Archive

January 28th, 2017

Donald Trump just forfeited in his first fight with China

    Donald Trump meant what he said about trade.

    When he isn't getting attention for telling demonstrable falsehoods about the size of his inauguration crowd, Trump has been busy filling his administration with people who want to get tough on China, threatening to put tariffs on companies that outsource jobs, and, as he did on Monday, pulling the United States out of big trade deals. Indeed, he officially killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and is expected to announce that he wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement as well.

    How much does this matter? Well, when it comes to the TPP, maybe not as much as you might think for an agreement that would have created a single market for most of the Pacific rim other than China. At least not in economic terms.

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Don't like what a woman is saying? Call her ugly.

    After millions of women descended on downtowns around the world to march in support of women's rights Saturday, several conservative lawmakers took to social media for commentary. Did they critique the marchers' message? Nope. Question the efficacy of protests? Not that either. What they did was make fat jokes.

    "Just think about this," Judge Bailey Moseley, a state judge in East Texas, wrote on Facebook. "After just one day in office, Trump managed to achieve something that no one else has been able to do: he got a million fat women out walking."

    Indiana State Sen. Jack Sandlin, R, posted a similar sentiment on Facebook, sharing a meme that featured a photo of marchers in pink hats under the words "In one day, Trump got more fat women out walking than Michelle Obama did in 8 years." Sandlin claims he's "[n]ot sure how that ended up on my Facebook wall." According to the Indianapolis Star, "[s]creenshots show Sandlin's account sharing the message directly from another Facebook page, not another account sharing to Sandlin's Facebook page."

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1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Palace of Lies

    Every day, tourists from across the country and around the globe flock to the White House, where they stand before our national shrine in awe for what it represents: democracy, freedom, equality. But no more.

    Today, sadly, it represents something else: a fact-free zone where nobody tells the truth. Under Donald Trump, the White House has become a Palace of Lies -- and he's only been there one week.

    Can't we all agree on this? It's not the job of the president to tell lies. And it's not the job of the White House press secretary to repeat and defend those lies. Apparently, nobody's informed Donald Trump or Sean Spicer of that. In these early days of the administration, we've seen nothing but a cascade of lies from both the president and the press secretary.

    It started the day after his inauguration when Trump, the ultimate size-ist, refused to accept the fact that fewer people turned out for his inauguration than for Barack Obama's in 2009. That was more than his so-easily bruised ego could bear.

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The Trump administration's credibility problem

    Nearly a week after President Trump's inaugural speech, what lingers is not its eloquence or poetry -- there was little of either -- but rather its dismal view of where this country stands now and Trump's conceit, as he put it at the Republican convention, that "only I can fix it."

    His recitation of the disintegration of the nation's manufacturing base in the Rust Belt and elsewhere -- "rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape" -- can't be denied. But Trump ignored today's near-record low unemployment rate of 4.7 percent and the 11.3 million new jobs created over the last eight years.

    He offered his brutal assessment in the presence not only of departing President Obama but also of Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic President Bill Clinton. Also present were leading legislators of both parties -- integral parts of the Washington establishment he so sweepingly excoriated and pledged to decimate but whom he now will need to advance his own agenda.

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The Daily 202: Overlooked stories from Trump's first 100 hours.

    Donald Trump is quadrupling down on his lie that millions of ballots were illegally cast in the November election. Wednesday morning he ensured that the mainstream media will spend another day focused on this issue by calling for an investigation:

    "I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and.... even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!"

    That the president of the United States is challenging, with no credible evidence, the integrity of an election he won is extraordinarily reckless.

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South Dakota lawmakers are showing us that populism is a lie

    The working-class sincerity of President Trump and his band of Rust Belt revolutionaries will be decided over the coming months. In the meantime, there is a test case for ruling elites and 21st century populists alike here in South Dakota.

