Wednesday, August 9, 2017

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

UPDATE III: Even the VP knows The Donald is in trouble.

Read the Washington Post, What Trump’s freakout over his VP’s ambition tells us.

Read also the Washington Post, Who’s worse for the nation — Trump or Pence?, which notes that despite denial:

"Pence’s presidential ambitions are nothing new. He’s been running his entire life.

Pence is the very personification of the career politician. With the exception of a few years doing talk radio and television shows, he has done nothing but run for office, winning all but the first two times. In Congress, he set out to shimmy up the leadership of his party — chairman of the Republican Study Committee, etc. — finally running for Indiana governor in 2012 and then, with all humility, becoming Trump’s running mate. Pence is not a man to look a gift horse in the mouth. He’s got his eye on 2020.

In the meantime, Pence has become a parlor game in certain circles: If President Trump leaves office before his term is up — if either lightning or Robert S. Mueller III strikes — would it be a good thing for the nation? In other words, who’s worse — Trump or Pence?"

The article goes on to state: "This is a hard one. Trump is a menace, both ignorant and chaotic. His saving grace is his incompetence. In his first six months in office, he has made a hash of our foreign policy, set back efforts to contain global warming, exploited public land and depopulated the State Department. But these efforts — as bad as they might be — have been so far confined to the margins. Trump has not passed any major legislation or, for that matter, built any walls.

On the other hand, his most significant and appalling contribution has been to normalize lying as an ordinary tool of the presidency. He has ghettoized truth, confining it to something characterized as the lying and disloyal mainstream media. He lies for purpose and he lies just for the hell of it. His lying is such that it ought to be a mental ailment. Call him politically insane. . .

To anyone other than an adamant social conservative, Pence is shockingly unreasonable. But he is also shockingly hypocritical. Throughout his career, he has billboarded himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” But what about Trump is any of those? Trump is a virtual pagan. He has never been ideologically nor culturally conservative and is a Republican of convenience only. Nonetheless, Pence not only leaped into Trump’s arms but rebuked him only once — for his “Access Hollywood” crack — and never for what he said about Mexicans, Muslims or the disabled, or, for that matter, how he denigrated his primary-election opponents. Pence is all faith and no morality.

So now Pence stands to Trump’s side, his head nodding at every inanity. He is the cardboard cutout for a soulless and opportunistic Republican Party, a display to put in the window of some Trump souvenir shop. In a sense, he is worse than the man he serves. Trump is a child — undisciplined, capricious and self-involved. Pence is none of those things. Trump knows nothing. Pence knows better." [Emphasis added.]

UPDATE II:  The Donald is stuck.

Soon after the election he could have pivoted to the center, but not now.

Now The Donald is stuck because of Steve Bannon.

During the campaign, "Bannon found a willing pupil for his anti-immigrant and nationalist fervor. In Bannon, Trump found a self-made man whose wealth he admired and whose Breitbart News championed his politics and presidential campaign. Together, they ran one of the ugliest races for the White House in recent memory.

Green said that Bannon, who was brought in as Trump’s campaign chief executive after a third shake-up of his team, was 'the guy who came in and told [Trump] to be more extreme, to go further, to never apologize.' When a Trump campaign ad was criticized for its anti-Semitic bent and apologies were demanded, Green writes that Bannon counseled, 'Darkness is good. Don’t let up.' A mind-set we are continuing to see from Trump’s West Wing, that place where senior staffers backstab, front-stab and just plain knife each other in the press in the hopes of getting someone fired. . .

Joshua Green, author of 'Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency' says: "'The one thing Trump fears most in the world is losing that connection and losing that support to his base, to his voters, and therefore, I don’t think he’s gonna push Bannon out.'"

Read the Washington Post, Why Steve Bannon isn’t going anywhere.

UPDATE:  "In recent days, President Trump has escalated his assaults on the 'Fake News' media and other institutions, in an increasingly frantic effort to carve out a kind of safe space that cannot be penetrated by accountability or factual reality. Inside this bubble, the truth is what Trump says it is, on Twitter and in his tirades before rally crowds, where Twitter replies (even by bots) and raucous cheers serve as confirmation of Trump’s versions of events in a kind of intensifying feedback loop.

But if the brutal new poll released Tuesday by CNN is any indication, that safe space seems perilously small.

Trump’s own advisers appear to believe his safe space is shrinking. . .

Trump’s gut-level calculation seems to be that his long-term political survival depends on forging an enduring bond with his supporters — a bond that appears dependent on delegitimizing (in their minds) all outside sources of information. The probe into Russian sabotage of our election, which our intelligence services have documented, is nothing but a hoax. Reporting that fills in details about the ongoing Russia probes, or raises doubts about his fitness for the presidency (such as that crazy conversation with the Australian prime minister), are dismissed as 'fake news,' before subsequently being confirmed. As Jake Tapper put it: 'Almost every single time he’s used that term, the news has been accurate. It’s just been news he doesn’t like.'

