ON THE RECORD. . .
"We know that humans have most flourished during times of, what, warming trends?" -- Trump’s EPA Director Scott Pruitt suggesting that global warming could be seen as a good thing for people.
“I think confidence is silent and insecurity is loud. America is the most powerful country in all of human history, everybody knows it, and we don’t need to show it off.” — Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), disagreeing with Trump’s idea of a military parade in Washington, D.C.
“It’s Trump and uneducated rednecks. Trump is just telling them what they want to hear. I used to hang out with him. He’s a crazy motherf**ker. Limited mentally — a megalomaniac, narcissistic. I can’t stand him. I used to date Ivanka, you know.” — Quincy Jones, in an interview with Vulture, on what has stirred up racism in the United States.
“I think the real problem, as I’ve tried to mention, is that we are seeing now as normal things that we shouldn’t see as normal. And this degradation of the political culture is a real concern, where we’re no longer outraged when we ought to be.” — Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), in an interview with Chuck Todd
Today’s Republicans, however, are a party of bellowing drama queens whose elected representatives blow up spending caps, bust the deficit, and attack America’s law enforcement and national security agencies as dangerous conspirators. Their leader expects banana republic parades, coddles the Kremlin, protects violent men in positions of responsibility, and overlooks child molestation. The rank-and-file GOP members who once claimed that liberals were creating a tyrannical monarchy in the Oval Office now applaud the expansion of the presidency into a gigantic cult of personality. — Tom Nichols, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College.
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Andy Borowitz: Trump Gives Wife Beater Praise He Usually Reserves for Child Molesters and Nazis
In comments to reporters at the White House on Friday, Donald J. Trump stirred controversy by lavishing an alleged wife beater with praise that he historically has reserved for child molesters and Nazis.
Reporters who heard the President’s comments were taken aback since, in the past, the President had given no indication that he held wife beaters in the same high esteem in which he holds supporters of child abuse and white supremacy.
“We knew that President Trump considered child molesters and Nazis very fine people, but this was the first time he had put wife beaters up there, too,” Tracy Klugian, a member of the White House press corps, said. “We wanted clarification as to whether he considered wife beaters as fine as those other two groups, or finer.”
“Donald Trump has made it very clear that he can be the champion of wife beaters, child molesters, and Nazis at the same time,” John Kelly, the White House chief of staff said. “He doesn’t play favorites.”
LATER: Millions of Americans on Wednesday demanded that Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, issue them checks in the amount of $130,000 for not having sex with Trump.
After Cohen revealed that he had issued such a check to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who he claims never had intimate relations with his client, there was widespread outrage among other Americans who had also not had sex with Trump but had not been paid for not doing so.
ELSEWHERE: In a week when Donald J. Trump suffered the worst hair day of his Presidency, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un taunted his American nemesis by releasing a photo of his own hair easily withstanding a gale-force wind.
Perhaps in response to Kim’s taunt, the White House doctor, Ronny Jackson, held a hastily scheduled press conference to give an upbeat assessment of Trump’s hair.
“I have thoroughly examined the President’s hair, and in my medical opinion it is substantially thicker, lusher, and more luxuriant than Kim Jong Un’s hair,” he said, adding, “I hate myself.” https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/
2. A Year of Permanent Scandal
It would be one thing if the situation surrounding former White House staff secretary Rob Porter — who was alleged of abusing his ex-wives, who was defended by a White House informed of those allegations, and who was ultimately let go — was the first or second scandal rocking the Trump administration.”
“But it’s not. Indeed, we can count at least 11 criminal/ethical/personnel scandals involving President Trump, the White House, the administration and Trump’s 2016 campaign since Trump took office. First Read https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/tracing-trump-white-house-s-year-permanent-scandal-n846246
3. Trump's businesses don’t seem too concerned about “America First."
A Vox analysis of hiring records for seasonal workers at three Trump properties in New York and Florida revealed that only one out of 144 jobs went to a US worker from 2016 to the end of 2017.
