January 31, 2019

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ON THE RECORD.....

“Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States.” — Ann Coulter tweet.

“The art of the deal is simply cheating people and not caring about how badly they get hurt and now he's doing it to the American people." — Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg

The president is way stuck on stupid right now. There is no mayor in America in his-her right mind that would ever think about shutting down the government.” — Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D), in an interview on MSNBC

Federal employees working without pay are "volunteering" because of “their love for the country and the office of the presidency and presumably their allegiance to President Trump.” — Larry Kudlow

“Our diversity is our strength. But our unity is our power. And that is what maybe the president underestimated.” — Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), quoted by the Washington Post.

“He was playing double-A ball against major leaguers.” — Former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) on how President Trump backed himself into a government shutdown with no way out.

What a debacle President Trump’s shutdown proved to be — what a toddler’s pageant of foot-stomping and incompetence, of vainglory and self-defeat. Mr. Trump tormented public servants and citizens and wounded the country, and, in conceding on Friday after holding the government hostage for 35 days, could claim to have achieved nothing. — NY Times Editorial

 “That was just right out of ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ to see the White House and people inside the White House, applauding the president during one of the biggest tactical defeats, strategic defeats of his career. To me, just felt like the Upside Down out of ‘Stranger Things.’ ” — CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta

“Don’t let right-wing whack-a-doodles run the place. They’re out of their mind.” — Former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) pleading with Trump to push back on the far-right flank of his base that urged him to recently shut down the government to fund a border wall.

“The presidency is not an entry-level job… And the longer we have a pretend CEO who is recklessly running this country, the worse it’s going to be for our economy and for our security. This is really dangerous.” — Michael Bloomberg.

”In 2020, the great likelihood is that an independent would just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the President. That’s a risk I refused to run in 2016 and we can’t afford to run it now. — . — Michael Bloomberg 

“The obligations that they would undertake — say borrowing from a bank or credit union — are in effect federally guaranteed. Credit unions serving public employees are offering “very, very low-interest-rate loans” and banks are also willing to lend. True, the people might have to pay a little bit of interest, but the idea that it’s paycheck or zero is not a really valid idea,” —  Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, saying that he did not understand why federal workers who will miss a paycheck for a second time this month on Friday would turn to services like food banks.


“A low level staffer that I hardly knew named Cliff Sims wrote yet another boring book based on made up stories and fiction. He pretended to be an insider when in fact he was nothing more than a gofer. He signed a non-disclosure agreement. He is a mess!” — Trump lashing out at Cliff Sims as the former White House staffer’s book, Team of Vipers, was released.,

“Don’t help elect Trump, you egotistical billionaire asshole. Go back to getting ratioed on Twitter. Go back to Davos with the other billionaire élites who think they know how to run the world.” — A heckler at Howard Schultz’s first stop on his national book tour

If a tell-all is all lies and fiction, then how can it violate a non-disclosure agreement? — Jonathan Allen@jonallendc

“She’s not running for president.” — Former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, saying speculation that Hillary Clinton would run again was “media catnip.”

“President Nancy Pelosi, she runs the country now. We went from indefinite shutdown, to down payment, to cave — all within a span of 24 hours.” -- Former White House official. “

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1.  Andy Borowitz: Trump Furious That F.B.I. Not Stopped by Shutdown
2. Pelosi Won, Trump Lost
3. Trump Campaign Had 100+ Contacts with Russians
4. Trumpworld Follows a Godfather Script—Literally
5. Puppet Regime: Trump's ABCs
6. Post-ABC poll: Trump disapproval swells as president,
7. Civil penalties for polluters dropped dramatically in Trump’s first two years, analysis shows
8. John Podesta: It might now be Roger Stone’s time in the barrel
9. Skripal poisoning: Trump admin yet to impose new Russia sanctions required by law
10. The DAILY GRILL
11. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
12. From the Late Shows
13. There Is Nothin' Like A Wall - Randy Rainbow Song Parody
14. Kamala Harris Gets Big Ratings
15. U.S. Voters Trust Pelosi More Than Trump On Big Issues, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; 2-1 Support For No-Wall Border Solution
16. Republicans may block Trump from another shutdown
17. As Sanctions Lift, Russian Oligarch’s Company Adds Trump Transition Member To Its Board
18. McConnell says bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday is a ‘power grab’ by Democrats
19. Pro-Russian Twitter account used non-public material from Mueller's team in effort to discredit Russia probe

OPINION

1. Washington Post Editorial: The shutdown was proof of Trump’s stark incapacity for leadership
2. Jonathan Chait: Trump Caves on Shutdown, Is Terrible at Politics
3. Eric Levitz: AOC Thinks Concentrated Wealth Is Incompatible With Democracy. So Did Our Founders
4. Matt Ford: Uh-Oh! Roger Stone's arrest brings the Mueller investigation one step closer to Trump himself.
5. Michael Kruse: Roger Stone’s Last Dirty Trick
6. Alex Wagner: Pelosi Won, Trump Lost
7. David Roth: You Can't Get There From Here
8. John Podesta: It might now be Roger Stone’s time in the barrel
9. Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky: Trump advisers lied over and over again, Mueller says. The question is, why?
10. Eric Levitz: Howard Schultz Wants a President Who Will Tell Billionaires Their Favorite Lies
11.  Eric Levitz: Trump ‘Cucked’ Up the Government
12. Greg Sargent: As Trump slides in new poll, he retreats deeper into Fox News fantasyland
13. Matt Lewis: Trump: ‘The Greatest Salesman’ Who Can’t Sell Anything
14. Joel Mathis: The war over Trump's wall has only just begun
15. Bess Levin: Winning: U.S. Jumps Six Spots In Global Corruption Ranking
16. Greg Sargent: As Trump slides in new poll, he retreats deeper into Fox News fantasyland
17. Joel Mathis: The war over Trump's wall has only just begun

FYI

1.  Andy Borowitz: Trump Furious That F.B.I. Not Stopped by Shutdown

A furious Donald Trump told reporters on Friday morning that it was “a total disgrace” that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had apparently not been affected by the government shutdown.

