming, and so the meeting didn’t last long. But given that they started out by lying about it — saying it just concerned Russian adoptions and hiding who was in attendance — there’s ample reason to be skeptical about whether we’ve yet gotten the whole truth.

What we do know, however, is that it makes perfect sense that the Russians would have had an in with the Trump family to begin with, because Trump’s financial connections to Russia are old and deep. . .

[W]hat is most certainly also true is that Russians have lots of investments in Trump. In fact, the amount of money that Russian oligarchs and alleged mobsters have put into Trump’s pockets over the years goes into the hundreds of millions of dollars. . .

Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation has the resources it needs and won’t be deterred by the spin from the White House and Fox News that this is all much ado about nothing. Among other things, Mueller will probably pry from Trump what he worked so hard to conceal: Not just his tax returns as specific documents, but also the secrets and revelations contained therein, wherever they might lead. In the end, it may all turn out to be squeaky-clean. But I wouldn’t bet on it."

Read the Washington Post, With Trump and Russia, it’s all about the money.

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.),

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

Trump's Big CON: What's He Hiding: Is Trump a Russian Agent? (Cont., Part 3),

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

Trump's Big CON: The Comey Conspiracy and Russian Agent Coverup by the Republi-CON Party (Cont.),

Trump's Big CON: BREAKING NEWS: The Donald is a Russian Agent, and

Trump's Big CON: BREAKING NEWS: The Donald Knew About His Son's Meeting With the Russian Agent, and It's Purpose.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Trump is a FAKE, Even His Role on Celebrity Apprentice Was Fake

"Donald Trump’s starring role on the reality television show 'The Apprentice' transformed the mogul’s image in the public eye, establishing him as a frank, tell-it-like-it-is businessman capable of making tough decisions.

Each episode’s most dramatic moment ended in the corporate boardroom, with Trump decisively eliminating a contestant by delivering his famous catchphrase, 'You’re fired.'

But reality television, of course, doesn’t always depict, well, reality.

According to one former competitor on the 'Celebrity Apprentice,' Trump didn’t actually decide when to fire a contestant.

'He didn’t make those decisions, he didn’t fire those people,' said Clay Aiken, 38, who competed on the show in 2012 and was also a contestant on 'American Idol.' . .

'He probably is leading the country in the same way that he did ‘Apprentice,’' Aiken added. 'Donald Trump isn’t the businessman that people believe he is because we saw him on TV, playing in ‘The Apprentice.’ And he did look like he was leading, but on ‘The Apprentice’ he doesn’t lead.' . .

On 'Celebrity Apprentice,' Trump was unaware of which contestants picked fights during the week, Aiken said. Producers would need to give him updates on what happened and how the contestants were doing. Aiken said he sees a similar pattern in Trump as president, arguing Trump doesn’t appear to 'be willing to do the work and the research to figure out what’s going on.'

Trump spent 14 seasons as host of the NBC show, and its popularity helped Trump expand his business empire and brand recognition around the world.

As The Washington Post’s Marc Fisher wrote: 'He didn’t run for president because of ‘The Apprentice,’ but according to the show’s executives and producers, without ‘The Apprentice’ there would be no candidacy.'"

Read the Washington Post, Clay Aiken says Trump didn’t make the decisions to fire people on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Trump's Big CON: The Supreme Leader is a Failure

UPDATE V:  "More than just the health care collapse, Donald Trump has so far failed to bring the “Art of the Deal” to the White House."

Read BuzzFeed, Trump Is Showing The World What A Weak American Presidency Looks Like.

UPDATE IV:  "The cheap talk of Trump’s rhetoric is the one thing that unites his domestic and international failures. Trump is great at insulting the status quo and lousy at coming up with alternatives to the status quo. The New York Times’ Emily Badger and Kevin Quealy note that the president is far better at insults than policy promotion . . .