Foreign guest workers with H-2B visas got the rest. https://www.vox.com/2018/2/13/16466542/trump-h-2b-guest-workers
4. The DAILY GRILL
Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process? -- Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump
There it is again. The words “mere allegation” and “falsely accused” meant to imply that I am a liar. That Colbie Holderness is a liar. That the work Rob was doing in the White House was of higher value than our mental, emotional or physical wellbeing. That his professional contributions are worth more than the truth. That abuse is something to be questioned and doubted. -- Jennie Willoughby
Wow! -Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch. Warner did not want a “paper trail” on a “private” meeting (in London) he requested with Steele of fraudulent Dossier fame. All tied into Crooked Hillary. -- Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump
Sen.Warner fully disclosed this to the committee four months ago. Has had zero impact on our work. http://fxn.ws/2nXIdM6 #FoxNews Marco Rubio@marcorubio
“According to a newly released Senate report, this text raises questions about Obama’s personal involvement in the Clinton email investigation.” -- Fox News
Text messages from 2016 show preparation to brief Barack Obama about Russia’s interference in that year’s election, not, as a Republican senator suggested, meddling by the then-president in the federal Hillary Clinton email investigation. -- Associates of the FBI employees involved in the exchange
"I think any opportunity we have to celebrate the men and women of the armed forces of the United States is a great day, supporting Trump's request to plan a military parade. I heartily support the president's call to celebrate our military. -- VP Mike Pence
"Make no mistake about it, what we witnessed in Pyongyang, and we witnessed again yesterday, on the eve of the Olympics -- what [South Korean] President Moon [Jae-in] said last night, he hopes will be an Olympics of peace -- was once again an effort on the part of the regime in Pyongyang to display their ballistic missiles, to display a military that continues to make menacing threats across the region and across the wider world. -- VP Mike Pence calling the North Korean parade "an ongoing provocation."
Stock market hit yet another all-time record high yesterday. There is great confidence in the moves that my Administration.... -- Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump
Looks like another great day for the Stock Market. Consumer Confidence is at Record High. I guess somebody likes me (my policies)! -- Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump
In the “old days,” when good news was reported, the Stock Market would go up. Today, when good news is reported, the Stock Market goes down. Big mistake, and we have so much good (great) news about the economy! -- Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump
Republicans want to fix DACA far more than the Democrats do. The Dems had all three branches of government back in 2008-2011, and they decided not to do anything about DACA. They only want to use it as a campaign issue. Vote Republican! -- Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump
DACA didn’t begin until June, 2012. -- Wikipedia
5. Democrats expand battleground, target 101 GOP seats
House Democrats are stepping on the gas, with plans to target 101 Republican-held congressional districts in the midterm elections, NBC News reports.
“The DCCC’s own polling of key districts has been more promising than national trends, showing President Donald Trump underwater not just in the 23 GOP-held districts Clinton won, but also in the more than 60 districts Trump won, and the 11 where retirements have left the seat open.”
“Democrats are now fielding candidates in all but 12 of the 238 districts held by Republicans… The idea is to expand the map as much as possible and hope to ride the potential wave. https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/democrats-vs-trump/democrats-expand-battleground-target-101-gop-seats-n845871
6. House Intel Republicans Plan to Wall Off Their Aides
In a sign of increasing partisan hostilities, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee plan to construct a wall – a physical partition – separating Republican and Democratic staff members in the committee’s secure spaces.
For now, some Republican committee members deny knowing anything about it, while strongly suggesting the division is the brainchild of the committee’s chairman, Devin Nunes (R-CA). https://www.cbsnews.com/news/house-intel-committee-gop-plan-to-wall-themselves-off-from-democrats-devin-nunes-adam-schiff/
7. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
John Moody | Fox News: “Unless it’s changed overnight, the motto of the Olympics, since 1894, has been “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” It appears the U.S. Olympic Committee would like to change that to “Darker, Gayer, Different.” If your goal is to win medals, that won’t work.” http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/02/07/in-olympics-lets-focus-on-winner-race-not-race-winner.html
Ben Shapiro calls for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, while praising additional military spending. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/02/09/ben-shapiro-calls-cuts-social-security-medicare-and-medicaid-while-praising-additional-military/219325
While Fox & Friends didn’t find time to report on the resignation of a top aide close to Trump stemming from domestic abuse allegations, the show hosts did mention former President Barack Obama by name 18 times in relation to various contrived scandals, including Uranium One and the private text messages of two FBI employees. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/02/08/fox-friends-didnt-discuss-trump-aide-rob-porters-history-reported-domestic-abuse-mentioned-obama-18/219315
8. From the Late Shows
Late Night with Seth Meyers: Let's Get Petty with Donald Trump's Bald Spot: https://youtu.be/9fplSxh6WD8
Jimmy Kimmel Live: Hair Stylists React to Trump’s Hair Flapping in the Wind https://youtu.be/AtCLwYFRp4o
Andy Borowitz: The End of Trump: The New Yorker contributor discusses Nazis, Donald Trump and impeachment, and starting his own movement. http://video.newyorker.com/watch/the-new-yorker-festival-andy-borowitz-the-end-of-trump
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Melania Trump Gives Her Own State Of The Union: https://youtu.be/EsaHiIdsKpE
Weekend Update on the Nunes Memo - SNL: https://youtu.be/LlyV-hvcFwA
Trump's Disturbing Week - Russia, Military Parade, Rob Porter: A Closer Look: https://youtu.be/0dLVivLINqw
This Week in Chaos: Nunes & BIEs. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SxMEqwKVUs
9. GOP Senate candidate's parents max out donations to primary campaign of Democrat he hopes to unseat
Just months after Kevin Nicholson (R) announced his bid to run against incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Nicholson’s own parents donated the legal maximum to Baldwin’s primary campaign, CNN reports.
