April 6th, 2017

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ON THE RECORD.....

“If somebody can get to the right of me in the primary, God bless him". — Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) dismissing President Trump’s threats to back primary challenges against House Freedom Caucus members.

“You know there’s a little mantra I’ve been repeating to myself lately. It’s a little silly, the kind of thing that pops into your head when you take a lot of long walks in the woods. But as I think about the outpouring of activism we’re seeing, despite all the noise and the nonsense, four words keep coming back to me: resist, insist, persist, enlist.” -- Hillary Clinton at the Professional Business Women of California Conference MARCH 29, 2017

Russians worked hard to get Donald Trump elected president. And what did they get out of it? Multiple high-level investigations. Enormous rancor in Congress. Plus a drought of free food — no sane politician is going to want to be seen having dinner with a Russian diplomat. Really, these days in Washington you’d be much better off being a Mexican. -- Gail Collins 4/01/17

“They don’t give a sh*t about people.” — DNC Chairman Tom Perez on the failed Republican attempt to repeal ObamaCare. 4/01/17

"I think the answer to the question is this effort to point the Congress in other directions. Basically say, don't look at me, don't look at Russia, there's nothing to see here. I would tell people, whenever they see the President use the word 'fake,' it ought to set off alarm bells." -- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) APRIL 2, 2017

“I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.” — Trump on Bill O’Reilly’s and sexual harassment allegations. 4/04/17

“I think it’s going to be the biggest story. It’s such an important story for our country and the world. It is one of the big stories of our time.” -- Donald Trump claiming Susan Rice may have committed a crime without providing any evidence to back his claim. 4/04/17

“If we’re not helping people, we should go the f*ck home.” — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) 4/04/17

"’Zombie Trumpcare’ is exactly that: a zombie—slow-moving, disintegrating,” -- House Republican aide. 4.04.17

“The entire Syria issue is now Donald Trump’s responsibility, and the words and rhetoric of Trump and his team may have major international consequences. The White House can play the blame game all they want, but the future of the situation in Syria is now in their hands — and even some in their own party are calling out their potentially disastrous moves.” -- Oliver Willis   |APRIL 5, 2017 http://shareblue.com/rubio-trump-admins-actions-encouraged-horrific-gas-attack-in-syria/

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. The DAILY GRILL
2. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
3. From the Late Shows
4. 1 in 3 voters give President Trump an F
5. Intel hearing bombshell: Cyber expert says “Commander-in-Chief (Donald Trump) used Russian ‘active measures’…against his opponents”
6. Sen. Warner’s opening statement at intel hearing tells you everything you need to know about Trump and Russia
7. Trump fails at the art of the political deal
8. The GOP Owns the Health Care System
9. Obama Officials Made List of Russia Documents to Keep Them Safe
10. After 10 weeks, Trump teeters on the brink
11. FBI probing whether Trump aides helped Russian intel in early 2016
12. Poll: Most Americans want independent Russia probe
13. Judge: Trump incited violence at rally in 2016
14. Disclosures Show 27 White House Officials Worth a Combined $2.3B
15. Trump’s Slump Continues
16. The Borowitz Report: Jared Kushner Read Up On Middle East While Waiting For Ski Lift
17. Late Nite Jokes

OPINION

1. Michael Gerson: The GOP Is In Free Fall
2. Chris Cillizza: Trump just keeps creating smokescreens to mask his Russia problem
3. LA Times Editorials: The Problem With Trump

PART I Our Dishonest President
PART II Why Trump lies
PART III Trump’s Authoritarian Vision
PART IV Trump’s War on Journalism

4. Amy Davidson: Trump v. the Earth
5. Paul Krugman: Coal Country Is a State of Mind
6. Clint Watts and Andrew Weisburd: How Russia Wins an Election
7. Eric Levitz: President Trump Has Tried Nothing and He’s All Out of Ideas
8. Juan Williams: Trump's risk of impeachment rises
9. Jonathan Allen: The S.S. Trump Is Sinking — Find a Lifeboat
10. Chris Cillizza: Trump just keeps creating smokescreens to mask his Russia problem