This failure to reconcile grandiose political promises and grubby political realities on Brexit sounds awfully familiar on this side of the Atlantic. Indeed, there are issues where Trump’s bargaining strategy is so bad that he’s isolated from his own hand-picked Cabinet. For example, while the Trump administration certified Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, the New York Times’ Peter Baker reported that Trump thinks that there is a better deal to be had:

    At an hourlong meeting last Wednesday, all of the president’s major security advisers recommended he preserve the Iran deal for now. Among those who spoke out were Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser; and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to an official who described internal discussions on the condition of anonymity. The official said Mr. Trump had spent 55 minutes of the meeting telling them he did not want to.

Nowhere in Baker’s story is there any sense of how Trump thinks he can get a better deal than what exists now. This is likely because Trump has no idea how to get a better deal except to tell his national security and foreign policy advisers, 'get a better deal.' But just issuing an order like that does not lead to good bargaining outcomes. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Nothing we have seen to date suggests that Trump is knowing what he’s doing on foreign policy. His bargains with other countries have either stalled out or never came to fruition in the first place. Because the president continues to be Donald Trump, none of these bargains will work out."

Read the Washington Post, The harbingers of doom for the Trump administration.

UPDATE III:  The failure to pass health care legislation is "a reminder that even when a party controls both Congress and the White House, success in passing meaningful legislation is anything but guaranteed. It also serves to highlight what an extraordinary job President Barack Obama, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did in the first two years of Obama’s first term, when they passed a set of hugely consequential bills including a stimulus package, Wall Street reform, health-care reform, the auto bailout, FDA oversight of tobacco, an expansion of CHIP and many other things that most of us have forgotten.

It turns out that legislating is hard — who knew! — and in order to be successful at it, you need a number of things: an understanding of the process, skill at wrangling your members, a relatively unified caucus in both houses, a president who can intervene successfully at key moments and the support of the public for the substance of what you’re trying to do. Republicans’ failure so far to pass any major legislation is a result of their lack of some or all of those requirements. And there’s little reason to think they’re going to have an easier time from this point on." [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, The GOP failure on health care is just a hint of what’s to come, which discusses upcoming legislation to increase the debt ceiling, and pass a budget and tax reform.

This is only going to get more interesting -- ha, ha, ha! :)

UPDATE II:  "It's Monday evening. A second version of the Republicans' bill is in danger of flatlining. Two GOP senators are opposed to it, almost a dozen have expressed serious concerns with it, and if just one more Republican opposes it, it's game over for an Obamacare overhaul.

Trump is having dinner at the White House with seven Republican senators to talk health care. Of the seven, only Steve Daines (Mont.) had publicly expressed concerns about the bill.

As they dined, fellow Republican Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) were crafting statements that would implode the GOP's attempts to unravel Obamacare for the foreseeable future.

That Trump was completely blindsided by the news that the bill was effectively dead shows, despite his rhetoric on Twitter and in public appearances, how unable or unwilling Trump has been to influence the outcome of the health-care debate. . .

Republicans in Washington were dumbfounded that, with the GOP health-care bill on the line, Trump decided to spend his time eating with allies rather than trying to win over adversaries. And it blew up in his face in the most spectacular way.

'The senators who announced their opposition last night were two that have been most vocal about their hesitation to McConnell’s efforts for weeks,' said a Republican who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the president's strategy. 'It hasn’t been a secret who those people are, and those are who the president should be wining and dining. To be spending valuable time with reliable ‘yes’ votes doesn’t seem to make much sense.' . .

Read the Washington Post, A White House dinner as a case study for Trump’s inability to close a health-care deal, which also noted that Trump nevertheless tried "to spin the bill's loss as a personal win. . . 'for winning over most Republicans: 'would have been 48-4. impressive by any standard''.

He's so pretty!

UPDATE:  "It’s not just that Donald Trump ran for president with a lack of interest in the details of policy or legislating, though both of those things were apparent from the outset of his campaign. Standing next to his helicopter near the Iowa State Fairgrounds in August 2015, Trump dismissed policy statements as something the press cared more about than voters. When asked how he would get legislation passed in Congress, a much different task than running a company, he waved away such pedestrian concerns. He’d twist their arms the way he forced permits through the New York City Council.