    Once the bastion of prairie-style Democrats such as George McGovern and Tom Daschle, this state is now as red as a lazy August sunset. South Dakotans backed Trump by 30 points in November. But they also passed a wide-ranging anti-corruption measure intended to limit the influence of campaign cash and interloping lobbyists.

    The establishment is disturbed.

    Now the South Dakota legislature has convened, intent on overturning the voter-approved law, officially known as Initiated Measure 22. They're so concerned they want to invoke an "emergency clause" that would allow whatever is passed to go into effect immediately.

    The emergency for South Dakota lawmakers is that voters just expressed deep concern about their ethics. Lawmakers suggest the measure that passed is unworkable, that voters didn't know what they were doing. The response? Wipe it out.

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'Alternative facts'? Pick your own reality

    White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said more than a little bit when she described President Donald Trump's press secretary as offering "alternative facts."

    That may well be the most startling description of our new president's promotional style that I have heard since his best-selling "The Art of the Deal" said his most useful promotional tool is "truthful hyperbole."

    Sure, it was probably a slip, yet also too on-the-nose in its accuracy to warrant a correction.

    Conway, a counselor to the president after managing his election campaign, was in a heated exchange with NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" Sunday, defending an inaccurate claim by press secretary Sean Spicer.

    The issue started on Saturday when White House press secretary Sean Spicer yelled at reporters for allegedly "sowing division" and "deliberately false reporting" of Trump's inauguration crowd -- which he called "the largest audience to witness an inauguration -- period!"

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Trump's indefensible claims of rampant voter fraud are now White House policy

    Technically, the proper way to describe claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election is to state that there's no evidence that it happened. Shortly after the election, we tallied up reports of in-person voter fraud that occurred last year and found a grand total of four examples. There is no evidence that there was fraud at any significant scale at all.

    Saying this, that there's no evidence, is a hedge. We say it just in case somehow there emerges evidence that, indeed, hundreds of people registered to vote illegally and went to cast ballots. If we say it didn't happen and then some evidence emerges, we are stuck. So we say "there's no evidence" instead of "it didn't happen."

    That's on the scale of hundreds of votes. On the scale of millions of alleged fraudulent votes, though? It didn't happen. There's not only no evidence that it did, it defies logic and it defies statistical analysis to insist that millions of votes were cast illegally in the 2016 election.

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The real President Trump revealed himself at the CIA

    You may see some headlines referring to President Donald Trump's being "erratic" in the first few days of his tenure (for example, from Politico: "Trump struggles to shake his erratic campaign habits"). That's inaccurate. Donald Trump has been astoundingly consistent. Trump is Trump - incontrovertibly, immutably.

    Thus in his opening days, when he has had the full attention of the world, and could have focused on selling his policy agenda, Trump instead chose to litigate the size of his inauguration crowd. Monday night, meeting behind closed doors with congressional leaders, he reiterated his baseless claim that millions of undocumented immigrants illegally voted and prevented him from winning the popular vote.

    It's not enough that he is the president of the United States. He is still campaigning -- against Hillary Clinton. His White House just isn't big enough for him. His ego is now the fourth branch of government.

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January 27th

The Daily 202: The sorest winner of all time cannot stop whining

    Somebody call the wambulance. Donald Trump needs a box of Kleenex for all the whining he's doing.

    Just like his campaign, the first days of his presidency have been animated and defined by grievance.

    At a White House reception Monday night to discuss his 2017 agenda, Trump devoted the first 10 minutes to rehashing the 2016 campaign. The commander-in-chief told a bipartisan group of congressional leaders that between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote.

    That is a ludicrously false claim, and this is not hyperbole: Trump is the sorest winner in American history.

    Most thought Sean Spicer went too far with his Saturday night statement in the press room, delivered in an extended shout and brimming with falsehoods. Trump himself, however, had personally ordered the fiery response and actually thought his spokesman was not forceful enough. The president was also bothered when his spokesman read haltingly from a printed statement at times.

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