March 8th, 2018

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ON THE RECORD.....

“Truly, at six months, the last thing I wanted to do is walk away from one of the great honors of my life, being the secretary of Homeland Security, but I did something wrong and God punished me, I guess. -- White House chief of staff John Kelly

“Some of you may have loved it. If you do, you are one of the stupidest, dumbass people I’ve ever met. There are a lot of them up there on Capitol Hill from time to time.” -- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) blasting supporters of the Affordable Care Act.

“Trade wars are good, and easy to win.” -- Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

“All the damage that would come from a war would be worth it in terms of long-term stability and national security.” --Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) saying a war with North Korea would be “worth it” in the long term.

“He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.” — Trump in remarks to GOP donors about China’s President Xi Jinping.

“The NRA today is a far cry from the NRA that in 1999 said that teachers shouldn’t carry weapons in schools. Or in the 90’s said we should have universal background checks. They have in essence become a terrorist organization.” — Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D)

“We’ll do it in a very loving way. It will be a loving, loving way. They’ll like us better and they’ll respect us much more.” — Trump, downplaying the risks of a trade war.

“There is “no question” the president was aware of a $130,000 payment made to the woman as part of a nondisclosure agreement in the final days of the 2016 election.” -- Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen

“At a time of unprecedented political turmoil, Jeff Sessions has come to California to further divide and polarize America. Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don’t work here. SAD!!!” -- Gov. Jerry Brown responding to the lawsuit by U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions seeks to block California’s new “sanctuary” state immigration law.

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Kushner Close to Obtaining Clearance for Other Government Facility
2. Trump's embrace of Russia: The evidence on public display already paints a jarring picture
3. The DAILY GRILL
4. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
5. From the Late Shows
6. Late Night Jokes for Dems
7. How Exactly Did Melania Trump Get a Visa for “Extraordinary Abilities”?
8. Depth Of Russian Politician's Cultivation Of NRA Ties Revealed
9. Planned Parenthood to target 8 states, spend $20 million as part of midterm battle plan
10. Republicans are not just attached to Trump — they’re his customers, too
11. The great unraveling: Trump's allies are really worried about him
12. Pruitt tapes revealed: Evolution's a 'theory,' 'majority' religions under attack
13. Denis McDonough: McConnell ‘watered down’ Russia warning in 2016
14. Mueller’s net is tightening around Trump’s inner circle — and maybe Trump himself
15. Trump administration family planning strategy is under fire
16. Report: Trump Urges GOP Lawmakers to Block Hudson Rail Tunnel
17. Did the Kremlin Block Romney as Secretary of State?
18. Congress can, and should, stop Trump from starting a trade war
19. State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0
20. U.S. Voters Oppose Steel, Aluminum Tariffs
21. Americans Think Trump Is the Worst President
22. Trump Trails Generic Democrat
23. Scaramucci Attacking Kelly with Trump’s Blessing the curtain.

OPINION

1. Bess Levin: Trump Entertains Economic Suicide To Tick Off The “Globalists”
2. Paul Krugman: Trade War, What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing
3. Paul Waldman: Trump's transubstantiation of falsehood into truth
4. Bloomberg Editorial: Oh! What a Lovely Trade War
5. Paul Krugman: Taxpayers, You’ve Been Scammed
6. Jonathan Chait: New Survey Shows Young People Are Staying Liberal and Conservatives Are Dying Off
7. Paul Waldman: The Republican Congress is officially giving up
8. Harold Meyerson: There are echoes of the Fugitive Slave Act in today's immigration debate
9. Scott Turow: Why Manafort’s Legal Strategy Could Doom Him—and Donald Trump
10. Andrew Sullivan: Is This the Beginning of Trump’s End?
11. Alan Burdick: Donald Trump’s Know-Nothing Science Budget
12. NY Times Editorial: Donald Trump’s Tunnel Vision
13. Eugene Robinson: The True Cost of Trump
14. Paul Krugman: A Ranting Old Guy With Nukes

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Kushner Close to Obtaining Clearance for Other Government Facility

Just days after losing his top security clearance at the White House, Jared Kushner could soon be eligible to enter another high-security government facility, legal experts believe.

According to Davis Logsdon, a law professor at the University of Minnesota, Kushner could be on the verge of obtaining “long-term clearance” at this separate facility, which, like the White House, is owned and operated by the federal government.

Logsdon said that, although such a facility lacks some of the prestige of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Kushner would have access to government benefits there that far exceed what he has received as an unpaid adviser at the White House.

“All of his meals and housing would be fully paid for by the taxpayer,” Logsdon said. “And, if things play out the way some believe they will, Jared Kushner could be receiving these benefits for decades to come.”

While gaining entry to another government facility so soon after losing security clearance at the White House would represent an extraordinary comeback for Kushner, it would not come without a price, the law professor warned.