But, again, it wasn’t just that he was uninterested in the traditional systems by which laws were passed in Washington. It was that he embraced that disinterest as a solution. He was an Outsider, coming to D.C. without the encumbrances of having done this before. This was framed by his supporters as though he was the new sheriff in town, prepared to think outside the box. Others framed it less generously, as though a tourist had wandered onto an aircraft carrier and decided he was going to shoot down some MiGs.

Trump’s central pitch, redistilled and redistributed on a near-daily basis over the course of 2016, was a simple one: I am a dealmaker, and I will make deals. It was a simple premise and his core campaign argument, simpler and more important than 'make America great again.' Once you bought into the idea that Trump’s business acumen would translate into handshake agreements solidifying the future of our country, you were bought into the idea that he could do anything. Which is what he promised. He made sweeping assertions of what he could do, powered — not inhibited — by the objections of realists.

'Health care that covers everyone for less cost and with better options!' Trump would promise. But that’s impossible!, the realists would respond. 'That’s because you don’t know how to make deals,' Trump would reply. If you bought into the idea that Trump could close the deal, you bought into the idea that the naysayers simply didn’t get it.

Trump can’t close the deals. . .

During the 2016 Republican convention, one year ago this week, Trump promised that only he could fix what was wrong in Washington. That it was he who could go to Washington, crack skulls and make change. A year later, that’s not how it has played out. As some might have predicted, Trump’s lack of familiarity with the process of legislating and his over-the-top promises on what he could deliver didn’t pan out. He came to Washington pledging to be the ultimate dealmaker, who would make all of your dreams come true.

Turns out Donald Trump was just another politician, making promises he couldn’t keep."

Read the Washington Post, Trump has repeatedly broken his core campaign promise.

"This is the legislative bargain that Republicans have struck, and it's looking like a predictable mess. In exchange for supporting Trump and turning a blind eye to his controversial behavior, the GOP hoped to reap the benefits of a negotiator in the Oval Office who could help them get things done while they controlled the presidency and both chambers of Congress. Instead, they got a highly inconsistent partner with a fleeting set of priorities and apparently very little interest in policy details. They also got a president who occasionally talks about exacting retribution against those who vote against him, but has also had several bluffs called and doesn't seem to be striking fear in the hearts of many Republicans in Congress.

And the size of the mess is difficult to overstate."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s erratic leadership is killing the GOP’s agenda.

Read also:

Trump's Big CON: Thank You Dear Leader (AKA Trump is a Psycho-Narcissistic Con Man (Cont., Part 4)), and

Trump's Big CON: He Fancies Himself the Unquestionable Supreme Leader.

Trump's Big CON: I'll Get Tough With Iran, CONt. (NOT)

"The administration has decided for the second time since January to certify Iranian compliance with the nuclear agreement that President Trump has called a 'disastrous' deal, according to U.S. and foreign officials. . .

As a candidate and president, Trump said he would reexamine and possibly kill the Iran nuclear deal signed under President Barack Obama. The historic agreement shut down Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, in some cases for decades, in exchange for an easing of international sanctions.

The administration first certified Iranian compliance in April."

Read the Washington Post, Trump administration plans to certify Iranian compliance with nuclear agreement.

Read also Trump's Big CON: I'll Get Tough With Iran.

Trump's Big CON: Ha Ha Ha, the Repeal Obamacare Joke's On You , CONt.

"The whole thing was a scam all along — Republicans promised to repeal the ACA and replace it with something that did all the good things in it (the coverage expansion; the consumer protections) without the bad (the taxes; the mandates), but they never had any way of doing anything like that."

Read the Washington Post, Raging over the health bill’s failure, Trump will soon make an even crueler move.

And read Politico, Trump blindsided by implosion of GOP health care bill, which noted that:

"To Trump, the Obamacare fight has always been about scoring a win. He doesn’t care nearly as much about the specifics . .

He [even] praised the conservative version of the law passed through the House in a Rose Garden fête before trashing it as 'mean' in a meeting with moderate senators."

Read also Trump's Big CON: Ha Ha Ha, the Repeal Obamacare Joke's On You.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Товарищ Trump Colluded With a Hostile Power to Win the Election

UPDATE IV:  Товарищ Trump met with the Russians, parroted what they said, directly and publicly encouraged their hacking, assistance and interference, felt no remorse, then tried to stop the investigation.