Trump, who appeared agitated and was gripping his television remote as he spoke on the White House lawn, said that he had been under the impression that F.B.I. agents had been furloughed and were not going to work.

“You have people across the country, in national parks and places like that, who are not at work, and somehow the F.B.I. is working around the clock?” Trump said. “I think it’s a total disgrace. It’s a sick situation.”

Trump said that he would call an emergency meeting of his Cabinet to “get some answers” about why the F.B.I. was working during the shutdown.

“Let’s say you were trying to leave the country in a hurry with your family—would the F.B.I. be at the airport to stop you?” he asked. “What good is this shutdown, anyway?” https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. Pelosi Won, Trump Lost

Trump has intersected with powerful women before—Hillary Clinton, most notably—and showed little hesitation to diminish and demean. But Pelosi, who once joked to me she eats nails for breakfast, is a ready warrior. She is happy to meet the demands of war, whereas Clinton was reluctant, semi-disgusted, and annoyed to be dragged to the depths that running against Trump demanded. The speaker of the House is, technically, a coastal elite from San Francisco, but she was trained in the hurly-burly of machine politics of Baltimore by her father, Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro. It is not a coincidence that Pelosi has managed, over and over, to vanquish her rivals in the challenges for Democratic leadership: she flocks to the fight, not just because she usually wins, but apparently because she likes it.

To be powerful and to also need nothing is to be in the catbird seat, and Pelosi, in this moment, had both: her House majority is on offense, and the shutdown was—and now forevermore will be—Trump’s humiliation. If we can give credit to the president in this moment of failure, perhaps it is in the fact that he likely recognized, before even the first federal worker was furloughed, that Pelosi had already won. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/pelosi-beats-trump/581344/

3. Trump Campaign Had 100+ Contacts with Russians

During the 2016 presidential campaign and transition, Donald J. Trump and at least 17 campaign officials and advisers had contacts with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, or their intermediaries, a New York Times analysis has found. At least 10 other associates were told about interactions but did not have any themselves.

Among these contacts are more than 100 in-person meetings, phone calls, text messages, emails and private messages on Twitter. Mr. Trump and his campaign repeatedly denied having such contacts with Russians during the 2016 election. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/01/26/us/politics/trump-contacts-russians-wikileaks.html

4. Trumpworld Follows a Godfather Script—Literally

“It is perhaps remarkable, and pitiable, enough that the president of the United States for years employed a lawyer who is unselfconsciously also described as a ‘fixer,’ as his own personal Michael Clayton (to cite another movie), the in-house ‘janitor’ on call to clean up his every mess. It is yet another thing to learn that Stone…is on the record as threatening canine kidnapping and even death to a colleague whose mere telling of the truth could subject him to perjury charges. If a horse’s head turns up in somebody’s satin sheets, should anybody still be surprised?” VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUjjzwIrebQ

 

5. Puppet Regime: Trump's ABCs

https://www.facebook.com/gzeroworld/videos/390201924880054/
UzpfSTUzNTcxODA4NjoxMDE1NjE3NDY5MjI1ODA4Nw/

6. Post-ABC poll: Trump disapproval swells as president,

Public disapproval of President Trump has swelled five points to 58 percent over three months as a majority of Americans continue to hold him and congressional Republicans most responsible for the partial federal government shutdown that was set to end Friday, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

In addition, more than 1 in 5 Americans say they were personally inconvenienced by the record-long shutdown, which appeared close to an end after lawmakers and the White House reached agreement on a three-week continuing resolution to reopen the shuttered government agencies after 35 days.

The deal left Trump without a victory in his battle for a border wall but also provided him a chance to keep fighting. Congressional leaders agreed to try to resolve the spending fight over border security in a conference between the Republican-led Senate and Democrat-led House before the continuing resolution expires.

For Trump, the poll illustrates the political damage he sustained as he sought to please his conservative base by building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, his top campaign promise. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/poll-majority-of-americans-hold-trump-and-republicans-responsible-for-shutdown/2019/01/25/e7a2e7b8-20b0-11e9-9145-3f74070bbdb9_story.html

7. Civil penalties for polluters dropped dramatically in Trump’s first two years, analysis shows

Civil penalties for polluters under the Trump administration plummeted during the past fiscal year to the lowest average level since 1994, according to a new analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data.

In the two decades before President Trump took office, EPA civil fines averaged more than $500 million a year, when adjusted for inflation. Last year’s total was 85 percent below that amount — $72 million, according to the agency’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online database. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/civil-penalties-for-polluters-dropped-dramatically-in-trumps-first-two-years-analysis-shows/2019/01/24/7384d168-1a82-11e9-88fe-f9f77a3bcb6c_story.html

8. Sen. Michael Bennet slams Ted Cruz for ‘crocodile tears’ over the shutdown

Sen. Michael F. Bennet, typically a mild-mannered, congenial guy, on Thursday unleashed all of his furor over the partial government shutdown on Sen. Ted Cruz.

