August 29, 2019

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ON THE RECORD.....

“His rising mania and rage come from the sure knowledge that history’s cold, brutal eye will allow no later revision, no long-term rethinking of his legacy, or even wry nostalgia over the grim era in which he presides. His failures, cruelty, caprice, corruption, and hairstyling tips will be graven in stone as a warning to future Americans. This isn’t madman theory. This is just a mad man.--GOP strategist Rick Wilson

Our country is not well right now. We’re not — we need to get our act together, number one, and step back and take a breath. You know, this country’s made up of immigrants, we’re made up of people of every color, every creed. And that’s what makes us special. And to somehow side up — black and white, or brown and white or whatever it may be, it’s just wrong.” — Cindy McCain

“He’s unqualified, he’s unfit, he’s a child, he’s reckless, he’s erratic, he’s a narcissist, he’s mean, he’s cruel, he lies every time he opens his mouth.” — Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R), in an interview on Morning Joe, on why he’s challenging President Trump in a Republican presidential primary.

“I’m an environmentalist. A lot of people don’t understand that. I think I know more about the environment than most people.” — Trump after skipping a G7 summit meeting focused on climate, oceans and biodiversity.

“The President was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China’. His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative – because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.” — White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham

“We are on Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride. Never have we ever experienced such an unhinged practice of governance. It’s out of control and outrageous.” -- Jay Foreman, CEO of Basic Fun!, a toy company in Boca Raton, Florida, that imports from China.

“I also say that, by the way, with respect to North Korea, Kim Jong Un — who I’ve gotten to know extremely well; the first lady had gotten to know Kim Jong Un, and I think she’d agree with me — he is a man with a country that has tremendous potential.” -- Trump, before House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement noting that the first lady has never met Kim.

“What’s the point of calling Xi Jinping ‘a good friend’ and ‘a great leader’ but still increasing tariffs? He’s a 70-ish-year-old man but speaks like a 7-year-old kid. We just can’t listen to what he says now. I think Chinese leaders have realized this, too.” — Yao Xinchao, a trade professor at the University of International Business and Economics on Donald Trump 

“Warren is unambiguously a Democrat while Bernie’s relationship with the party whose presidential nomination he is again seeking is, well, complicated. He is running for Senate reelection this year as an independent, and only running for president as a Democrat because the DNC is forcing him to make this choice.“ -- Ed Kilgore in NY Intelligencer

The former vice president has admitted to being a “gaffe machine.” That’s false modesty. He is the Lamborghini of gaffes. — Dana Milbank.

“Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you.” — Trump allegedly telling aides worried about his orders to seize private land through eminent domain, to flout environmental rules to push through billion-dollar contracts.

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Trump Blasts Media for Reporting Things He Says
2. Wary of Trump’s Flip-Flops, China Prepares for Worst on Trade
3. AP-NORC poll: 62% disapprove of how Trump’s handling his job
4. The 7 Most Unhinged Things Trump Said Last Wednesday
5. ’A deep and boiling anger'
6. The Trump Administration Asked The Supreme Court To Legalize Firing Workers Simply For Being Gay
7. Brazil’s Amazon Fires Highlight The Threat Of Deregulation Amid Climate Change
8. Caring about tomorrow
9. The Trump Administration’s Sustained Attack on the Rights of Immigrant Children
10. Trump and the GOP want you to know they’re really, seriously thinking about budget-cutting ... in a few years
11. The DAILY GRILL
12. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
13. From the Late Shows
14. Russian interference, 2020
15. 'Trump is literally deporting kids with cancer': New immigration rule removes protections for migrants seeking life-saving medical care
16. Trump has publicly name-dropped his properties at least 70 times as president
17. Senators who criticized Russia denied visas
18. Trump pushes to allow new logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest
19. A new poll shows what really interests 'pro-lifers': controlling women

OPINION

1. Josh Dawsey: Sixty-eight minutes in Biarritz: A glimpse into Trump’s unorthodox mind
2. Jonah Goldberg: Has Trump’s cheese finally slid off his cracker?
3. Mary Papenfuss: Trump’s Trade War Linked To Amazon Rainforest Destruction
4. David Ignatius: People have Trump fatigue. How will it affect 2020?
5. Catherine Rampell: Trump’s tendency to double down on bad ideas doesn’t bode well for the economy
6. Josh Barro: This Is How Trump Will Tank the Economy and His Presidency
7. James Fallows: If Trump Were an Airline Pilot
8.  Rick Wilson: This Isn’t the Madman Theory. This Is a Madman President.
9. Windsor Mann: The false prophet in the White House
10. Abigail Tracy: “He Has Made Us A Laughing Stock”: Diplomats Stunned By Trump’s Feud With Denmark
11. David Remnick: Trump Clarification Syndrome
12. Andrew Sullivan: The Presidency of Donald Trump Never Gets Any Less Absurd
13.  Peter Baker: A Gyrating Economy, and Trump’s Volatile Approach to It, Raise Alarms
14. Rick Wilson: The great crackup: Trump is coming even more undone
15. Max Boot: Is Trump a liar or a fantasist? Neither option is good.
16. Greg Sargent: As Trump zigzags wildly at G-7, one ugly truth remains constant
17. Matt Stieb: Trump Wanted to Nuke Hurricanes to Stop Them From Hitting U.S. Coast: Report
18. Greg Sargent: Trump is lying to farmers’ faces, and they’re finally getting angry about it
19. Paul Krugman: From Voodoo Economics to Evil-Eye Economics
20. Greg Sargent: Trump backs Bolsonaro on Amazon fires. Because of course he does.

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Trump Blasts Media for Reporting Things He Says

The Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump, tore into the media on Thursday for what he called its “extremely unfair practice” of reporting the things he says.

“I’ll say something at a rally and I look out and see all these TV cameras taking every word down,” Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity. “No one in politics has ever been subjected to this kind of treatment.”

“It’s unbelievable and, frankly, very unethical,” he added.

At a rally in Florida, the candidate lashed out at a TV cameraman whom he caught in the act of recording his words for broadcasting purposes.

“Look at him over there, picking up everything I’m saying, folks,” Trump shouted. “Get him out of here.”

In his interview with Fox, Trump hinted that he might drop out of this fall’s televised Presidential debates if the media continues its practice of reporting the things he says.

