Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He is Unfit to Be President, And Republi-CONs Know It, CONt.

UPDATE IV:  Read also the Washington Post:

Bob Corker just said it again: Trump is unfit. Okay, now what?, which suggests that if Corker really thinks Trump is unfit to be President, he should use his position as Corker, who happens to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to full expose the extent of Russian interference in our election, and not a hoax as Trump claims.

‘Utterly untruthful’: Corker unbound as he attacks Trump over fitness, competence,

‘Dangerous,’ ‘utterly untruthful’: Two retiring GOP senators sound alarm on Trump, which noted that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said that Trump’s “reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior” was “dangerous to our democracy” “undermining of our democratic norms and ideals” with the personal attacks; the threats against principles, freedoms and institutions; the flagrant disregard for truth and decency.”

Bob Corker sounds like he’s making a case for removing Trump from office, which noted that Corker is "basically labeling Trump an irredeemable failure who cannot be prevailed upon to perform his job functions. Corker previously said Trump hadn't yet demonstrated the 'stability' or 'competence' needed to serve; now he's basically saying it's a lost cause", and

Corker shows how Republicans can dump Trump, which states:

"Whether it is a pregnant Gold Star widow such as Myeshia Johnson or a powerful U.S. senator whose help Trump needs both on Iran and the do-or-die tax plan, Trump is incapable of disengaging from a fight that he is obviously losing. He cannot cede the field to anyone, no matter how destructive the prolonged fight is to his own goals. Everything comes back to a personal battle of wills in which Trump cannot stand to be seen on the losing side. For Trump, all human and personal interactions are reduced to a test of his ego; any perceived defeat is intolerable for him. Extending these exchanges, of course, leads to bigger and more serious defeats, but those he can justify as the result of 'fake media' or hapless Republicans.

Corker is demonstrating that the GOP sycophants who feed Trump’s ego have it all wrong. The president cannot be cajoled into being a responsible, effective president. He cannot be pinned down to any specific position. No loyalty can be expected from him. Rather than lose one’s political soul and waste endless time trying to placate the impulsive, irrational president, the best course of action is to expose his craziness, minimize his influence and then ignore him. . .

Trump is not only a failure but also a menace to our democracy and national security. Egging on the North Korean dictator, compulsively lying, subverting an independent judiciary, trampling on the First Amendment and lacking the requisite skills to manage the executive branch and push through legislation should preclude a second term (if Trump makes it through this one.)

For now, Republicans should watch Corker — or better yet, join him. He’s showing them how to save their own reputations, their party and ultimately the country from the grip of an unbalanced, dysfunctional president."

UPDATE III:  "Politics, at its best, is about creating a decent society, a task that can only be accomplished when citizens find ways of cooperating. One of the best descriptions of what our aspirations should be was offered by the political philosopher Michael Sandel. 'When politics goes well,' he wrote, 'we can know a good in common that we cannot know alone.'

President Trump has always prided himself on being an anti-politician. This is supposed to be one of his greatest assets. But he has thrown our government into chaos and our country into tumult precisely because his disrespect for politics and what it requires leads him to debase our public life. He offers a torrent of lies, willfully tries to tear the country apart — his tweet on Wednesday continuing his verbal war on kneeling NFL players epitomizes his eagerness to polarize — and puts everyone else down because doing so is the only way he knows how to lift himself up.

Trump takes no responsibility for — well, anything. . .

Many of Trump’s lies are hideously personal. . .

It has become a dreary Washington game to ask at what point Republican politicians (besides Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and John McCain (Ariz.) and a few others) will stand up for basic decency by telling Trump: Enough. Up to now, most have cravenly absorbed all manner of insults, accepted unspeakable unseemliness, and sat by with wan smiles as Trump left them hanging by shifting his positions moment to moment. . .

Sorry, but all Republican politicians who take their obligations seriously must stop rationalizing the irrational and say what has long been obvious, that Trump’s way of doing business is unproductive, erratic, mean and scary. Until this happens, Republicans deserve to be seen as enablers of a dangerous presidency.