“Jared Kushner might have to put his plans to bring peace to the Middle East on hold,” he said. https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. Trump's embrace of Russia: The evidence on public display already paints a jarring picture

Whether Mueller ultimately alleges such a crime remains unknown. He now has help from Trump’s former national security advisor, deputy campaign chief and campaign foreign policy advisor — all of whom have admitted felonies.”“But whatever the special counsel concludes legally about ‘collusion,’ evidence on public display already paints a jarring picture. It shows an American president who has embraced Russian money and illicit favors, while maintaining rhetoric and policies benefiting Russia and undercutting national security officials of his own country.

That in-plain-sight reality gets obscured by the Trump news avalanche. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/02/heres-a-closer-look-at-trumps-in-plain-sight-embrace-of-russia.html

3. The DAILY GRILL

Why did the Obama Administration start an investigation into the Trump Campaign (with zero proof of wrongdoing) long before the Election in November? Wanted to discredit so Crooked H would win. Unprecedented. Bigger than Watergate! Plus, Obama did NOTHING about Russian meddling. -- Donald Trump on Twitter

VERSUS

This tweet is a great example of your paranoia, constant misrepresentation of the facts, and increased anxiety and panic (rightly so) about the Mueller investigation. When will those in Congress and the 30 percent of Americans who still support you realize you are a charlatan? -- Former CIA Director John Brennan, on Twitter, responding to Trump’s accusation that President Obama launched Russia investigation to help Hillary Clinton.

 

Congratulations @News: Fox has 15 of the top 20 shows with @SeanHannity and @TuckerCarlson leading the pack at 1st and 2nd respectively. CNN has become totally irrelevant, down 19% from last year with only 1 show in the Top 25 (#24th). -- Eric Trump @EricTrump

VERSUS

Thank you for addressing the critical national issue of TV ratings. For the record, @CNN had its second best February in 10 years. And @FoxNews was down 11% in total day. #FactsFirst. -- CNN Communications‏ @CNNPR

 

Alec Baldwin, whose dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impersonation of me on SNL, now says playing me was agony. Alec, it was agony for those who were forced to watch. Bring back Darrell Hammond, funnier and a far greater talent! -- Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

Agony though it may be, I’d like to hang in there for the impeachment hearings, the resignation speech, the farewell helicopter ride to Mara-A-Lago. You know. The Good Stuff. That we’ve all been waiting for. -- ABFoundation‏  @ABFalecbaldwin

 

"Trade wars are good, and easy to win.” Trump in an early morning tweet.

VERSUS

“Trade wars are never won. Trade wars are lost by both side. If the President goes through with this, it will kill American jobs -- that’s what every trade war ultimately does. So much losing.” -- Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska

4. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

Alex Jones has been pushing conspiracy theories about the students since the shooting occurred, including saying that students speaking out against gun violence were paid or scripted. Jones repeatedly made comments over the past several weeks, up to and including his March 3 claim that they are “Democratic Party operatives” who have “been scripted for what they’re saying,” demonstrating his major role in spreading the conspiracy theory.. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/03/04/how-alex-jones-has-pushed-crisis-actor-conspiracy-theory-about-parkland-students/219553

Sinclair solicits contributions for an election fight while running a nationwide segment supporting Trump's military parade. Sinclair Broadcast Group‘s secretive campaign to transform local news stations into Trump propaganda machines is becoming all the more difficult to ignore -- both behind the scenes and on air. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/02/12/sinclair-solicits-contributions-election-fight-while-running-nationwide-segment-supporting-trumps/219344

Sean Hannity and Roger Stone praise Julian Assange: "He’s an courageous journalist who has an incredible track record for accuracy." Stone: "He’s a honest journalist and no one has questioned the authenticity" of WikiLeaks. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/03/06/sean-hannity-and-roger-stone-praise-julian-assange-he-s-courageous-journalist-who-has-incredible/219571

Fox News keeps running columns from the same guy explaining, "I'm a Democrat but [insert agreement with GOP]." Bryan Dean Wright, a consultant looking for career opportunities and freelance gigs, has found the perfect publicity gimmick to get in outlets such as Fox News: proclaiming he's "a Democrat but" agreeing with Republican positions. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/03/05/fox-news-keeps-running-columns-same-guy-explaining-im-democrat-insert-agreement-gop/219558

5. From the Late Shows

Presidential Address Cold Open - SNL: https://youtu.be/6IL4sMC_XBE

Weekend Update on Hope Hicks's Resignation - SNL: https://youtu.be/aQHI8p_uez8

Simply the Best: Hope Hicks & Ben Carson's Chair - The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper: https://youtu.be/z7Qc64iZM3o

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Donald Trump Is Coming For Your Guns: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6dIrs0RurA&feature=youtu.be

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Jared Kushner's Engulfed in Scandal, Trump and Mr. Magoo: A Closer Look: https://youtu.be/2c8h9-DR6xQ