FYI

1. The DAILY GRILL

Rexnord of Indiana is moving to Mexico and rather viciously firing all of its 300 workers. This is happening all over our country. No more! -- Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump 2 Dec 2016 8

VERSUS

Rexnord Corp. has posted layoff notices inside its Indianapolis ball bearings factory where the company is stopping production so it can be done more cheaply in Mexico. 3/28/2017

 

Lyin', leakin' Susan Rice stammered through her soft ball interview with Dem PR person Andrea Mitchell. --
Trump's social media director, Dan Scavino Jr.‏ @DanScavino

VERSUS

“The notion which some people are trying to suggest that by asking for the identity of an American person is the same thing as leaking it, that’s completely false. There’s no equivalence between so called unmasking and leaking.” -- Susan Rice to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. 4/04/17

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

Larry Noble: We May Be Seeing, "In Real-Time," The "Collapse Of What Looks Like A Cover-Up"https://mediamatters.org/video/2017/03/30/cnns-larry-noble-we-may-be-seeing-real-time-collapse-what-looks-cover/215876

After Dropping The Ball During The Election, Major Networks Are Now Covering The Climate Impacts Of A Trump Administration https://mediamatters.org/blog/2017/03/30/after-dropping-ball-during-election-major-networks-are-now-covering-climate-impacts-trump/215871

Russia Used Internet Trolls To "Push Out Disinformation And Fake News" Which Was "Then Hyped By The American Media Echo Chamber" ...”This Is Not Innuendo Or False Allegations. This Is Not Fake News. This Is Actually What Happened To Us” -- Sen. Mark Warner: https://mediamatters.org/video/2017/03/30/sen-mark-warner-russia-used-internet-trolls-push-out-disinformation-and-fake-news-which-was-then/215870

Watch Fox Host Get Ridiculed For His Sad Attempt To Give Trump Credit For The Obama Economy https://mediamatters.org/video/2017/03/31/watch-fox-host-get-ridiculed-his-sad-attempt-give-trump-credit-obama-economy/215884

3. From the Late Shows

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: Governing Is Hard: Trumpcare Edition: https://youtu.be/QYOKvNG8gLc

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Trump/Nunes Story Gets Weirder, GOP Lets Companies Sell Your Internet Data: A Closer Look: https://youtu.be/KzbdcM0fbuc

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Louis C.K. Calls Trump A 'Gross Crook Dirty Rotten Lying Sack Of'... :https://youtu.be/XNxG2PBVMlI

4. 1 in 3 voters give President Trump an F

After more than two months in office, America’s new president, Republican Donald Trump, got a grade of F from 1 in 3 voters, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll.

By contrast, the same number graded predecessor Democrat Barack Obama’s performance a B as he approached his 100th day in office. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article141836529.html

5. Intel hearing bombshell: Cyber expert says “Commander-in-Chief (Donald Trump) used Russian ‘active measures’…against his opponents”

In testimony at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings on Russia's attempt to interfere in the 2016 election, cyber expert Clint Watts testified that Trump "used Russian active measures" against his political opponents over the course of the campaign.

The answer is very simple and it’s what nobody is really saying in this room. Which is, part of the reason active measures have worked in this U.S. election is because the Commander-in-Chief has used Russian active measures at time, against his opponents. On 14 August 2016, his campaign chairman ... Paul Manifort cited the fake Incirlik story as a terrorist attack on CNN, and he used it as a talking point. On 11 October, President Trump stood on a stage and cited a – what appears to be a fake news story from Sputnik News that disappeared from the Internet. He denies the intel from the United States about Russia. He claims that the election could be rigged. That was the number one theme pushed by RT, Sputnik News, white outlets, all the way up until the election. He’s made claims of voter fraud, that President Obama’s not a citizen, that, you know, Congressman Cruz is not a citizen.