“I’ve always said that I would be willing to debate if I’m treated fairly,” Trump told Hannity. “But if the media keeps recording everything I say, word for word, and then playing it back so that everyone in the country hears exactly what I said, I would consider that very, very unfair.” https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. Wary of Trump’s Flip-Flops, China Prepares for Worst on Trade

Perhaps nobody was more surprised to hear that China had called President Donald Trump’s administration to restart trade talks than the government in Beijing itself.

After a weekend of confusing signals, Trump’s credibility has become a key obstacle for China to reach a lasting deal with the U.S., according to Chinese officials familiar with the talks who asked not to be identified.Only a few negotiators in Beijing see a deal as actually possible ahead of the 2020 U.S. election.  https://www.allsides.com/news/2019-08-27-0721/wary-trump-s-flip-flops-china-prepares-worst-trade

3. AP-NORC poll: 62% disapprove of how Trump’s handling his job

About 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of President Donald Trump’s overall job performance, according to a new poll released Thursday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which finds some support for the president’s handling of the U.S. economy but gives him weak marks on other major issues.

Just 36% of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president; 62% disapprove.

The numbers may be ugly for a first-term president facing reelection in 14 months, but they are remarkably consistent. Trump’s approval rating has never dipped below 32% or risen above 42% in AP-NORC polls since he took office.

No other president has stayed within so narrow a band. Since Gallup began measuring presidential approval, Trump is the only president whose rating has never been above 50%.  https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/nation/ap-norc-poll-trump-approval-still-weak-despite-economy/

4. The 7 Most Unhinged Things Trump Said Last Wednesday

“Numb to Trump” op-eds have become their own micro-genre in the past few years, but every so often a day will come along in which a string of jaw-dropping comments will slap the desensitized awake. Last Wednesday, was one of those days- here are all of the unhinged Trump musings you may have missed.

1) Embraces “King of Israel” comparison

2) Lobs more insults at the Danes because they won’t sell Greenland

3) Says he still wants to end birthright citizenship

4) Declares himself “the chosen one”

5) Threatens to unleash ISIS fighters on Europe

6) Promises pills that will reduce veteran suicides

7) Says he’d like to give himself Medal of Honor

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/08/the-six-wildest-comments-from-trumps-chaotic-wednesday.html

5. ’A deep and boiling anger'

The political and cultural upheaval of the last four years has divided the country on ever-hardening partisan and generational lines, but one feeling unites Americans as much as it did before the 2016 election.

They’re still angry. And still unsettled about the future.

According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll 70 percent of Americans say they feel angry “because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington.” Forty-three percent say that statement describes them "very well.” A majority say they are anxious about the countries economic future, and pessimistic about the country they’re leaving for the next generation. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/deep-boiling-anger-nbc-wsj-poll-finds-pessimistic-america-despite-n1045916

6. The Trump Administration Asked The Supreme Court To Legalize Firing Workers Simply For Being Gay

The Trump administration took its hardest line yet to legalize anti-gay discrimination on Friday when it asked the Supreme Court to declare that federal law allows private companies to fire workers based only on their sexual orientation.

An amicus brief filed by the Justice Department weighed in on two cases involving gay workers and what is meant by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination "because of sex.” The administration argued courts nationwide should stop reading the civil rights law to protect gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers from bias because it was not originally intended to do so. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/dominicholden/trump-scotus-gay-workers

7. Brazil’s Amazon Fires Highlight The Threat Of Deregulation Amid Climate Change

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took power this year promising to open the Amazon rainforest to industry, roll back environmental and indigenous protections and stack his Cabinet with ideologues who dismiss climate change as a Marxist hoax. 

But the record wildfires now raging in the Amazon offer a terrifying rebuke and serve as a stark reminder of what’s at stake as Bolsonaro’s policies allow ranchers, loggers and miners to destroy the world’s largest forest and repository of carbon dioxide at an unprecedented pace. 

The blaze this week produced apocalyptic images as smoke billowed more than 1,800 miles southeast to blacken the daytime sky over São Paulo, the Western hemisphere’s biggest city. Video of an indigenous Pataxó woman shouting as orange flames engulfed her tribe’s reservation in Minas Gerais went viral.  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/brazil-amazon-rainforest-fire-climate-change_n_5d5dc2b5e4b02cc97c87eb98

8. Caring about tomorrow

Human activity is now a dominant force in shaping the Earth’s environment, but humanity’s moral senses have not kept pace with this power. Our actions reverberate across the world and across time, but not enough of us feel the weight of their consequences. Empathy could be an emotional bulwark against a warming world, if our collective care produced collective action. But it evolved to respond to suffering right here, right now. Our empathic imagination is not naturally configured to stretch around the planet or toward future generations. That puts their very existence at risk. Ironically, our better angels — and the way they operate — might be hampering our ability to do what’s best for the world. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/08/22/caring-about-tomorrow/

9. The Trump Administration’s Sustained Attack on the Rights of Immigrant Children

In his announcement on Wednesday, Kevin McAleenan, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security, claimed that “all children in U.S. government custody” would be “treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability.” But his reassurances sound especially hollow at the present moment. In the past year and a half, seven children have died in immigration custody, and there have been widespread complaints about the conditions in which children are being held. Earlier this summer, at a Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas, two hundred and fifty infants, children, and teen-agers spent weeks without adequate food and water, and were denied soap and toothbrushes; despite lice and flu outbreaks, authorities skimped on providing medical care. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-trump-administrations-sustained-attack-on-flores-agreement-rights-of-immigrant-children

10. Trump and the GOP want you to know they’re really, seriously thinking about budget-cutting ... in a few years

We learned this week that the deficit is rising faster than the Congressional Budget Office previously predicted and that it could hit $1 trillion as soon as this year. The GOP’s tax cuts haven’t created the growth it promised, which means less revenue is coming in to the federal government. Combine that with spending hikes, and the president who said he would not just balance the budget but also eliminate the entire national debt is on a very fiscally unconservative trajectory toward a massive broken promise.

Not to worry, though; he can just get around to fixing it after he wins reelection. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/08/23/trump-gop-want-you-know-theyre-really-seriously-thinking-about-budget-cutting-few-years/


11. The DAILY GRILL

“I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.” — Sen. Lindsey O. Graham in 2016.