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Trump Radically Changed The U.S. Economy Because He Could: https://youtu.be/PpHEXUeXMxc

CPAC 2018: More Shootings Call for More Guns - The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper: https://youtu.be/R-VEq7mtmv0

6. Late Night Jokes for Dems

The president of China basically declared himself president for life. In a related story, President Trump was declared president for "what seems like a lifetime." -- Conan O’Brien

The Oscars broadcast was over three and a half hours long. Wow. To put that in perspective, that's longer than most jobs last in the White House. -- Jimmy Fallon

President Trump is on a diet and has been trying to eat more salad. When he first ordered one at the White House, the kitchen was excited because they thought the Obamas were back. -- Jimmy Fallon

According to The New York Times, following news that China's President Xi Jinping is now president for life, President Trump jokingly told donors this weekend, "Maybe we'll give that a shot someday." That's great, but first, why not try being president for a full week? -- Seth Meyers

According to The New York Times, a Belarusian escort is claiming that she has audio recordings that prove Russian meddling in the U.S. elections. "I've never even met Anastasia," yelled Trump, before anyone said her name. -- Seth Meyers

A new study has found that when romantic partners hold hands while in pain, their brain waves can sync and decrease that pain. "Nah, I'm good," said Melania. -- Seth Meyers

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has announced he will invest $125 million in a research lab to teach artificial intelligence machines common sense. And if it works, they're going to try it with Congress and gun laws. -- James Corden

Now, I know you came here to hear me talk about trade tariffs – we all know that "The Phantom Menace" IS the best "Star Wars" – but that's not where we're going. Because right before we taped, the entire news cycle jumped on the bus to Crazy Town. At the wheel: former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg. -- James Corden

Here's what happened: Robert Mueller issued a subpoena to Nunberg to get him to testify about the Russia investigation, and not only did Nunberg say he won't show up, he said he was planning to go on Bloomberg TV and tear up the subpoena. Smart thinking. Do it on Bloomberg – no witnesses! -- James Corden

But Nunberg isn't afraid of spilling on TV. This afternoon, he took to MSNBC to complain about the subpoena: "I'm not going to produce every email I had with Steve Bannon and Roger Stone from Nov. 1 of 2015." Whoa, what happened on Nov. 1? That is weirdly specific. "Officer, I'm a busy man. I don't have time to walk you out to the third storage drain north of my barn. I definitely did not dump a body in there between the hours of 4:00 and 6:00 last night." -- James Corden

Nunberg took over cable news like a car chase. He was on MSNBC at 2:45, CNN at 3:30, CNN again at 4:00, I believe at 5:00 he called in to HGTV to incriminate himself on "Flip or Flop." I’m pretty sure after Mueller gets through with him, it’s gonna be “flip.” -- James Corden

Nunberg has made it clear, unequivocally, that he’s willing to sacrifice for his cause. "I’m not cooperating. Arrest me." You know Mueller CAN arrest you, right? That's like saying "eat me" to Hannibal Lecter. Doesn't have a happy ending for you. -- James Corden

7. How Exactly Did Melania Trump Get a Visa for “Extraordinary Abilities”?

The Slovenia-born Melania Trump has been a U.S. citizen since 2006, but some, like The Washington Post, are questioning how she was able to secure her EB-1 visa in the first place. In 2000, Trump (then-Knauss) was dating Donald Trump and applying for the so-called “Einstein visa,” usually reserved for those with “extraordinary ability.”

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the eligibility criteria for the EB-1 includes professors, researchers, multi-national managers and executives, and those with “extraordinary ability,” which requires applicants to provide evidence of a one-time achievement such as a Pulitzer Prize or Olympic medal, or show that they have met 3 of the 10 listed criteria including “published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media” and “performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations.”

Before her marriage, Melania Trump was a working model, appearing in runway shows and magazine editorials, but never achieving the enigmatic “supermodel” status. One of her more high-profile jobs included a photo shoot for the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated where she posed on the beach with an inflatable killer whale, which is not a euphemism for Donald Trump. https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2018/03/how-exactly-did-melania-trump-get-a-visa-for-extraordinary-abilities

8. Depth Of Russian Politician's Cultivation Of NRA Ties Revealed

A prominent Kremlin-linked Russian politician has methodically cultivated ties with leaders of the National Rifle Association and documented efforts in real time over six years to leverage those connections and gain deeper access into American politics, NPR has learned.

Russian politician Alexander Torshin said his ties to the NRA provided him access to Donald Trump — and the opportunity to serve as a foreign election observer in the United States during the 2012 election.

