Archive

Washington's new normal: A Trump protest spectacle a day

    We began Wednesday morning with the sight of Greenpeace activists scaling a 270-foot construction crane in downtown Washington and unfurling a gigantic orange and black banner that bore the message: "RESIST." We ended the day with several hundred protesters marching to the White House to condemn President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

    Welcome to Trump's capital. It's a spectacle a day here.

    Self-proclaimed anarchists swarmed through downtown D.C. on Trump's Inauguration Day, torching a limousine, smashing bus-stop glass and vandalizing businesses. Then hundreds of thousands of people massed on the Mall the following day for the Women's March on Washington, waving clever and sometimes scathing signs aimed at the new commander in chief: "There Is So Much Wrong It Cannot Fit on This Sign" and "We Want a Leader, Not a Creepy Tweeter."

    Coming Friday: The annual March for Life, which will bring tens of thousands of newly energized anti-abortion demonstrators to the nation's front yard.

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In defense of CNN

    CNN went on a journalistic tear over the transition period. The network: broke the news of widespread plagiarism by Monica Crowley, who'd been tapped to serve in a national security communications job. She ultimately withdrew from the appointment; broke the news of a high-level briefing at which then-President-elect Donald Trump was told about a dossier containing allegations about his ties to Russia; and broke the news about a dicey stock purchase by Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price, triggering a retraction request that proved the story correct.

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Using soft power against Trump

    The women's marches last weekend were a grassroots success. They unnerved the U.S. president and put members of Congress on notice that millions across the country are not only paying attention but sufficiently alarmed by Donald Trump to hit the streets in protest.

    But the marches also entailed costly, avoidable mistakes. Narrow, interest-group agendas -- the frequent caricature and occasional bane of the left -- alienated some would-be participants. The speakers at the main event in Washington D.C. were not uniformly atrocious. But enough were.

    Anyone looking to discount the entire affair, and reject its moral urgency, needed only cite Madonna's asinine remark about blowing up the White House. You don't win a battle with a narcissist by enlisting another one.

    Likewise, opponents of Trump are going to have to recognize that one priority is paramount. Are you a die-hard defender of Obamacare? Great. An intersectional feminist demanding a woman's right to control her body? Good for you.

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Trump thinks we probably need to torture somebody, but he isn't sure who or why

    The things that come out of Donald Trump's mouth are often disturbing but sometimes ephemeral - he may say the exact opposite tomorrow, so it may not be worth getting too freaked out before we see whether his thoughts are translated into action. But here's a case where one of Trump's most horrifying impulses is on its way to becoming policy :

    "An executive order apparently drafted by the Trump administration calls for a policy review that could authorize the CIA to reopen "black site" prisons overseas and potentially restart an interrogation program that was dismantled in 2009 after using methods widely condemned as torture.

    "The document, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, would revoke former president Barack Obama's decision to end the CIA program and would require national security officials to evaluate whether the agency should resume interrogating terrorism suspects.

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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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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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