Trump Regime (3)

45th President (1)
Trump Presidency (2)

Rep. Jason Chaffetz is Giving Mitch McConnell a Run for His Money

…as the most despicable American politician–at least in my book. (Paul Ryan is getting up there, too.)

Edit

From Salon: Time is Running Out on American Democracy by Yale Professor, Timothy Snyder.

Also,

I would like a lot of Americans to watch this.

Finally, this 11 Top Constitutional Law Experts React to White House Stephen Miller’s Rejection of “Judicial Supremacy”’ from Just Security website.

42 Responses to “Trump Regime (3)”


  1. Reid

    Crazy If True

    I didn’t read the entire article, but this quote, if true, is scary; crazy.

    From a Politico reporter:

    The impression I get from this White House is one where they’re flying by the seat of their pants. It doesn’t sound good at all.

    Edit: Apropos of the Above

    …something really bad is going to happen. It’s going to happen, unless God has mercy on us. And Trump will blame everyone else; maybe try to make a power grab. Will enough Americans fall for it?

    Edit: Oh yeah, Speaking of Crazy, About Today’s Press Conference

    I don’t know what you guys would think, but those who have been calling it “unhinged” is not far off the mark in my view. If you really aren’t sure about Trump or you think everything is fine, I would recommend watching his press conferences/speeches (which can be seen on C-Span) and reading his tweets. After a while, I would be a little surprised if people came away from thinking that Trump is doing OK.

    Also, John Harward, the person Trump asked to be National Security Adviser, turned down the offer:

    (The comments that he reportedly made–e.g., the situation is a “shit sandwich”–isn’t very good.)

    Good thread (although the last tweet–about how the Trump administration has some of the positions listed on jobs board, because they’re having trouble filling positions–I have trouble believing).

    ***

    I agree with the following thread from Joy Reid of MSNBC (She’s impressed me from what I’ve seen of her.)

    Edit2: Trump Doesn’t Understand Our System of Government and Doesn’t Respect Checks and Balances/Rule of Law

  2. Reid

    Is Anti-Semitism on the Rise?

    Edit

    I just don’t get his response here. As far as I can tell, the reporter isn’t accusing Trump of being an anti-Semite–the reporter makes this clear in the lead up to his question. He just wants to know what the USG is doing about a rise in anti-Semitism.

    I saw a thread where James Fallows said this is basically a really easy question for a POTUS to deal with–you basically denounce anti-Semitism, and you say that you’re investigating these matters and take it very seriously, or something to that effect. Trump has failed to do this in two days. I don’t get it–unless he’s anti-semitic, or wants the support of anti-Semites.

    James Fallows goes over what I said in this thread:

    Edit: Related to Anti-Semitism (2/18/2017)

    From The Economist: Islamophobia Bigger Problem Than Canadians Thought

    On January 29th Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old student, allegedly burst into the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City and killed six Muslims at prayer. The victims included a university lecturer, a pharmacist and a halal butcher. More than a dozen other worshippers were wounded.

    I have not heard anyone in the Trump administration mention this.

    Edit 2: Story below reported today, 2/20/2017

    Edit 3: Better Late Than Never? (2/21/2017)

    Wouldn’t hurt to say something similar a few more times to make it clear that he opposes this, and will do something to stop it–although the elephant in the room is that he still has Steve Bannon in the White House.

    Edit (2/26/2017)

    Wonder if WH will speak out against this. It’s not hard. How can someone not think the Trump administration is supportive of white nationalism, especially with Bannon, Miller, and Anton.

    Edit (2/27/2017)

    This is sickening.

    I’d like to know how this compares to previous years, but the numbers seem really alarming.

    Edit (2/28/2017)

    If Trump actually said this, without providing any evidence, that is crazy and irresponsible.

    OK, here’s Trump’s comments:

  3. Reid

    This Better Not Be True

    Edit: Follow-up: Is This Part of an Intentional Plan?

    From The Business Insider: White House Handling of Controversial Plans

    Washington Post reporters Radley Balko and Louisa Loveluck said on Friday that the leaks themselves appeared to be part of a strategy.

    “Leak an abhorrent policy under consideration. Refuse comment when queried. After publication, declare policy absurd, scold media. Repeat,” Balko tweeted.

    “1: Float outrageous draft plan. 2: Watch media explode. 3: Deny, pursue less bad option. 4: Tell base the discredited media did it again,” Loveluck said.

    This occurred with two other leaked draft memos:

    Draft memos outlining changes to the country’s “religious freedom” laws that would allow businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community were shot down by the administration shortly after they were leaked, as were memos detailing the possible reinstatement of overseas CIA “black sites.”

    I’m definitely going to keep this in mind next time someone reports on a leaked memo, especially one with a very controversial policy.

  4. Reid

    Is It Me, or Is This Fascist?

    You want to say those news outlets have a liberal bias, fine. But “enemies of the people?” C’mon! It’s really irresponsible.

    I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but these two recent tweets reminded me of my understanding of Trump’s conception of truths and falsehoods. To me, there is a very strong pattern, and it goes like this:

    Any person or statement that is favorable to Trump is true, good, and terrific.
    Any person or statement that is unfavorable to Trump is a lie, dishonest, or disgraceful.

    The pattern is so strong, I feel like this is literally the way he perceives the people, reporting, maybe even the world in general. I no longer think he’s just saying outrageous things to get attention, and I’m also starting to believe that, to a large degree, this isn’t part of a shrewd plan (although people like Bannon may be using Trump in a shrewd way)–he really can’t see outside of this perspective.

    I admit this sounds crazy of me, but try and see if this framework doesn’t work well with the statements that he makes from here on out.

    (By the way, he has said several times that he doesn’t mind criticism from the press–as long as it’s true. What I think now is that he can say this because, in his mind, he equates truth with anything that puts him in a favorable light, and falsehood as anything that puts him in a negative one.)

    Edit: Agreed

    There’s probably something I don’t know, but the silence of Ryan and McConnell on matters like this is really upsetting.

    Edit 2 (2/18/2017)

    Edit 3 (2/18/2017)

    Edit 4 (2/25/2017)

  5. Reid

    I Agree With This

    From New York Magazine: The White House Mole by Andrew Sullivan, a moderate conservative.

    But there’s one explanation that chills me even more than a foreign power’s potential blackmail over an American president. And it is that Trump and Putin are natural allies in their fight against the postwar, U.S.-led international order that has kept the peace for 70 years. Putin and Trump, after all, share a Bannonite foreign policy: a robust defense of nationalism; a view that NATO is obsolete; support for far-right parties throughout Europe; and the goal of smashing the European Union so that Russia can once again extend its tentacles into Eastern Europe, and the U.S. can play one European power off another. I have no idea if Putin has kompromat on the president, but Trump’s actions need no such motivation. Trump and Putin want to form a pincer movement to destroy what we have known for a long time as the West.

