Thursday, October 12, 2017

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, Military Strong Man Edition (AKA Trump's Big CON: He is Really is a Moron)

UPDATE III:  It's not verified until The Donald calls it "FAKE NEWS!" and threatens the media.

Read the Washington Post, Trump attacks NBC News over report he wanted massive increase in nuclear arsenal.

UPDATE II:  The Donald loves to look pretty.

And nothing says pretty to his supporters than lots of new military equipment, especially nuclear weapons.

Read the Washington Post, Trump sees power as military strength — and nukes as the apex of that power, which notes:

"Trump came to the job from the private sector, from spending decades as the sole authority over his own company. He revealed his sense of what the job of president entailed when he said during the Republican convention last year that 'I alone can fix' the problems the country faces. He never had a distinct strategy for building consensus on Capitol Hill and has, instead, pushed the boundaries of unilateral executive orders to enact his will. The president isn’t a CEO, but there are ways in which the president can act like a CEO, and Trump has embraced those tools.

Nowhere is that power more immediate than in the president’s role as civilian commander of the armed forces. As president, Trump calls the shots for the nation’s soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. He can’t launch a war without congressional authority but, as recent presidents have shown, he has a lot of leeway to take military action without a formal declaration of war. This is the closest Trump will get to CEO power in the White House — and it’s a power for which he has an ingrained respect.

Trump never served himself, avoiding the Vietnam War draft by deferment while he was in college and later for bone spurs in his heels, a reason that has been met with scrutiny. He instead suggested that his time at the New York Military Academy — a boarding school north of New York City — offered him an equivalent experience. . .

[T]here’s no military more raw or more powerful than a nuclear weapon. The country’s reduced-but-still-significant nuclear weapons could obliterate any number of countries in a near-instant, including, as Trump threatened from the lectern at the United Nations, North Korea.

That’s a tangible expression of power, and it’s not subject to veto. Trump can launch a nuclear strike without any intervention, likely becoming a global pariah but, certainly, demonstrating the power of the United States and its president.

So we get to Trump in that meeting asking why the arsenal can’t be substantially larger instead of being winnowed into nothing. Reducing the number of nuclear weapons is, when extrapolated outward, a reduction of the central source of power Trump seems to understand.

This was the meeting after which Tillerson reportedly referred to Trump as a 'f—-ing moron.'"

My Mr. President, what big crowds you have!

P.S. This would be funny if it wasn't so scary!!

UPDATE:  Silly pundits, a showman doesn't need a plan, he has the show.

Read the Washington Post, The real problem with Trump’s foreign policy plans? He may not have any., which notes "Trump’s slurs and insults may be distracting us from a more basic foreign policy problem: On some key issues, when it comes to actual policy plans, the cupboard is bare."

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

The Donald is a showman and he knows that there is nothing like some military arms for a good show.

Remember how badly he wanted the military to parade down Pennsylvania Avenue for his inauguration.

Of course, after the parade is over, nothing like spending money on the military and nuclear arms to show your supporters you are a 'Great Military Leader'.

Read the NBC News, Trump Wanted Tenfold Increase in Nuclear Arsenal, Surprising Military, which reports:

"President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room.

Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.

According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the build-up. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.

The July 20 meeting was described as a lengthy and sometimes tense review of worldwide U.S. forces and operations. It was soon after the meeting broke up that officials who remained behind heard Tillerson say that Trump is a 'moron.' . .

[Trump's] comments raised questions about his familiarity with the nuclear posture and other issues, officials said.

Two officials present said that at multiple points in the discussion, the president expressed a desire not just for more nuclear weapons, but for additional U.S. troops and military equipment.

Any increase in America’s nuclear arsenal would not only break with decades of U.S. nuclear doctrine but also violate international disarmament treaties signed by every president since Ronald Reagan. Nonproliferation experts warned that such a move could set off a global arms race.

'If he were to increase the numbers, the Russians would match him, and the Chinese' would ramp up their nuclear ambitions, Joe Cirincione, a nuclear expert and MSNBC contributor, said, referring to the president.

'There hasn’t been a military mission that’s required a nuclear weapon in 71 years,' Cirincione said.

Details of the July 20 meeting, which have not been previously reported, shed additional light on tensions among the commander-in-chief, members of his Cabinet and the uniformed leadership of the Pentagon stemming from vastly different world views, experiences and knowledge bases. . .

That meeting followed one held a day earlier in the White House Situation Room focused on Afghanistan in which the president stunned some of his national security team. At that July 19 meeting, according to senior administration officials, Trump asked military leaders to fire the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and compared their advice to that of a New York restaurant consultant whose poor judgment cost a business valuable time and money.