These revelations come amid news that the FBI is investigating whether Torshin, the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, illegally funneled money to the NRA to assist the Trump campaign in 2016. https://www.npr.org/2018/03/01/590076949/depth-of-russian-politicians-cultivation-of-nra-ties-revealed

9. Planned Parenthood to target 8 states, spend $20 million as part of midterm battle plan

Planned Parenthood’s political arm is targeting eight states — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — that have competitive Senate and governor’s races in its largest-ever midterm election campaign.

The offensive is set to cost $20 million, an initial mark that the organization’s officials say is all but certain to be exceeded. https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/01/politics/planned-parenthood-midterm-20-million-8-state-plan/index.html

10. Republicans are not just attached to Trump — they’re his customers, too

 There are at least 230 wineries in the state of Virginia, but when a campaign arm of House Republicans recently chose one to host the winners of a fund-raising contest, it was the vineyard in Charlottesville owned by President Trump and operated by his family.

"We’ll take care of the hotel, flight, and send you to an exclusive Mother’s Day brunch for you and your family!” a description of the Mother’s Day prize package reads, noting that the retail value runs close to $2,850.

Last month, the Republican National Committee announced a chance for “two Great Americans” to get an all-expenses-paid trip to Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and attend one of the exclusive dinners the president has with members of the club.

Republicans, once ethically squeamish about blending Trump’s business and political operations in Washington, are now seizing on the cachet of the president’s upscale brands to help raise money and thwart Democrats in the 2018 midterms. https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2018/02/28/republicans-are-not-just-attached-trump-they-attached-his-businesses/8RRrzRXPC6GN6N3vMgX4KP/story.html

11. The great unraveling: Trump's allies are really worried about him

Not since Richard Nixon started talking to the portraits on the walls of the West Wing has a president seemed so alone against the world.

One source -- who is a presidential ally -- is worried, really worried. The source says this past week is "different," that advisers are scared the President is spiraling, lashing out, just out of control. For example: Demanding to hold a public session where he made promises on trade tariffs before his staff was ready, not to mention willing. "This has real economic impact," says the source, as the Dow dropped 420 points after the President's news Thursday. "Something is very wrong."

Even by Trumpian standards, the chaos and the unraveling at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are a stunning -- and recurring -- problem. https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/02/opinions/trump-the-great-unraveling-opinion-borger/index.html

12. Pruitt tapes revealed: Evolution's a 'theory,' 'majority' religions under attack

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt dismissed evolution as an unproven theory, lamented that “minority religions” were pushing Christianity out of “the public square” and advocated amending the Constitution to ban abortion, prohibit same-sex marriage and protect the Pledge of Allegiance and the Ten Commandments, according to a newly unearthed series of Oklahoma talk radio shows from 2005.

Pruitt also described the Second Amendment as divinely granted and condemned federal judges as a “judicial monarchy” that is “the most grievous threat that we have today.” And he did not object when the program’s host described Islam as “not so much a religion as it is a terrorist organization in many instances. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/02/scott-pruitt-epa-evolution-theory-abortion-gay-marriage-433284

13. Denis McDonough: McConnell ‘watered down’ Russia warning in 2016

Former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough told Meet the Press that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked a more robust response to Russian meddling in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election.

Said McDonough: “It took over three weeks to get that statement worked out. It was dramatically watered down.”

McDonough added that he knew it had been watered down at the request of McConnell. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/denis-mcdonough-mcconnell-watered-down-russia-warning-2016-n853016

14. Mueller’s net is tightening around Trump’s inner circle — and maybe Trump himself

Special counsel Robert Mueller “is significantly turning up the heat on President Trump. While the president once again attacks his own attorney general and declares himself the victim of a ‘witch hunt,’ he faces increasingly ominous signs that Mueller has the president’s innermost circle — and Trump himself — in his sights.

Mueller remains unlikely to indict the president, but any findings that Trump was involved in criminal activity could lead to calls for impeachment. And the constraints around indicting a sitting president do not apply to those closest to him, including members of his family who were deeply involved in his campaign. This week has brought the clearest signs yet that Mueller’s net is tightening around the White House — and maybe the president himself. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/muellers-net-is-tightening-around-trumps-inner-circle--and-maybe-trump-himself/2018/03/01/2d864294-1d8c-11e8-9de1-147dd2df3829_story.html

15. Trump administration family planning strategy is under fire

The Trump administration has adopted a new strategy for how it issues tens of millions of dollars in federal family-planning grants, giving preference to groups that stress abstinence and making it harder for Planned Parenthood to do business. https://apnews.com/06c71ff5a0dd40de975e22852084b89f

16. Report: Trump Urges GOP Lawmakers to Block Hudson Rail Tunnel

 The so-called Gateway project, which would see a rail tunnel constructed to connect New York and New Jersey, has been a top priority in the region for years and is expected to be included in an upcoming spending bill. But Trump personally called on Speaker Paul Ryan to come out against funding the $30 billion project earlier this week, the Washington Post first reported Friday. 