    We can’t want this, as Americans, can we?

    Sullivan goes on:

    Their domestic politics also have disturbing parallels. Trump would love nothing more, it seems to me, than to be an American Putin, treating the country as he long treated his own corporate fiefdom. He once explained he admired the autocrat because Putin has “great control over his country.” Like Putin, Trump would love to control the media. Like Putin, he has developed a leadership cult, devoted to the masses. Like Putin, he believes in a government that has “killers.” Like Putin, he threatens his geographic neighbors. Like Putin, he has cultivated an alliance of convenience with reactionary religious conservatives, to shore up his power. Like Putin, he believes there’s no moral difference between American democracy and Russia’s. Like Putin, he is enriching himself by public office. And, like Putin, he has targeted a minority as a scapegoat — Putin targeted the gays to gin up support while Trump targets the Muslims and Mexicans. And as Putin has RT as his conduit, so Trump has the Murdoch empire.

    Sullivan’s larger point that Trump, whether compromised or turned under Russian influence, seems to have similar approach to ruling as Putin. Basically, he’s more like an autocrat than a POTUS, and that is objectionable and disturbing all by itself.

    Edit: Problem With Staffing Military and National Security Positions

    I think the Army Secretary nominee withdrew. Two National Security Advisers withdrew, and one was removed.

    Kleptocracy

    Edit 2: Defending McCain and et al. “Tepid” Opposition to Trump

    This twitter thread by Matt Glassman, which I saw from a re-tweet by Brendan Nyhan. I thought it was pretty interesting, and sounds correct to me:

    I’d like to pushback a little bit on the idea that McCain et. al are not really opposing Trump. It’s true that if you look at the vote tallies, almost all GOP Senators have supported Trump. People are using this as evidence that “anti-Trump” GOP types like McCain aren’t really doing anything, just talking. This is a pretty myopic view of how party elected officials influence, constrain, or oppose a POTUS of their party. Yes, McCain could publicly announce he no longer supports the President, and vote against all his nominees.

    But party Senators have a LOT more fine-grained tools than that with which to influence the President or public opinion. First, it is radically unusual that party Senators are opposing the President AT ALL. It’s basically unprecedented. That’s big. But bigger is the lack of surrogate support POTUS is getting from party Senators. In a normal Presidency, party Senators would be on TV constantly, pushing the President’s message and defending his policies. Instead, you have Jeffrey Lord, WH staff, and lukewarm second-tier MCs doing the lifting. That’s huge. The President has little formal power. He needs the entire party team lined up in order to be influential. They aren’t. If you think this isn’t part of the explanation for why POTUS approval numbers are in the trash, you’re nuts. A figure like McCain NOT out there defending you on FP and other items is terrible; actively opposing is even worse.

    Second, a tremendous amount of party Senator influence on a President is not visible to the public. We have no idea what nominees have been blocked behind the scenes, or what policy concessions have been granted to bargaining Senators.

    The whole notion of “actions speak louder than words” is being taken way, way too far. For the POTUS who wants to be powerful, verbal public backing by party Senators IS an action, and the lack of it is a bigger one. It sends a signal to all sorts of GOP actors that it’s ok to oppose the POTUS. It drains public confidence that the party is fully united behind the President. It forces, as discussed, the President to use less prestigious surrogates. It generates news stories about why party Senators aren’t supporting POTUS, and questions to the WH about same, taking focus off policy.

    So yes, GOP Senators are largely supporting Trump’s nominees. But relative to any other President in modern history, they are quite obviously withholding normal POTUS support. And this withholding is greatly damaging POTUS. By any measure, his administration is stillborn in terms of influence. The WH is a mess. The bureaucracy isn’t functioning. POTUS is locked in battle against the IC and media. DC thinks he’s incompetent. And the party Senators are not coming to the rescue. Sure, they have not decided to throw him overboard. But they are clearly content to let him drown on his own. And he is. FIN.

  6. Reid

    Here’s a good speech by Bret Stephens, a Wall Street Journal editorialist. The speech was given in honor of Danny Pearl, the journalist who was killed. The speech is mostly about Trump and journalism in the age of Trump.

    But the question of what Mr. Trump might yet do by political methods against the media matters a great deal less than what he is attempting to do by ideological and philosophical methods.

    Ideologically, the president is trying to depose so-called mainstream media in favor of the media he likes — Breitbart News and the rest. Another way of making this point is to say that he’s trying to substitute news for propaganda, information for boosterism. His objection to, say, the New York Times, isn’t that there’s a liberal bias in the paper that gets in the way of its objectivity, which I think would be a fair criticism. His objection is to objectivity itself. He’s perfectly happy for the media to be disgusting and corrupt — so long as it’s on his side.

    Stephens goes on to discuss an portion of a the Bill O’Reilly interview with Trump:

    Is there any validity to the criticism of you that you say things that you can’t back up factually, and as the President you say there are three million illegal aliens who voted and you don’t have the data to back that up, some people are going to say that it’s irresponsible for the President to say that.

    To which the president replies: Many people have come out and said I’m right.

    Stephens point out that this is dumb argument, but he also doesn’t want to dismiss the important implication of such an argument: namely, the way response undermines, and even denies, the importance that facts play in an argument. Intentionally or not, I do think this is the effect that Trump’s lies have had and are having in our society. It’s crucially important that we firmly reject such an idea–because if we start giving ground to this idea intellectually–if it becomes acceptable–then we really begin to lose our ability to collectively make decisions and, in effect, lose our democracy.

    This is not (or should not be) a partisan issue. Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, we should all recognize the crucial role facts play in political discourse. To allow, many-people-say type of support for a our position–instead of outright dismissing it–undermines our ability to make collective decisions.

    Later, Stephens goes on to distill the Trump’s approach in a single sentence: “Truth is what you can get away with.:”

    If you can sell condos by claiming your building is 90% occupied when it’s only 20% occupied, well, then—it’s 90% occupied. If you can convince a sufficient number of people that you really did win the popular vote, or that your inauguration crowds were the biggest—well then, what do the statistical data and aerial photographs matter?

    I think this is right. We have to oppose this sort of approach, and by this I mean, at the very least, that citizens should reject this as a valid argument. It should also raise serious questions about whether Trump is trustworthy.

