Archive

For negotiating tips, Trump should read 'Art of the Deal'

    President Donald Trump prides himself on being a world-class negotiator. His candidacy, and now his presidency, have relied on that premise. He says he'll "force the Iranians back to the bargaining table" on the nuclear deal; after scrapping the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he'll secure bilateral trade deals with Pacific Rim countries and renegotiate NAFTA's terms; Mexico, he insists, "will pay for the wall, believe me -- 100 percent." Never one to underpromise, last year he told one reporter: "Peace all over the world would be the best deal. And I think I would know how to do it better than anybody else."

    Trump the businessman has, indeed, haggled many business deals. He even wrote a best-selling book about it. Yet politician Trump is making mistakes that "Art of the Deal" Trump wouldn't. He's negotiating against himself - giving up leverage before there's a corresponding ask -- and he's boxing in his negotiating partners, driving up the cost of reaching agreements, potentially with perilous results.

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Trump says Syrian refugees aren't vetted. We are. Here's what we went through.

    President Trump says that it is not safe to accept certain kinds of refugees without "extreme vetting" that he has yet to detail. So he has now banned people from seven countries, including Syria, which I fled with my family in 2014. But we were thoroughly vetted before we came here, just like other refugees - exhaustively, endlessly vetted. We are not terrorists. And if we'd been stopped from coming here, we would be suffering horribly right now.

    When our 7-day-old son died while receiving treatment for jaundice in a Damascus hospital, my husband and I decided to flee the country with our daughters. (I described the experience in an essay for The Post, parts of which are adapted here.) We ended up in a cramped apartment in Tripoli, Lebanon, where we soon spent our savings; we were living hand-to-mouth.

    After a year, I received a call from the United Nations asking if my family would like to resettle somewhere else. Based on our documents, stories and circumstances - our large family, five girls, my husband's potential as a healthy worker - we had been deemed eligible to apply for refugee status.

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Trump is getting payments from foreign governments. We have no idea what they are.

    In the middle of the 17th century, King Charles II of England took a secret pension from the French King Louis XIV. He agreed to a closer relationship, including a treaty that wasn't clearly in England's best interest. The precise content of the secret agreement wasn't revealed for more than 100 years.

    Today, 350 years later, the president of the United States is receiving payments from foreign countries. The money comes to President Trump by way of his companies, although the details and scope of his profits are secret; he refused to disclose his tax returns. After the election, Trump had several months to move toward liquidation and putting his assets in a truly blind trust. He has chosen, instead, to keep his ownership interests in his businesses, turning over operating decisions to his children but remaining an owner. His decision threatens the integrity of American democracy and national security, and it should ring alarm bells for all citizens, regardless of political party.

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Five myths about the White House press corps

    When 27-year-old reporter William W. Price came to Washington from South Carolina in 1895, there was no such thing as a White House beat. Then Price, working for the Washington Evening Star, began calling himself a "White House correspondent" and getting stories about President Grover Cleveland, and a beat was born. Today, White House reporters are promising to hold the new president, like his predecessors, to account. But relations are tense, fueled partly by the administration's desire to weaken a group it has called an "opposition party" and partly by misunderstandings about the beat. Here are five stubborn ones.

 

Myth No. 1

    The daily briefing is a waste of time.

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Trump can't break the court

    President Donald Trump plans to nominate a replacement of Justice Antonin Scalia next Thursday, so Americans of all political stripes have a week to work themselves into a frenzy over the Supreme Court's future - or to keep a sense of perspective.

    I vote for the latter. To be sure, it won't be easy for Democrats. Liberal bitterness is both palpable and justifiable, because the vacancy Trump is about to fill might not exist if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had not announced within seconds (or so it seemed) of Scalia's death last February that he would not permit consideration of anyone then-President Barack Obama named prior to the election.

    McConnell didn't budge even when Obama chose the eminently qualified and eminently moderate Judge Merrick Garland.

