• Senate Panel: Putin Tried to Help Trump
• Trump Goes Wild
• Lawsuit about Citizenship Question on Census Form Goes Forward
• Oprah Winfrey Will Not Run for President in 2020
• Trump and the Fourth of July
True or false: Corporate America loves the Republican Party? Answer: False. At least, right now. Come back in a few years, and we will see. Donald Trump is betting the farm that his base will stick with him, even as big and powerful corporations have just about had it with him, and these include behemoths like Harley Davidson, General Motors, Amazon, and others. The companies see what Trump either doesn't see or doesn't care about, namely that his trade policies will hurt them and cost Americans jobs. With apologies to former GM CEO Charlie Wilson, what's bad for General Motors is bad for America. Earlier this week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, not exactly a club full of pinko hippies, had this to say about Trump's trade policies: "We should seek free and fair trade, but this is just not the way to do it."
It is doubtful that any amount of corporate resistance will change Trump's mind. On some things—actually, a lot of things—he adopts the position of the last person he talked to. Not so on a few topics, most prominently trade and immigration. He really believes the U.S. is the world's sucker on both, and only he can fix them. In a way, he mirrors Ronald Reagan, another Republican president who knew little about policy and didn't work very hard, but had one hard-core idea: Communism is bad. And sure enough, Reagan left office on Jan. 20, 1989 and by Nov. 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall began to fall.
Whether Trump can pull this off is a whole different ball of wax. A trade war could inflict massive damage on the U.S. economy as other countries retaliate against U.S. tariffs, with potentially millions of jobs lost in the U.S. Also, Reagan didn't have the business community against him, and he certainly didn't have the Koch brothers running a huge ad campaign against his trade policies. But Trump doesn't seem to care what business leaders think. He is focused like a laser on his base, and as long as the base is with him, he's not going to change course. (V)
Yesterday, the Senate Inteligence Committee released a summary of its examination of the intelligence community's conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin meddled in the 2016 election with the express purpose of helping Donald Trump get elected. The Committee found that the intelligence community got it right. This implies that the House got it wrong when it came to the conclusion that the intelligence community blew it. The difference between the two chambers is not so surprising. The House is much more partisan than the Senate and its chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) ran roughshod over ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). In the Senate, chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) worked together closely and relatively harmoniously.
The Senate report said that while all the intelligence agencies agreed that the Russians were trying to help Trump, there were differences in how confident they were of this conclusion. The CIA and FBI had "high confidence" in their conclusion, while the NSA had "moderate confidence."
The Senate Committee also concluded that no one involved in writing up the intelligence community's findings was politically motivated, something Republicans have charged. In particular, Republicans have said that the intelligence community was influenced by the Steele dossier, which was originally funded by a right-wing Republican website, the Washington Free Beacon, and later picked up by the Democrats. The Senate Committee said that the intelligence community did not rely on the dossier, because it contained unverified information. Burr hopes to wrap up his work in a few months and then issue a final report.
Since the very beginning, Trump has said special counsel Robert Mueller is on a witch hunt because there is no evidence the Russians meddled in the election. Now that a Senate committee, chaired by a Republican senator, has come out with a report saying Putin did indeed interfere with the goal of electing Trump, it should be clear to everyone that there is no witch hunt. And foxnews.com did, to its credit, report Burr's conclusion. Whether the opinion part of Fox agrees, well, that's a different matter. Tune in to Hannity tonight to see if smoke comes out of his ears. (V)
Perhaps Donald Trump plans to spend today's holiday race-fishing, because he spent much of the day yesterday race-baiting. There was, in other words, a sustained effort on that front from both the President and his administration.
To start, Trump himself, whose Twitter behavior is growing more and more unhinged by the day. He was up early on Tuesday, and he began with this:
When we have an “infestation” of MS-13 GANGS in certain parts of our country, who do we send to get them out? ICE! They are tougher and smarter than these rough criminal elelments that bad immigration laws allow into our country. Dems do not appreciate the great job they do! Nov.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2018
Undoubtedly, someone has at some point told the President that referring to any human beings, even gang members, with terms customarily reserved for animals (or insects) comes off as racist. But to him, coming off as racist is a feature, not a bug, so he keeps on keepin' on.