  7. Reid

    I’d like to know how this compares to other presidencies, but the website lists 515 “waiting nomination.” Why hasn’t he provided a nominees? Is he having a hard time filling these positions? Is this number within the range of previous presidencies at the same time? If not, this doesn’t seem like something he can blame on the Democrats.

    Edit: Also…

    I’ve seen people tweet the lower numbers that 538 mentions, so I’m just going to post their thread here.

  8. Reid

    Another Report About Congresspeople Questioning Trump’s Mentality Stability; Also, His Ties to Russia

    If this is true–and James Fallows reported something similar–this is really, really irresponsible by Ryan and McConnell. They’re really putting party before country. If Trump doesn’t something really stupid–starting a major crisis or mishandling one–or if a terrorist attack occurs or something else, and Congress can’t stop him from consolidating power–Ryan and McConnell will be to blame.

  9. Reid

    Russian Funding for Trump’s Business, Mafia Ties, Oh My!

    From Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall discusses the recent Times story about a Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, Felix Sater (a Russian born American with ties to the mafia), and “a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian named Andrii V. Artemenko” wrote up a “peace” proposal for Russia and Ukraine and delivered it to Michael Flynn sometime at the end of January. The characters involved are sketchy, but something about Trump’s past mentioned by Marshall–specifically the funding of his business–stood out for me:

    Having spent some time studying the matter, the biggest red flags about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia and businessmen around Vladimir Putin have always been tied to the Trump SoHo building project in Lower Manhattan, from the first decade of this century….This was a key project, perhaps the key project in the post-bankruptcy era in which Trump appeared heavily reliant on Russian funds to finance his projects. Sater was at the center of that project. The details only came to light after the project got bogged down in a complicated series of lawsuits.

    After the lawyers got involved, Trump said he barely knew who Sater was. But there is voluminous evidence that Sater, a Russian emigrant, was key to channeling Russian capital to Trump for years. Sater is also a multiple felon and at least a one-time FBI informant. Bayrock Capital, where he worked was located in Trump Tower and he himself worked as a special advisor to Trump. Again, read the Times article to get a flavor of his ties to Trump, the Trump SoHo project and Russia.

    (emphasis added)

    Later,

    But now we learn that Sater is still very much in the Trump orbit and acting as a go-between linking Trump and a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian pitching ‘peace plans’ for settling the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. (Artemenko is part of the political faction which Manafort helped build up in the aftermath of the ouster of his Ukrainian benefactor, deposed President Viktor Yanukovych.) Indeed, far, far more important, Cohen – who is very close to Trump and known for dealing with delicate matters – is in contact with Sater and hand delivering political and policy plans from him to the President.

    This is strange, conspiracy stuff. We’ll see if it is or just amounts to nothing.

    Edit (2/20/2017)

    Here’s a summary of Sater:

    ***

    Here’s a relevant tweetstorm from John Schindler former NSA analyst.

    Edit 2

    From Buzzfeed: Who was Sergei Kirov?.

    Krivov’s body was found on the morning of the Presidential Inauguration. Supposedly he had a blunt head trauma wound, but later reports said that he died of a heart attack. This article describes suspicious and mysterious circumstances surrounding who Krivov was and how he died. Here’s a description of his background:

    English-language news reports said Krivov, identified then only as a 63-year-old Russian national and Manhattan resident, was a security officer. But a November report from Sputnik, the English-language Russian media outlet, says he was a consular duty commander.
    That position is no ordinary security guard. According to other public Russian-language descriptions of the duty commander position, Krivov would have been in charge of, among other things, “prevention of sabotage” and suppression of “attempts of secret intrusion” into the consulate.
    In other words, it was Krivov’s job to make sure US intelligence agencies didn’t have ears in the building.”

    Edit 3

    From Talking Points Memo: More on Felix Sater. One takeaway from this: The U.S. Government (USG) really seemed to value him as an asset–so it seems like his recent involvement with Trump isn’t an indication of Russian helping Trump currently–unless it’s a double-agent type of thing. (Yes, it’s that bizarre.)

    From a April 6, 2016 New York Times article:

    Emails and testimony in several lawsuits show that Mr. Sater and Mr. Arif worked closely with Mr. Trump and others in the Trump Organization. Mr. Trump was particularly taken with Mr. Arif’s overseas connections. In a deposition, Mr. Trump said that the two had discussed “numerous deals all over the world” and that Mr. Arif had brought potential Russian investors to Mr. Trump’s office to meet him.

    Later,

    Mr. Kriss’s lawsuit was filled with unflattering details of how Bayrock operated, including allegations that it had occasionally received unexplained infusions of cash from accounts in Kazakhstan and Russia. Bayrock and Trump SoHo drew more negative headlines in October 2010, when news spread from Turkey that Mr. Arif had been aboard a luxury yacht raided by the police, who were investigating a suspected prostitution ring that catered to wealthy businessmen. He was charged but later acquitted.

    (emphasis added)

    I’m not sure if those allegations were ever proven, but it’s something to keep in mind.

    Edit 4: On the Peace Plan From the Ukrainian Point of View

    Ukraine Peace Plan

    Edit 5 (2/21/2017)

    Edit6: In addition to Kriov, Another Russian Diplomat Has Died (2/23/2107)

    From the BBC: Russian Consul Andrei Malanin Found Dead in Athens

    Initial signs suggested Andrey Malanin, 55, died of natural causes, but police said they were investigating the death.

    Edit7 2/24/2017

    This is Daily Beast profile of Felix Sater.

    Edit8

    There’s More to the Michael Cohen Story from Talking Points Memo

  10. Reid

    Trump’s Immigration Policy

    One thing I’d like to know about Trump’s approach to immigration: how different, if at all, is it from President Obama’s approach? When I hear liberals express outrage, I’m take their critiques with a grain of salt. I want to see solid evidence that it is significant different or not.

    I’ll try to collect articles and information in this space. Here’s something for now:

    From the same Times’ piece, which does point out other differences between Trump’s policy and Obama’s.

    1. Obama prioritized violent criminals, but Trump modifies that:

    Now, immigration agents, customs officers and border patrol agents have been directed to remove anyone in the country illegally.

    2.

    …the department is directed to begin the process of hiring 10,000 immigration and customs agents, expanding the number of detention facilities and creating an office within Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help families of those killed by undocumented immigrants.

    3. Revive a program to recruit local police officers and sheriff’s deputies to help with deportation. Obama scaled back during the Obama administration. (The article doesn’t say how the numbers may differ.)

    3. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will no longer enforce privacy protections to those who are not American citizens or Green Card Holders. This could lead to immigration enforcement officers getting medical, legal, or other information from them.