In a fiery exchange that played out on the Senate floor shortly before votes on two competing bills to reopen the government, Bennet (D-Colo.) raised his voice and seemed to let loose six years of pent-up ire directed at Cruz (R-Tex.) for leading an earlier shutdown. Watch it at https://youtu.be/1LlCn-HZDuY

9. Skripal poisoning: Trump admin yet to impose new Russia sanctions required by law

Nearly three months after deeming Russia in violation of a chemical weapons law, the Trump administration has yet to impose tough new sanctions on Moscow required by the law and triggered by the poisoning last year of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/trump-admin-has-not-imposed-new-sanctions-russia-required-law-n962216

10. The DAILY GRILL

“I don’t really quite understand why” the food bank visits were happening. Some banks were offering interest-free loans, he said, and because the workers would eventually get their back pay, “there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it.” -- Secretary of Commerce Wilber Ross.

VERSUS

“Is this the ‘let them eat cake’ kind of attitude or call your father for money?” —House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

 

“Women are tied up, they’re bound, duct tape put around their faces, around their mouths, in many cases they can’t even breathe. They’re put in the backs of cars or vans or trucks.” — Trump repeating a claim he had made least 10 times in 22 days.

VERSUS

.As MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and half of the internet has pointed out, it sounds a lot like Trump watched Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado - in which cartels with mad jet-propelled cars, the prayer mats, the duct taped women all turn up - over the Christmas break. 
Tom Nicholson in Esquire.

 

If Roger Stone was indicted for lying to Congress, what about the lying done by Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Lisa Page & lover, Baker and soooo many others? What about Hillary to FBI and her 33,000 deleted Emails? What about Lisa & Peter’s deleted texts & Wiener’s laptop? Much more! — DonaldTrump on Twitter.

VERSUS

Your cabal of unprincipled, unethical, dishonest, and sycophantic cronies is being methodically brought to justice. We all know where this trail leads. If your utter incompetence is not enough to run you out of office, your increasingly obvious political corruption surely will. — John O. Brennan responds.

 

“They have done polling to gauge a potential path for Schultz, and they argue that if Schultz runs, he will open up presidential politics to not only independent voters, but to a swath of non-battleground states that campaigns typically ignore.” — Howard Schultz adviser Steve Schmidt saying that the former Starbucks CEO would save the Democratic Party from nominating “someone who is so far to the left that it guarantees Trump a reelection.”

VERSUS

“One fallacy you’ll never see me fall for is that an election between Trump and ‘someone on the left like Warren’ would leave a huge path in the middle. If you’re saying that, find me the polls and point to the unpopular idea the left is running on. There isn’t one.” — Dave Weigel on Twitter


“When I see Elizabeth Warren come out with a ridiculous plan of taxing wealthy people a surtax of 2 percent because it makes a good headline, or sends out a tweet, when she knows for a fact that is not something that’s ever going to be passed, this is what’s wrong. You can’t just attack these things in a punitive way by punishing people.”— Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

VERSUS

“We have a billionaire who says he wants to jump into the race and the first issue he’s raised is ‘no new taxes on billionaires.’ Let’s see where that goes,” —  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

 

In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you !-- Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

Winter storms don't prove that global warming isn't happening. https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/are-record-snowstorms-proof-global-warming-isn%E2%80%99t-happening 
-- NOAA Climate.gov@NOAAClimate

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

Fox guest: Survey showing Americans going without health insurance hitting four-year high is "media spin.”According to Gallup, the Trump administration's actions to curtail the Affordable Care Act have contributed to the uninsured rate increasing to a four-year high. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/01/24/fox-guest-survey-showing-americans-going-without-health-insurance-hitting-four-year-high-media-spin/222630

A comprehensive guide to indicted Trump ally Roger Stone, a racist, sexist conspiracy theorist. Stone has a history of dirty tricks, violent rhetoric, racist taunts, sexist screeds, fringe conspiracy theories, and discredited research. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2019/01/25/comprehensive-guide-indicted-trump-ally-roger-stone-racist-sexist-conspiracy-theorist/222081

After shutdown ends, Sean Hannity claims Democrats in Congress secretly want the wall. Hannity: "Many of them saying, not publicly, that they want the border wall.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/01/25/after-shutdown-ends-sean-hannity-claims-democrats-congress-secretly-want-wall/222654

After previously pushing the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, Sean Hannity suggests "disgruntled DNC workers” gave WikiLeaks hacked emails. Hannity: "Was it Russia itself? Was is the Chinese? Was it North Korea? Maybe disgruntled DNC workers who copied it, who knows?” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/01/25/after-previously-pushing-seth-rich-conspiracy-theory-sean-hannity-suggests-disgruntled-dnc-workers/222652

Alex Jones melts down after Roger Stone indicted: Indict “whore” Hillary Clinton instead. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/01/25/alex-jones-melts-down-after-roger-stone-indicted-indict-whore-hillary-clinton-instead/222650

Lou Dobbs slams Trump's shutdown cave: "Illegal immigrants are surely pleased.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/01/25/lou-dobbs-slams-trumps-shutdown-cave-illegal-immigrants-are-surely-pleased/222658

Sean Hannity reacts to Roger Stone indictment by calling Mueller investigation "the biggest abuse of power scandal in modern American history.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/01/25/sean-hannity-reacts-roger-stone-indictment-calling-mueller-investigation-biggest-abuse-power-scandal/222661

After Sebastian Gorka calls end of shutdown a “master stroke” by Trump, Lou Dobbs says Pelosi “whipped the president.” Dobbs: Pelosi "just whipped the president of the United States .. and to deny it is to try to escape from reality.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/01/25/after-sebastian-gorka-calls-end-shutdown-master-stroke-trump-lou-dobbs-says-pelosi-whipped-president/222659