According to sources cited by the Times, Trump has told Republicans the project should be blocked partly to get back at Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has regularly blocked Trump's nominees. https://www.thedailybeast.com/report-trump-urges-gop-lawmakers-to-block-hudson-rail-tunnel

17. Did the Kremlin Block Romney as Secretary of State?

Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the controversial “dossier” about Donald Trump, also wrote a later memo in November 2016 alleging that Russia blocked Mitt Romney from being named secretary of state.

The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would cooperate on security issues of interest to Russia, such as the conflict in Syria. If what the source heard was true, then a foreign power was exercising pivotal influence over U.S. foreign policy — and an incoming president. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/03/12/christopher-steele-the-man-behind-the-trump-dossier

18. Congress can, and should, stop Trump from starting a trade war

Congress has the power to stop the president from starting a trade war. The question is whether lawmakers will use that power, or whether they will continue to abdicate legislative responsibilities to the president.

Article I of the US Constitution vests the power to set tariffs in Congress. The president has the power to impose tariffs at his discretion only because Congress has passed laws granting him that power. If Republicans in Congress think Trump has a bunch of dumb, destructive ideas about trade, they should pass new laws that strip him of that power.

If Republicans in Congress are serious about free trade, they can most likely get enough Democratic votes to override a Trump veto of free-trade legislation. http://www.businessinsider.com/can-congress-stop-trump-tariffs-trade-war-2018-3

19. State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0

As Russia's virtual war against the United States continues unabated with the midterm elections approaching, the State Department has yet to spend any of the $120 million it has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in elections or sow distrust in democracy.

As a result, not one of the 23 analysts working in the department's Global Engagement Center - which has been tasked with countering Moscow's disinformation campaign - speaks Russian, and a department hiring freeze has hindered efforts to recruit the computer experts needed to track the Russian efforts. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/04/world/europe/state-department-russia-global-engagement-center.html

20. U.S. Voters Oppose Steel, Aluminum Tariffs

American voters oppose 50 - 31 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum, and disagree 64 - 28 percent with President Donald Trump's claim that a trade war would be good for the U.S. and easily won, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. 

Every listed party, gender, education, age and racial group oppose steel and aluminum tariffs, except Republicans, who support tariffs by a lackluster 58 - 20 percent and white voters with no college degree, who are divided with 42 percent supporting tariffs and 40 percent opposed, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. 

American voters oppose these tariffs 59 - 29 percent, if these tariffs raise the cost of goods they buy. The tariffs will be good for American jobs, 26 percent say, while 36 percent say tariffs will be bad for jobs and 24 percent say the tariffs will have no impact on jobs. 

American voters disapprove 54 - 34 percent of the way President Trump is handling trade. Only Republicans and white voters with no college degree approve.  https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2525

21. Americans Think Trump Is the Worst President

A new Quinnipiac poll finds that 41% of Americans think Donald Trump is the worst of the 13 presidents who have served since the end of World War II, followed by 21% who list Barack Obama and 10% who cite Richard Nixon.

Looking at the best president since 1945, 28% say Ronald Reagan, while 24% list Barack Obama, with 10% each for Bill Clinton and John Kennedy.

Said pollster Tim Malloy: “In 73 years, 13 men have governed from behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office and none of them have done so with less admiration from the American people.”Meanwhile, Trump’s approval rating is a dismal 56% to 38%. https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2526

22. Trump Trails Generic Democrat

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds President Trump trails a generic Democratic presidential candidate by eight points, 44% to 36%.

Key finding: “Male voters are evenly split: 42% would vote for Trump, and 42% would back the Democratic candidate. Among female voters, the Democrat has a 15-point lead, 46% to 31%." https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/07/trump-polls-2020-democrats-443083

23. Scaramucci Attacking Kelly with Trump’s Blessing

President Trump has emboldened Anthony Scaramucci to continue attacking White House chief of staff John Kelly during his cable news appearances.

In multiple television segments, Scaramucci has faulted Kelly for the ‘terrible morale’ in the West Wing, at times referring to him as ‘General Jackass’ and suggesting he apologize for his handling of the Rob Porter resignation. According to this source, the President is aware of Scaramucci’s criticisms and has not discouraged him from making them. https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/06/politics/trump-anthony-scaramucci-conflict/index.html

OPINION

1. Bess Levin: Trump Entertains Economic Suicide To Tick Off The “Globalists”

Last week, to the shock and horror of virtually everyone, Donald Trump announced that “trade wars are good” and that he would be starting one by slapping tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent on steel and aluminum imports. The declaration was distressing for a number of reasons, including 1) that it was only supported by Trump’s craziest advisers; 2) that it will hurt American companies and consumers; and 3) that countries around the globe, including key allies, have already warned they’ll have no choice but to retaliate if their products are included in the tax, which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross suggested on Friday is a virtual certainty. Even more disturbing? The president seems to have little to no grasp on the actual economics involved.