    4.

    The new policies also target unauthorized immigrants who seek to smuggle their children into the country, as has happened frequently with Central American children seeking to reunite with parents living in the United States. Under the new directives, such parents could face deportation or prosecution for smuggling or human trafficking.

    5.

    The officials also made clear that nothing in the directives would change the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which provides work permits and deportation protection for the young people commonly referred to as Dreamers.

    Some comments and questions:

    Some Trump supporters will say that if immigrants are illegal, then the government should do something to enforce the laws–i.e., apprehend those that break the law and remove them from the country. OK, that makes sense on some on level.

    But let’s also factor in the cost of doing this–how much will it cost, and, equally important, will the cost be worth it? What does the country gain by vigorously enforcing these laws–specifically when the illegal immigrants don’t pose a serious threat to the country?

    If the reporting is accurate, I would guess the policy is also going to really increase the fear of the 11 million immigrants in the nation. Is nation’s interests justify such a consequence?

    Personally, this seems unnecessary and unnecessarily cruel. It also seems like a move to stir up racial tensions in the country. How does this really bring our nation together?

    Edit2: (2/23/2017)

    From WaPo

    “We’re getting gang members out, we’re getting drug lords out, we’re getting really bad dudes out of this country — and at a rate that nobody’s ever seen before,” Trump told a group of several dozen manufacturing executives during a policy discussion session at the White House….

    …Trump congratulated Kelly for the work his department is doing to secure the border with Mexico and deport illegal immigrants.

    “It’s a military operation,” Trump said, attributing gang violence and illegal drug trade to illegal immigrants. (emphasis added)

    As far as I know, immigration deportation isn’t a military operation, but Trump seems to want to turn this into one. He really does seem to be chomping at the bit to use the military at home–by creating a police state–or abroad.

    He also emphasizes going after illegal immigrants that are dangerous criminals, but the reporting, so far, suggests he’s actually expanding that.

    Edit: Speaking of chomping at the bit to create a police state…:

    …here’s what Trump tweeted today:

    This the third time he’s tweeted something like this. It’s like he’s begging to send some kind of police force to stop all the crime. Maybe that’s wrong, but I can’t help read it that way (especially given his previous comments–including one where he said he’d send our military to Mexico; he also has his own private security guards; wanted to have tanks at his inauguration, which is typical of authoritarian states).

    Edit (2/25/2017)

    From the Times: Immigration Agents Discover New Freedom to Deport Under Trump

    Gone are the Obama-era rules that required them to focus only on serious criminals. In Southern California, in one of the first major roundups during the Trump administration, officers detained 161 people with a wide range of felony and misdemeanor convictions, and 10 who had no criminal history at all.

    “Before, we used to be told, ‘You can’t arrest those people,’ and we’d be disciplined for being insubordinate if we did,” said a 10-year veteran of the agency who took part in the operation. “Now those people are priorities again. And there are a lot of them here.”

    Later,

    “Morale amongst our agents and officers has increased exponentially since the signing of the orders,” the unions representing ICE and Border Patrol agents said in a joint statement after President Trump issued the executive orders on immigration late last month.

    Two officials in Washington said that the shift — and the new enthusiasm that has come with it — seems to have encouraged pro-Trump political comments and banter that struck the officials as brazen or gung-ho, like remarks about their jobs becoming “fun.” Those who take less of a hard line on unauthorized immigrants feel silenced, the officials said.

    Although all of the agents interviewed felt the old priorities had kept them from doing their jobs, John Sandweg, an acting director of ICE in the Obama administration, defended the rules as making the best use of limited resources. Without them, he said, fewer dangerous people might get deported. “There are 10 seats on the bus, they go to the first 10 you grab,” Mr. Sandweg said. “It diminishes the chances that it’s a violent offender.”

    He said that he had spent a lot of time on the road, speaking at town halls where he heard a great deal from the rank-and-file agents about the priorities. “Certainly they were not terribly popular,” he said. “They wanted unfettered discretion.”

    Agents said that even with the added freedom, they would still go after the people who presented the greatest danger to the public. And what Mr. Sandweg called unfettered discretion, they called enforcing the law.

    “The discretion has come back to us; it’s up to us to make decisions in the field,” a 15-year veteran in California said. “We’re trusted again.”

    That last sentence struck me. It would be interesting if the reporter dug a little deeper into how and why agents feel this way–and how many of them feel that way.

    Edit (2/27/2017)

    Times op-ed, Are the Next U.S. Immigration Centers the Next Abu Ghraib? by General Thomas Ricks.

    To be clear, Ricks isn’t suggesting that torture will occur at these centers. The similarities he sees involves the way frontline officials have been emboldened, and how this will lead to an abuse of their authority. (Ricks does a good job of summarizing some of the abuses so far:

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are operating aggressively under President Trump, feeling, as The New York Times reported, “newly emboldened” and “newly empowered.” Officials’ use of detention powers is widening, with some people being held who have no criminal history at all. The government raids often are conducted around dawn, to catch people as they leave for work. The uniformed agents are wearing body armor and carrying semiautomatic weapons. The morning raids and the military appearance may not be new developments, but they are especially worrisome when ICE, a domestic law enforcement agency, is overseen by a former general.

    And there definitely seems to be recklessness in the way ICE is operating. In recent days, its agents have taken a woman with a brain tumor out of a hospital, almost deported a distinguished French scholar flying into Houston to deliver a university lecture and scared the daylights out of an Australian children’s author who vowed after the experience never to visit the United States again.

    This isn’t being done solely to foreigners. The son of the boxer Muhammad Ali, a citizen, was questioned upon arriving in Florida from Jamaica about his religion, which would seem to be a clear violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom. And passengers on a domestic flight from San Francisco to New York were required to show their identity documents, a violation of the Fourth Amendment and an overreach of ICE’s mission of dealing with entry to the country.

  11. Reid

    Does the Mainstream Media Need to Ring the Alarm Bells Louder?

    In thinking about Steve Bannon, and his background of using Briebart to be a platform for the white nationalism, I wonder how many Americans realize this–or even know what white nationalism is. A part of me believes that if many knew they would be aghast–it would be one of many things that could turn them against Trump. In my view, hiring Bannon is not very different from hiring a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan–e.g., David Duke. I would think many Americans would object to this.

    But here’s a thought that popped into my mind: the details about Bannon may be “hidden” because the nightly and cable news and the local papers aren’t reacting as if a promoter of racist views is in the White House. Surely, they would react more forcefully, as if this were a major scandal, if true.