Explained Nicholson: “My parents have a different worldview than I do, and it is not surprising that they would support a candidate like Tammy Baldwin who shares their perspective.” https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/12/politics/kfile-kevin-nicholson-parents-donations/index.html
10. Trump creep: bad habits spread fast
All habits, good and bad — in all organizations, big and small — flow down fast from the top. This dynamic is particularly true in the White House, and unmistakably true in this Trump White House.
Trump’s lifelong habits — to improvise, to attack, to deny the undeniable, to leak — spread fast through the White House, metastasized in the agencies, and infected Republicans in Congress. They are Republican habits now. https://www.axios.com/trump-bad-habits-white-house-republicans-congress-87dc1136-b9b1-414e-a951-553bc117cd46.html
11. Dozens of refugee resettlement offices to close as Trump downsizes program
Refugee resettlement agencies are preparing to shutter more than 20 offices across the United States and cut back operations in more than 40 others after the State Department told them to pare their operations, according to plans seen by Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-refugees-exclusive/exclusive-dozens-of-refugee-resettlement-offices-to-close-as-trump-downsizes-program-idUSKCN1FY1EJ
12. Second Judge Blocks Trump’s Move to End DACA Program
Trump’s move to end a program protecting hundreds of thousands of children of undocumented immigrants from deportation was blocked by a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York. It’s the second time in less than two months that a U.S. judge ruled that rescinding the Obama-era program as proposed would be illegal.
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled Tuesday that the government hasn’t offered legally adequate reasons for ending the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -- or DACA. The judge issued a preliminary ruling which ordered the government to keep processing renewal requests, echoing the Jan. 9 ruling of U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco.
"The decision to end the DACA program appears to rest exclusively on a legal conclusion that the program was unconstitutional," Garaufis said. "Because that conclusion was erroneous, the decision to end the DACA program cannot stand." https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-13/trump-s-move-to-end-daca-program-blocked-by-second-u-s-judge
13. Trump still unconvinced Russia meddled in 2016 election
Donald Trump still isn't buying that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
Even as his intelligence chiefs unanimously told a Senate panel Tuesday that Russia meddled in 2016 and is planning to do so again in 2018, three sources familiar with the President's thinking say he remains unconvinced that Russia interfered in the presidential election. http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/13/politics/trump-unconvinced-russia-meddled-election/index.html
14. The Undoing of Duncan Hunter
The criminal investigation into Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) is intensifying as a grand jury in San Diego questions multiple former aides about whether the California Republican improperly diverted political funds for personal use.
Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed Hunter’s parents, as well as a female lobbyist with whom many people close to the congressman believe he had a romantic relationship.
The Justice Department is trying to determine whether hundreds of thousands of dollars from Hunter’s campaign account were spent improperly on his family and friends. Hunter already sold his home to pay back what even he now acknowledges were improper charges, moving his wife and kids in with his parents while he mostly lives in his Capitol Hill office. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/08/duncan-hunter-campaign-funds-fbi-397621
15. Donald Trump in New York City
A science-fiction narrative imagining an alternate universe in which Donald Trump never became President: he’s just a regular guy in New York City. https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/donald-trump-in-new-york-city
16. In the reality TV White House, it’s all about the show: Watch ChuckTodds four-minute monologue for yourself...
.@chucktodd: “It's like we're living inside a parody - ‘What would happen if Donald Trump became president? Omarosa would probably work in the West Wing! And then she'd leave to go on Big Brother to dish about Administration secrets! Ha!’ ... Oh wait. That happened.” #MTPDaily Meet the Press@MeetThePress
17. Budget DIrector Mulvaney Says He Wouldn’t Have Voted for Budget
White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney told CBS News that the two-year budget bill — passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump — is a “very dangerous idea” and explodes the deficit.