Sean Hannity says "people like Assange" have done us favors by hacking our computer systems. Hannity: “I had said at the time, that in a weird way, people like Assange have done us favors.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/01/25/sean-hannity-says-people-assange-have-done-us-favors-hacking-our-computer-systems/222657

Fox's Jeanine Pirro lashes out at Ann Coulter and other right-wing media who criticized Trump for caving on the shutdown. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/01/27/foxs-jeanine-pirro-lashes-out-ann-coulter-and-other-right-wing-media-who-criticized-trump-caving/222662

Sean Hannity reacts to Roger Stone indictment by calling the Mueller investigation "the biggest abuse of power scandal in modern American history.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/01/25/sean-hannity-reacts-roger-stone-indictment-calling-mueller-investigation-biggest-abuse-power-scandal/222661

Sean Hannity: Raid of Roger Stone shows a double standard since Hillary and Eric Holder weren't arrested for Benghazi and New Black Panthers. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/01/28/sean-hannity-raid-roger-stone-shows-double-standard-hillary-and-eric-holder-werent-arrested-benghazi/222674

Fox News loves the idea of Howard Schultz running for president. Hoping that “he splits the leftist vote in the Democrats and puts Donald Trump back in for a second term,” Fox News is ready for the Howard Schultz candidacy. https://www.mediamatters.org/research/2019/01/29/fox-news-loves-idea-howard-schultz-running-president/222689

12. From the Late Shows

Tucker Carlson Cold Open - SNL: https://youtu.be/Sld27PfAF3M

Weekend Update: Trump Announces Deal to End Shutdown - SNL: https://youtu.be/Kki30ka_Kfw

13. There Is Nothin' Like A Wall - Randy Rainbow Song Parody

https://youtu.be/ZL5CDt_1xcE

14. Kamala Harris Gets Big Ratings

CNN’s Town Hall with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was the most watched cable news single candidate election town hall ever, CNN reports. http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2019/01/29/cnns-town-hall-with-sen-kamala-harris-was-most-watched-cable-news-single-candidate-town-hall-ever/

15. U.S. Voters Trust Pelosi More Than Trump On Big Issues, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; 2-1 Support For No-Wall Border Solution

American voters trust House Speaker Nancy Pelosi more than President Donald Trump, 49 - 42 percent "on issues that are important to you," according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released on Tuesday. Independent voters trust Pelosi more than President Trump 49 - 36 percent. 

American voters oppose 55 - 41 percent building a wall along the border with Mexico, compared to 55 - 43 percent opposition January 14. 

Voters disapprove 66 - 31 percent of the president using emergency powers to fund a wall along the border.  https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail

16. Republicans may block Trump from another shutdown

Senate Republicans can’t stomach another shutdown.

After weathering 35 days of a partial government closure, the Senate GOP is dreading the possibility another one will hit in less than three weeks — a sentiment that could prevent President Donald Trump from closing the government again.

Though House Republicans aren’t ruling out supporting the president should he choose another confrontation over his border wall, the Republican Senate majority — which actually has governing power — has another view. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/28/government-shutdown-republicans-trump-1133101

17. As Sanctions Lift, Russian Oligarch’s Company Adds Trump Transition Member To Its Board

A member of President Trump’s transition team was named as a board member of a company owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska the day after the Trump administration lifted sanctions against Deripaska’s companies. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-insider-board-member-deripaska_us_5c4f81a4e4b0d9f9be683192

18. McConnell says bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday is a ‘power grab’ by Democrats

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that a Democratic bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday is a “power grab,” sparking a fierce backlash online.

McConnell was speaking about H.R. 1, legislation that Democrats have made a centerpiece of their agenda since retaking the House earlier this month.

The far-reaching legislation would also prohibit the purging of voter rolls, require presidential and vice-presidential candidates to release their tax returns, compel states to adopt independent redistricting commissions and create a matching system for small-dollar donations to congressional campaigns, among other changes. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mcconnell-says-bill-that-would-make-election-day-a-federal-holiday-is-a-power-grab-by-democrats/2019/01/30/57421dd6-24bd-11e9-ad53-824486280311_story.html

19. Pro-Russian Twitter account used non-public material from Mueller's team in effort to discredit Russia probe

A pro-Russian Twitter account used information from a criminal case that Robert Mueller's team brought against a Russian social media company as part of a disinformation campaign, according to a new filing from the Justice Department.

That publication of documents that had been shared with defense attorneys, but not made public in the ongoing case, was yet another disinformation campaign from Russia -- this time aimed at discrediting Mueller's investigation, federal prosecutors wrote in the filing Wednesday.

"Certain non-sensitive discovery materials in the defense's possession appear to have been altered and disseminated as part of a disinformation campaign aimed (apparently) at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. political system," prosecutors wrote.

The documents -- though they did not contain sensitive information that could harm American national security -- should have never reached the public's view, the prosecutors say. https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/30/politics/special-counsel-russia-documents/

OPINION

1. Washington Post Editorial: The shutdown was proof of Trump’s stark incapacity for leadership

TRUMP’S temper tantrum over Congress’s refusal to fund a border wall paralyzed much of the government for five weeks, sapped the morale and wallets of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and low-wage contractors, left millions of Americans disgusted and dismayed, and diminished the United States in the eyes of the world. The impasse was proof of the president’s stark incapacity for leadership, which he reconfirmed Friday by threatening to re-shutter the government in three weeks.