VERSUS

“What concerns me about the American press is this endless, endless attempt to label the guy some kind of kook not fit to be president.”  — Lindsey O. Graham in late 2017

 

The Dow is down 573 points perhaps on the news that Representative Seth Moulton, whoever that may be, has dropped out of the 2020 Presidential Race! — Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

Funny! It’s hard to say which is scarier: that Trump actually thinks stocks fell off a cliff because a guy who didn’t even make the Democratic debates dropped out of the race, or that he’s making a joke that it could have been anything—and not, say, the fact that he spent the morning tweeting the economy closer to a recession. Fucking with people’s retirements for sport, comedy gold! Get this guy to an open mic night! — Bess Levin in Vanity Fair

 

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave his most forceful warning yet about the risks to the U.S. economy from escalating trade tensions and the limits to the central bank’s ability to cushion any fallout.

VERSUS

"My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?” — Trump's response

 

The Trump Organization was sued in July 2016 by insurance executive Eric Linder “after his back, face, and arms were devoured by voracious bedbugs” during a stay at Trump's Doral County Club in March of that same year, according to the Miami Herald. (Linder’s attorneys included stomach-turning photos of his back and neck covered in red splotches.) While Doral made the bizarre claim that the guest “conducted himself so carelessly and negligently that his conduct was the sole proximate cause or contributing cause.” — Vanity Fair

VERSUS

No bedbugs at Doral. The Radical Left Democrats, upon hearing that the perfectly located (for the next G-7) Doral National MIAMI was under consideration for the next G-7, spread that false and nasty rumor. Not nice! — Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

 

Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently called for abolishing the Electoral College. Remind her that this country belongs to AMERICANS from EVERY zip code, not just the Coastal Elites and Liberal Mega Donors. — Trump Pence campaign mailer.

VERSUS

The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy. — Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump. Nov 6, 2012·

I’m so glad the President and I agree that the Electoral College has got to go. — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez@AOC

 

The Alabama Republican Party passed a resolution calling for Alabama’s congressional delegation to seek the expulsion of their colleague Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). “I would just like to say the lady is guilty of sedition – and we need to kick her ass out,” an unidentified member of the state executive committee, who approached the microphone but wasn’t formally recognized, said shortly before passage.— Yellowhammer News reports.

VERSUS

Sorry, @ALGOPHQ, but this is a representative democracy. I was elected with 78% of the vote by the people of Minnesota's 5th District, not the Alabama Republican Party. If you want to clean up politics, maybe don’t nominate an accused child molester as your Senate candidate? — Ilhan Omar @IlhanMN

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

Fox's Brian Kilmeade defends indefinite family detention as “the most humane thing possible.” https://www.mediamatters.org/brian-kilmeade/foxs-brian-kilmeade-defends-indefinite-family-detention-most-humane-thing-possible

How Fox News is defending Trump's allegation that Jewish voters are showing “great disloyalty” to Israel. https://www.mediamatters.org/fox-news/how-fox-news-defending-trumps-allegation-jewish-voters-are-showing-great-disloyalty

Fox News contributor: Unless the U.S. ends birthright citizenship, “more women are going to be raped ... more children are going to die.” https://www.mediamatters.org/fox-news/fox-contributor-tom-homan-unless-us-ends-birthright-citizenship-more-women-are-going-be

The Fox-Trump effort to pin the next recession on the media. https://www.mediamatters.org/fox-news/foxtrump-effort-pin-next-recession-media

13. From the Late Shows

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Trump’s Trade War is Trashing the U.S. Economy. https://youtu.be/t_qVnZwsNO8

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Trump Freaks Out About the Possibility of A Recession: A Closer Look: https://youtu.be/cCONLtuDQ4I

14. Russian interference, 2020

"If Putin is going to throw the match of chaos, he needs kindling here. Our political system provides far too much of it right now," says Richard Fontaine, CEO at the Center for a New American Security.

The bottom line: "I see no reason to expect that U.S./Western actions since 2016 have changed Moscow’s appetite for risk. Buckle up," said Andrew Weiss, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment.

A wild card: A Russia expert contact of mine formerly with Britain's MI-6 said that, if Putin's strategy is what's expected — to do whatever will best polarize the U.S. — he may choose to do nothing. "Trump seems to be doing a pretty good job all by himself, depending on where you sit, so it might be easier to leave well alone.” https://www.axios.com/russian-interference-2020-8991481f-bbdf-4f0a-9e49-5d59faa6a760.html

15. 'Trump is literally deporting kids with cancer': New immigration rule removes protections for migrants seeking life-saving medical care

The Trump administration has ended a policy that allows undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States and avoid deportation if they are receiving life-saving medical treatments, in a change that advocates have criticized as inhumane.

The policy change, which also takes away protections for immigrants whose family members are receiving life-saving care, was announced this month in letters sent to families informing them of their new standing. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/trump-immigration-border-cancer-children-healthcare-deport-a9080601.html

16. Trump has publicly name-dropped his properties at least 70 times as president

As president, Trump has averaged two weekly visits to Trump Organization properties and has mentioned the names of four of those properties — Bedminster, Mar-a-Lago, Turnberry and Doral — at least 70 total times in House speeches, interviews and tweets.

His trips have brought at least $1.6 million in revenue to his businesses and probably more. Nearly one-third of political fundraisers or donor meetings Trump has attended have occurred at his properties. Foreign lobbyists have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at Trump’s D.C. hotel.

Asked Monday about potentially profiting if the G-7 were hosted at Doral in 2020, Trump spent nearly three minutes touting Doral as a “wonderful place." https://beta.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/08/27/trump-has-publicly-name-dropped-his-properties-least-times-president/

17. Senators who criticized Russia denied visas

Two U.S. senators said that Russia had denied them visas, amid disagreement within Washington and among U.S. allies over whether the country should be readmitted to the Group of Seven.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Tuesday that he had planned to visit Russia as part of an upcoming congressional delegation including Democrats and Republicans. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., said Monday that he was also denied a visa. Both lawmakers are members of the chamber's Foreign Relations Committee and have been critical of Russia in the past. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/senators-who-criticized-russia-denied-visas-visit-n1046856

18. Trump pushes to allow new logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

Trump has instructed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to exempt Alaska’s 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest from logging restrictions imposed nearly 20 years ago, according to three people briefed on the issue, after privately discussing the matter with the state’s governor aboard Air Force One.

The move would affect more than half of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, opening it up to potential logging, energy and mining projects. It would undercut a sweeping Clinton administration policy known as the “roadless rule” that has survived a decades-long legal assault. https://beta.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/trump-pushes-to-allow-new-logging-in-alaskas-tongass-national-forest/2019/08/27/b4ca78d6-c832-11e9-be05-f76ac4ec618c_story.html

19. A new poll shows what really interests 'pro-lifers': controlling women

A Supermajority/PerryUndem survey released this week divides respondents by their position on abortion, and then tracks their answers to 10 questions on gender equality more generally. On every question, anti-abortion voters were significantly more hostile to gender equity than pro-choice voters.

