Columnist Salena Zito wasn’t very candid with me in a recent Twitter exchange. That’s annoying. More important, she’s missed a real opportunity to contribute genuine reporting on the rural opioid crisis.
Twitter generally conveys the emotional warmth of a contentious economics seminar without the intellectual rigor. Still, I’ve come to value my Twitter engagements with kindred spirits and others with whom I deeply disagree whose insights I value.
Ms. Zito is one person I hoped to learn from across the usual partisan and ideological lines. She is a conservative reporter and commentator who writes for the Washington Examiner, New York Post, CNN, and other outlets. Ms. Zito is most famous for her aphorism that “the press takes [President Trump] literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” This is a genuinely valuable insight into how political professionals underestimated Trump’s electoral appeal. (It is also a profound moral evasion, but that’s another matter.)
Some time ago I made a speculative case that if and when the Republicans in Congress decide to ditch Trump as a fatal political liability, the 25th Amendment is a more attractive route than impeachment: it’s much quicker, and insulates the GOP more from its golem master. A lot of dirty linen on Russia would be aired in the long-drawn-out impeachment process, possibly implicating Republicans not part of Trump’s campaign.
The suggestion fell on deaf ears. Mark’s reaction was typical. But Trump’s behaviour keeps raising doubts over his mental capacity. For three:
- In the recently leaked transcript of Trump’s conversation over the Nauru refugees with the Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull in January, Trump seemed simply not to understand Turnbull’s simple and repeated position.
- In his famous sabre-rattling tweet, Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” if it persisted with threats to the United States. Pyongyang promptly called his bluff, leading to a massive loss to American face. Tillerson and Mattis had to walk the tweet back, restating longstanding American policy that retaliation would follow actual attacks on US allies, which Kim is no more likely to engage in than his predecessors in the dynasty. But Trump repeated the language about retaliating to threats. The latest tweet includes:
If he utters one threat, in the form of an overt threat . . . or if he does anything with respect to Guam or anyplace else that is an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast.”
- Trump’s media staff are required to present him daily with a folder of press cuttings and media screenshots with only positive coverage of him personally. This is on a par with Marie Antoinette playing at shepherdesses with her ladies-in-waiting at the Trianon. Contrast the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid, who is said to have walked the streets of Baghdad in disguise at night to hear what his subjects were really saying about him: a legend that conveys the truth that autocrats, as much as democratic politicians, must keep an accurate watch on the real currents of popular sentiment. See also Kipling on the more impressive Akbar and a real bridge he built.
Are you still comfortable with dismissing the 25th Amendment out of hand? Continue Reading…
I’m slow to outrage, but I’ve had it with the lying, fake-news press and the deep state apparatchiks that want to keep America ungreat. The president has stepped down from the comfortable life he earned by his unmatched business skill to serve us in the corrupt swamp of politics, but does he get help? loyalty? He does not, and we had better hope he doesn’t give up on us and walk out the door in frustration.
Democrats refuse to vote for the Republican health care plan he clearly instructed Ryan and McConnell to pass; is this any way to treat your leader? They endlessly refuse to confirm appointments on the thin excuse that Trump hasn’t nominated anyone for them. How hard is it to pass a stack of confirmations with the names left blank for use as needed? Is this the kind of obedience we expect of our lawmakers?
Don’t even ask about Mueller.
Most outrageous recently, and the main reason I’ve just hit the wall, is the constant sabotage of Donald Vladimirovich’s ability to get marching orders from his daddy. Putin is better looking than Trump, his women are more beautiful and more accomplished, he’s more ruthless, he’s killed more people and enriched more of his gang members, and he’s stolen way more money. For our nation to take direction from such a leader is probably the greatest gift Trump can bestow–of course he’s gone in the tank to him; how else is he supposed to know what to do day by day?–but at every turn, some treasonous, small-minded reporters interfere with the normal channels by which orders from Moscow could flow. The secret link through the Russian Embassy Jared creatively tried to set up, the secret meeting at the G20 dinner, the meeting Don Jr., Kushner, and Manafort took with
1 2 3 4 5 Russian messengers last spring, the tireless efforts of Flynn, and more: one after the other essential tool of governance torn from workable secrecy and left to dessicate and shrivel in public sunlight. Selling the presidency to Putin was the greatest deal the Donald ever made, and we’re stepping all over it.
Trump cannot be Trump if he can’t get confidential instructions from Putin, period, end of story. This treasonous undermining of basic governance tools by the press, and the leaking deep state fifth column, has to stop.
Glenn mentions my Death of a Salesman essay, which is here.
These two characters should feature prominently, adding at least one dollop of humor to a national humiliation.