So, part of the reason active measures works, and it does today in terms of Trump Tower being wiretapped is because they parrot the same line. http://shareblue.com/intel-hearing-bombshell-cyber-expert-says-commander-in-chief-used-russian-active-measuresagainst-his-opponents/

6. Sen. Warner’s opening statement at intel hearing tells you everything you need to know about Trump and Russia

First, Russia struck at our political institutions by electronically breaking into the headquarters of one of our political parties and stealing vast amounts of information. Russian operatives also hacked e-mails to steal personal messages of individuals ranging from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, to former secretary of state Colin Powell.  This stolen information was then weaponized. We know that Russian intelligence used the “Guccifer 2” persona, and others like Wikileaks, and seemingly choreographed times that would cause maximum damage to one candidate. They did this with an unprecedented level of sophistication about American presidential politics that should be a line of inquiry for us on this committee, and candidly, while it helped one candidate this time, they are not favoring one party over another and consequently should be concerned for all of us.

Read the remainder of the statement by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) at http://shareblue.com/sen-warners-brilliant-opening-at-intel-hearing-tells-you-everything-you-need-to-know-about-trump-and-russia/

Video at https://mediamatters.org/video/2017/03/30/sen-mark-warner-russia-used-internet-trolls-push-out-disinformation-and-fake-news-which-was-then/215870

7. Trump fails at the art of the political deal

What Trump needs now isn’t the comfort of family. What he needs is to take a look around and realize that his Team of Amateurs (don’t even think about stealing that, Doris Kearns Goodwin) isn’t up to running a White House. He needs to put a few people around him, like maybe his pal Chris Christie, who have some grasp of the tradecraft of politics and know something about governing.”

“It’s time for Trump to put away all that crowd-pleasing contempt and admit that politics is actually just as hard as business, if not harder, and he’s not exactly killing it like Lyndon Johnson.”

“It doesn’t look like he’s ready to do that, though. And if I were one of those accomplished politicians Trump slammed onstage at that first debate and many times after, I’d be tempted to call him now and remind him of an old movie line. Stupid is as stupid does.” March 30, 2017 https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-fails-at-the-art-of-the-political-deal-090015929.html

8. The GOP Owns the Health Care System

A new Kaiser Health tracking poll finds that 61% of Americans believe that President Trump and Republicans in Congress are responsible for the country’s health care system, while just 31% think Democrats are responsible because they originally passed the law. April 4, 2017 http://files.kff.org/attachment/Topline-Kaiser-Health-Tracking-Poll-April-2017

9. Obama Officials Made List of Russia Documents to Keep Them Safe

Obama administration officials “were so concerned about what would happen to key classified documents related to the Russia probe once President Trump took office that they created a list of document serial numbers to give to senior members of the Senate Intelligence Committee,” a former Obama official told NBC News.

The official said that after the list of documents related to the probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election was created in early January, he hand-carried it to the committee members. The numbers themselves were not classified.”

The purpose, said the official, was to make it “harder to bury” the information, “to share it with those on the Hill who could lawfully see the documents,” and to make sure it could reside in an Intelligence committee safe, “not just at Langley.” March 31, 2017 http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/obama-officials-made-list-russia-probe-documents-keep-them-safe-n741146?cid=eml_nbn_20170331

10. After 10 weeks, Trump teeters on the brink

Just 10 weeks on the job, President Trump’s approval rating is stuck in the 30s and 40s. His health-care effort failed. The travel ban is tied up in courts. Congress and the FBI are investigating his campaign’s possible links to Russia. He’s calling out fellow Republicans for failing to help him on health care. His White House tried to cover up (for a while at least) his aides providing information to House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes. And now his ousted national security adviser says he’ll cooperate with the FBI and Congress in exchange for immunity.”