Do men make better political leaders than women? More than half of anti-abortion voters agreed. Do you want there to be equal numbers of men and women in positions of power in America? Fewer than half of abortion opponents said yes – compared with 80% of pro-choicers, who said they want women to share in power equally.

Anti-abortion voters don’t like the #MeToo movement. They don’t think the lack of women in positions of power impacts women’s equality. They don’t think access to birth control impacts women’s equality. They don’t think the way women are treated in society is an important issue in the 2020 election.

They don’t believe sexism is a problem, and they’re hostile to women’s rights. Pro-lifers are sexists in denial – yes, the women too

In other words, they don’t believe sexism is a problem, and they’re hostile to women’s rights. Pro-lifers are sexists in denial – yes, the women too. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/22/a-new-poll-shows-what-really-interests-pro-lifers-controlling-women

 

OPINION

1. Josh Dawsey: Sixty-eight minutes in Biarritz: A glimpse into Trump’s unorthodox mind

 For many minutes on Monday, President Trump stood on foreign soil at the close of the Group of Seven summit here and trashed his predecessor. He bragged about his personal properties from the presidential podium and suggested that he will hold next year’s G-7 gathering at his Doral golf course in Florida, which has “incredible” conference rooms and “magnificent” bungalows.

And he defended both Vladi­mir Putin and Kim Jong Un, suggesting that the Russian strongman deserves an invite to future G-7 summits and that the North Korean dictator is an honorable man who will not let Trump down.

The U.S. president’s news conference here was presaged by an aide saying Trump would answer anything if the first two questions stayed on topic. Trump seemed more interested when the questions went off topic — and for 68 minutes in a seaside auditorium, he offered a lens into his un­or­tho­dox mind, a range of false or dubious statements, and the myriad ways he has changed the presidency in 31 months.

He attacked former president Barack Obama’s intellect while defending Putin for annexing part of Crimea — a move that drove Russia’s expulsion from what was then called the G-8. To many world leaders, Putin’s move was illegal and had nothing to do with Obama. To Trump, it showed that his predecessor was a sucker and that criticizing him (along with former vice president “Sleepy Joe” Biden, in Trump’s words) was fair banter. He veered into a similar diatribe on Obama not enforcing a “red line” in Syria, though he was not queried on the topic. https://beta.washingtonpost.com/politics/sixty-eight-minutes-in-biarritz-a-glimpse-in-to-trumps-unorthodox-mind/2019/08/26/25a26f60-c823-11e9-8067-196d9f17af68_story.html

2. Jonah Goldberg: Has Trump’s cheese finally slid off his cracker?

Last week there was a sharp uptick in speculation that President Trump is a few fries shy of a Happy Meal.

Obviously, this is not the first time the idea has popped up that the commander-in-chief’s cheese might have slid off his cracker. Early in his presidency, and again in 2018, there was a lot of chatter that Trump should be removed via the 25th Amendment. Through it all, the president responded by insisting he was a “very stable genius.”

But after what has seemed like a personal best in whackadoodle statements over the last few weeks, cable news networks and prominent Twitterati are ratcheting up the talk that the president’s wheel might still be turning, but the hamster’s dead.

Whether it was his tweet declaring that American companies “are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative” to doing business in China or his decision to cancel a trip to Denmark because the Danish prime minister didn’t have a “nice” reaction to his desire to buy Greenland, or his suggestion that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell might be a greater enemy than China’s premier-for-life, it did seem like the West Wing’s nurse might have accidentally switched his meds for M&Ms.

Whether or not he’s a stable genius, the Trump on display now is the same one we’ve always seen. What’s changed are the circumstances. Like an unsteady man long held upright by pushing on a locked door, he’s tumbling now that the path is suddenly open. He needs some new enemy to brace against, and he’s flailing around in search of one. That makes him appear wobblier than before, but he’s exactly as unbalanced as he’s always been. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-08-26/president-donald-trump-behavior-mueller-powell

3. Mary Papenfuss: Trump’s Trade War Linked To Amazon Rainforest Destruction

As unsold U.S. soybeans are stored in silos across the farm belt, Brazilian farmers and corporations scramble to satisfy the voracious Chinese market. The push to break new ground amid President Donald Trump’s trade war with China is putting increasing pressure on the Amazon rainforest and is likely linked to the region’s devastating fires, according to experts.

Brazil is America’s biggest soybean competitor and has stepped up its production now that China has slashed its purchases of U.S. crops in retaliation for Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports. Soy shipments from Brazil jumped 27% from 2017 to 2018. Chinese imports from Brazil in the 12 months through April amounted to 71 million tons — nearly as much as China imported from the entire world in 2014, according to Bloomberg. 

Amid increasing demands for farm products from China, Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has pledged to open up the 2 million-square-mile Amazon forest — including inside protected indigenous areas — to more farming and mining. He has jokingly referred to himself as “Captain Chainsaw.” Many suspect that raging fires in the region, which were largely unchecked for weeks, are part of a strategy to speed up that policy. The Amazon Environmental Research Institute has concluded that the recent increase in the number of fires in the Amazon is directly related to deliberate deforestation, the BBC reported.

“It’s such a waste,” Gary Wertish, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, told HuffPost. “We have plenty of soybeans to sell, while you worry that more and more land is being put into production in Brazil to satisfy the market. And the rainforest is so crucially important to the world.” 

The consequences are devastating not only for Brazil but also for the world. The Amazon basin — the globe’s biggest rainforest and home to 3 million species of plants and animals — is crucial to regulating global warming. Its forests absorb millions of tons of carbon emissions each year. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-trade-war-china-brazil-amazon-rainforest-fires_n_5d649783e4b008b1fd1fcf09

4. David Ignatius: People have Trump fatigue. How will it affect 2020?

You could say many things to describe a week in which President Trump got in a snit about buying Greenland, called the Federal Reserve chairman an “enemy,” reversed his position repeatedly on China, and rebuffed European allies by saying he’s ready to invite Russia to a global summit at one of his Florida golf resorts.