He added he would “probably not” have voted for it as a congressman. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/transcript-omb-director-mick-mulvaney-on-face-the-nation-feb-11-2018/
18. Big Republican Advantages Are Eroding in the Race for House Control
The Democratic advantage on the generic congressional ballot has slipped over the last few weeks. But Republicans have gradually lost advantages of their own.”
Slowly but surely, the considerable structural advantages — like incumbency, geography and gerrymandering — that give the Republicans a chance to survive a so-called wave election are fading, giving Democrats a clearer path to a House majority in November. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/12/upshot/big-republican-advantages-are-eroding-in-the-race-for-house-control.html
19. A Whirlwind Envelops the White House, and the Revolving Door Spins
More than a year into his administration, President Trump is presiding over a staff in turmoil, one with a 34 percent turnover rate, higher than any White House in decades. He has struggled to fill openings, unwilling to hire Republicans he considers disloyal and unable to entice Republicans who consider him unstable. Those who do come to work for him often do not last long, burning out from a volatile, sometimes cutthroat environment exacerbated by tweets and subpoenas.”
To visit the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the granite, slate and cast iron edifice across West Executive Avenue from the White House where most of the president’s staff works, at times feels like walking through a ghost town. The hallways do not bustle as much as in past administrations. The budget director is doing double duty as the acting head of the consumer protection agency. The personnel director is doing triple duty, also overseeing the offices of political affairs and public liaison. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/12/us/politics/trump-white-house-staff-turnover.html
20. Former Senior FBI Official Is Leading BuzzFeed’s Effort to Verify Trump Dossier
For the last six months, a team led by a former top FBI and White House cybersecurity official has been traveling the globe on a secret mission to verify parts of the Trump dossier.
Their client: BuzzFeed, the news organization that first published the dossier on President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, which is now being sued over its explosive allegations.
The investigation, being conducted by FTI Consulting, is running in parallel to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in Kremlin-directed efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. With the special counsel probe under wraps, the BuzzFeed court case could represent the first public airing of an investigation into the veracity of some of the dossier’s claims. http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/02/12/former-senior-fbi-official-is-leading-buzzfeeds-effort-to-verify-trump-dossier/
21. Hillary Clinton, a favorite GOP foil, plans discreet 2018 strategy
In the first electoral season since the stunning loss that extinguished her years-long drive for the presidency, Clinton, 70, has begun a discreet and low-profile reentry into the political fray.
Her emerging 2018 strategy, according to more than a dozen friends and advisers familiar with her plans, is to leverage the star power she retains in some Democratic circles on behalf of select candidates while remaining sufficiently below the radar to avoid becoming a useful target for Republicans seeking to rile up their base.
Most likely, they said, Clinton will attempt to help Democratic candidates who have a history of supporting her and her family, and expending her political capital in a number of the 23 congressional districts she won in 2016 but are now held by a Republican. Lending a hand to Democrats organizing at a grass-roots level is a priority, they added. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hillary-clinton-a-favorite-gop-foil-plans-discreet-2018-strategy/2018/02/11/ec02d02e-0cd0-11e8-95a5-c396801049ef_story.html
1. Richard Wolffe: Trump's America will be saddled with debt – just like his bankrupted hotels
Mick Mulvaney counts the coins that are left in Trump’s budget office and he used to be worried about things like debt. But that was in the olden times, when he was trying to get confirmed for this current job, one year ago.
“Our gross national debt has increased to almost $20tn. That number is so large as to defy description,” he told senators. “I believe, as a matter of principle, that the debt is a problem that must be addressed sooner, rather than later.”
Mulvaney is so old-fashioned he called Obama’s budget in 2011 “a joke” for adding to the national debt about the same amount as Trump’s tax cuts. “It’s hard to explain how detached from reality this is, to think that the country can spend another $1.6tn when it doesn’t have the means,” he told Politico.
Nobody but Trump could have imagined that Republicans would vote for a trillion-dollar monster after so many years fighting a religious war against Obama for precisely the same thing. Nobody but Trump could have sold the idea of debt so well to the very people who said they hated it.