“Any one of these stories would ensnare a presidency in a crisis. But you add up these seven storylines above — we’re sure we’re leaving others out — and it’s unsustainable. Conservative commentators are already hitting the panic button… This is a presidency on the brink of a free-fall, and it has to start repairing the damage on all of these fronts — popularity, the agenda, congressional relations, Russia, Flynn. 4/31/17 http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/after-just-ten-weeks-trump-teeters-brink-n740976?cid=par-twitter-feed_20170331

11. FBI probing whether Trump aides helped Russian intel in early 2016

CBS News has learned that U.S. investigators are looking into whether Trump campaign representatives had a role in helping Russian intelligence as it carried out cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and other political targets in March 2016.

This new information suggests that the FBI is going back further than originally reported to determine the extent of possible coordination. Sources say investigators are probing whether an individual or individuals connected to the campaign intentionally or unwittingly helped the Russians breach Democratic Party targets. March 31, 2017 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fbi-probing-whether-trump-aides-helped-russian-intel-in-early-2016/?ftag=CNM-00-10aac3a

12. Poll: Most Americans want independent Russia probe

A new Associated Press-NORC Center poll finds 52% of Americans favor an independent investigation into Donald Trump’s Russian ties while just 23% are opposed. Another 22% say they neither favor nor oppose an investigation.

Broken down along party lines, more than three-quarters of Democrats favor an investigation while only one-quarter of Republicans do. April 1, 2017 http://www.staradvertiser.com/2017/04/01/breaking-news/poll-majority-of-americans-favor-russia-probe/

13. Judge: Trump incited violence at rally in 2016

A federal judge ruled that President Trump during his campaign incited violence at a rally in Louisville, Ky., allowing the case against him and three supporters to proceed, the Courier-Journal reported. http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/326884-judge-says-trump-incited-violence-at-rally-in-2016

14. Disclosures Show 27 White House Officials Worth a Combined $2.3B

President Trump’s top White House aides started their jobs with millions of dollars in the bank, according to recently disclosed financial records cited by the Washington Post. Twenty-seven of Trump’s top aides had a combined $2.3 billion in assets when they joined the White House, the report said. 4/01/16 http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2017/04/01/disclosures-show-27-wh-officials-worth-a-combined-2-3b.html?via=desktop&source=copyurl

15. Trump’s Slump Continues

A new Quinnipiac poll finds President Trump has a negative 35% to 57% job approval rating.
In addition, voters opinions of some of Trump’s personal qualities are mostly negative:

61% to 34% that he is not honest
55% to 40% that he does not have good leadership skills;
57% to 39% that he does not care about average Americans;
66% to 29% that he is not level-headed;
64% to 33% that he is a strong person;
61% to 34% that he does not share their values.

Said pollster Tim Malloy: “Trump continues to struggle, even among his most loyal supporters. Many of them would be hard pressed to see even a sliver of a silver lining in this troubling downward spiral.” https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2448

16. The Borowitz Report: Jared Kushner Read Up On Middle East While Waiting For Ski Lift

BAGHDAD (The Borowitz Report)—Jared Kushner said on Tuesday that he became “incredibly well-informed” on the Middle East by reading up on the region while waiting for the ski lift on a recent trip to Aspen.

“There would be times when you’d have to wait five or even ten minutes for the ski lift, and that’s when I’d take out my phone and read up on the Middle East,” he said. “I really got into it.”

Kushner said that the Middle East was a “truly fascinating region” because of “all the countries that they have there.”

“There is Israel, and Egypt, but there is also Yemen and places like that,” he said. “Sometimes I would start learning about a new country, but then the ski lift would come.”

Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, said that her husband’s ability to learn so much about the Middle East while waiting for the ski lift was “nothing short of amazing.”