Trump’s opinion on the benefits of tariffs hasn’t changed much since the 1980s, the decade in which his brain apparently ossified. (Then, Trump was obsessed with the Japanese instead of the Chinese, but the principle, for him, is effectively the same.) Still, the president has occasionally entertained the notion that there will be a debate over the trade war he has been demanding since the earliest days of his campaign. Axios paints the picture with an account of a meeting in the Oval Office last January, in which Trump had his anti-tariff advisers (National Economic Council head Gary Cohn and recently departed staff secretary Robert Porter) debate his pro-tariff advisers (Ross and Peter “NAFTA leads to infertility” Navarro) for his pleasure. Trump, in full Apprentice mode, watched the back-and-forth like a tennis rally, offering useless commentary and ultimately declaring himself to be an “economic nationalist” and therefore in favor of the punitive measures, seemingly without any idea what that meant

So, basically, Trump decided to start a trade war because his base thinks “globalist” is the most insulting thing you can call a person, economic effects be damned. And now, the G.O.P. is worried that Trump’s ignorance will cost them the midterms, something they probably should have thought of when he announced his candidacy for president. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/03/trump-entertains-economic-suicide-to-tick-off-globalists

2. Paul Krugman: Trade War, What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing

We can’t “win” a trade war. What we can do is start a cycle of tit-for-tat, and when it comes to trade, America — which accounts for 9 percent of world exports and 14 percent of world imports — is by no means a dominant superpower.

A cycle of retaliation would shrink overall world trade, making the world as a whole, America very much included, poorer. Perhaps even more important in the near term, it would be highly disruptive. We live in an era of global supply chains: just about everything produced in America (and everywhere else) uses inputs produced in other countries. Your new car may well have a chassis assembled in the U.S., an engine and wiring system made in Mexico, electronics from Korea and China, and, of course, steel and aluminum from Canada.

In themselves, these tariffs aren’t that big a deal. But if they’re a sign of what future policy is going to look like, they’re really, really bad. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/03/opinion/trade-war-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing.html

3. Paul Waldman: Trump's transubstantiation of falsehood into truth

But there's a purpose to the White House's relentless falsehoods beyond trying to cast a more favorable light on what the administration is doing. As a businessman, Trump often lied with the purpose of effecting a kind of transubstantiation of falsehood into truth. The very act of speaking the lie would help bring it to reality, once people believed it. He was never the biggest developer in New York, but if he claimed enough times that he was, perhaps he could get more projects and become the biggest developer in New York. His history was full of failures, but if he said that everything he touched turned to gold, perhaps the next project's success would be guaranteed. The richer he claimed to be, the more people would be drawn to him and buy his products, and the richer he would become.

Trump has applied this same principle to politics: Speak the thing you wish was true, and perhaps it will become true. The problem is that it just doesn't work as well in that arena. In business, Trump didn't need to fool everyone, just enough people to sell the next building or fill out classes in Trump University. And he didn't have an entire industry who took it as a key part of their jobs to police the truth of his claims. Now he does. So when he says his poll numbers are great, he'll quickly have a hundred news stories pointing out that isn't true, which makes it much harder for his confidence to juice his poll numbers into becoming great. http://theweek.com/articles/758186/trumps-transubstantiation-falsehood-into-truth

4. Bloomberg Editorial: Oh! What a Lovely Trade War

It's always dangerous to say that Donald Trump has set a new low for presidential discourse, because he sets new lows with dreary regularity. Nonetheless, his heedless declaration that "trade wars are good, and easy to win" deserves special recognition.

No president should need to be told that trade wars are, in fact, bad and impossible to win. By imposing new tariffs on steel and aluminum, Trump has embarked on a policy that is a clear and present danger to U.S. jobs and living standards.

The tariffs are indefensible on their face. They'll raise prices for U.S. consumers and put U.S. companies at a serious disadvantage in export markets. There's no need to go over this ground again: None of the rationales that have been offered in their defense makes sense.

Yet boasting about how easy it is to win a trade war tops almost everything. It adds an element of historical and strategic obliviousness to the administration's economic incompetence. https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-03-02/trump-s-trade-tariffs-are-far-scarier-than-george-bush-s

5. Paul Krugman: Taxpayers, You’ve Been Scammed

The federal government, as an old line says, is a giant insurance company with an army. Most of its costs come from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — and all three programs are becoming more expensive as ever more baby boomers reach retirement age. This means that unless we cut back sharply on benefits that middle-class Americans count on, we will need to raise more revenue than in the past.

Yet even before the tax cut, federal tax receipts were looking weak for an economy with low unemployment and a rising stock market — for example, far lower as a percentage of G.D.P. than the tax take during the Clinton boom of the 1990s, and even a bit lower than they were at the end of the Bush-era expansion. The tax cut will push them lower still. Something will have to give.