"Clint Watts, Robert A. Fox Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, began raising alarms about Russian measures to influence the American public's political views shortly after Trump's press conference.

'Once you see both the campaign echoing the messages and themes that are coming out from RT and Sputnik News, when you see hacked materials of the DNC strategically linked and timed in terms of their release to influence the U.S. election in favor of Trump, then when you see Trump get onto stages or make prepared speeches where he refers to both Russia and Clinton's emails, it seems very ominous, in terms of maybe there was some connection between the two,' said Watts. 'At a minimum, they were at least looking or aware of those lines or influenced by Russian propaganda to be saying it almost near verbatim throughout those months.'

Whether Trump was a witting or unwitting beneficiary of Russia's efforts hasn't been proven, but as Watts sees it, Russia benefited from the way candidate Trump ran his campaign.

'The bottom line is Russian active measures were deployed to influence the U.S. election,' Watts said, referring to the effort to discredit the political system and turn voters against Clinton. 'They worked in large part because one candidate used Russian active measures to his own benefit.'"

Read NPR, Timeline Of Trump And Russia In Mid-2016: A Series Of Coincidences Or Something More?

UPDATE III:  "The key insight from a week of gobsmacking revelations is not that the Russia scandal may finally have an underlying crime but that, as David Brooks suggests, 'over the past few generations the Trump family built an enveloping culture that is beyond good and evil.' (Remember when the media collectively oohed and ahhed that, 'Say what you will about Donald Trump, but his kids are great!'? Add that to the heap of inane media narratives that helped normalize Trump to the voters.) We now see that, sure enough, the Trump legal team (the fastest-growing segment of the economy) has trouble restraining its clients, explaining away initial, false explanations and preventing self-incriminating statements. (The biggest trouble, of course, is that the president lied that this is all 'fake news' and arguably committed obstruction of justice to hide his campaign team’s misdeeds.)

Let me suggest the real problem is not the Trump family, but the GOP. To paraphrase Brooks, 'It takes generations to hammer ethical considerations out of a [party’s] mind and to replace them entirely with the ruthless logic of winning and losing.' Again, to borrow from Brooks, beyond partisanship the GOP evidences 'no attachment to any external moral truth or ethical code.' . .

Indeed, for decades now, demonization — of gays, immigrants, Democrats, the media, feminists, etc. — has been the animating spirit behind much of the right. It has distorted its assessment of reality, giving us anti-immigrant hysteria, promulgating disrespect for the law (how many 'respectable' conservatives suggested disregarding the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage?), elevating Fox News hosts’ blatantly false propaganda as the counterweight to liberal media bias and preventing serious policy debate. For seven years, the party vilified Obamacare without an accurate assessment of its faults and feasible alternative plans. 'Obama bad' or 'Clinton bad' became the only credo — leaving the party, as Brooks said of the Trump clan, with 'no attachment to any external moral truth or ethical code' — and no coherent policies for governing.

We have always had in our political culture narcissists, ideologues and flimflammers, but it took the 21st-century GOP to put one in the White House. It took elected leaders such as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and the Republican National Committee (not to mention its donors and activists) to wave off Trump’s racists attacks on a federal judge, blatant lies about everything from 9/11 to his own involvement in birtherism, replete evidence of disloyalty to America (i.e. Trump’s 'Russia first' policies), misogyny, Islamophobia, ongoing potential violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause (along with a mass of conflicts of interests), firing of an FBI director, and now, evidence that the campaign was willing to enlist a foreign power to defeat Clinton in the presidential election.

Out of its collective sense of victimhood came the GOP’s disdain for not just intellectuals but also intellectualism, science, Economics 101, history and constitutional fidelity. If the Trump children became slaves to money and to their father’s unbridled ego, then the GOP became slaves to its own demons and false narratives. A party that has to deny climate change and insist illegal immigrants are creating a crime wave — because that is what 'conservatives' must believe, since liberals do not — is a party that will deny Trump’s complicity in gross misconduct. It’s a party as unfit to govern as Trump is unfit to occupy the White House. It’s not by accident that Trump chose to inhabit the party that has defined itself in opposition to reality and to any 'external moral truth or ethical code.'" [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, The GOP’s moral rot is the problem, not Donald Trump Jr.