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The New Language

    For parents of a certain age it was the new math taught in our schools that defied us. Now parents of school age children, as well as the rest of us, will have to learn a new language. We did not know that was to be a fringe benefit of the new Presidential Administration; however, language grows as did Pinochio's nose!

    There is a new language afoot and it is called "alternative facts." Truth seems to be the victim here. Just as in the fairy tale it means what the speaker wants it to mean. It defies even absolute truth.

    What a world we have created when language does not evolve but explodes on us. It will be interesting to see what an ego-maniac becomes in this new world. We knew we were in for a ride following the elections of November 2016 but this soon, this astounding? It will be interesting, trying to second guess just what is meant. The one thing we can be sure of is that the truth is somewhere else in the ether. It is not too evident in those confirmation hearings in the Senate or elsewhere in that political balloon surrounding the leader.

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Democrats can resist Trump. All they have to do is break the Senate.

    As a Democratic Senate aide for the past seven years, I had a front-row seat to an impressive show of obstruction. Republicans, under then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, decided they would oppose President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at every turn to limit their power. And it worked: They extorted concessions from Democrats with threats of shutdowns, fiscal cliffs and financial chaos. I know firsthand that Democrats' passion for responsible governance can be exploited by Republicans who are willing to blow past all norms and standards.

    Now we have a president who exemplifies that willingness more than any other member of his party. Partly, this explains why he faces more questions about his legitimacy than any president in recent history and why he drew three times as many protesters as inauguration attendees last weekend. But in something of a mismatch, Republicans' unified control of government means that the most effective tool for popular resistance lies in the Senate -- the elite, byzantine institution envisioned by the founders as the saucer that cools the teacup of popular opinion.

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Pence Pulls Trump’s Strings

    Do you think Donald Trump is just Mike Pence’s puppet?

    Interesting idea, right? Particularly since the very idea would make our new president totally nuts. Hehehehe.

    And it’s possible. Trump is not a man who concentrates on policy issues. So far, the parts of the job that have obsessed him most are crowd size and vote size. And yeah, the wall. But there has to be somebody behind the scenes deciding the non-ego questions. Pass the word that it’s Pence.

    The best early evidence is reproductive rights. Not an issue that Trump seemed all that interested in during the campaign — you generally had to sort of poke him to bring it up. Yet one of the first things he did as president was to sign an order that will eliminate American aid to international health programs that provide information on abortion.

    Every Republican president since Ronald Reagan has issued the order, which is often referred to as the global gag rule. But Trump’s seems much worse. The Reagan-Bush-Bush version covered family planning programs. Trump’s targets global health in general.

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Oh SNAP! Boosting benefits beats paternalism, promotes long-term health

    A recent New York Times article on what families on SNAP (the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps) consume got the story very wrong, as various commentators, including the Times' public editor, have pointed out. A quick look at the article's headline ("In the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household: Lots of Soda"), the accompanying photo of a shopping cart filled with mostly soda, and misconstrued numbers from the new research on which the article was based may have led some readers to the mistaken belief that families that use food stamps buy very different, and nutritionally much worse, food than households that don't use food stamps.

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Making the Rust Belt Rustier

    Donald Trump will break most of his campaign promises. Which promises will he keep?

    The answer, I suspect, has more to do with psychology than it does with strategy. Trump is much more enthusiastic about punishing people than he is about helping them. He may have promised not to cut Social Security and Medicare, or take health insurance away from the tens of millions who gained coverage under Obamacare, but in practice he seems perfectly willing to satisfy his party by destroying the safety net.

    On the other hand, he appears serious about his eagerness to reverse America’s 80-year-long commitment to expanding world trade. On Thursday, the White House said it was considering a 20 percent tariff on all imports from Mexico; doing so wouldn’t just pull the U.S. out of NAFTA, it would violate all our trading agreements.

    Why does he want this? Because he sees international trade the way he sees everything else: as a struggle for dominance, in which you only win at somebody else’s expense.

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