    I think this is the case, but the problem is that Trump has done so many outrageously questionable or bad things and the press has become acclimated to it. Besides Bannon, there is the conflict of interests problems and the Russian ties. I really believe that when people look back on this time, they will be utterly dumbfounded as to why more Americans and the press didn’t more forcefully object and oppose Trump.

    But back to the topic. I think there’s a group of voters who don’t really pay much attention to the news. They may read watch the nightly news program, but not much more than that. For these people, I think the MSM has to be more emphatic about the problems and dangers with Trump. But they’re not doing this, and I believe this creates the impression that everything is relatively OK–that Trump really isn’t that different from other presidents. I really think this is wrong–and, again, people in the future will pull their hair out wondering why the press wasn’t ringing the alarm bells, and ringing them loudly.

  12. Reid

    Look What the Staff for the Leader of the Free World Has to Do

    This Politico piece draws on Trump’s former campaign officials, who speak about methods they used to keep Trump off twitter, ostensibly because Trump would go off message and do damaging things when tweeting.

    I really don’t think this is a hit piece, but in my view it is damning. The gist for me is that Trump can’t handle criticism, and his campaign staff would have to work to ensure him that people were saying good things about him:

    A former senior campaign official said Nunberg and his successor, former communications director Jason Miller, were particularly skilled at using alternative media like Breitbart, Washington Examiner, Fox News, Infowars and the Daily Caller to show Trump positive coverage.

    And once they got the stories published, campaign officials with large numbers of Twitter followers would tweet them out.

    They would also go to media amplifiers like Fox News hosts and conservative columnists to encourage them to tweet out the story so that they could print out and show a two-page list of tweets that show that they were steering the message.

    To me, it’s crazy the lengths his staff had to go through to mollify him. It creates the impression of tyrant who is emotional maturity of a 5 year old.

    Edit

    Ari Fleischer, Bush 43’s former press secretary (I believe), response:

    Often, Fleischer seems like a reasonable and smart conservative, but then he’ll make a comment like the one above. The argument that Bush 43 and Obama watched ESPN is equivalent to Trump’s TV watching–as if this comparison somehow deflates the points made in the article–is extremely weak (if that’s what he’s trying to say). I’m pretty sure the Bush 43’s and Obama’s staff didn’t think leaving those two alone watching TV would be damaging–and I would be shocked to learn that the staff had to go through great lengths to constantly find praise from the media for either of them.

    Fleischer’s comments seems like a desperate attempt to minimize how bad Trump really is; I wonder if he’s trying to reassure himself. I’ve seen attempts like this by conservatives–attempts to shoot down those ringing alarm bells, saying that Trump behaves in dangerously unprecedented ways, often mocking those who say this, labeling them as hysterical. This process often involves pointing to other presidents who have behaved in similar ways.

    The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t take into account the totality of Trump’s behavior/qualities. From this vantage point, he seems unprecedented in a dangerous way.

    In any event, these are two competing narratives. One, that Trump, while problematic, isn’t really as different or dangerous as his critics claim. Or, two, Trump really is very, very different and poses a great risk to the nation. At this point, I think the evidence overwhelmingly supports the latter.

  13. Reid

    78%?!

    OK, perhaps this makes some sense because Republicans have been thoroughly trained to distrust and hate the mainstream media. So, between Trump and the MSM, I guess this statistic isn’t too surprising–it may be troubling, even alarming, but it’s not inexplicable.

    Here’s what I want to say to these Republicans: let’s not compare Trump and the media–let’s just look at Trump. Is he really trustworthy? Listen/watch his press conferences and speeches that he has said over time. Forget what the stories written about him and judge for yourself. If you met a car salesman like that, would you really trust him? A part of me feel like a lot of them really wouldn’t.

  14. Reid

    5 Graphics That Help Understand President Trump’s Conflicts of Interest, re-tweeted by Norm Eisen, Obama’s ethics laywer.

  15. Reid

    From CNN: Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth Questions Trump’s Mental Health:

    “He is demonstrating on a daily basis that he [is] totally unfit for the office he serves in,” Yarmuth, from Kentucky, said in a speech to a local chapter of the NAACP posted on YouTube this week. “He is, in my opinion, a dangerous president. I’m not sure of his mental state, but I know that he doesn’t portray someone who is in control of his facilities.”

  16. Reid

  17. Reid

    Despite Protests to the Contrary by the Trump Administration, Here’s One Valid Reason Americans Are Justified in Thinking the Travel Ban EO Was Directed at Preventing Muslims From Coming Into the Nation

    Here’s what Sean Spicer said in today’s press conference:

    Here’s Trump campaign press release in December 2015, website:

    DONALD J. TRUMP STATEMENT ON PREVENTING MUSLIM IMMIGRATION

    (New York, NY) December 7th, 2015, — Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.

    I don’t think you can blame people–including Muslims–that Trump is targeting Muslims, trying to bar them from entering the country.

    Now, there might be a very, very good reasons for doing this–even if there are significant costs such as, alienating allies and strengthening our terrorist groups–but Trump has never really explained these things. His method has been to repeatedly say how unsafe we are–how bad the vetting process has been–and that he will make it better.

    I believe the threat is real, but I’ve never heard him explain exactly what’s wrong with the current vetting (which can take up to two years) and how his approach will be better–and, again, why it’s critical besides the drawbacks of such a policy.

  18. Reid

    One small piece of evidence in a long list that Trump is a Scam Artist

    Air Force Stumped by Trump’s Claim of $1 Billion Savings on Jet

  19. Reid

    Well Oiled Machine

    That’s not the impression I get from this Times article.

    The White House said the concern about Mr. Bannon’s role was overblown. But Mr. Trump was surprised by the intensity of the blowback to the initial order, and complained that Mr. Flynn had not made him understand the significance of the changes or how they would be perceived, according to senior officials.

    Trump crowed about choosing the best people.

    While the decision to give Mr. Bannon a seat was a conscious one, Mr. Trump’s team did not intend to reduce the role of the intelligence director or Joint Chiefs chairman, officials said. In crafting their organization order, the officials said, Mr. Trump’s aides essentially cut and pasted language from Mr. Bush’s organization chart, substituting the national intelligence director for the C.I.A. director, who back then was the head of the nation’s spy agencies.

    What Mr. Trump’s team did not realize, officials said, was that Mr. Obama’s organization chart made those two positions full members of the committee.

    Did someone from the White House actually tell the Times reporter that they “cut and pasted” language from Bush’s org chart? Maybe that’s not a big deal, but the optics here aren’t good–especially given the quote suggests, overall, that they really don’t much about the NSC.