So the message to middle-class taxpayers is, if you think you were helped by the tax cut, think again. Donald Trump and his allies pretended to give you a gift, but they gave themselves and their wealthy patrons much bigger gifts — and they’re going to stick you with the bill. You’ve been scammed. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/01/opinion/taxpayers-scammed-republicans.html

6. Jonathan Chait: New Survey Shows Young People Are Staying Liberal and Conservatives Are Dying Off

“For obvious reasons, the broadly liberal demographic trends in American politics have received much less attention since the 2016 election. Yet the fact remains that America is politically sorted by generations in a way it never has before. The oldest voters are the most conservative, white, and Republican, and the youngest voters the most liberal, racially diverse, and Democratic. There is absolutely no sign the dynamic is abating during the Trump years. If anything, it is accelerating.”

In the long run, as John Maynard Keynes quipped, “We are all dead.” But over the long run, the Republicans are especially dead. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/new-survey-young-staying-liberal-conservatives-dying-off.html

7. Paul Waldman: The Republican Congress is officially giving up

When he ran for re-election in 1948, Harry Truman railed at the "do-nothing Congress" he said was stymieing his efforts to make the country run smoothly. This year, President Trump will tell voters to keep our contemporary do-nothing Congress around so it can continue doing nothing. And more than a few of those Republicans may be looking back wistfully at the good old days of 2015 or so, when they could spend their days investigating Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, shaking their fists at the administration, and generally having a grand old time. http://theweek.com/articles/759119/republican-congress-officially-giving

8. Harold Meyerson: There are echoes of the Fugitive Slave Act in today's immigration debate

History doesn't repeat itself, but in our dispute over immigrants in the country illegally and our predecessors' dispute over fugitive slaves, it takes no leap of logic or imagination to find the rhymes.

Now, as then, one part of the country (President Trump's disproportionately rural, white nationalist base) has enlisted federal power to enforce a legal regime in a different part of the country (racially diverse, immigrant-heavy cities) that views the law as morally repulsive and destructive of the social fabric.

Just as the slave catchers argued, speciously, that freed Negroes imperiled the antebellum North, today's anti-immigrant forces, beginning with Trump, argue that immigrants pose a threat to public safety, though crime has fallen precipitously during the past quarter-century.

The only "crime" that most undocumented immigrants have committed — and the only one that places them in federal legal jeopardy — is that of being undocumented. Likewise, the only "crime" that most escaped slaves had committed — and the only one that placed them in federal legal jeopardy — was escaping. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-meyerson-immigration-fugitive-slave-20180301-story.html#nws=mcnewsletter

9. Scott Turow: Why Manafort’s Legal Strategy Could Doom Him—and Donald Trump

Manafort, it seems, is the sort of man who likes to gamble. The sheer brazenness of the conduct he was charged with (creating shell companies and partnerships to hide Ukrainian payments and then wiring it to the people who remodeled or landscaped Manafort’s homes, or creating phony income statements to obtain mortgages so he could keep up his lavish lifestyle) bespeaks a person with a ravaging appetite for money and luxury—a balls-out player who believes he can get away with just about anything if he has the gall to try. In other words, he’s the kind of man prone to defy traditional legal advice and reach for the brass ring of a pardon. A man, in fact, not unlike Trump himself. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/03/why-manaforts-legal-strategy-could-doom-him

10. Andrew Sullivan: Is This the Beginning of Trump’s End?

Trump then went out of his way repeatedly in the campaign to draw the media’s attention to the hacked emails, kept denying they were definitively the result of Russian interference, then publicly urged Russia, on national television, to release them. That summer, Donald Trump Jr. was thrilled to meet with Kremlin-connected Russians who might provide more information about the hacked emails, hoping that they could be released later in the campaign. He subsequently lied about this in a statement reportedly co-written by the president and Hope Hicks. Then there’s Mueller’s successful bid to get Rick Gates, Paul Manafort’s right-hand man, to cooperate with the ongoing case against Trump’s former campaign manager. Gates knows everything about that sleazeball’s money-raking over the years, and his enmeshment with some of the most repellent tyrants on the planet (not including Trump). His testimony could be devastating. All of this lends considerably more credibility to the notion that Trump may have effectively committed treason during his campaign, and that Mueller may hit pay dirt. I have to say I’ve become much less skeptical of this idea as time has passed and the evidence has accumulated. It reached a tipping point for me last week.