“Jared is such a quick learner,” Trump said. “He reminds me of Daddy. http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

17. Late Nite Jokes

The White House says President Trump will not throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals game. Apparently Trump was afraid of hurting his tweeting arm. -- Jimmy Fallon

Actually, they said Trump had to cancel because of a scheduling conflict. When asked if they could change the date of the game, the Nationals said, “We already did so he wouldn’t come.” -- Jimmy Fallon

Today, Vladimir denied meddling in our presidential election. Not helping was that Putin made the statement from behind the desk in the Oval Office. -- Conan O’Brian

As of this afternoon, over 300,000 people have signed a petition calling for first lady Melania Trump to either pay for her own security costs at Trump Tower in New York, or move into the White House. Said Melania, “And who do I make the check out to?” -- Seth Meyers

Hawaii’s TSA recently seized a so-called “stun cane” from a passenger that is capable of delivering a 1 million-volt shock. To get an idea of what a 1 million-volt shock feels like, just remember what it was like to wake up on Nov. 9. -- Seth Meyers

Crayola is retiring one of its 24 crayon colors for first time in 100 years. They’re announcing its replacement on Friday and they’re trying to make the new color a bit more relevant to 2017. For example, politics is dominating the news, so Crayola is considering “Presidential Orange.” -- Jimmy Fallon

President Trump turned down a chance to throw out the opening day pitch for the Washington Nationals. Turned it down! For some reason, Trump doesn’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of large Hispanic men holding baseball bats. -- Conan O’Brian

It’s come out that several of Donald Trump’s businesses have ties to the Russian mafia. So, if you’re keeping track, we’re officially up to season three of “The Sopranos” right now. -- Conan O’Brian

President Trump told senators yesterday that they would make a deal on healthcare because “that’s such an easy one.” OK, well, just make sure your healthcare plan covers amnesia. -- Seth Meyers

Here we go, America! Trump won’t throw out the first pitch. What else? He won’t go to the Correspondents’ Dinner. He won’t release his tax returns. He won’t put his business in a blind trust. He doesn’t want to live in D.C. What presidential tradition will Trump abandon next? This Thanksgiving, those turkeys better run. -- Stephen Colbert

Trump is now polling lower than a lot of things. For example, he’s less popular than sitting on a warm subway seat. He’s less popular than vague texts that say, “Do you have time to talk later, it’s important.” He’s less popular than biting into a cookie and realizing that the chocolate chip is a raisin. He’s less popular than YouTube ads that you can’t skip after five seconds. He’s less popular than wet doorknobs. You know what I’m saying? -- Jimmy Fallon

Meanwhile the investigation into Trump’s Russian ties is getting really crazy. Democrats are calling for Devin Nunes, the head of the intelligence committee, to step down because he took a secret meeting at the White House. Nunes wouldn’t reveal who he met with at the White House. But it’s safe to say it’s not Donald Trump, because Trump’s never there. -- James Cordon

Democrats have called for the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to recuse himself from the investigation into Russia’s election-related hacking over concerns that he is too close to President Trump to be impartial. They want Congress to appoint someone less close to Trump, like Melania. -- Seth Meyers

 

OPINION


1. Michael Gerson: The GOP Is In Free Fall

Republicans got a leader who is impatient and easily distracted -- by cable news on the Russian scandal or by Arnold Schwarzenegger's TV ratings. The content and consequences of his tweets are bad enough; worse is the disordered personality traits they reveal -- vindictiveness, shallowness and lack of discipline. Trump spent a total of 18 days on his health care bill before demanding a vote. And he made no speech to the nation to advance his ideas -- as every other recent president would have done.

This is a pretty bad combination: empty, easily distracted, vindictive, shallow, impatient, incompetent and morally small. This is not the profile of a governing party.

It is now dawning on Republicans what they have done to themselves. They thought they could somehow get away with Trump. That he could be contained. That the adults could provide guidance. That the economy might come to the rescue. That the damage could be limited.

Instead, they are seeing a downward spiral of incompetence and public contempt -- a collapse that is yet to reach a floor. A presidency is failing. A party unable to govern is becoming unfit to govern.

And what, in the short term, can be done about it? Nothing. Nothing at all. March 31, 2017 http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/03/31/this_presidency_is_failing_--_and_stunningly_133481.html

2. Chris Cillizza: Trump just keeps creating smokescreens to mask his Russia problem

From the moment President Donald Trump tweeted that he had been "wiretapped" by President Barack Obama during the course of the 2016 election, he and his senior aides have been desperately searching for evidence that makes that allegation true.