    Under Mr. Flynn, the National Security Council staff, composed largely of career professionals, was unsettled by the new administration. Staff members privately complained that they were shut out of meetings on their areas of responsibility and were not fully informed about the president’s policies or communications with foreign leaders. Some said they feared that their telephone calls or emails were being monitored. For its part, Mr. Trump’s team suspected the staff members of leaking information to sabotage the new president’s plans.

    And yet Trump describes his administration as a “well-oiled machine.”

    Edit (2/25/2017)

    Accused of Having an Incorrect Visa Mem Fox Detained by Immigration Officials at L.A. Airport (Fox is an Australian author of children’s literature. She was held for two hours and left shaken and crying.)

    International Scholar Visiting Texas A&M “Mistakenly Detained” by Customs Officials

    Son of Muhammad Ali Detained at Airport and Questioned About His Religion, Lawyer Says

    Edit (2/28/2017)

    Here, Trump claims he doesn’t want to fill the 600 or so positions he’s supposed to in his administration. If his administration, including the departments he oversees, functions poorly, he should be pounded for that. If they perform well, he should be credited. I wonder what his current appointees and current government workers feel about this.

    From Politico: Sean Spicer Targets Own Staff in Leak Crackdown

    Spicer also warned the group of more problems if news of the phone checks and the meeting about leaks was leaked to the media. It’s not the first time that warnings about leaks have promptly leaked. The State Department’s legal office issued a four-page memo warning of the dangers of leaks, and that memo was immediately posted by The Washington Post.

    But with mounting tension inside the West Wing over stories portraying an administration lurching between crises and simmering in dysfunction, aides are increasingly frustrated by the pressure-cooker environment and worried about their futures there.

    Within the communications office, the mood has grown tense. During a recent staff meeting, Spicer harshly criticized some of the work deputy communications director Jessica Ditto had done, causing her to cry, according to two people familiar with the incident. “The only time Jessica recalls almost getting emotional is when we had to relay the information on the death of Chief Ryan Owens,” Spicer said, referring to the Navy SEAL killed recently in action in Yemen.

    Ditto also denied the accounts. “This is 100 percent not true,” she said Sunday after the incident was reported. “Sean and I have a great working relationship.”

    Spicer declined to comment about the leak crackdown.

    The impression created by the article is disarray and incompetence, maybe more than signs of authoritarianism.

    Today:

    An article from WaPo, accusing the WH of attempting to retaliate on the reporter, Alex Isenstadt, of the story above. Hours after their story broke,

    …the Washington Examiner published a short hit piece on Isenstadt: “Claim: Reporter laughs at Trump aide’s emotion over SEAL death.” If that headline sounds a bit confusing, well, it’s more straightforward than the story itself. Using information from anonymous “White House officials,” the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard reported that Isenstadt had somehow run afoul of common decency in reporting his story. The moment arose as Isenstadt was asking Spicer in a telephone call late last week about a tip he’d received that a White House aide, Jessica Ditto, was reduced to tears after Spicer had criticized her work.

    In the call, Spicer strongly denied this claim, saying the only time Ditto got emotional was over the Navy SEAL’s death. Isenstadt laughed. Spicer claims he was laughing at the SEAL’s death. Isenstadt claims he laughed at Spicer’s vehemence (ostensibly not really believing Spicer’s claim, I imagine). You decide, who’s telling the truth.

    Here’s a Scary Thought, in the Context of a “Well-Oiled Machine”

    Also, from Reuters: NSA Risks Losing Talent Exodus Amid Morale Slump, Trump Fears

    Edit (3/1/2017)

    This really seems foolish, if it’s true. (By the way, except by the grace of God, I think there are going to be major mistakes/disasters–either mishandled or caused by this administration. The conditions seem in place for this to happen, and it should not be surprising, at least if you were closely following the administration.)

    Edit (3/3/2017)

    From the Times editorial board: Home Alone in the Trump Administration

    President Trump has appointed fewer than three dozen of the top 1,000 officials he needs to run the federal government. Worse, he doesn’t think that’s a problem.

    The president seems to have lost interest in the nomination process after making his cabinet and Supreme Court picks, people involved in the transition say. Now, he’s trying to pass off his inattention as some kind of plan. “In many cases, we don’t want to fill those jobs,” he said on Fox News this week. “What do all these people do? You don’t need all those jobs.”

    Most incoming administrations move slowly during their first month. Mr. Trump has named only slightly fewer top officials at this point than Bill Clinton, George W. Bush or Barack Obama. But those administrations had scores of candidates in the pipeline by this time. Mr. Trump does not.

    (emphasis added)

    Later,

    The federal agencies are effectively run by Trump “beachhead” teams, some 600 people who mostly are campaign donors, Trump employees, pals or allied politicos. Many know little about the agencies they inhabit, and they are understandably resented by career staff members.

    None of this is surprising to people familiar with Mr. Trump’s managerial style, a kind of mom-and-pop approach involving a tiny knot of family members and loyalists that is poorly suited to a federal government with three million employees around the world.

    It really doesn’t sound like he’s getting the best people.

    ***

    From Politico: He’s a Performance Artist Pretending to be a Great Businessman

    This piece draws on Trump’s biographers and several people that worked with Trump as business associates. It’s a fairly thorough article, and it seems fair for the most part.

    Early in the campaign, in the first week of September 2015, when his candidacy was garnering undeniable support but still was considered primarily a through-the-roof-ratings curiosity, Max Abelson of Bloomberg Businessweek took it seriously. “Trump is selling himself to America as the king of builders, a flawless dealmaker, and masterful manager. But he isn’t really any of those things,” Abelson wrote, describing not so much a builder and a buyer—at least not for a long time—but rather a landlord, a licenser, a marketer and “a golf bigwig” who “controls the teensiest details, rejects hierarchy, and picks top deputies by following his own recipe for promotion.” Trump’s “corporate leadership,” he concluded, “is a kind of teenager’s fantasy of adult office power.”

  20. Reid

    Is Trump Governing Responsibly, or Does He Want to Divide the Nation and Consolidate Power?

  21. Reid

    This is Why We Need an Independent Investigation Into Russian Interference in the Election

    For the first time in my life, I’ve called the local offices of my Congressional representatives asking for this–on several occasions. I hope others will do the same. (Senator Schatz’s aide told me that they’ve been getting calls asking for this, too, and that these calls matter.)

    AP News has a story of this, too.