Alas, you can count on GOP leaders to maintain their complicity until the tax cut that is their lodestar is enacted into law. On this question, Trump and his party are as one in offering misleading claims that their bill is designed primarily to help ordinary Americans when in fact its largest benefits will flow to the very wealthy.

But is a tax cut worth the price of colluding to undermine an honorable profession?"

Read the Washington Post, The enablers of Trump’s dangerous presidency.

UPDATE II:  "Donald Trump likes to say that no president in American history accomplished as much in as short a time as he has, and in a few ways, he’s actually right. What other president could say that in less than nine months, they did this much damage to the future of American diplomacy?

Congratulations, Mr. President: America’s word is now practically worthless. And the damage will persist even after you’re gone.

[Whether it is a trade or climate deal, or arms negotiation, t]here would be only one reasonable conclusion: America doesn’t keep its promises, and there is no point in negotiating with them to give up your own nuclear weapons.. .

Donald Trump has a conception of 'dealmaking' that is fundamentally unsuited to politics, both domestically and internationally. In Trump’s career as a businessman, he came to believe that all deals are zero-sum. They have a winner and a loser, and if you’re not the former than you’re the latter. The measure of a 'good deal' is whether you came out ahead and the other guy lost his shirt. In practice that meant running a series of scams, his assumption being that there were always more marks out there who only knew about his celebrity and didn’t realize how he actually did business. He could stiff contractors or set up a sham university selling real estate 'secrets,' and no matter how angry those who got conned were, there would still be suckers lining up for the next grift.

But that’s not how it works in politics. The number of potential partners for deals, whether it’s members of Congress or other nations, is finite. And they all know what you did last time. Each potential deal is affected by what happened in the deal before it, and trust is absolutely vital.

But it goes even farther. When you’re president, the deals you make will be affected by the deals your predecessors made, and this is where the long-term damage becomes evident. After Paris and (perhaps) NAFTA and Iran, it isn’t just that other countries won’t be willing to sign an agreement with Donald Trump. They may not even be willing to sign one with the next president."

Read the Washington Post, Thanks to Trump, America’s word is now worthless.

UPDATE: "Their writings and debates surrounding the creation of the Constitution make clear that the framers feared a certain kind of character coming to power and usurping the republican ideal of their new nation. Having just defeated a tyrant — 'Mad' King George III of England — they carefully crafted rules to remove such a character: impeachment. In the process, they revealed precisely the kind of corrupt, venal, inattentive and impulsive character they were worried about.

The very embodiment of what the Founding Fathers feared is now residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Again and again, they anticipated attributes and behaviors that President Trump exhibits on an all-too-regular basis. By describing 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors,' the grounds for impeachment, as any act that poses a significant threat to society — either through incompetence or other misdeeds — the framers made it clear that an official does not have to commit a crime to be subject to impeachment. Instead, they made impeachment a political process, understanding that the true threat to the republic was not criminality but unfitness, that a president who violated the country’s norms and values was as much a threat as one who broke its laws.

Gouverneur Morris, who wrote the Constitution’s preamble, and future president James Madison were worried about a leader who would 'pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation' — theft of public funds — 'or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers,' as Madison put it. Morris, who like many in the colonies believed King Charles had taken bribes from Louis XIV to support France’s war against the Dutch, declared that without impeachment we 'expose ourselves to the danger of seeing the first Magistrate [the President] in foreign pay without being able to guard against it by displacing him.' . .

[His ties to Russia, "decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey, the man investigating his administration’s Russian connections," failing to "to properly staff the executive branch",  "abuse of the power to issue pardons", and  "on it goes".]

But prescient as they were, what the framers may not have anticipated was someone who epitomized so many of their fears at once — someone like Donald Trump — being elected to the presidency in the first place. They hoped that the electoral college system would prevent that from happening. But in the event that didn’t happen, they added an additional fail-safe: impeachment."