But “exhausting” would be the word at the top of my list after Trump’s whirling-dervish performance. Yes, I’m shocked, confused, sometimes indignant about his erratic policy statements. But there’s a deeper feeling that others may share: I’m tired of Trump’s antics. They take up too much emotional space. Every day, there’s a new narcissistic boast, a new lie to correct, a new violation of what people used to call presidential “decorum.”

Trump seems to love each manic minute. He craves the chance to command the public spotlight. He has two main foils in his daily extravaganza: the news media (“Fake News!”) and liberal Democrats (especially ones of color), whom he baits every chance he gets. It’s a stand-up comedy of insults, more than a presidency.

But every performer knows the cruel truth: The public eventually gets bored with even the most novel act. It takes ever-greater energy to produce the same shock value. A veteran such as Trump surely understands the Hollywood reality that today’s star becomes tomorrow’s has-been. With cruel speed, the cycle goes from “You gotta get me Donald!” to “Who’s Donald?” That’s not a political judgment; it’s just showbiz. https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-trump-era-keeps-getting-noisier-are-people-tuning-out/2019/08/27/0f401a32-c914-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html

5. Catherine Rampell: Trump’s tendency to double down on bad ideas doesn’t bode well for the economy

There are lots of reasons to worry about how President Trump would handle a recession, should we tip into one. There’s his incompetent economic team. Or the limited fiscal policy tools at his disposal, given that Republicans already spent nearly $2 trillion on tax cuts. Or his efforts to discredit the Federal Reserve just when we’ll need it most.

One underrated concern: Trump’s tendency to double down on stupid and destructive ideas, despite — perhaps because of? — overwhelming evidence of their stupidity and destructiveness.

Trump’s worst policies, economic or otherwise, tend to follow a pattern. First, he posits something like: Sure, the experts say that has predictably high costs and bad consequences. But ignore them! Believe me, it’s a great idea, and it’ll be completely costless.

To wit: Tax cuts will pay for themselves, without injury to deficits. China will pay all the tariffs, without harm to U.S. importers, manufacturers, retailers, farmers. Mexico will pay for the wall, without costs to U.S. taxpayers or international relations.

Free lunches, all around.

Then when it becomes clear those lunches weren’t free — in fact, they were quite pricey — the pitch changes. Okay, Trump and his cronies admit, maybe we’re suffering some pain now. But that pain will be worth it, because eventually it will pay off.

Someday the tax cuts will pay for themselves. Someday the trade war will pay off. Someday Mexico will pay for the wall. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-tendency-to-double-down-on-bad-ideas-doesnt-bode-well-for-the-economy/2019/08/22/7ae50bb0-c51a-11e9-b5e4-54aa56d5b7ce_story.html

6. Josh Barro: This Is How Trump Will Tank the Economy and His Presidency

This week they announced more tariffs, infuriating the president. Since backing off didn’t work, he decided to escalate today. And that’s what’s so nerve-racking for the markets: His trade policy no longer appears to be self-limiting. In fact, it could be self-reinforcing, where tariffs cause damage and the president tries to “fix” the damage with more tariffs.

It’s also worth considering the possibility that we have gotten too far down the trade-war road for the president to unwind the problems he’s caused. To the extent there are signs of weakness in the domestic economy, they are largely on the producer side. The consumer sector still looks decent. But tariffs and uncertainty over future tariffs have already discouraged businesses from producing and investing. And China has less reason to participate in a de-escalation than they did a year ago, since they can just ride out the next year and hope to be facing a new, less-hostile president. As Jonathan Chait notes, Xi Jinping doesn’t have to worry about reelection like Trump does.

With a China less willing to back down and a trade war maybe too far along to stop, the president is backed into a corner. He may feel he can’t save the economy by folding. And so he may follow his instinct — one of the few consistent policy views he has expressed for decades — that protectionism is good for the economy, and that despite what the markets and his advisers are telling him, trade wars are good and easy to win and more tariffs and more disruption will only mean more winning for the U.S.

What the president showed us today is he’s prepared to hit the gas as he approaches the cliff. That should make us all worried about the economic outlook — and it should make Republicans very worried about the political outlook. http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/08/tweets-and-trade-war-this-is-how-trump-will-tank.html

7. James Fallows: If Trump Were an Airline Pilot

If Donald Trump were in virtually any other position of responsibility, action would already be under way to remove him from that role.

Obviously I have no standing to say what medical pattern we are seeing, and where exactly it might lead. But just from life I know this:

• If an airline learned that a pilot was talking publicly about being “the Chosen One” or “King of the Jews” (or Baptists or whatever), the airline would be looking carefully into whether this person should be in the cockpit.

• If a hospital had a senior surgeon behaving as Trump now does, other doctors and nurses would be talking with administrators and lawyers before giving that surgeon the scalpel again.

• If a public company knew that a CEO was making making costly strategic decisions on personal impulse or from personal vanity or slight, and was doing so more and more frequently, the board would be starting to act. (See: Uber, management history of.)

• If a university, museum, or other public institution had a leader who routinely insulted large parts of its constituency—racial or religious minorities, immigrants or international allies, women—the board would be starting to act.

• If the U.S. Navy knew that one of its commanders was routinely lying about important operational details, plus flaring up under criticism, plus talking in “Chosen One” terms, the Navy would not want that person in charge of, say, a nuclear-missile submarine. (See: The Caine Mutiny, which would make ideal late-summer reading or viewing for members of the White House staff.)

Yet now such a  person is in charge not of one nuclear-missile submarine but all of them—and the bombers and ICBMs, and diplomatic military agreements, and the countless other ramifications of executive power. https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2019/08/if-trump-were-airline-pilot/596575/

8.  Rick Wilson: This Isn’t the Madman Theory. This Is a Madman President.

The presidency is different. His rising mania and rage come from the sure knowledge that history’s cold, brutal eye will allow no later revision, no long-term rethinking of his legacy, or even wry nostalgia over the grim era in which he presides. His failures, cruelty, caprice, corruption, and hairstyling tips will be graven in stone as a warning to future Americans.

Gradually, and then suddenly—as Hemingway said of bankruptcy—came the realization that the lies Trump tells and the claims Trump makes aren’t deliberate or strategic. They are a roadmap of his pocked and scarred mental landscape. 

What the boobs defended for three years as sales talk and typical Trumpian bullsh*tting is more and more indefensible. From economic claims to immigration scare stories to his constant mendacity about the wall, the lies—or whatever they are, given how inclined he is to trust what the voices in his head tell him—are seen as less crafted, and more crazy. 