    One important detail that should be mentioned:

    The official said Priebus’ request came after the FBI told the White House it believed a New York Times report last week describing those contacts was not accurate. As of Thursday, the FBI had not stated that position publicly and there was no indication it planned to.

    In other words, Priebus wanted the FBI to say publicly what the FBI said to the WH privately–specifically, that the FBI didn’t think the Times article was accurate. However, Democrats are claiming the WH talking to the FBI, while the FBI is conducting an investigation on the administration, is completely inappropriate. It makes sense, and I would agree. On the other hand, if the FBI really did disagree with the accuracy of the Times report, it doesn’t seem out of line for the WH to ask to make this public.

    Here’s a former Obama DOJ spokesperson who disagrees strongly. Take that for what you will:

    Edit (3/1/2017)

    From WaPo: Sessions Spoke Twice with Russian Ambassador During Trump’s Presidential Campaign

    The thing is, he didn’t disclose this, when directly questioned twice by other Congress people. Not good. He needs to recuse himself, and we need some independent, bi-partisan investigation.

    ***
    About the Russian Ambassador that Sessions was speaking to:

    That’s a very interesting detail, if true.

    Edit (3/2/2017)

    I generally feel a resistance to reading threads like the following because they have a conspiratorial feel about them, or maybe the fact that someone takes the time to do this, gives off that vibe (which I might be guilty of myself). Still, it’s worth looking at.

    Edit (3/3/2017)

    If there is nothing behind these Russian ties, the Trump team made the situation so much worse.

  22. Reid

    Some Positive Things About the Trump Administration

    General James Mattis and General John Kelly, Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, respectively, seem like very competent individuals. The comments I’ve heard about them have been reassuring. Ditto Lt. General H.R. McMaster, who has been chosen for the National Security Adviser. This thread, written by a former Obama official, makes me like him even more:

    Edit

    This AP News article touches on what I mentioned above. The article also creates the impression that the three men featured (Mattis, Kelly, and Dunford) are working together to prevent what seems like an incompetent group from doing real damage.

    The rising power of Mattis, Kelly and Dunford also could assuage some fears among Republicans that national security decision-making is becoming too concentrated in the White House West Wing. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has been deeply involved in discussions with foreign officials. And chief strategist Steve Bannon, a media executive with no foreign policy experience, now has a seat on Trump’s Principals Committee, which weighs pressing national security issues.

    Just want to point out that it’s crazy to me that Kushner is heavily involved with diplomacy–not only does he lack foreign policy experience, but there are huge conflict of interests questions. Ugh. My impression of Bannon is that besides being a promoter of white nationalism, he’s also inexperienced with foreign policy, and is a threat to rule of law, liberal democratic values. He seems like a very destabilizing force.

    The article mentions a drawback with having so many generals in these positions: they’ll tend to overlook other options, like diplomacy, when it comes to foreign policy. It’s the old saying “when you have a hammer, all problems start looking like nails.” (Trump’s selection of so many generals gives me the impression that he has a very simplistic view of creating a good team–i.e., generals are tough guys–so get more tough guys, and that will create a good administration. Being strong and tough, militarily is important, but that’s a very simplistic and crude way to think about addressing problems in the world.)

  23. Reid

    From Frommers.com: The Travel Press is Reporting the ‘Trump Slump’ a Devastating Drop in Tourism to the U.S.

    Some strong language in this:

    The Travel Press is Reporting the ‘Trump Slump,’ a Devastating Drop in Tourism to the United States
    Experts across the travel industry are warning that masses of tourists are being scared away from visiting the United States, and the loss of tourism jobs could be devastating.

    Though they may differ as to the wisdom of the move, the travel press and most travel experts are of one mind: They are currently drawing attention to an unintended consequence of the Trump-led efforts to stop many Muslims from coming to the U.S., pointing to a sharp drop in foreign tourism to our nation that imperils jobs and touristic income.

    It’s known as the “Trump Slump.” And I know of no reputable travel publication to deny it.

    What are the potential economic costs to this?

    On the web, flight searches for trips heading to the U.S. out of all international locations was recently down by 17%.

    A drop of that magnitude, if continued, would reduce the value of foreign travel within the U.S. by billions of dollars. And the number of jobs supported by foreign tourists and their expenditures in the United States—and thus lost—would easily exceed hundreds of thousands of workers in hotels, restaurants, transportation, stores, tour operations, travel agencies, and the like.

    I wonder if applies to Hawai’i as well.

    Edit (2/26/2017)

    From the Times: After Travel Ban Declining Interests in Trips to the United States

    Edit (2/28/2017)

    New York Expects Fewer Tourists

  24. Reid

    Now watch Sean Spicer in December 2016.

    “We have a respect for the press when it comes to the govt. That is something you can’t ban an entity from. Conservative liberal or otherwise. That’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship” (emphasis added)

    Edit (2/27/2017)

  25. Reid

    I Wonder What Trump Supporters Think of This

    The impression I get is Lt. General H.R. McMaster is a very well-respected military leader. (He is famous, in part, for writing the book, Dereliction of Duty

  26. Reid

    Seems Like a Good Observation

  27. Reid

    Seems Like Something President Trump Should Address

    From Business Insider: Man accused of shouting ‘get out of my country’ before shooting at 2 Indian men in Kansas bar

    …If he wanted to unite the country, and if he wanted to reassure people that have concerns that he may be racist. (And Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller are still in the WH.)

    Edit (2/27/2017)

    From the Kansas City Star, an editorial.

    I agree with every word.

    Trump has offered no words of condolence for the grieving widow of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who died from his gunshot wounds.

    The president has expressed no sympathy for Kuchibhotla’s best friend, Alok Madasani, who continues to recover from bullet wounds and the trauma.

    Trump usually loves to celebrate all-American heroes. But he’s passed on commending Ian Grillot, a bystander who leapt to take the gunman down before anyone else was harmed. Grillot was shot, too.

    Surely the White House team could have cobbled together a statement of some sort, a response to at least address growing fears that the U.S. is unwelcoming of immigrants, or worse, that the foreign-born need to fear for their lives here. The deadly incident in Olathe has resonated across the country and even around the globe.

    Regarding that last line, see this NPR report:

    Well, you have two Indian professional IT people – Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was killed, and Alok Madasani, who was injured. There in the United States as high-skilled workers. There they’re legally. They’ve got advanced degrees from American schools. They were living the archetypal dream for many Indians, and so there’s nonstop coverage about this incident. Social media is buzzing with it and talking about a toxic atmosphere that might be taking hold in the U.S.

    (emphasis added)

    I just shook my head listening to this. Besides the other reasons mentioned, President Trump should try to denounce the shooting to reassure people from other countries, in the interests of attracting high-skilled labor and tourists.