In announcing his non-deal with Congress — in fact, it is more cease-fire than solution — Mr. Trump rehashed his tired and truth-free arguments, asserting against logic and evidence that building a massive new border wall, to supplement hundreds of miles of barriers already in place along high-trafficked segments of the border, would cause crime to plummet and drug trafficking to dry up.

He has lost that argument with the American people, a majority of whom oppose building the wall and blame him and Republicans in Congress for the shutdown, according to the latest Post-ABC News poll. Mindful of that, of the cascading economic costs related to the government closure and of the latest shutdown-related calamity — Friday’s massive flight delays along the Eastern Seaboard owing to a shortage of air traffic controllers — the president agreed to reopen the government until Feb. 15, with no new funding for a border wall for now. Score one for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), though no one is going to celebrate a national debacle such as this. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-shutdown-was-proof-of-trumps-stark-incapacity-for-leadership/2019/01/25/deef71e0-20e2-11e9-8b59-0a28f2191131_story.html

2. Jonathan Chait: Trump Caves on Shutdown, Is Terrible at Politics

President Trump’s painful delusion that he could use a government shutdown to force Democrats to fund his campaign theme came to a predictable yet bizarre conclusion. Trump strode to the podium in front of the White House like a conquering hero. “My fellow Americans,” he announced, “I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government!”

Trump declared this in the soaring tones of a conquering hero, as if he were announcing the safe return home of hostages from Iran, rather than the release of hostages he had taken himself. He thanked the federal workforce and absurdly insisted they “did not complain.”

Nobody has ever gained anything from a government shutdown. Trump nonetheless decided to try, egged on by a sycophantic right-wing media that pushed him into a tactic he could never win, and then denied the obvious. The shutdown “is highly unlikely to hurt either President Trump or the Republican Party,” argued Henry Olsen in December. “There’s no reason he shouldn’t dig in for the holiday season and wait for the Democrats to offer a compromise he can live with.” Amazingly, Olsen’s column did not contemplate what would happen if Democrats refused to offer up a concession and simply waited for the inevitable backlash to force Trump to relent.

Likewise, last week, Rush Limbaugh cheerfully insisted, “If he hangs on and continues down this road, at some point there’s gonna be a shift in public opinion and the vast majority of the American people are gonna end up with him on this.”

That, uh, did not happen. Instead, Trump’s approval rating sank below the 40% level in poll after poll, and he had to surrender before the economic chaos threw the economy into recession. http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/01/trump-caves-on-shutdown-terrible-at-politics.html

3. Eric Levitz: AOC Thinks Concentrated Wealth Is Incompatible With Democracy. So Did Our Founders

In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville produced one of the earliest accounts of the American dream. In his famous study of the Jacksonian U.S., the Frenchman wrote that Americans possessed “the charm of anticipated success” — a ubiquitous optimism that he attributed to our country’s democratic character, and to the “general equality of condition” that prevailed among its “people.”

On Wednesday night, Sean Hannity took de Tocqueville to task. In the Fox News’ host’s telling, general economic equality is not a precondition for the American dream, but rather, an insurmountable obstacle to it — because the American dream is (apparently) to earn more than $10 million year without having to pay a top marginal tax rate higher than 37 percent.

Of course, Hannity did not actually frame his argument as a rebuke of de Tocqueville. His true target was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

After popularizing the idea of a 70 percent top marginal tax rate earlier this month, the freshman congresswoman recently suggested that the mere existence of billionaires was both immoral, and a threat to American democracy. “I do think that a system that allows billionaires to exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health is wrong,” Ocasio-Cortez told the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, during an interview on Martin Luther King Day. One day later, the congresswoman approvingly quoted an op-ed by the economists Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez, which argued that the purpose of high taxes on the wealthy wasn’t merely to generate revenue, but rather, to safeguard “democracy against oligarchy.”

Hannity’s not buying it. The Fox News host informed his audience Wednesday that Ocasio-Cortez had “called the American dream immoral,” and that she wants to “empower the government to confiscate” said dream. “Better hide your nice things,” Hannity advised his audience (whom he ostensibly believes to be composed primarily of billionaires), “because here come the excess police.” http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/01/ocasio-cortez-aocs-billionaires-taxes-hannity-american-democracy.html

4. Matt Ford: Uh-Oh! Roger Stone's arrest brings the Mueller investigation one step closer to Trump himself.

Stone’s contentious relationship with Randy Credico, a New York radio host who appears to be the person described as “Person 2” in the indictment, also became public knowledge last year. Credico had previously interviewed Assange; Mueller’s indictment says that Stone described Credico as an “intermediary” between himself and the WikiLeaks founder. While Congress and federal investigators dug into the circumstances surrounding Russian election meddling in 2016, Stone allegedly began pressuring and threatening Credico to lie about what had transpired.

Stone, according to the indictment, told Credico before his House Intelligence Committee testimony that he should pull a “Frank Pentangeli,” referring to a fictional mafioso in the second Godfather film who commits perjury before a congressional committee to refute allegations that the Corleone family runs a nationwide crime syndicate. Last April, Stone’s efforts to pressure Credico took on a more violent overtone. “On or about April 9, 2018, Stone wrote in an email to [Credico], ‘You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying Rip you to shreds,’” the indictment states. “Stone also said he would ‘take that dog away from you,’ referring to [Credico]’s dog. On or about the same day, Stone wrote to [Credico], ‘I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die [expletive].’”