Read the Washington Post, The Founding Fathers designed impeachment for someone exactly like Donald Trump.

"Some Trump aides spend a significant part of their time devising ways to rein in and control the impetuous president, angling to avoid outbursts that might work against him, according to interviews with 18 aides, confidants and outside advisers, most of whom insisted on anonymity to speak candidly. . .

Trump is hardly the first president whose aides have arranged themselves around him and his management style — part of a natural effort, one senior White House official said, to help ensure the president’s success. But Trump’s penchant for Twitter feuds, name-calling and temperamental outbursts presents a unique challenge.

One defining feature of managing Trump is frequent praise, which can leave his team in what seems to be a state of perpetual compliments. The White House pushes out news releases overflowing with top officials heaping flattery on Trump; in one particularly memorable Cabinet meeting this year, each member went around the room lavishing the president with accolades.

Senior administration officials call this speaking to an 'audience of one.' . .

Sam Nunberg, who worked for Trump but was fired in 2015, said he always found him to be 'reasonable,' but noted that delaying a decision often helped influence the outcome. . .

Corker’s quip comparing the White House to a day-care center on Oct. 8 came in the middle of a feud between him and Trump, who attacked Corker by tweeting that the retiring senator 'didn’t have the guts' to run for reelection and had begged for his endorsement. Corker fired back on Twitter and in a New York Times interview, warning that Trump was running the White House like 'a reality show' and that his reckless threats against other nations could put the country 'on the path to World War III.' . .

Still, Corker’s comments underscored the uneasy dichotomy within the West Wing, where criticism of the president’s behavior is only whispered.

'They have an on-the-record ‘Dear Leader’ culture, and an on-background ‘This-guy-is-a-joke’ culture,' said Tommy Vietor, who served as a spokesman for former president Barack Obama. 'I don’t understand how he can countenance both.'

Read the Washington Post, Inside the ‘adult day-care center’: How aides try to control and coerce Trump.

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, Explained, CONt. Part 6

UPDATE II:  "Increasingly, those around Trump are opting to plead with him through the media, hoping that will do what private conversations cannot. They are all unmistakable cries for help. But now, for the first time, we have a very public cry for help from someone who is extremely close — personally — to Trump. . .

[I]t suggests Barrack is hugely frustrated by his friend's unwillingness to take his advice. And it explains why Barrack would go public.

Of course, saying these things publicly also only adds to the circus that is the Trump administration. But Barrack — and plenty of others — have made the calculated decision to say them even if it increases the perception of discord in the White House. They've clearly decided this is the best, highly imperfect method for getting through to Trump. That's desperation, pure and simple.

If someone like Barrack can't prevail upon Trump using that method, it's unlikely anyone will. And by Barrack's description of Trump, I wouldn't hold my breath."

Read the Washington Post, This is the biggest cry for help from a Trump adviser yet.

UPDATE:  Sometimes, even your closest friends don't know you that well.

"Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a billionaire who is one of President Trump’s oldest friends . . .

in interviews with The Washington Post, said he has been 'shocked' and 'stunned' by some of the president’s rhetoric and inflammatory tweets. He disagrees with some of Trump’s proposals, including his efforts to ban immigrants from certain Muslim countries and his push for a border wall with Mexico. He wonders why his longtime friend spends so much of his time appealing to the fringes of American politics.

'He thinks he has to be loyal to his base,' Barrack said. 'I keep on saying, ‘But who is your base? You don’t have a natural base. Your base now is the world and America, so you have all these constituencies; show them who you really are.’ In my opinion, he’s better than this.' . .

Barrack said he has often thought about how he has remained a close friend for 30 years with a man whose 'reputation is selfish and egotistical. Here’s what I think the answer is: I’ve never needed anything from him . . . I was always subservient to him.' Barrack said that his life intersected with Trump “at soft moments,” such as discussions about their divorces and children. He was at Trump’s side during the funeral of Trump’s father, Fred, and they talked for a half-hour about “the weight of a hard dad, and the baton passing.” As a result, Barrack said, he has seen within Trump “a kind of compassion at a very lonely level.”