  28. Reid

    From the Times: Just How Abnormal is the Trump Presidency–Ranking 20 Events

    The Times gathered fifteen people, from the past administrations or academics who studied administrations, with different ideological backgrounds to rank 20 events, along two axes–normal/abnormal and important/not important–creating four quadrants. Here’s a graph:

  29. Reid

    Trump Accuses Obama of Organizing Protests

    Besides the conspiracy thinking, I also think Trump makes an revealing remark when the interviewer mentions that previous outgoing presidents didn’t organize protests against the incoming ones. Trump seems to express skepticism about this, in the way typical of him (“…you’re possibly right, but you never know.:). What does that reveal? To me, I get the sense that Trump can’t imagine another politician putting the country, Constitution, and rule of law above personal ambitions and self-interest. I can’t be sure of that with that one little remark, but I think there are a lot of other evidence to suggest this. (One example: he suggested he would not accept election results, unless he won.)

  30. Reid

    President Bush (43) Speaks About Trump

  31. Reid

    Trump Addresses Congress Tonight

    Here is a prediction (If I find others or make my own, I will update this post, hopefully prior to the speech.)

    Other Thoughts

    Three things that I will be looking for, some of which are no-brainers in my mind:

    1. I’m looking for language and content that indicates a respect the Constitution, basic freedoms, and the rule of law–versus indications that he is indifferent or hostile to those things (e.g., calling the press the enemy of the people);

    2. I’m looking for unifying, versus divisive, language and content. (I’m not hopeful–
    I understand that two or three guests who have been harmed by illegal immigrants will be sitting next to the first lady.)

    3. I’m looking for language and policies speaking out against anti-semitism, racism, and hate crimes–maybe even praising the individual that helped stopped the shooter of the two Indian men in Kansas. (This would be a bit of a sham as long as Trump keeps Bannon and Miller in his administration.)

    ***

    If this Trump does say this–overruling, McMaster–I disagree with thim.

    Comments About the Speech

    I heard most of the speech, except for about 10-15 minutes.

    This is the most normal-politician that I’ve seen Trump. You’ve heard me question Trump’s mental fitness, but if this was the only speech you heard, you would think I was being hysterical.

    There were moments where I thought he made wildly incorrect statistics, but if this the way he behaved after winning the Republican nomination, then I think I wouldn’t have been as worried as I have been.

    Here’s the thing: the speech doesn’t reflect who Trump has been up to this point. If, somehow, the speech indicates a dramatic shift, and we actually see that change, that would be a good thing. But I would be utterly shocked if that occurs.

    As for the substance, I actually support infrastructure spending. I’m not for building a wall.

    (Also, Eichenwald’s prediction was incorrect, but I don’t blame him. Navarro was a little less off. And Trump went against McMaster.)

    One other thing: he did denounce the recent vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and the shooting of the two Indian men–that was a good thing. But Bannon, Miller, and Anton are still part of the administration. (I wonder how many Americans know that these guys have espoused or given a platform to views that are not far from white supremacists.)

    Edit: More Comments

    I find Trump’s highlighting of people who lost family members by violent crimes by illegal immigrants to be disturbing. This is a move that tries to advance a very common, but untrue, narrative that illegal immigrants are violent and dangerous. (He’s also creating a program for victims of illegal immigrant, which I can imagine he’ll use the participants to feed this narrative as well.) To me, this is an irresponsible move–not one that will unite us, but will encourage more division, fear, and tensions in the country.

    Edit (3/1/2017)

    This is interesting.

    I fall on the side where I didn’t think it was a problem. I watched the widow’s reaction, and, if anything, she seemed to appreciate the reaction, far from being angry for what was being done. That doesn’t necessarily make what happened OK, but that’s mainly what shaped my impression.

    Edit

    I thought Trump said that General Mattis said the raid was a huge success and that they got a lot of important intelligence (or something close to that). If so, what gives? Is there a disagreement between Mattis and some of the others in gov’t? That’s explanation that I go to first–because if Trump lied (after saying he just talked to General Mattis), I would have to think Mattis would be outraged.

  32. Reid

    Trump’s Comments on the Raid in Yemen

    One Navy seal died, and an 8 year old American girl also died. There were civilian casualties, but I can’t remember the number. (I think it was in the low twenties.) Some say the mission was designed to take out a key terrorist, but the WH said they were trying to acquire intelligence–and they claimed they succeeded.

    I believe on Monday U.S. officials said that no significant intelligence was gathered.

    Here’s President Trump’s response this morning on Fox:

    “This was a mission that was started before I got here,” Trump said. “This was something they wanted to do. They came to me, they explained what they wanted to do—the generals—who are very respected, my generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan…. This was something that they were looking at for a long time doing, and according to [Defense Secretary James] Mattis it was a very successful mission. They got tremendous amounts of information.”

    (emphasis added)

    Not a good response in my view.

  33. Reid

    “Do What You Want With Your Own Citizens”–Is This the Stance of the Trump Administration?

    Something to watch. This would be a major shift in approach to foreign policy. It’s something that I’m pretty sure autocrat rulers like Putin would applaud. Essentially, the U.S. would be withdrawing from the leadership with regard to promoting and strengthening a world order based on rule of law and liberal-democratic values. I really don’t think this is in our interests.

  34. Reid

    I really do not like conspiracy theories–at least not taking them seriously in real time politics, but I can’t dismiss this outright, either:

  35. Mitchell

    aaaaaaaaahhh…*shiver*

    I’ve been cold turkey on Rachel since early November. This was my first hit in all that time. It feels goooooooooooood. I’m getting my surgical tubing out. Not to actually use, you know. Just, you know. For nostalgia. I’m just going to leave it right here. In case I need it.

  36. Reid

    You liked the segment?

  37. Mitchell

    It felt gooooooooooood. Rachel could talk about hockey and I’d like it.

  38. Reid

    Wait, is this a “Rachel is hot” thing?

  39. Mitchell

    She’s the smartest person on TV and one of the most articulate. And she’s got a great sense of humor and can converse seemingly about anything. Everything in her life broadcasts competence without taking herself too seriously (her cocktail moments on TRMS are favorites of mine). Hot. Super hot.

  40. Reid

    OK, I think I got it.

  41. Reid

    Trump Administration on Climate Change

    Lovely.

  42. Reid

    From the Lawfare blog: What Happens When We Don’t Believe the President’s Oath

    This is a really fascinating, interesting angle to criticize the Trump presidency. I happen to share the same mistrust.

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