The timing of Stone’s indictment could hardly be worse for Trump, who is already facing immense political turmoil over the partial government shutdown. The president’s refusal to budge on his demand for border wall funding has placed 800,000 federal workers and countless others in financial limbo, shuttered vital government functions, and impacted the nation’s economy. Trump proudly boasted last December that he would be willing to take the blame for the shutdown, and Americans have responded accordingly: His approval rating has sunk to new lows, even among his core supporters. https://newrepublic.com/article/152958/roger-stone-arrest-mueller-russia-collusion-investigation-closer-trump

5. Michael Kruse: Roger Stone’s Last Dirty Trick

“Perhaps an impolite question,” I asked Roger Stone in a text message last month, “but what if something you envisioned well before almost anybody else and worked toward for more than a generation”—a Donald Trump presidency—”is also in the end the source of your legal demise?”

“That isn’t going to happen,” he responded, punctuating his missive with a yellow, laughing, smiley-face emoji.

Friday morning, it happened.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of Stone, charging him with false statements, witness tampering and obstruction of proceeding, indeed landed with a strangely poetic, practically Shakespearean boom, marking a karmic kind of culmination of one of Trump’s longest and most important relationships—an ignominious end, maybe, the result of an idea that was first and foremost his, starting nearly 40 years back.

“I think,” Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio told me, “the universe seeks balance and order, and Stone’s life of disorder and corruption had to be confronted at some point.”

“He is,” longtime New York Democratic strategist George Arzt said, “the wicked seed who has poisoned the tree of democracy.” https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/01/25/roger-stone-last-dirty-trick-224217

6. Alex Wagner: Pelosi Won, Trump Lost

On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump walked into the Rose Garden to announce, effectively, that he was throwing in the towel. After shutting down the government as part of a 35-day executive tantrum to secure funding for his proposed border wall with Mexico, Trump announced a plan to reopen the government for the next three weeks while House and Senate negotiators look at border-security funding measures. The government will reopen, and no wall is in sight.

It was the coda to what has been a national misery and a rolling disaster for the self-designated deal maker: By Friday afternoon, Trump’s disapproval rating had shot up five points since the start of the federal freeze, and one in five Americans polled said that the shutdown had personally inconvenienced them. This sure didn’t seem like big-shot master strategy.

The Rose Garden capitulation, besides providing the capstone to Trump’s public disgrace, was an undeniable victory for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and a lesson about the new Washington power dynamic: The Donald has met his match.
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/pelosi-beats-trump/581344/

7. David Roth: You Can't Get There From Here

If Trump appears to be confronting an emerging truth that makes him look bad with a flailing childish insistence that Actually The Opposite Is True, it’s because he is.

If it looks like he’s numbly ventriloquizing the rancid words of one of the aspiring genocidaires tasked with writing his more high-flown addresses, it’s because he is.

If it appears that he is taking some cruel promise made idly at some point in the past and then spinning stupid stories to justify seeing that promise through, it’s because that is just what he’s doing.

Trump repeats the same five or six phrases like a defective Teddy Ruxpin not because he’s trying to brainwash or brand but because he can only hold like 175 words in his head at one time and is just kind of mushing the button that seems most appropriate for the situation over and over again.

There will be no new work done until he’s out of this job, not just because the venal and idiotic criminality that has defined his life belatedly appears to be catching up with him but because it simply isn’t in him to do new work, and because his current job transparently doesn’t matter to him at all. He’ll believe that he’s getting away with it—that he’s winning and commanding and leading—until the cuffs close or the lights go out, and he will always act that way. He will spend the rest of his life trying to demonstrate that he was right about whatever it was that he said or did before. https://theconcourse.deadspin.com/you-cant-get-there-from-here-1831622949

8. John Podesta: It might now be Roger Stone’s time in the barrel

The details of Stone’s indictment are devastating and, characteristically of Stone, quite colorful. According to the filing, Stone emailed a confederate labeled “Person 2” (identified by the media as radio host Randy Credico) to dissuade him from testifying truthfully about WikiLeaks before the House Intelligence Committee: “You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying Rip you to shreds” and “I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die [expletive].” Stone instructs Person 2 to do a “Frank Pentangeli” — a character from “The Godfather Part II” who famously lies to congressional investigators — and, my nostalgic favorite, Stone paraphrases a quote from President Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate coverup: “Stonewall it. Plead the Fifth. Anything to save the plan.”

To anyone keeping abreast of the unfolding events in the Mueller investigation, this level of sleaze is not at all surprising. The walls have been closing in for some time. As a key member of Trump’s inner circle, Stone and his course of conduct during the campaign and after have exemplified a culture of cronyism and corruption that ignored all ethical standards and rewarded fabrication over the hard truth of reality.

It was all obvious during the campaign and from President Trump’s first full day in office, when he sent out the hapless Sean Spicer to lie to the media about the size of his inauguration audience, that the president would establish an administration in which lying and intimidation were the default way of doing business. When it comes to lying, Trump is in a league of his own. The Post reported this week that he has made 8,158 false or misleading claims in his first two years in office. Sadly, his culture of deceit was embraced by (or forced upon) the people around him and his apologists on Capitol Hill. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/john-podesta-it-might-now-be-roger-stones-time-in-the-barrel/2019/01/25/78108cf6-20de-11e9-9145-3f74070bbdb9_story.html

9. Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky: Trump advisers lied over and over again, Mueller says. The question is, why?

They lied to the public for months before Donald Trump was elected — and then repeatedly after he took office.

They lied to Congress as lawmakers sought to investigate Russia’s attack on American democracy in 2016.

And they lied to the FBI, even when they knew lying was a crime.