The latest charge is that former national security adviser Susan Rice "unmasked" -- intelligence parlance for asking for the identity of unnamed officials -- Trump campaign officials, proof, the President's allies insist, that something nefarious was happening on the surveillance front during the final days of the Obama administration.

Here's the problem for Trump: Even if you believe that Rice did something that was wrong -- and virtually every intelligence official insists unmasking is a commonplace procedure -- it still doesn't address his claim that he had evidence that Obama has authorized the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.

Trump's phones being tapped -- and that order coming from the commander in chief -- is simply not the same thing as the national security adviser asking for the names of Trump transition aides in contact with Russian intelligence officials.

What Trump and his associates are doing is pursuing a strategy of muddying the waters as they try to get out from under a decidedly ill-advised tweet from the President.

The facts are still the facts. And the fact is that this latest unmasking episode is a smokescreen to distract from the broader issue -- which is that the President of the United States made a completely unfounded and very serious allegation against his immediate predecessor.

Nothing that's happened since Trump tweeted has changed that underlying reality. 4/04/17 http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/04/politics/donald-trump-barack-obama-unmasking/

3. LA Times Editorials: The Problem With Trump

PART I Our Dishonest President
PART II Why Trump lies
PART III Trump’s Authoritarian Vision
PART IV Wednesday

PART I: Our Dishonest President

It was no secret during the campaign that Donald Trump was a narcissist and a demagogue who used fear and dishonesty to appeal to the worst in American voters. The Times called him unprepared and unsuited for the job he was seeking, and said his election would be a “catastrophe.”

Still, nothing prepared us for the magnitude of this train wreck. Like millions of other Americans, we clung to a slim hope that the new president would turn out to be all noise and bluster, or that the people around him in the White House would act as a check on his worst instincts, or that he would be sobered and transformed by the awesome responsibilities of office.

Instead, seventy-some days in — and with about 1,400 to go before his term is completed — it is increasingly clear that those hopes were misplaced. APRIL 2, 2017 http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-our-dishonest-president/

PART II, Why Trump Lies

The insult that Donald Trump brings to the equation is an apparent disregard for fact so profound as to suggest that he may not see much practical distinction between lies, if he believes they serve him, and the truth.

His approach succeeds because of his preternaturally deft grasp of his audience. Though he is neither terribly articulate nor a seasoned politician, he has a remarkable instinct for discerning which conspiracy theories in which quasi-news source, or which of his own inner musings, will turn into ratings gold. He targets the darkness, anger and insecurity that hide in each of us and harnesses them for his own purposes. If one of his lies doesn’t work — well, then he lies about that.

If we harbor latent racism or if we fear terror attacks by Muslim extremists, then he elevates a rumor into a public debate: Was Barack Obama born in Kenya, and is he therefore not really president?

If his own ego is threatened — if broadcast footage and photos show a smaller-sized crowd at his inauguration than he wanted — then he targets the news media, falsely charging outlets with disseminating “fake news” and insisting, against all evidence, that he has proved his case (“We caught them in a beauty,” he said).

Be suspicious of those who confuse reality with reality TV, and those who repeat falsehoods while insisting, against all evidence, that they are true. To defend freedom, demand fact. APRIL 3, 2017 http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-why-trump-lies/

Part iii: Trump’s Authoritarian Vision

Standing before the cheering throngs at the Republican National Convention last summer, Donald Trump bemoaned how special interests had rigged the country’s politics and its economy, leaving Americans victimized by unfair trade deals, incompetent bureaucrats and spineless leaders.

He swooped into politics, he declared, to subvert the powerful and rescue those who cannot defend themselves. “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”

To Trump’s faithful, those words were a rallying cry. But his critics heard something far more menacing in them: a dangerously authoritarian vision of the presidency — one that would crop up time and again as he talked about overruling generals, disregarding international law, ordering soldiers to commit war crimes, jailing his opponent.