The official White House Twitter account also got into the act, firing off racially-tinged tweets directed at several senators and representatives, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Mark Pocan (D-WI). Perhaps it is just a coincidence that two of those folks are members of minority groups (Warren, Harris) and a third is gay (Pocan). In any case, here is what Warren's tweet looked like; Harris' was identical:
.@SenWarren, why are you supporting criminals moving weapons, drugs, and victims across our nation’s borders? You must not know what ICE really does. Here is a link to help you out: https://t.co/5CiTKkIs4c— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 2, 2018
It's unclear exactly who was behind these tweets. They are probably not the work of Donald Trump directly, because they don't have his idiosyncratic capitalization and spelling, and he doesn't know how to embed media. Whomever it is, among the half-dozen or so folks who have access, has gone far beyond the bounds of what is usual for the @WhiteHouse Twitter account. Since it is an official government account, it is generally scrupulously non-partisan. The responsible party also made something of a mistake in going after Harris, who responded thusly:
As a career prosecutor, I actually went after gangs and transnational criminal organizations. That's being a leader on public safety. What is not, is ripping babies from their mothers. pic.twitter.com/WyyHU3U7jE— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 2, 2018
A good rule of thumb: If you're going to make a "weak on gangs" argument, don't use it on a person with Harris' resume.
The White House also announced on Tuesday that it was rescinding Obama-era guidelines on the use of race in college admissions. This does not overturn affirmative action, as that is a congressional prerogative, but it does send a message to the nation's universities, and does give ammunition to critics of race-based admissions.
And besides the race-related stuff, Trump also dabbled in some Islamophobia on Tuesday, too. He sent this tweet as part of his early morning twitter storm:
Just out that the Obama Administration granted citizenship, during the terrible Iran Deal negotiation, to 2,500 Iranians - including to government officials. How big (and bad) is that?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2018
There is, of course, not the slightest bit of credible evidence that this is true. It is based on a quote from a single, obscure Iranian cleric who almost certainly has ulterior motives. And you'll be shocked to learn what media outlet Trump (apparently) got this story from. It was...Fox News!
And finally, while Trump was at it, he also played to his base's fears in a third way, namely by claiming that he alone has kept the U.S. out of a nuclear war with North Korea:
Many good conversations with North Korea-it is going well! In the meantime, no Rocket Launches or Nuclear Testing in 8 months. All of Asia is thrilled. Only the Opposition Party, which includes the Fake News, is complaining. If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2018
Does Trump really believe that if Hillary Clinton had been elected, the nukes would now be flying? Does his base really believe it? Apparently so.
In any event, it is difficult to accept that all of these things happening on the same day is a coincidence. Yes, Trump is often unhinged on Twitter, but when that is paired with the White House account going off the rails, and the announcement about race-based admissions, it suggests that something larger is going on. That is to say, that the administration feels the need to create a distraction and gin up the base. The most popular theory is that Trump is worried and upset that Michael Cohen is about to flip, and that is what is prompting all of this. It seems more probable that the goal is to distract attention from the Senate's report on Russiagate (see above). Maybe it's both.
An ongoing question, of course, is whether throwing all this red meat to the base is helping or is hurting Trump long-term, since driving the base into a frenzy also has the effect of driving the opposition into a frenzy. We won't know the answer to that with any certainty, of course, until November of this year, and, even more so, November of 2020.
With that said, a pair of political scientists from the University of Minnesota—Howard Lavine and Wendy Rahn—released the results of a study they have done focused specifically on Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. They looked very closely at data from the 2016 election, and compared it to the past several elections. And what they found is that Hillary Clinton did 22 points better among pro-immigrant white voters than Barack Obama did in 2016, while Donald Trump only did 7 points better among anti-immigrant white voters than Mitt Romney did in the same year. In other words, Trump drove more people into the Democratic camp with his nativism than he brought into the Republican fold. Lavine and Rahn also looked at turnout among anti-immigrant voters and found it was not noticeably higher than in the past several elections. So, Trump wasn't bringing new anti-immigrant voters to the polls either. If the duo has the right of it, then the separating families fiasco, not to mention tweets like the ones Trump sent yesterday, are really going to hit the GOP hard in the midterms. (Z)
When the administration decided to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census form, it was immediately sued by multiple state attorneys general and several cities. There is no need for the government to know anything about anyone's citizenship to perform the enumeration required by the Constitution, since all inhabitants of a state count, even undocumented ones. The transparent reason for including the question was to scare undocumented immigrants into not filling out the form, and thus cause them to not be counted. That would have the effect of reducing the representation and funding of states with large numbers of undocumented immigrants, most of which are blue states, although it could also hurt Texas.