“In Trump world, everybody lies. Everybody doesn’t tell the truth. At the end of the day, they are all lying. I don’t know how Mueller can believe anybody,” said Louise Sunshine, a longtime executive with the Trump Organization.

Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide, said he believed that people around Trump lied to investigators because they were trying to make sure their version of events lined up with lies the president was telling to the American people.

“They all conspired,” he said, “against themselves.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-advisers-lied-over-and-over-again-mueller-says-the-question-is-why/2019/01/26/e72454f6-20c5-11e9-8e21-59a09ff1e2a1_story.html

10. Eric Levitz: Howard Schultz Wants a President Who Will Tell Billionaires Their Favorite Lies

As many have already noted, a “realist” who believes that a third-party candidate can win the 2020 election is a contradiction in terms. Schultz is about as fluent in the realities of modern American politics as Donald Trump is with those of modern American grocery shopping. Meanwhile, Schultz’s ostensible belief that the U.S. government is analogous to an upscale coffee chain — and thus, that Uncle Sam has no more business running up a $21.5 trillion debt than Starbucks does — is no less a declaration of economic illiteracy than Trump’s insistence that trade deficits are tantamount to theft.

But what makes Schultz’s pretensions to realism truly hallucinatory is this: Even if one stipulates that he is right about the appeal of centrism, and the evil of deficits, his own promises about fiscal policy would still be much more extravagantly “unrealistic” than the median democratic socialist’s.

In sum: Schultz is promising to reduce inequality by keeping taxes on corporate shareholders lower than they were under Obama, to reduce the deficit by slashing taxes on the middle class, and to end poverty by cutting two of the most effective anti-poverty programs in American history. http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/01/howard-schultz-2020-inequality-is-less-of-a-realist-than-ocasio-cortez.html

11.  Eric Levitz: Trump ‘Cucked’ Up the Government

Trump assembled his base by humiliating his enemies. Then, he won over his Republican skeptics by humiliating theirs. The mogul’s defeat of Hillary Clinton transformed all his defects into virtues: His dearth of tact and competence only served to amplify the indignity of blue America’s loss. John Kasich might have been able to beat “the libs,” but only Trump could truly “own” them.

Throughout his first two years in office, the president broke many promises and suffered plenty of defeats. But he never gave the GOP faithful serious cause for doubting his toughness on immigration, or capacity to bring liberals low.

Until he picked a high-profile, weeks-long fight over border security with a liberal, septuagenarian woman from San Francisco — and got “cucked” up beyond all recognition.

With the shutdown, Trump took the art of the lose-lose opportunity to new heights. Few propositions isolate the Trumpen proletariat from the rest of the electorate more comprehensively than “it is good for a president to deliberately sabotage the federal government, so as to coerce Democrats into funding a border wall.” And few spectacles could cause the Republican base more distress than the sight of Donald Trump bending the knee to Nancy Pelosi and insubordinate government workers. http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/01/how-trump-cucked-up-the-government-shutdown-nancy-pelosi-border-wall.html

12. Greg Sargent: As Trump slides in new poll, he retreats deeper into Fox News fantasyland

Trump is stuck in Foxlandia

That Trump is consulting Dobbs for private advice about how to proceed — even as he craters in polls — perfectly captures the folly and delusion consuming this presidency at this particular moment. Trump watches Fox obsessively for validation, and he has very likely seen Dobbs tell him that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “whipped” him in the shutdown battle; that his only route forward is to declare a national emergency; and that recent leaks about the Russia probe were really about distracting the public from Democratic opposition to Trump’s wall, as if that’s somehow an unpopular position that Democrats fear holding.

In this mythology, the political threat to Trump does not come from the mounting legal travails he faces (all of that is a hoax and a witch hunt) or from Trump’s malicious and deeply destructive shutdown for the sake of his deeply unpopular wall. Rather, the real political danger to Trump always comes from his failure to fight hard enough, whether it’s failing to close down special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, or failing to do whatever it takes — declare a national emergency, shut down the government until the end of time — to ensure that he gets the wall without giving up anything that might perturb his base in the slightest.

But if Trump did accept that Democrats now control the House, and thus must be offered genuine concessions in exchange for giving him what he wants, Trump probably could get more money for something that fits his latest description of the wall, which he has now downgraded to “steel barriers in high-priority locations.”

Alas, in Foxlandia, there is as much space for an acknowledgment of these new power realities in Washington as there is for an acknowledgment of the polls showing him cratering.

In Foxlandia, Trump always has all the hidden leverage, and if only he’d just exercise it, a glorious victory would follow — entirely on Trump’s own terms. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/28/trump-slides-new-poll-he-retreats-deeper-into-fox-news-fantasyland/

13. Matt Lewis: Trump: ‘The Greatest Salesman’ Who Can’t Sell Anything

For many conservatives (like Ann Coulter), Trump’s credibility rested not on his character, but on the fact that he said he would build a wall. They never stopped to think that the guy who conned others might be conning them, too. Today, Coulter is paying a high price for her misplaced trust—and she is discovering what so many of us sensed all along.

It also helps explain how—even on the rare occasion when Trump wheels out the teleprompter and tries to give a moving speech—nobody is moved. Part of a leader’s job is to persuade via rhetoric, yet outside of his credulous base Trump has consistently failed at this. His Oval Office speech was a dud, he was outmaneuvered by Nancy Pelosi (ironically over whether he could give a State of the Union speech during a shutdown!), and now he’s on the verge of losing Ann Coulter.

This situation smacks of irony: Donald Trump billed himself as the greatest salesman in the world, yet he can’t seem to sell the American public on anything.