Two people familiar with the discussion said the Situation Room meeting, in which the president’s advisers anticipated he would sign off on a new Afghanistan strategy, was so unproductive that the advisers decided to continue the discussion at the Pentagon the next day in a smaller setting where the president could perhaps be more focused. 'It wasn’t just the number of people. It was the idea of focus,' according to one person familiar with the discussion. The thinking was: 'Maybe we need to slow down a little and explain the whole world' from a big-picture perspective, this person said.

The Pentagon meeting was also attended by Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford, Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva, Undersecretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, Stephen Bannon, who served then as Trump’s chief strategist, Jared Kushner who is a senior adviser to the president and Reince Preibus who was then chief of staff. Sean Spicer who was then White House spokesman, and Keith Schiller who was Director of Oval Office Operations at the time, also accompanied Trump to the Pentagon that day. . .

It’s unclear which portion of the Pentagon briefing prompted Tillerson to call the president a 'moron' after the meeting broke up and some advisers were gathered around. Officials who attended the two-hour session said it included a number of tense exchanges.

At one point, Trump responded to a presentation on the U.S. military presence in South Korea by asking why South Koreans aren’t more appreciative and welcoming of American defense aid. The comment prompted intervention from a senior military official in the room to explain the overall relationship and why such help is ultimately beneficial to U.S. national security interests. . .

The president left the Pentagon on July 20, telling reporters the meeting was 'absolutely great.'" [Emphasis added.]

Note all the people needed to 'babysit' the president.

And now we know why The Donald was called a moron.

Trump's Big CON: "He's So Pretty", 'Fake News' Edition (AKA Trump is a Psycho-Narcissistic Con Man (CONt., Part 17))

UPDATE: "Donald J. Trump is frustrated. He’s the president of the United States, and yet there are limits to how he can use his power. He can’t just snap his fingers and end Obamacare; his travel ban got gummed up in litigation; he can’t flick a switch and 'open up' libel laws; the regime in North Korea doesn’t appear to respect him too much.

And then there’s the issue of the Beltway media, which refuses to enable a man extraordinarily unfit for his responsibilities. NBC News, for example, reported on Wednesday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had referred to President Trump as a 'moron' after a July meeting at the Pentagon, not to mention that the top diplomat 'was on the verge of resigning.' The story carried four bylines and extensive sourcing. CNN reported that Trump knew before Wednesday about the 'moron' moment.

None of those considerations, of course, prevented Trump from blasting the story the way he commonly blasts negative press . . .

Being president is a tough line of work. As the New York Times wrote in February, Trump came to the White House with a long background in manipulating, goading and feeding New York tabloids. His virtuoso work with reporters — including a stunt in which he impersonated his own PR guy — doubtless fed an expectation that perhaps he’d be able to pull the same moves in the nation’s capital.

He cannot, and so he lapses into autocratic desperation, as in this tweet from Thursday:

Donald J. Trump

Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!
5:59 AM - Oct 5, 2017

For context, the Senate intelligence committee has heard testimony about the distortions and propaganda of Russian-funded outlets such as RT and Sputnik. . .

That the president of the United States would suggest that U.S. news organizations deserve scrutiny ahead of RT and Sputnik is, once again, not surprising. Which is not to say it isn’t scandalous, because it surely is. In President Ronald Reagan’s day, the suggestion of any equivalence between Soviet propaganda and this country’s best media outlets would have fed outrage for weeks. As things stand today, there’ll be some op-ed-ing about this violation of our country’s constitutional norms, and on to the next stupid tweet. . .

And if Trump really, really must have this investigation under his terms, he can just sue us all and depose his adversaries in a court proceeding. Though he’ll have to do so under long-standing libel laws."

Read the Washington Post, Autocracy, anyone? Trump calls for Senate investigation of media outlets. 

"On Thursday, the latest in the salvo that’s come to define his presidency.

Donald J. Trump

Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!
5:59 AM - Oct 5, 2017

. . .

It, like 'voter fraud,' is not an actual problem.

Sure, there have been cases in which news outlets (including The Washington Post) have had to correct news reports after they ran to clarify points or ensure factual accuracy. Sure, the media have reported tips that haven’t been borne out. Sure, there have been cases in which bad actors have simply made up news reports — the original 'fake news' that was a focus of attention after the election — but those reports weren’t from reputable mainstream outlets. There were also four cases of voter fraud last year (mostly from Trump supporters), but just as those scattered examples of fraud don’t prove a concerted effort to throw the 2016 election, a few corrected news stories don’t prove Trump’s claim that there is a massive effort to make up negative stories about him.