Jeb Bush once promised us that Donald Trump would be the chaos president. Call me crazy, but I’d trade the low energy candidate for President Nutjob in a hot second. Donald Trump is America's Loki, only without the charm and wit.

But no one would wake up thinking, “Hey, I wonder if this is the day that  Barack Obama nukes Denmark?” or “Is George H.W. Bush gonna declare war on Belize because they tweeted something critical of him?” 

No matter the partisan differences, we had the luxury of going about our lives with the knowledge that the men charged with running the country were, fundamentally, mentally sound. 

Only his most deluded followers still buy that the phrase “Stable Genius” can be applied without irony to this president.

Donald Trump, the conqueror of Greenland, victor of World Trade War I, King of the Jews, richest man in the world, number-one lover man of all ladies, and golden god astride the Fruited Plain is the tallest, smartest, most handsome, best-hung President in this or any era.

Just ask him. Or the voices in his head. https://www.msn.com/en-ie/news/indepth/this-isnt-the-madman-theory-this-is-a-madman-president/ar-AAGazDz

9. Windsor Mann: The false prophet in the White House

On Tuesday, the president of the United States accused Jews of disloyalty and stupidity, a congresswoman of anti-Semitism, Democrats of planning to abolish the Second Amendment, and a former employee of "gross incompetence." He also suggested that Russia be readmitted into the G7 and cancelled a trip to Denmark because its prime minister wouldn't let him buy Greenland.

The day will go down in history as — to quote George Conway — "Tuesday."

The next morning, President Trump logged onto Twitter and attacked the prime minister of Denmark, attacked the chair of the Federal Reserve, attacked "The Fake News LameStream Media," attacked "the politically correct Automobile Companies," and thanked and quoted a guy comparing him to Jesus Christ. The guy is Wayne Allyn Root, a radio talk-show host and a self-described "Jew turned evangelical Christian." Trump quoted Root as saying:

“President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world...and the Jewish people in Israel love him....like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God...But American Jews don’t know him or like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense! But that’s OK, if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s good for.....

A couple of hours later, Trump referred to himself as "the chosen one." Many people are saying this. Trump is beloved, even worshipped, by people who love Jesus and abhor Mexicans named Jesús.

At CPAC in February, Mike Lindell, the Jesus-loving CEO of My Pillow, said, "I see the greatest president in history. Of course he is. He was chosen by God."

In April, Trump's campaign manager, Brad Parscale, tweeted: "Only God could deliver such a savior to our nation." That same month, former congresswoman Michele Bachman said, "We will, in all likelihood, never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetimes."

Belief often requires a multitude of unbeliefs. If you believe Trump, you cannot believe anyone else. Trump put this explicitly last year when he admonished his followers, "Just stick with us. Don't believe the crap you see from these people — the fake news ... Just remember: What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening."

People believe Trump because they want to be deceived. In her book The Confidence Game: The Psychology of the Con and Why We Fall for It Every Time, Maria Konnikova writes, "The true con artist doesn't force us to do anything; he makes us complicit in our own undoing. He doesn't steal. We give. He doesn't have to threaten us. We supply the story ourselves. We believe because we want to, not because anyone made us."

An evangelical told me that God put Trump in the White House "for a reason." Maybe the reason is to teach us a lesson: Don't ever do this again. https://theweek.com/articles/860337/false-prophet-white-house

10. Abigail Tracy: “He Has Made Us A Laughing Stock”: Diplomats Stunned By Trump’s Feud With Denmark

Donald Trump’s preposterous fixation with buying , initially treated as a distraction by American media and a joke by the Danish government, became less amusing Tuesday night when the president declared that he would be canceling his planned diplomatic trip to Denmark in retaliation. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had told the White House, that Greenland, an autonomous territory in the Arctic, wasn’t Denmark’s to sell.

“Sometimes it is hard to believe that what Trump is saying and doing on the world stage is actually happening,” said Nicholas Burns, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO. “This is one of those days.” Denmark, after all, is a key partner in the North Atlantic alliance, and was among the first countries to pledge military support in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 40 Danish troops died in Helmand province, fighting alongside American and British soldiers.

“I realize this is yet another bizarre and humorous Trump moment for the late night talk shows here in the U.S.,” Burns told me. “But, for the rest of the world, particularly our allies, it is simply shocking how far America has fallen from grace in their eyes.” https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/08/diplomats-stunned-by-trumps-feud-with-denmark

11. David Remnick: Trump Clarification Syndrome

Again and again, Trump’s top advisers––Daniel Coats, Gary Cohn, James Mattis, Rex Tillerson, H. R. McMaster, and John Kelly among them––have left the White House clutching their heads, their dignity and nerves in rags, realizing that they have served a President who is unreachable, beyond cure and counsel; a man of rotten character, blatant instability, and zero empathy; an empty but radically dangerous human being, who occupies the highest office in the land. “I think the guy is losing it, mentally,” Anthony Scaramucci, the six-day White House communications director, said recently, after watching another sweaty performance by the President. While Scaramucci can hardly claim Charles Krauthammer’s medical training, it becomes increasingly impossible to contradict such a diagnosis. And yet does this week seem markedly different from other soul-depleting weeks in which the President of the United States, who dismisses the transformation of the global climate as a “Chinese hoax,” lays waste to countless environmental laws and tweets racist canards that inspire the dark imaginings of mass shooters? Trump seems perilously close to some kind of final unwinding. Just today, he tweeted, “My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, [Federal Reserve Chairman] Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?”

But, as perilous and unnerving as things are, any form of political despair at such a moment remains unforgivable. Despair is a form of self-indulgence, a dodge. Trump’s derangements in policy and character should instead instill a kind of Trump Clarification Syndrome, a reckoning with what confronts us. A reckoning, as the Amazon rain forest burns, with climate change. A reckoning, as Trump threatens to revoke the barest protections for immigrant children and the guarantee of birthright citizenship, with the history and persistence of bigotry in all forms. With the structural persistence of inequality of income and opportunity. With matters of truth and falsehood. Trump’s presence in the White House is depressing, there is no doubt, but to wallow in that gloom, or even to imagine that public life will “return to normal” on its own after his departure, is insufficient, even inexcusable. Democrats, Independents, and Republicans who cannot countenance Trumpist politics ought to welcome the most urgent kind of political debate on matters of policy and on who we are as a country. Perhaps it is a form of derangement to say it, but it’s entirely possible that Donald Trump, who has been such a ruinous figure on the public scene, has at least done the country an unintended service by clarifying some of our deepest flaws and looming dangers in his uniquely lurid light. https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/trump-clarification-syndrome

12. Andrew Sullivan: The Presidency of Donald Trump Never Gets Any Less Absurd

“Absurd,” it turns out, is a trigger word for Trump, as it well should be. When the prime minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, was asked to respond to the idea that Donald Trump wanted to “buy” Greenland, she found the mot juste. The proposal was “absurd.” Perhaps at one point at the beginning of the Cold War, some kind of strategic presence in Greenland would have been worth considering briefly. Now? Yes, absurd. The only thing more absurd is canceling a planned state visit to Denmark at the last moment in response to the prime minister pointing out the bleeding obvious, and adding the insult “nasty” to yet another independent woman for good measure. But this too is predictable: “We know that a humiliated narcissist must release his narcissistic rage somehow, best on those who caused his psychic injury.” Bad luck for Denmark.