Donald Trump’s rhetoric doesn’t work because he lacks credibility, and he lacks credibility because he has squandered it on lies and hate tweets. This is something many of us have long known. The Ann Coulters of the world are finally figuring this out…the hard way. https://www.thedailybeast.com/now-we-know-what-it-takes-for-some-people-like-ann-coulter-to-learn-that-trump-is-untrustworthy

 

14. Joel Mathis: The war over Trump's wall has only just begun

The longest government shutdown in American history is over. Thank goodness.

But the war over President Trump's border wall isn't finished, no matter how defeated he seems. That much should be clear from the president's defiant tweets over the weekend. Instead, it's likely that the biggest and most important battles — battles that could determine the future of the U.S. constitutional order — are yet to come.

Declaring an emergency and dumping the issue on the courts will feel better than a shutdown — no missed paychecks, no airport slowdowns — but it might be actually worse for the Constitution. If the courts should somehow rule in Trump's favor — the meager limits restraining his presidency, or any American presidency — will be greatly loosened.

Trump's fans are fine with that. They are short-sighted — and should consider if they're ready to let Democratic presidents have the same power they want Trump to assert. Is it so difficult to imagine, say, a President Elizabeth Warren declaring that Medicare-for-all is necessary to American national security? Or any president using the powers for far worse reasons and to far worse effect?

Trump's opponents spent much of the weekend exulting in the president's capitulation on the shutdown. You can't blame them. But there's a longer game being played here. The war over the wall has just begun. https://theweek.com/articles/820152/war-over-trumps-wall-only-just-begun

15. Bess Levin: Winning: U.S. Jumps Six Spots In Global Corruption Ranking

One of Donald Trump’s favorite pastimes, aside from screaming at the TV and tweeting, is claiming he’s the best at everything. “Nobody builds walls better than me,” he famously declared while announcing his candidacy for president. “I understand money better than anybody,” he insisted, several months later. “I know words, I have the best words,” are a collection of words that once tumbled from his mouth. Unfortunately—and this is true—the United States is not the best at everything. For instance, in an annual ranking released last year, America clocked in as the 16th least corrupt country in the world. (Somalia took the top prize). This year, however, thanks to Trump’s efforts, the U.S. jumped to number 22, our “most corrupt” level in seven years.

Of course, it‘s not super surprising that the U.S. would fall out of the top 20 least-corrupt nations under the tutelage of one Donald J. Trump, whose administration is, at least anecdotally, the most corrupt executive branch in modern U.S. history, and who gives Democracy the finger on a daily basis. Perhaps before his first term is up, we’ll leapfrog past North Korea (2018 ranking: 176)! https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/01/us-jumps-six-spots-in-global-corruption-ranking

16. Greg Sargent: As Trump slides in new poll, he retreats deeper into Fox News fantasyland

Trump is stuck in Foxlandia

That Trump is consulting Dobbs for private advice about how to proceed — even as he craters in polls — perfectly captures the folly and delusion consuming this presidency at this particular moment. Trump watches Fox obsessively for validation, and he has very likely seen Dobbs tell him that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “whipped” him in the shutdown battle; that his only route forward is to declare a national emergency; and that recent leaks about the Russia probe were really about distracting the public from Democratic opposition to Trump’s wall, as if that’s somehow an unpopular position that Democrats fear holding.

In this mythology, the political threat to Trump does not come from the mounting legal travails he faces (all of that is a hoax and a witch hunt) or from Trump’s malicious and deeply destructive shutdown for the sake of his deeply unpopular wall. Rather, the real political danger to Trump always comes from his failure to fight hard enough, whether it’s failing to close down special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, or failing to do whatever it takes — declare a national emergency, shut down the government until the end of time — to ensure that he gets the wall without giving up anything that might perturb his base in the slightest.

But if Trump did accept that Democrats now control the House, and thus must be offered genuine concession sin exchange for giving him what he wants, Trump probably could get more money for something that fits his latest description of the wall, which he has now downgraded to “steel barriers in high-priority locations.”

Alas, in Foxlandia, there is as much space for an acknowledgment of these new power realities in Washington as there is for an acknowledgment of the polls showing him cratering.

In Foxlandia, Trump always has all the hidden leverage, and if only he’d just exercise it, a glorious victory would follow — entirely on Trump’s own terms. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/28/trump-slides-new-poll-he-retreats-deeper-into-fox-news-fantasyland/

17. Joel Mathis: The war over Trump's wall has only just begun

The longest government shutdown in American history is over. Thank goodness.

But the war over President Trump's border wall isn't finished, no matter how defeated he seems. That much should be clear from the president's defiant tweets over the weekend. Instead, it's likely that the biggest and most important battles — battles that could determine the future of the U.S. constitutional order — are yet to come.

Declaring an emergency and dumping the issue on the courts will feel better than a shutdown — no missed paychecks, no airport slowdowns — but it might be actually worse for the Constitution. If the courts should somehow rule in Trump's favor — the meager limits restraining his presidency, or any American presidency — will be greatly loosened.

Trump's fans are fine with that. They are short-sighted — and should consider if they're ready to let Democratic presidents have the same power they want Trump to assert. Is it so difficult to imagine, say, a President Elizabeth Warren declaring that Medicare-for-all is necessary to American national security? Or any president using the powers for far worse reasons and to far worse effect?

Trump's opponents spent much of the weekend exulting in the president's capitulation on the shutdown. You can't blame them. But there's a longer game being played here. The war over the wall has just begun. https://theweek.com/articles/820152/war-over-trumps-wall-only-just-begun


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