The Leaders’ Declaration from the just-ended G20 summit in Hamburg runs to 14 pages of dense diplospeak prose, 5,311 words. Can anyone point to a single line that is a win for US diplomacy? If there had been one, Trump would have claimed it.
Or in any of the 14 other documents “agreed” at the same time? Here they are, confirmation that German industriousness extends to paperwork. Site link if you feel up to it.
- Hamburg Action Plan
- Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth
- Hamburg Update: Taking forward the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda
- Annual Progress Report 2017
- G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter
- G20 Africa Partnership
- G20 Initiative for Rural Youth Employment
- High Level Principles on the Liability of Legal Persons for Corruption
- High Level Principles on Organizing against Corruption
- High Level Principles on Countering Corruption in Customs
- High Level Principles on Combatting Corruption related to Illegal Trade in Wildlife and Wildlife Products
- G20 Initiative #eSkills4Girls
- Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative
- G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue.
The media are concentrating on the one glaring defeat for Trump on climate. As I predicted last December, the other 19 have gone their own way:
We take note of the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The United States of America announced it will immediately cease the implementation of its current nationally-determined contribution and affirms its strong commitment to an approach that lowers emissions while supporting economic growth and improving energy security needs. The United States of America states it will endeavour to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources, given the importance of energy access and security in their nationally-determined contributions.
The Leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is irreversible. We reiterate the importance of fulfilling the UNFCCC commitment by developed countries in providing means of implementation including financial resources to assist developing countries with respect to both mitigation and adaptation actions in line with Paris outcomes and note the OECD’s report “Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth”. We reaffirm our strong commitment to the Paris Agreement, moving swiftly towards its full implementation … blah blah.
The US threat to help other countries backslide on their Paris commitments is empty. Even Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey refused to show any solidarity with Trump and signed on to the strong G19 statement, a major win for Merkel. There is no mention of North Korea, a major and immediate US headache, in the Declaration. Nor of Syria and Iraq. (The price was forgetting about the 2009 pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, no date given then or subsequently. It’s still there on page 12(!) of the ”Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth” annex, but the action has shrunk to token peer review. This suits Merkel, who does not want to pick a fight with her SPD coalition partners on a coal phaseout, so the German policy of continued dithering is now officially the world consensus.) [Update: Turkey is joining Russia in delaying Paris ratification, probably to get leverage with the EU. Unlike the USA, Turkey is building coal as well as renewable generating plants.]
Why did Trump fail so completely? It not just or even mainly because he’s thick. Continue Reading…
Remember that Trump promise? Notice any winning happening?
Me neither, but I think I see the problem. It’s a typo: should be whining. Now everything makes sense, because whining is the pervasive, universal quality of all the discourse of Trump and his mouthpieces, reaching some sort of high point in today’s Sanders briefing , though Spicer almost pegged the meter in his very first briefing. Fake news, lying press, I can’t get a break, Joe and Mika are so mean to me, it’s all Obama’s fault, why aren’t you writing about my historic electoral victory, Russia hoax…so much whining! Including rallies that are a new type of collective mass unison whining: all together now, China! Coal! We don’t get no respect!
It does suck to be Donald, but not for the reasons he’d like to think. Anyway, the press is beginning to realize it has to call a lie a lie to properly present the story: I propose that reporters and commentators reflect on whine as the other word most underused, in proportion to its relevance and accuracy, in discourse about our current presidential farrago. Try it: easy to say, it’s a verb, everyone knows what it means, and it has the perfectly apropos connotations of infantile affect and ineffectuality.
Whiner, that’s our Donald all over.
Here’s a thought: as soon as we defeat Trumpcare, Democrats in both houses introduce Medicare Part M (for Middle-Aged), covering people ages 50-64.
A. It’s good politics:
1. These are the people who were going to be hit the hardest by Trumpcare premium increases. Offer them a better deal and they’ll support us–and people this age vote!
2. It sounds more moderate than Medicare for All, while also making a solid step closer to single-payer, which the Republicans have managed to make sound like pie-in-the-sky socialism with a side order of end-of-the-world.
B. It’s good policy:
1. These are the sickest people in the Obamacare exchanges–move them out of the pools and premiums go down.
2. BUT they’re healthier than most people now on Medicare: put them into that risk pool and the premiums go down there, too.
DON’T believe Trump when he says Obamacare is collapsing.
DON’T believe pundits who say the Democrats have no platform/positions: this plus increased minimum wage plus let’s get out of Afghanistan is platform a-plenty.
Dear American Cancer Society,
Please do not call our home this year asking for a donation. When you subsidize an unworthy figure who is snatching healthcare from millions of people, and weakening protections for cancer patients, I will give my charitable donations elsewhere.
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) June 12, 2017