This was truly an undeveloped space in American politics, and it took a visionary like Trump to make it real. Let’s hope they all live happily ever after. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/09/trump-saddle-america-debt-bankrupted-hotels
2. Jonathan Chait: Suddenly Deficits Don’t Matter Again
During the Obama era, Democrats frequently believed, but only rarely uttered aloud in official forums, that the Republican Party was engaged in economic sabotage. Not a coldly conscious plot, exactly. But it seemed just a little too convenient that the party had reversed its fiscal ideology at precisely the time when doing so would damage Democrats and thereby smooth the GOP’s return to power.
Now that Republicans have reversed their position once again, also in a way that happens to redound to their political benefit, the answer seems a little more clear. Republicans have used their control of government to virtually double the budget deficit, which had been hovering around half a trillion dollars per year, and will now likely run well over $1 trillion — during the peak of an economic expansion. There is no economic rationale for this behavior. Their policy is simply to support fiscal contraction under Democratic presidents and fiscal expansion under Republican ones. Cynicism is the only basis to explain their behavior. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/02/obamas-gone-so-republicans-stopped-sabotaging-the-economy.html
3. Paul Krugman: Fraudulence of the Fiscal Hawks
There have been many “news analysis” pieces asking why Republicans have changed their views on deficit spending. But let’s be serious: Their views haven’t changed at all. They never really cared about debt and deficits; it was a fraud all along. All that has changed is the fact that a Republican now sits in the White House.
How do we know Republicans were never sincere about the deficit? It was obvious, even at the time, to anyone who looked at their fiscal proposals. These proposals always involved giant tax cuts for the wealthy — funny how that worked — offset by savage cuts in social benefits. Even so, assertions that deficits would go down depended entirely on assuming lots of revenue from closing unspecified loopholes and huge savings from cutting unspecified government programs. In other words, even at the peak of their deficit-hawk posturing, all Republicans really had to offer was redistribution from the poor to the rich.
However, pretending to care about the deficit served several useful political purposes. It was a way to push for cuts in social programs. It was also a way to hobble Obama’s presidency.
And I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that there was an element of deliberate economic sabotage. After all, Republicans weren’t just vehemently opposed to fiscal stimulus; they were also vehemently opposed to monetary stimulus. Basically, they were against anything that might help the economy on President Obama’s watch.
Now Obama is gone, and suddenly deficits don’t matter. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/08/opinion/republicans-hawks-markets.html
4. NY Times Editorial: Trump’s Backward View of Immigration
Mr. Trump has said that the family reunification program — which he and other immigration opponents prefer to call “chain migration” — opens the floodgates to “virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” In fact, relatives other than spouses, parents and minor children are subject to annual caps and country quotas, so that, today, the backlog is almost four million applicants, most of them facing many years of waiting to get a visa. Mr. Trump would allow no new applicants other than immediate family members, and even these would no longer include parents. Imposing these restrictions and ending the diversity visa lottery would cut in half the number of legal immigrants.
It is hard to gauge how much of what Mr. Trump says is meant as a scare tactic and how much he really will demand. The one notion that runs through all he says or tweets about immigration is that it is a door for criminals and terrorists to enter the United States. Yet data studied by the Cato Institute indicates that diversity-visa holders and illegal immigrants, the groups most maligned by Mr. Trump, are far less prone to crime than native-born Americans. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/07/opinion/trump-backward-immigration.html
5. Masha Gessen: What Would Trump’s Military Parade Symbolize?
What would an American parade signify? Trump’s understanding seems clear on the surface: he thinks that parades go with the Presidency like gold-leaf furniture goes with wealth. Also, Trump wants it seen that he—and not the generals who are charged with taming him—is the Commander-in-Chief. Plus, his button is bigger than Kim Jong Un’s.