Why does Trump talk endlessly about fake news? For the same reason he talks about voter fraud: to soothe his ego and hoodwink his supporters. In a world where voter fraud threw the election and a nefarious news media make up stories to embarrass Trump, Trump is actually the popular, effective pick of the American people. That’s a much nicer thing to be than the broadly unpopular and at times fumbling leader of a country in which a majority of voters preferred someone else.

The real question is whether Trump actually believes either of these claims. . .

Or, perhaps, he doesn’t really believe it, any more than a wrestling fan believes the story lines in the WWE. They serve a purpose and are fun to parse, but ultimately they solely serve the bigger purpose of entertainment. Arguing that voter fraud and 'fake news' are rampant problems serves the bigger purpose of repositioning Trump as a successful, popular president. . .

The main question: Who’s he trying to convince, his supporters or himself? And which of those options is more problematic for the country?"

Read the Washington Post, ‘Fake news,’ like ‘voter fraud,’ is one of Trump’s favorite ways to soothe his ego.

Trump's Big CON: He Laughs at His Supporters, CONt.

UPDATE:  "There is probably no better illustration of the scam President Trump’s tax plan would perpetrate on working- and middle-class people than its provision repealing the estate tax. Getting rid of it would benefit a tiny slice of high earners and their families — including Trump’s family, who could save as much as $1 billion once Trump moves on to delivering an accounting for his life to his maker.

Yet Trump has absurdly sold estate-tax repeal as a huge boon to “millions” of small businesses and even to 'the American farmer.'

Trump will now introduce a new trope to his pitch for estate-tax repeal: He will claim it helps truckers. . .

I spoke this morning to David Cay Johnston, a veteran tax reporter who has written numerous books on how the wealthy game the tax system to their advantage. When I ran this claim about the estate tax by Johnston, he burst out laughing and dismissed the assertion as 'absurd' and a 'scam.'

As it is, Trump has already dissembled madly about estate-tax repeal. His recent claim that “millions” of small businesses and farms would be helped was neatly debunked by the Post fact-checking team. As the Tax Policy Center points out, estates with a gross value of under $5.49 million are exempt from the estate tax; more than two-thirds of taxable estates come from the top 10 percent of earners and nearly one-fourth come from the top 1 percent. This means that in 2017, only 80 taxable estates would have qualified as farms and small businesses.

Johnston ran the math for me on trucking companies. His conclusion: The number of trucking businesses that would be helped by estate tax repeal is likely to be around 30 or lower, and that’s being 'very generous,' he said. . .

This use of trucking families as a symbol of the alleged unfairness of the estate tax appears to be something new. For many, many years, Republicans pushing the estate tax have cited the American family farm as a symbol of that unfairness. Going back to at least the George W. Bush administration, the argument has been that estate-tax repeal is necessary to save the family farm and allow it to be transferred to future generations. But as Johnston has written, the notion of the family farm broken up by the estate tax was largely a myth.

Now the family owned trucking business looks like it is on its way to becoming the new family farm. It’s unclear whether Trump will merely argue that estate-tax repeal is good for truckers in some general sense, or whether he will argue more specifically that repeal is necessary to prevent IRS bureaucrats from breaking up the hallowed family-owned trucking business and preventing it from getting passed down to the next generation of hard-working American truckers. But if he does, the administration should be called on this, too.

'Show us the actual cases,' Johnston said. 'This is just another phony claim to protect billionaires from paying taxes on the gains over their lifetime. This is a political scam. Show us the trucking companies that went out of business.'"

Read the Washington Post, This may be Trump’s most insulting scam yet

"Conscientious analysts on the right and left may have differences on tax policy, but they agree on one thing: You could not do better than the White House’s proposed tax plan if your intention was to increase the gap between rich and poor. . .

Moreover, if one suspects that Republicans intend to cut domestic programs (as they attempted to do with Medicaid) to partially pay for lopsided tax cuts for the rich, the wealth gap would widen further. Quite simply, taking from the poor and allowing the rich to get richer will widen social and economic stratification. If you think that is a recipe for economic failure, social instability and political extremism, this should concern you greatly.

The blatant sop to the rich also alarms some conservative scholars. At the American Enterprise Institute, Angela Rachidi sees that [low-income families are] entirely excluded from any benefits from the tax plan . . .

And, of course, taking away social services to fund tax cuts that the poor don’t receive adds insult to injury. . .

This isn’t rocket science. It’s simply a matter of whether Republicans want to cement their reputation as self-serving defenders of the rich and powerful or instead want to make good on their supposed philosophy that work is the most essential element in fighting poverty. Unfortunately, in championing the rich over the poor, the party perpetuates the impression that capitalism robs from the poor to reward the rich; that’s not capitalism — its Republicanism in the Trump era."

Read the Washington Post, It pays to be rich in the Trump era.

Read also Trump's Big CON: He Laughs at His Supporters.