Archive

January 20th, 2017

Trump is putting the wolves of Wall Street in charge of America's economy

    In announcing the appointment of Carl Icahn as his new adviser on regulatory reform, President-elect Donald Trump characterized the Wall Street legend as "one of the world's great businessmen." By Trump standards, it was a minor mischaracterization, one that confused the Main Street world of business, where value-adding goods and services are created and sold, with the trading, dealmaking world of finance on Wall Street.

    Such confusion is understandable. For if anything has come to characterize American capitalism over the past 30 years, it has been the financialization of business. Whereas top executives of America's biggest corporations once spent their time worrying about products, customers, employees and the communities in which they operated, today they focus on maximizing shareholder returns through clever feats of financial engineering. Executives who embrace this financialization are handsomely rewarded with tens of millions of dollars in bonuses and stock grants. Those who don't are fired.

Time for the U.S. to face reality in North Korea

    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump sounds awfully certain about one thing. After North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared on New Year's Day that his country was on the verge of testing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S., Trump condescendingly tweeted, "It won't happen!"

    As a matter of fact, it will happen -- unless a Trump administration radically rethinks U.S. policy toward the North.

Trump wanted a project in Atlanta. You can pretty much guess where it was going to be.

    That rhetorical firefight between President-elect Donald Trump and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., is so utterly predictable.

    The civil rights icon, who paid for first-class rights to challenge authority with blood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965, said in an interview, "I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president" because "I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected."

    This provocative statement from Lewis engendered an outsize and characteristically unhinged response from Trump. The man who can't let any slight or criticism from anyone go unchallenged took to his 21st-century sandbox: Twitter.

    "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart . . . "

    - Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017

The Daily 202: It's bigger than John Lewis. Trump's team has been tone deaf on race.

    THE BIG IDEA: The Republican National Committee declared in 2013 that racism was over.

    More precisely, under the leadership of incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and press secretary Sean Spicer, the organization celebrated "Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in ending racism."

    Racism, of course, never "ended." After Democrats hammered them for this, the party tweeted a clarification: Parks played a role "in fighting to end racism." But the original tweet has never been deleted.

    Trump has often used racially charged rhetoric, and his ill-informed attacks on beloved civil rights icon John Lewis this weekend underscored how unserious he is about redemption. But the incoming president is also surrounded by people who have, at times, been tone-deaf and tin-eared when race relations come up, raising questions about who will keep his darkest instincts in check.

Savvy CEOs are learning how to manage Donald Trump

    At first glance, it sure seems as though President-elect Donald Trump is having his way with big corporations. No sooner does he slam a fist on his desk, demanding that companies add American jobs, than they issue press releases promising to oblige.

    Wal-Mart will add 10,000 jobs, it announced earlier this week. General Motors plans to invest $1 billion and add 7,000 U.S. jobs, it said. Bayer AG, the German pharmaceutical giant, promised to invest $8 billion in America, and add 3,000 jobs. And soon.

    Trump thinks it's all terrific!

    "Thank you to General Motors and Walmart for starting the big jobs push back into the U.S.!" he tweeted on Jan. 17.

    When NBC pointed out that these jobs had nothing to do with Trump's exhortations, he quickly shot back the next day: "to the U.S., but had nothing to do with TRUMP, is more FAKE NEWS. Ask top CEO's of those companies for real facts. Came back because of me!"

Retweeting Donald Trump

    When Donald Trump was elected president, it felt to me like the most reckless thing our country had done in my lifetime. But like many Americans, I hoped for the best: He’ll grow into the job. He’ll surround himself with good people. The country could use a jolt of fresh thinking. He’ll back off some of his most extreme views.

    But now that Trump is about to put his hand on the Bible and be sworn in, I’ve never been more worried for my country. It’s for many reasons, but most of all because of the impulsive, petty and juvenile tweeting the president-elect has engaged in during his transition.

    It suggests an immaturity, a lack of respect for the office he’s about to hold, a person easily distracted by shiny objects, and a lack of basic decency that could roil his government and divide the country. I fear that we’re about to stress our unity and institutions in ways not seen since the Vietnam War.

The Real Danger of Trump’s Alleged ‘Pee Party’

    The week leading up to the presidential inauguration brought streams, if not floods, of pee jokes. You might even say it was the number one opportunity for scatological humor since the poop cruise of 2013.

    My heart goes out to parents who have to find an appropriate way to explain this to their children.

    The occasion for the pee jokes was a leaked, unverified report on Russian anti-Trump intelligence. Someone described as a former British intelligence agent claims the Russians have been cultivating Trump for years, in part by gathering compromising information on him to hold over his head.

    In one especially lurid example, the source claims, Trump allegedly paid sex workers to engage in lewd urination-related acts in a Moscow hotel known “to have microphones and cameras in all the main rooms.”

    For those who support Trump, it’s a heinous and untrue case of scurrilous journalism. For those who oppose Trump, it’s an opportunity to laugh at him. And laugh and laugh and laugh.

Some Democrats are criticizing John Lewis's 'legitimate' jab at Trump. That means it worked.

    The last Martin Luther King Jr. Day before America's first black president handed power over to Donald Trump was always going to be awkward. Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, determined just how awkward it would be when he told Chuck Todd of "Meet the Press" that he did not see Trump as a "legitimate president."

    No one needs a refresher on how Donald Trump responded, with an insult to the city of Atlanta, but some might have missed the pushback in mainstream and conservative media. Byron York, the Washington Examiner's chief political correspondent, saw a "dilemma" emerging for Democrats who could not agree with Lewis, with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, calling the "not legitimate" charge "nonproductive," White House chief of staff Denis McDonough calling Trump "freely elected" and Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vermont, calling the insult "just words."

    York's analysis:

Inaugurations past and present

    Today's inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th president will be the 16th I've witnessed in Washington, in person or via television, going back to Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957. All have been confirmations of the marvel of continuity in the transition of national power.

    I remember that Ike's assumption of his second term, not surprisingly, came amid relative calm here after his second landslide victory over Adlai Stevenson. The World War II hero and smiling icon basked in the public adoration as he and Mamie rode down Independence Avenue from the Capitol to the White House they had already been calling home for four years.

    In 1961, when young and handsome John F. Kennedy, in a top hat, covered the same route with glamourous Jackie, near-delirium reigned despite a fierce overnight snowstorm. It required the shoveling services of numerous military units from nearby bases to clear the path for them and the inaugural parade that followed.

I think I need a new religion

    And so the Boy President heads for Washington to be sworn into office, pumping his fist, mooning the media, giving the stinky finger to whomever irks him, doing his end zone dance, promising to build the wall, cut taxes, create jobs, provide great health insurance for EVERYONE, send his son-in-law to the Middle East to solve that little problem, and the rest of us will sit in a barn and keep ourselves warm and hide our heads under our wings, poor things. Discouraging.

    So I've been shopping around for a new religion to see me through the next four years. Too many of my fellow Christians voted for selfishness and for degradation of the beautiful world God created. I guess they figured that by the time the planet is a smoky wasteland, they'd be nice and comfy in heaven, so wotthehell. Anyhow, I'm looking around for other options.