Trump’s best bet is that he can gin up another culture-war distraction and that the cult behind him — and the cult’s fear and loathing of the other tribe — will render him immune to the usual political crosswinds. All the evidence reveals that, so far, he would be right. His 85 percent approval rating from Republicans remains and probably will never decline — regardless of anything he does or might do. I suspect that even if there were a tape of him conspiring with Putin himself to tip the 2016 election, Fox would call it fake news, Trump would say it’s not his voice, and the GOP base would side instinctively with their newly beloved Kremlin over the Democrats. But I’ve begun to wonder if there’s a chance that the cultish following may falter as the reality of Trump’s ideological fickleness, managerial incompetence, and boundless corruption begins to seep through. At some point, surely even his supporters will have to say that this is finally enough. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/andrew-sullivan-is-this-the-beginning-of-trumps-end.html

11. Alan Burdick: Donald Trump’s Know-Nothing Science Budget

Donald Trump’s disregard for science has never been much of a secret. Well before he became President, he tweeted that light bulbs can cause cancer, that wind farms are unhealthy, that fracking “poses ZERO health risks,” and that Ebola “is much easier to transmit” than the government lets on. As a candidate, he regularly called global warming a hoax, repeated the false notion that vaccines can cause autism, and stated confidently that spraying hair spray in one’s apartment does not harm the ozone layer. (It does, a little.) He avoids exercise, proudly fears germs, and, in Mike Pence, has chosen a Vice-President who, when pointedly asked, won’t say whether he believes in evolution. The day after Trump won the 2016 election, the editors of the journal Nature wrote that, as incoming President, he “should leave behind his damaging and unpopular attitudes and embrace reality, rationality and evidence.”

It’s been downhill ever since. Under Trump, the United States has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement, and the phrases “climate change” and “evidence-based” have been scrubbed from federal Web sites—in the very same year that three once-in-a-century hurricanes and two major drought-fuelled wildfires ravaged parts of the nation. (Last weekend, the temperature in the Arctic soared above forty-five degrees Fahrenheit, and today’s forecast calls for historic flooding in Boston.) Two national monuments have been shrunk to make way for mining; the Affordable Care Act is being dismantled, with nothing to replace it; the Environmental Protection Agency has banned E.P.A.-funded scientists, but not industry representatives, from serving on its advisory boards; and the Centers for Disease Control, facing steep budget cuts, will soon all but shut down a vital program that helps more than three dozen developing countries detect and control the spread of infectious diseases. https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/donald-trumps-know-nothing-science-budget

12. NY Times Editorial: Donald Trump’s Tunnel Vision

Some actions by political leaders are capricious. Some can be shortsighted. And some are sheer lunkheaded. President Trump hit the trifecta last week when he encouraged the House speaker, Paul Ryan, to scrap start-up money for an additional rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey, a project essential to the economic health not only of those two states but of the entire country.

Worse yet, the president’s action bore no relation to objective analysis of the region’s infrastructure needs. Accounts in The Times and The Washington Post said he did it to spite the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, whose sin is failure to fall in lock step with Mr. Trump on a variety of issues. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/05/opinion/trump-jersey-new-york-tunnel.html

13. Eugene Robinson: The True Cost of Trump

As the saying goes, you don’t miss the water until the well runs dry: This deeply aberrant presidency threatens to cost the nation much more than even some of President Trump’s harshest critics may realize.

It’s easy to lose the habits and values of democracy, but incredibly hard to get them back. Perhaps most difficult is to recover lost faith in the rule of law. That is why Trump’s very public desire to use the legal system as a weapon against his political opponents is so damaging. “Lock her up” is more than a call to imprison Hillary Clinton. It is, potentially, a tragic epitaph for the consensus view of our legal system as a disinterested finder of fact and dispenser of justice.

When the rule of law and financial probity can no longer be assumed, the vacuum is filled with conspiracy theories. The president himself is a conspiratorialist par excellence; he was, after all, the chief purveyor of the birther nonsense. Since neither his words nor those of his press office can be believed, it is natural — but incredibly damaging — to assume that the real story is being hidden from us, for reasons that must be nefarious. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-trump-presidency-could-cost-the-nation-more-than-we-realize/2018/03/05/0ddb1882-209f-11e8-94da-ebf9d112159c_story.html

14. Paul Krugman: A Ranting Old Guy With Nukes

Imagine that you’re listening to some garrulous old guy in a diner, telling you what’s wrong with the world — which mainly involves how we’re being victimized and taken advantage of by foreigners. You hear him out; after all, there have been approximately 17,000 news analyses telling us that garrulous old guys in diners represent the Real America.

Despite your best efforts to avoid being condescending, however, you can’t help noticing that his opinions seem a bit, well, factually challenged. No, we aren’t experiencing a huge wave of violent crime carried out by immigrants. No, we don’t give away vast sums in foreign aid. And so on down the list. Basically, what he imagines to be facts are things he thinks he heard somewhere, maybe on Fox News, and can’t be bothered to check.

But what if the ranting, ill-informed old guy who strongly believes things that just aren’t true happens to be the president of the United States? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/05/opinion/trump-nuclear-weapons-trade.html

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