President Donald Trump is absurd. His presidency is absurd. His party is absurd. We have known this ever since that absurd journey down an escalator, and the surrealism has only intensified since. Perhaps it takes a sane foreigner, not subject to years of almost hourly Trump abuse, to point out the obvious. We have no Executive branch in any meaningful or serious sense. We have a joke that’s wearing thinner by the day. There is no institution or company in America, small or large, that would allow Donald Trump to run or represent it for more than a few days — because most sane institutions see immediately that a rape-y racist with no knowledge base or capacity to learn is an embarrassment, and a huge liability. If appointed the head of, say, a local library on January 20, 2017, Trump would have been fired by January 21.
http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/08/andrew-sullivan-president-trump-never-gets-any-less-absurd.html

13.  Peter Baker: A Gyrating Economy, and Trump’s Volatile Approach to It, Raise Alarms

In the space of a few hours, he declared that his own central bank chief was an “enemy,” claimed sweeping powers not explicitly envisioned by the Constitution to “order” American businesses to leave China and, when stock markets predictably tumbled, made a joke of it.

Mr. Trump’s wild and unscripted pronouncements on Friday renewed questions about his stewardship of the world’s largest economy even as he escalated a trade war with China before heading to France for a high-profile summit with the leaders of many of the world’s other major industrial powers.

Even some of his own aides and allies were alarmed by his behavior, seeing it as the flailing of a president increasingly anxious over the dark clouds some have detected hovering over an economy that until now has been the strongest selling point for his administration. They privately expressed concern that he was hurting the economy and was doing lasting damage to his own prospects for re-election.

But at home, recent indicators suggest that corporate leaders are feeling less confident about the future. A monthly index of global policy uncertainty compiled by researchers from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Stanford University, which goes back to the late 1990s, reached a new high in June.

“The administration’s approach clearly isn’t working, and the answer isn’t more taxes on American businesses and consumers,” said David French, a senior vice president of the National Retail Federation. “Where does this end?”

On that, no one could say. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/23/us/politics/trump-economy-trade.html

14. Rick Wilson: The great crackup: Trump is coming even more undone

“Our great American companies are hereby ordered...”

This week wasn’t just the usual Trump performance art; it was a new, strange and somewhat frightening level of antic. Even his allies whispered to reporters that perhaps the stress brought on by the prospect of an economic downturn was getting to him. With no adult supervision in the White House left — and no, Ivanka doesn’t count — this is a man on the edge, and there is absolutely nothing and no one to stop him.

The Greenland story would be an SNL skit if it wasn’t so utterly real. Denmark, a close ally for decades, was having none of Trump’s crazy on this one, which of course, set off another round of presidential rage. Calling millions of Jews disloyal to their county because of their political preference sounds...familiar, and not in a good way.

His manic anger at Jews, Denmark, the media (naturally) and the Federal Reserve was a bizarre prelude to the G7 conference this weekend, but remarkably, those didn’t even represent the top of the spectrum of nuttiness.

Here’s a pointer I can tell you from 30 years now in politics: When an elected official declares himself to be “The Chosen One” or agrees that he’s the “King of Israel” and “the second coming of God," it’s not time for a re-election campaign; it’s time for an extended, quiet stay with the nice men in white coats.

If you wanted an example of pure, uncut fiscal insanity, take a quick look at the U.S. budget deficit and our skyrocketing national debt.

Trump, the self-proclaimed “King of Debt,” is eager for Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell to unleash another tidal wave of “free” money into the economy by loosening the reins of the money supply. Trump desires this not because he gives a damn about the economy or the American people, but because he certainly gives a damn about his re-election chances. https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-the-great-crackup-20190825-3m5btyfh3bd4jaw4dkzmgcxjfm-story.html

15. Max Boot: Is Trump a liar or a fantasist? Neither option is good.

Rudyard Kipling had his “Just So Stories” — charming fables that he told his daughter and collected in a beloved children’s book. President Trump has his not-so-charming “sir” stories. Daniel Dale of CNN has chronicled Trump’s proclivity for telling tall tales in which some unnamed person supposedly calls him “sir” and then tells him what he wants to hear. For example, after he signed an executive order rescinding a water regulation, Trump claimed that a tough rancher who had never “cried in his whole life ... was crying” and said, “Sir, you gave me back my life. You gave me back my property.”

Now add to the “sir” stories another category of make-believe: the “fellow World Leaders” story. On Sunday, while attending the Group of Seven meeting in Biarritz, France, Trump tweeted: “The question I was asked most today by fellow World Leaders, who think the USA is doing so well and is stronger than ever before, happens to be, ‘Mr. President, why does the American media hate your Country so much? Why are they rooting for it to fail?’”

Uh-huh. Right. I’m sure that’s exactly what Trump’s “fellow World Leaders” said, right after they demanded to know why “17 Angry Democrats” were pursuing a “witch hunt hoax,” why the “fake-news media” doubt that he is a “stable genius,” and why Democrats are smuggling in illegal immigrants to vote against him. It’s a wonder his “fellow World Leaders” didn’t demand to know how he stays so thin. Funny how all of Trump’s interlocutors sound just like him. Just as, once upon a time, his “spokesmen,” “John Barron” and “John Miller,” sounded just like him, too. https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/26/is-trump-liar-or-fantasist-neither-option-is-good/

16. Greg Sargent: As Trump zigzags wildly at G-7, one ugly truth remains constant

Trump says his Florida resort would be a 'great location' for 2020 G-7 summit

It took three days, but amid President Trump’s wild gyrations in his trade wars, his erratic efforts to spread confusion and lies about the utterances of other world leaders, and his unstable lapses of attention into matters unrelated to the Group of Seven summit, we have finally sighted one bedrock principle, one unshakable constant in Trump’s conduct, from which he will never waver.