Trump has no experience in politics; he’s never previously run for office or held a government position. So perhaps he was unaware that one of the hallmarks of the American system of government is that the president’s power to “fix” things unilaterally is constrained by an array of strong institutions — including the courts, the media, the permanent federal bureaucracy and Congress. Combined, they provide an essential defense against an imperial presidency.

Yet in his first weeks at the White House, President Trump has already sought to undermine many of those institutions. Those that have displayed the temerity to throw some hurdle in the way of a Trump objective have quickly felt the heat. http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-trumps-authoritarian-vision/

PART IV Trump’s War on Journalism

Trump’s strategy is pretty clear: By branding reporters as liars, he apparently hopes to discredit, disrupt or bully into silence anyone who challenges his version of reality. By undermining trust in news organizations and delegitimizing journalism and muddling the facts so that Americans no longer know who to believe, he can deny and distract and help push his administration’s far-fetched storyline.

It’s a cynical strategy, with some creepy overtones. For instance, when he calls journalists “enemies of the people,” Trump (whether he knows it or not) echoes Josef Stalin and other despots.

But it’s an effective strategy. Such attacks are politically expedient at a moment when trust in the news media is as low as it’s ever been, according to Gallup. And they’re especially resonant with Trump’s supporters, many of whom see journalists as part of the swamp that needs to be drained. http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-trumps-war-on-journalism/

4. Amy Davidson: Trump v. the Earth

Trump’s lack of interest in change as anything other than fodder for conspiracy theories involving Chinese hoaxers reached its fullest expression last week, in a “Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” The order asks every agency of the federal government to review its rules and to purge them of measures that inconvenience the fossil-fuel and nuclear-power industries. In particular, it directs the E.P.A. to rewrite the Clean Power Plan, which had called for, among other things, the replacement of old and dirty coal-burning plants. The plan would, it was projected, result in eight hundred and seventy million fewer tons of carbon pollution released into the atmosphere, as many as thirty-six hundred fewer premature deaths in the United States between now and 2030, and ninety thousand fewer asthma attacks in children.

President Trump said that his order puts “an end to the war on coal.” In reality, it is a declaration of war on the basic knowledge of the harm that burning coal, and other fossil fuels, can do. Indeed, it tells the government to ignore information. The Obama Administration assembled a working group to determine the “social cost” of each ton of greenhouse-gas emissions. Trump’s executive order disbands that group and tosses out its findings. Scott Pruitt, the new E.P.A. administrator—who, as attorney general of Oklahoma, had joined a lawsuit attempting to undo the endangerment finding—announced that the agency was no longer interested in even collecting data on the quantities of methane that oil and gas companies release. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/04/10/trump-v-the-earth

5. Paul Krugman: Coal Country Is a State of Mind

West Virginia went overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in November — in fact, he beat Hillary Clinton by almost a three-to-one majority. And it may seem obvious why: The state is the heart of coal country, and Mr. Trump promised to bring coal jobs back by eliminating Obama-era environmental regulations. So at first glance the 2016 election looks like a political realignment reflecting differences in regional interests.

But that simple story breaks down when you look at the realities of the situation — and not just because environmentalism is a minor factor in coal’s decline. For coal country isn’t really coal country anymore, and hasn’t been for a long time.

Why does an industry that is no longer a major employer even in West Virginia retain such a hold on the region’s imagination, and lead its residents to vote overwhelmingly against their own interests?

“Coal country” residents weren’t voting to preserve what they have, or had until recently; they were voting on behalf of a story their region tells about itself, a story that hasn’t been true for a generation or more.

Their Trump votes weren’t even about the region’s interests; they were about cultural symbolism. MARCH 31, 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/31/opinion/coal-country-is-a-state-of-mind.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

6. Clint Watts and Andrew Weisburd: How Russia Wins an Election

Did Russia just put its man in the White House? Americans are furiously debating the question as intelligence reports leak, Donald Trump tweets his doubts and Congress vows to investigate.