Indeed, Trump’s use of 'Fake News' is even broader than this: It is also a catchall dismissal, a forward-looking one, that seems to be designed to prep his supporters to dismiss future revelations".

Read the Washington Post, This brutal new poll shows that Trump’s safe space is shrinking.

Read also the Washington Post, Trump’s base is officially crumbling.

"Donald Trump lacks the ability to exercise power and the gift of strategy to accomplish what he wants as president. . .

The president certainly does not seem to have any bright ideas. Or any coherent ideas, for that matter. In the full transcript of his interview with the Wall Street Journal (which Politico published), what stands out is Trump’s complete inability to grasp any policy idea. Consider this verbatim response to a question about what he thinks the ideal corporate income tax rate should be:

Well, you know, we’re going for 15 [percent]. We’re going to see, and we’ll see. But, you know, I don’t want to say anything about negotiation. I mean, we are asking for 15 percent, and we think we’re going to grow tremendously.

So I deal with foreign countries, and despite what you may read, I have unbelievable relationships with all of the foreign leaders. They like me. I like them. You know, it’s amazing. So I’ll call, like, major — major countries, and I’ll be dealing with the prime minister or the president. And I’ll say, how are you doing? Oh, don’t know, don’t know, not well, Mr. President, not well. I said, well, what’s the problem? Oh, GDP 9 percent, not well. And I’m saying to myself, here we are at like 1 percent, dying, and they’re at 9 percent and they’re unhappy. So, you know, and these are like countries, you know, fairly large, like 300 million people. You know, a lot of people say — they say, well, but the United States is large. And then you call places like Malaysia, Indonesia, and you say, you know, how many people do you have? And it’s pretty amazing how many people they have. So China’s going to be at 7 [percent] or 8 percent, and they have a billion-five, right? So we should do really well.

But in order to do that — you know, it’s tax reform, but it’s a big tax cut. But it’s simplification, it’s reform, and it’s a big tax cut, 15–

… oh, I’m sorry, I passed out from the extreme bloviating. That middle paragraph is … it’s just dumb, is all. It is a remarkably incoherent word salad about economic development.

This problem extends to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, tasked by his father-in-law to broker peace in the Middle East. He said the following to congressional interns last week:

You know everyone finds an issue, that 'You have to understand what they did then' and 'You have to understand that they did this.' But how does that help us get peace? Let’s not focus on that. We don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books. Let’s focus on, How do you come up with a conclusion to the situation.

I’m just spitballing here, but Kushner’s dismissal of history and, you know, book-learning might explain why his initiative has bogged down.

Let’s face it, the Trump administration is intellectually bankrupt. Its policies to date amount to little more than warmed-over GOP ideology. Its strategists can do little beyond finding ways to make the phrase 'Make America Great Again' appear in strategy documents. . .

If Trump wants to be known for anything other than 'mediocre conventional Republicanism,' then he is going to need to commune with The Ideas Industry. His administration has been so intellectually toxic, however, that he has relied on D-listers. There isn’t a first-rate policy intellectual anywhere to be found in Trump’s White House, and it shows. . .

[T]his is a White House bereft of strategy, of power, and apparently, of ideas.

Otherwise, everything is going great."

Read the Washington Post, The marketplace of ideas is killing the Trump administration.

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

Trump's Big CON: He Is Clueless, New Hampshire is a ‘Drug-Infested Den' Edition

"'I won in New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den,' President Trump told Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in a phone call in January.

The remark came in the course of an exchange in which Trump blamed 'drug lords in Mexico' for “sending drugs” to places like New Hampshire. 'We are becoming a drug-addicted nation and most the drugs are coming from Mexico or certainly from the southern border,' Trump added.

But in New Hampshire at least, Mexican drugs are only part of the story. The state does indeed have a serious drug problem — in 2015, New Hampshire was second only to West Virginia in its rate of drug overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the drugs driving that spike are primarily produced not in Mexico, but in China. The synthetic opioid fentanyl and its derivatives are now the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire, according to official state statistics. . .

Fentanyl made in China is shipped via the U.S. Postal Service to Canada, Mexico and directly to the United States. At the risk of stating the obvious, a wall across the Mexican border — the subject of Trump's conversation with Peña Nieto — isn't going to do much to stop drugs shipped from China.

Beyond that, writing off an entire state as a 'drug-infested den' isn't likely to lead to smart policies to reduce the toll of opioids there. "

Read the Washington Post, Trump called New Hampshire a ‘drug-infested den.’ Here’s what’s really going on there.

Once again, The Donald shows how incredibly ignorant he is. 

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