But, demagogue that he is, Trump is also tapping into something deeper: a sense of lost American greatness, and, even more, a sense of a lost American story. In this way, the United States isn’t different from the rest of the Western world, which has suddenly discovered that its post–Second World War story is no longer as convincing as it used to be, and can’t serve as an anchor for its identity. The rise of the right in Europe is a symptom of this phenomenon. Sweden, which in the wake of the war forged an identity as a humanitarian superpower, has seen that story punctured by the meteoric rise of an anti-immigrant right. Germany has seen the unthinkable: the rise of a far-right party that explicitly rejects the idea that Germany must continue to reckon with the ghost of Nazism. And the United States has a President who has no use for stories like “America is a nation of immigrants,” and who is trying to make America great again by ordering a military parade. https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/what-would-trumps-military-parade-symbolize
6. Chuck Todd: ‘Like Living Inside a Parody’
It’s like we’re living inside a parody from three years ago – “What would happen if Donald Trump became president? Omarosa would probably work in the West Wing! And then she’d leave to go on Big Brother to dish about Administration secrets! Ha ha!” …Oh, wait. That actually happened on Big Brother Celebrity Edition, airing tonight…
Let’s leave aside the fact that Omarosa made those comments on a show named after George Orwell’s dystopian surveillance state. Folks, we’re not even surprised by this stuff anymore. Just think of all we’ve seen — or endured — in the last 13 months of this presidency. The twitter battles with a rival nuclear power, members of his own party, the Gold Star widow, the Justice Department, mayors, senators, governors, our allies, and many in between…
All of this is the legacy of our country’s first reality TV star president. It is all personal and it is all about the show… it is a hell of a show. One for the ages. But it is no laughing matter. And is it anyway to run a country? https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/02/08/chuck_todd_trump_presidency
7. Nicholas Kristof: President Trump, How Is This Man a Danger?
Trump suggests that the aim of his crackdown on immigrants is to “defend Americans” from “savage,” “worst of the worst” intruders who kill Americans or at least are “dangerous criminals.”
What does Trump’s crackdown look like in real life? In Lawrence, Kan., the other day, immigration agents handcuffed a beloved chemistry professor as he was leaving his home to drive his daughter to school. Then they warned his crying wife and children, ages 7 to 14, that they could be arrested if they tried to hug him goodbye, and drove off with him — leaving a shattered family behind.
“I’m a normal 12-year-old with a dad like everybody else’s dad,” the daughter he was about to drive that morning, Naheen Jamal, told me. “I don’t understand why this is happening.”
Her dad, Syed A. Jamal, 55, had been in America for 30 years, having arrived legally from Bangladesh as a student, before overstaying his visa. He loved Kansas and settled in Lawrence, teaching at local colleges and volunteering at local schools — even running for the school board. He coached students in science and sports.
But President Trump, you say that these people are “criminals, drug dealers, rapists” and that we must be protected from them.
Jamal, who seems just about the least dangerous person in America, is now in jail pending deportation to Bangladesh. A court intervened with a temporary stay as the government was trying to rush him out of the country.
While this arrest has done nothing to make anyone safer, it is devastating for three American citizens in particular — his children. Their mom, Angela, also of Bangladeshi origin, donated a kidney last year, and Jamal is the only source of family income.
If Jamal is indeed deported, his family will be upended. Randy Capps of the Migration Policy Institute estimates that 25,000 people deported in 2016 have children who are American citizens. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/10/opinion/sunday/syed-jamal-ice-deportation.html
8. David Remnick: A Reckoning with Women Awaits Trump
Donald Trump is the least mysterious figure in the history of the American Presidency. His infantile character, duplicity, cold-heartedness, and self-dealing greed are evident not merely to the majority of the poll-answering electorate but, sooner or later, to those who make the decision to work at his side. This is manifest even in Trump’s favored medium, reality television. Recently, fans of “Celebrity Big Brother” witnessed Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the unforgettably forgettable former White House aide in charge of nothing at all, tearfully confessing her global despair. “It’s not going to be O.K.,” she said.
No kidding. Sooner or later, Trump’s satraps and lieutenants, present and former, come to betray a vivid sense of just how imperilled and imperilling this Presidency is. In their sotto-voce remarks to the White House press, these aides seem to compete in their synonyms for the President’s modesty of intelligence (“moron,” “idiot,” “fool”); his colossal narcissism; his lack of human empathy. They admit to reporters how little he studies the basics of domestic policy and national security; how partial he is to autocrats like himself; how indifferent he is to allies. They are shocked, they proclaim, absolutely shocked. In the past few days, it has been Trump’s misogyny, his heedless attitude toward women and issues of harassment and abuse, that has shocked them most. And those who know him best recognize the political consequences ahead. https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/a-reckoning-with-women-awaits-trump
9. Mimi Kramer: Trump Sees Himself in Every Man Accused
What Trump can’t control — in his narcissism and his over-identification with the plight of the abuser — are his own ethics. Four or five times, it sounded as though Trump was going to say the right thing. “I found out about it recently,” he said, without specifying what “it” was, “and I was surprised by it …”— here, we expected the next statement to be something about how domestic abuse can’t be tolerated. But instead Trump repeated, “But we certainly wish him well.” He went on, “It’s a …” — he was using the emphatic (“ā”) pronunciation of the indefinite article, so we expected a strong utterance (It’s a terrible, terrible thing … or It’s a big, big problem …). But instead we got: “It’s obviously a tough time for him,” and “We hope he has a wonderful career.”