Yesterday, federal judge Jesse Furman of New York ruled that there is strong evidence the administration acted in bad faith when it decided to include the question, so the lawsuit should go forward. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said the decision was "a major win in our lawsuit to protect the Census, with a federal judge ordering the Trump administration to provide vital information on how the decision to demand citizenship status was made, and what it may mean for New Yorkers and Americans across the country." Of course, letting the case go forward doesn't say much about how the judge will rule on the merits of the case in the end. (V)
Sometimes when there is no other news to talk about, media pundits talk about their fever dreams, such as Oprah Winfrey running for president in 2020. After all, since a media personality won in 2016, why not another one in 2020? Well, Winfrey is not interested. In the British edition of the new Vogue, she definitively ruled out a run, saying: "In that political structure—all the non-truths, the bullsh*t, the crap, the nastiness, the backhanded backroom stuff that goes on—I feel like I could not exist. I would not be able to do it. It's not a clean business. It would kill me."
It's not a direct quote from William Tecumseh Sherman, but the intent is pretty clear anyway. Besides, while she backed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, she doesn't really know a lot about politics and Democratic primary voters are pickier than Republicans. A Republican has only to say that he is against abortion, gay marriage, and illegal immigration and he's in. A Democrat needs to have the "right" positions on health care, inequality, taxes, and much else in addition to the above to be acceptable. Not to mention, running for president is a grueling business and Winfrey clearly does not have the fire in the belly that it requires. (V)
The day that the United States has set aside to honor its veterans is Veterans' Day. You can tell, because it has "veterans" in the name. There's also Memorial Day, perhaps, which is set aside to honor the dead, particularly those who died in wars. But that's supposed to be pretty much it for military-themed holidays. Except in the world of Donald Trump, of course, who appropriates any holiday he can for this purpose. So it is with Independence Day, which Trump has already commemorated with a number of pro-militarily tweets, including this one:
Tomorrow, families across our Nation will gather to celebrate the Fourth of July. As we do, we will think of the men & women serving overseas at this very moment, far away from their families, protecting America - & we will thank GOD for blessing us with these incredible HEROES! pic.twitter.com/FQ1D7oEta2— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2018
That was part of a series of four tweets that all said the same basic thing, sent out after Trump visited a military-themed dinner in West Virginia.
Now, let's shift gears for just a moment. It is no secret, of course, that Trump is quite unpopular with the majority of Americans, for myriad reasons. Let's highlight some of them:
- He often disregards laws that he doesn't like
- He's undermined and disregarded state and local governments
- He's told Democrats their constituents don't matter, as he will only sign bills with 100% what he wants
- He has made it much more difficult for immigrants to be naturalized
- His key concern about the judges he appoints is that they will serve his agenda
- He's looked the other way as foreign powers exerted great influence over the United States
- He's undermined commerce with other nations
- He's called for, in some cases, the suspension of due process
- He's done harm to the environment, particularly the coasts and the cities
- He's divided Americans and pitted them against one another
Undoubtedly, some readers will recognize what is going on here. These things aren't just complaints about Trump, they are also among the 27 grievances that the Founding Parents listed against the King of England in the Declaration of Independence (reworded in 21st century English, of course). Specifically, for those who wish to examine the original text of the Declaration themselves, they are grievances number 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 13, 16, 18, 24, and 27.
If Trump was at all a student of history—he's not, of course—he might realize that the Founding Parents would not be too thrilled with him, and that Independence Day is a holiday that actually represents values that are the polar opposite of Trumpism. The Founders, who were generally suspicious of standing armies (in fact, that's grievance #11), would also be horrified to learn that Trump has turned the Fourth of July into an occasion to celebrate America's military might. It's probably best for Trump's blood pressure, then, that he doesn't know much about U.S.history, or about the holiday that is being celebrated today. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
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