UPDATE II: "Donald Trump Jr. is seeking to write off as a nonevent his meeting last year with a Russian lawyer who was said to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton. “It was such a nothing,” he told Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Tuesday. “There was nothing to tell.”

But everything we know about the meeting — from whom it involved to how it was set up to how it unfolded — is in line with what intelligence analysts would expect an overture in a Russian influence operation to look like. It bears all the hallmarks of a professionally planned, carefully orchestrated intelligence soft pitch designed to gauge receptivity, while leaving room for plausible deniability in case the approach is rejected. And the Trump campaign’s willingness to take the meeting — and, more important, its failure to report the episode to U.S. authorities — may have been exactly the green light Russia was looking for to launch a more aggressive phase of intervention in the U.S. election campaign. . .

And here, the deal should have been obvious to everyone. Moscow intended to discredit Clinton and help get Trump elected, and in exchange it hoped the Republican would consider its interests — in sanctions relief and otherwise. The Russian government appears to have signaled its direct involvement and real intention in advance of the meeting, presumably to avoid the possibility that its offer might be misconstrued, perhaps naively, as an innocent gesture of support and nothing more. . .

Had this Russian overture been rejected or promptly reported by the Trump campaign to U.S. authorities, Russian intelligence would have been forced to recalculate the risk vs. gain of continuing its aggressive operation to influence U.S. domestic politics. Russian meddling might have been compromised in its early stages and stopped in its tracks by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies before it reached fruition by the late fall.

So the suggestion that this was a nothing meeting without consequence is, in all likelihood, badly mistaken."

Read the Washington Post, Trump Jr.’s Russia meeting sure sounds like a Russian intelligence operation.  

UPDATE:  The collusion centipede drops another shoe:

"The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. and others on the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counterintelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned.."

Read NBC News, Former Soviet Counterintelligence Officer at Meeting With Donald Trump Jr. and Russian Lawyer.

Drip, drip, drip!

"Given what we know about the collusion — and there is no other word for it — between then-candidate Donald Trump’s most senior advisers and what they thought was a Kremlin-tied lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, the most shocking thing is that no one on the Trump side was shocked. The most offensive thing is that no one took offense. Trump’s son, son-in-law and campaign manager treated the offer of aid by a hostile foreign power to tilt an election as just another day at the office. “I think many people would have held that meeting,” the president affirmed. It is the banality of this corruption that makes it so appalling. The president and his men are incapable of feeling shame about shameful things.

Donald Jr. certainly doesn’t know what all the fuss is about. Instead of offering a hint of contrition, he offered a complaint that the proffered information was not particularly useful. “I applaud his transparency,” father said of son. But disclosure is not really a virtue if you are admitting highly unethical actions without apology. It is more like the public confession of serious wrongdoing, and the attempted normalization of sliminess.

The ultimate explanation for this toxic moral atmosphere is President Trump himself. He did not attend the meeting, but he is fully responsible for creating and marketing an ethos in which victory matters more than character and real men write their own rules. Trumpism is an easygoing belief system that indulges and excuses the stiffing of contractors, the conning of students, the bilking of investors, the exploitation of women and the practices of nepotism and self-dealing. A faith that makes losing a sin will make cheating a sacrament.

Republicans have sometimes employed the excuse that members of the Trump team are new to politics — babes in the woods — who don’t yet understand all the ins and outs. Their innocence, the argument goes, is proved by their guilt. This might apply to minor infractions of campaign finance law. It does not cover egregious acts of wrongdoing. Putting a future president in the debt of a foreign power — and subject, presumably, to blackmail by that power — is the height of sleazy stupidity. It is not a mistake born of greenness; it is evidence of a vacant conscience. . .

In the realm of political ethics, voters last year did not prioritize character in sufficient numbers, during the party primaries or the general election. Now we are seeing the result. " [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, An administration without a conscience.