What we never got but kept expecting to hear were statements like “… but domestic abuse is never okay.” Or: “… but the White House takes allegations of violence against women seriously.” Trump couldn’t even manage to voice one of those routine, pro forma constructs. For a quarter of a century, Trump has been telling us that all the men he knows who abuse women are “good” people and/or “innocent,” by which he means not that he doesn’t believe that his friends and acquaintances abuse women. He means that he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Maybe it’s time we started believing him. https://www.thecut.com/2018/02/trump-defends-rob-porter-domestic-abusers.html
10. Jonathan Chait: Republicans Look for Somebody to Blame for Their Deficit Mess. Guess Who They Found.
“President Trump is remaking the Republican economic playbook in his own image,” reports the Washington Post, “abandoning ideological consistency in favor of a debt-busting strategy that will upend how Washington taxes and spends trillions of dollars each year.” The story is an echo of the Republican Party’s own response to the evident failure of its fiscal program, which is doubling the budget deficit during peace and prosperity. The attempts to suggest Trump betrayed some previously healthy ideal of budgetary rectitude — remaking, abandoning — combined with the implication that it somehow grows out of his personality — his own image — represent the party’s utterly predictable efforts to explain away its already-collapsing promises.
Trump has not abandoned Republican economic policy. He has carried it out faithfully. The party’s attempts to pin its collapse on his personal shortcomings of willpower are a completely predictable part of how that policy takes shape.
Blaming the president’s idiosyncratic personality traits is a way for conservatives to avoid confronting the complete unworkability of their fiscal model. In reality, Trump did not remake the Republican economic playbook in his own image. Republicans remade the Trump economic playbook in theirs. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/02/republicans-find-someone-to-blame-for-deficit-mess.html
11. Jim Tankersley: Republicans Have Forgotten They Hate Deficits
In a year of controlling power in Washington, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have run up federal spending, approved deficit-swelling tax cuts and presided over a marked increase in ‘policy uncertainty’ in the economy. They still talk about the importance of fiscal discipline, but they have yet to enforce it.
The $4.4 trillion budget Mr. Trump released on Monday spends as much over 10 years as any budget offered by President Obama, whose policies Republicans blamed for ballooning the size of the federal government and hobbling the economy. It does not attempt to achieve balance at the end of that time, despite optimistic economic growth projections that far exceed what most economists say is possible.
Instead, it projects that deficits will grow $7 trillion over the next decade as the United States continues borrowing huge sums of money — a number that could double if the administration turns out to be overestimating economic growth and if the $3 trillion in spending cuts the White House has floated do not materialize in Congress. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/13/us/politics/republicans-have-forgotten-they-hate-deficits.html
12. David Brooks: The End of the Two-Party System?
Back in the 1990s, there was an unconscious abundance mind-set. Democratic capitalism provides the bounty. Prejudice gradually fades away. Growth and dynamism are our friends. The abundance mind-set is confident in the future, welcoming toward others. It sees win-win situations everywhere.
Today, after the financial crisis, the shrinking of the middle class, the partisan warfare, a scarcity mind-set is dominant: Resources are limited. The world is dangerous. Group conflict is inevitable. It’s us versus them. If they win, we’re ruined, therefore, let’s stick with our tribe. The ends justify the means.
The underlying conditions of scarcity are only going to get worse. Moreover, the warrior mentality builds on itself. As the right pulverizes the left, the left feels the need to pulverize back, and on and on. This is a generational challenge. Trump will be succeeded by some other warrior.
Eventually, conservatives will realize: If we want to preserve conservatism, we can’t be in the same party as the clan warriors. Liberals will realize: If we want to preserve liberalism, we can’t be in the same party as the clan warriors.
Eventually, those who cherish the democratic way of life will realize they have to make a much more radical break than any they ever imagined. When this realization dawns the realignment begins. Even with all the structural barriers, we could end up with a European-style multiparty system. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/12/opinion/trump-republicans-scarcity.html