We’re talking, of course, about Trump’s absolute, unfaltering devotion to using the powers of the presidency to serve his own financial self-interest.

With the G-7 winding down, Trump just disclosed that he’s seriously considering hosting next year’s G-7 gathering at his Doral resort in Florida. Trump extolled his resort for its location (right near the airport!), size (tremendous acreage!) and amenities (great conference rooms!).

Trump gave “a long commercial of sorts for the property,” notes The Post, adding that if he goes through with this plan, he “could personally profit from one of the world’s most prestigious gatherings of foreign leaders.”

“Trump appears to consistently use the presidency to advance his businesses -- both to publicize them and to directly bring in business — as often as he can,” Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told me. “This is entirely consistent with what he’s done in the past.”

But in multiple ways, this constitutes a serious exacerbation of Trump’s self-dealing and profiteering off the presidency. First, this is arguably a more active effort on his part to exploit the presidency to enhance his businesses than many previous such efforts.

You’d think Trump voters would have an interest in this--after all, Trump personally enriching himself while hobnobbing with globalist elites isn’t exactly what those “forgotten men and women” stranded by those elites in the hollowed-out industrial heartland voted for, is it? https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/26/trump-zigzags-wildly-g-one-ugly-truth-remains-constant/

17. Matt Stieb: Trump Wanted to Nuke Hurricanes to Stop Them From Hitting U.S. Coast: Report

The president’s understanding of the natural world isn’t particularly deep. He thinks that the noise from wind turbines causes cancer. He’s called climate change a hoax and thinks that cold weather in the winter disproves global warming. He might not get how rivers work, and he definitely doesn’t understand how to stop a forest fire: Last year, he suggested a proper raking could have stalled the disastrous Camp Fire, which killed 83 Californians.

Hurricanes — or how they might react to a nuclear warhead — aren’t his forte either. According to a report from Axios, the president has “suggested multiple times to senior Homeland Security and national security officials that they explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States, according to sources who have heard the president’s private remarks and been briefed on a National Security Council memorandum that recorded those comments.” During one hurricane briefing, Trump reportedly offered the following solution:

“I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?” [Trump said] according to one source who was there. “They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they’re moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can’t we do that?” the source added, paraphrasing the president’s remarks.

One staffer in the briefing gave the evergreen my-boss-is-dumb response: “Sir, we’ll look into that.” As Trump continued to press the initiative, the staffer described the room as quiet, saying “You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting.” http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/08/trump-wanted-to-nuke-hurricanes-report.html

18. Greg Sargent: Trump is lying to farmers’ faces, and they’re finally getting angry about it

One of the worst habits among the D.C. commentariat is the tendency to treat President Trump’s lies as if they possess magical qualities. We are constantly told that Trump’s lying “works,” a claim that rests on the ideathat no matter what Trump says, his supporters will believe him.

It’s true that Trump supporters generally accept what he tells them. But the reverence accorded to Trump’s powers of deception sometimes seems to imply they have an almost paranormal quality. And this takes things way too far.

Case in point: American farmers. There are indications that they are now getting genuinely angry over Trump’s efforts to gaslight them so shamelessly over the impact of his trade war with China.

The New York Times has a good report that fleshes out the damage that farmers are sustaining right now — and their reaction to it. China’s retaliatory tariffs are closing off the biggest export market in the world — leading to a massive drop in exports of soybeans, pork, wheat and other agricultural products.

The administration has rolled out billions and billions of dollars in aid to farmers. But farm loan delinquencies and bankruptcies are rising, and the ripple effects are spreading, with one major manufacturer of agricultural equipment cutting its profit outlook this month.

And Trump’s trade war is only escalating: Trump has increased tariffs on Chinese products yet again, and China slapped new tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. exports. As the Times puts it, “farmers are beginning to panic.” https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/27/trump-is-lying-farmers-faces-theyre-finally-getting-angry-about-it/

19. Paul Krugman: From Voodoo Economics to Evil-Eye Economics

Whenever tax cuts fail to produce the predicted miracle, their defenders come up with bizarre explanations for their failure.

My favorite until now came from Art Laffer, the original voodoo economist and recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Why did George W. Bush’s tax-cutting presidency end not with a boom, but with the worst economic slump since the Great Depression? According to Laffer, blame rests with Barack Obama, even though the recession began more than a year before Obama took office. You see, according to Laffer, everyone lost confidence upon realizing that Obama might win the 2008 election.

But Trump has gone one better. As it has become increasingly clear that the results of his tax cut were disappointing — recent data revisions have marked down estimates of both G.D.P. and employment growth, to the point where it’s hard to see more than a brief sugar high from $2 trillion in borrowing — Trump has invented ever more creative ways to blame other people. In particular, he’s now claiming that the promised boom hasn’t arrived because his opponents are hexing the economy with bad thoughts: “The Democrats are trying to ‘will’ the Economy to be bad for purposes of the 2020 Election.”

Can opposition politicians really cause a recession with negative thinking? This goes beyond voodoo economics; maybe we should call it evil-eye economics. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/22/opinion/trump-payroll-tax-cut.html

20. Greg Sargent: Trump backs Bolsonaro on Amazon fires. Because of course he does.

Trump doesn’t think highly of most international leaders, but he made sure to express his support for one in particular: Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil.

“He is working very hard on the Amazon fires, and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA!”

Which is interesting, since much of the world has been criticizing Bolsonaro’s handling of the Amazon fires.

I’m going to suggest that this is the very reason Trump praised Bolsonaro. If the world is criticizing Bolsonaro for failing to address a problem with extremely pressing global implications, he must be doing something right — that is, by the Trumpian code of global ethics.

After all, both Bolsonaro and Trump have rebuffed such international criticism by invoking national sovereignty. Bolsonaro accused countries trying to donate money to fight the fires of trying to “interfere with our sovereignty.”

Similarly, when Trump pulled out of the international Paris climate pact, infuriating our allies, he claimed that it represented a “reassertion of America’s sovereignty.”

In doing this, Trump — who has also done everything possible to roll back former president Barack Obama’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — has differed from conventional GOP rationales for opposing government efforts to combat climate change, which are rooted in hostility toward regulation of business. https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/27/trump-backs-bolsonaro-amazon-fires-because-course-he-does/

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