Read the Washington Post, ‘He’s better than this,’ says Thomas Barrack, Trump’s loyal whisperer.

"Over the weekend, President Trump was accused by a Republican senator of running the White House like a “reality show.” In the 48 hours that followed, this is how the president rebutted the characterization.

He called out the offending senator for being short and sounding like 'a fool.' He challenged his secretary of state to an I.Q. contest and insisted he would win. He celebrated the downfall of a critic who was suspended from her job. And his first wife and third wife waged a public war of words over who was really his first lady.

Mr. Trump’s West Wing has always seemed to be the crossroads between cutthroat politics and television drama, presided over by a seasoned showman who has made a career of keeping the audience engaged and coming back for more. Obsessed by ratings and always on the hunt for new story lines, Mr. Trump leaves the characters on edge, none of them ever really certain whether they might soon be voted off the island.

'Absolutely, I see those techniques playing out,' said Laurie Ouellette, a communications professor at the University of Minnesota who has studied reality television extensively. 'Reality TV is known for its humiliation tactics and its aggressive showmanship and also the idea that either you’re in or you’re out, with momentum building to the final decision on who stays and who goes.'

Among those on the in-or-out bubble in this week’s episode was Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the frustrated Republican who described — and derided — the conversion of the White House into a virtual set for “The Apprentice” and, for good measure, expressed concern in a weekend interview with The New York Times that the president could stumble the country into a nuclear war.

Mr. Trump, who hosted 'The Apprentice' on NBC for 14 seasons, dismissed Mr. Corker on Tuesday by mocking his height and suggesting he had somehow been conned. 'The Failing @nytimes set Liddle’ Bob Corker up by recording his conversation,' Mr. Trump wrote. 'Was made to sound a fool, and that’s what I am dealing with!'

In labeling Mr. Corker 'liddle,' the president was evidently returning to a theme. He considered Mr. Corker for secretary of state during the transition after last year’s election but was reported to have told associates that Mr. Corker, at 5-foot-7, was too short to be the nation’s top diplomat. Instead, Mr. Trump picked Rex W. Tillerson, who is several inches taller but whose own relationship with the president has deteriorated to the point that he was said to have called Mr. Trump a 'moron.' . .

In an interview aired on Monday to promote her new memoir, Ivana Trump, his first wife, told ABC News that 'I’m basically first Trump wife, O.K.? I’m first lady, O.K.?'

That did not sit well with Melania Trump, his third wife and the actual first lady, who issued a retort through a spokeswoman dismissing what she called 'attention-seeking and self-serving noise.'

Andy Cohen, the creator of the 'Real Housewives' reality television show franchise, found that too rich. “This is actually happening,” he wrote on Twitter. 'All the wives are fighting. Even I AM SPEECHLESS.'

Mr. Trump’s gibe at Mr. Corker echoed his name calling during the presidential campaign when he labeled Senator Marco Rubio of Florida 'Little Marco,' Senator Ted Cruz of Texas 'Lyin’ Ted' and Hillary Clinton 'Crooked Hillary.' He has used belittling nicknames to diminish political foes since taking office, as well — think 'Cryin’ Chuck' Schumer, 'Psycho Joe' Scarborough and 'Little Rocket Man' Kim Jong-un — but has generally avoided doing so with powerful Republican committee chairmen who control appointments and legislation. . .

Ms. Ouellette, who has written or edited several books on reality television, including 'Better Living Through Reality TV,' said Mr. Trump the president had gone even further than Mr. Trump the reality show star ever did.

'This has exceeded what would have been allowed on ‘The Apprentice,’' she said. 'It’s almost a magnification. It’s like reality TV unleashed. Yes, he was good at it, but I always felt like he had to be reined in in order not to mess up the formula. Here, he doesn’t have that same sort of constraint.'"

Read The New York Times, For Trump, the Reality Show Has Never Ended.