As analysts who have spent years studying Russia’s influence campaigns, we’re confident the spooks have it mostly right: The Kremlin ran a sophisticated, multilayered operation that aimed to sow chaos in the U.S. political system, if not to elect Trump outright. But you don’t need a security clearance or a background in spycraft to come to that conclusion. All you need to do is open your eyes.

So how did Putin do it?

It wasn’t by hacking election machines or manipulating the results, as some have suggested. That would be too crude. The Kremlin’s canny operatives didn’t change votes; they won them, influencing voters to choose Russia’s preferred outcome by pushing stolen information at just the right time—through slanted, or outright false stories on social media. As we detail in our recent report, based on 30 months of closely watching Russia’s online influence operations and monitoring some 7,000 accounts, the Kremlin’s troll army swarmed the web to spread disinformation and undermine trust in the electoral system.

And America was just the latest target. These “active measures” are techniques Moscow has honed for decades, continually adapting its formula to changing technology and new circumstances. All of it is in service of Putin’s grand strategy of breaking up the European Union and NATO from the inside out—without even firing a shot.

Having shattered many Americans’ faith in their democracy, Russia now feels emboldened. And with major elections coming up in France, Germany and the Netherlands, you can bet that Putin’s work is not done. Here’s how he does it: December 13, 2016 http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/12/how-russia-wins-an-election-214524

7. Eric Levitz: President Trump Has Tried Nothing and He’s All Out of Ideas

Donald Trump is sick of losing. More than 70 days into his tenure, the president has yet to autograph a major piece of legislation. He lost his pseudo–Muslim ban to the courts, Obamacare repeal to the House GOP, and his national security adviser to a scandal that casts a shadow over his entire administration. Now, his party is struggling just to keep the government open through the end of next month, and his approval rating is dipping lower than Obama’s ever did.

Trump has done (virtually) everything in his power to prevent his presidency from disrupting his lifestyle. After promising that his family members would have no role in his administration, he has brought his daughter and son-in-law into the West Wing. After arguing that presidents should spend all their time in the White House, working continuously, Trump has retreated to his Florida resort nearly every weekend, at great taxpayer expense. After a campaign centered on his opponent’s irresponsible flouting of IT security, it took two months for his staffers to pry his unsecured Android phone from his cold, tiny hands.

The president’s resolute refusal to educate himself on policy matters left him reliant on the good judgment of Paul Ryan, a man whose political vision Trump won the White House by decrying. Instead of trying to consolidate his gains among working-class swing voters — and divide the congressional Democrats against themselves — by opening his presidency with a push on infrastructure, he let himself be dragged into a losing battle against an entitlement program he spent his campaign vowing to protect.

By the end of February, it was clear that Trump’s incendiary rhetorical style was doing him no favors. His racist jabs at prominent Democrats only energized the liberal base, while his tirades about the “failing” New York Times only won the paper new subscribers. When Trump turned things down a notch — and made it through an entire address to Congress without disparaging any branch of government or racial group — the media sung his praises. A large swath of the Fourth Estate was eager enough for a truce that it was willing to meet the populist president more than halfway. With just a few paeans to unity and condemnations of hate crimes, liberal pundits were hailing a speech that announced the creation of a new government office whose sole purpose was to encourage Americans to associate immigrants with crime. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/03/president-trump-has-tried-nothing-and-hes-all-out-of-ideas.html

8. Juan Williams: Trump's risk of impeachment rises

Liberal Democrats could yet see their dreams come true.

Last week, a new poll from the liberal outfit Public Policy Polling (PPP) asked Americans if President Trump should resign if evidence emerges that his campaign worked with Russia to help defeat Hillary Clinton. A majority, 53 percent, said he should resign.

That is important because PPP also found that 44 percent of Americans already believe that Trump’s campaign did just that.

It is no fantasy to say the drip-drip-drip of the Trump-Russia investigations is draining this presidency of political capital. The president’s historically high disapproval rating — 51 percent in the latest McClatchy poll — tells the same story.

That’s why astute Republicans are starting to look out for themselves.

It has been said that predictions make fools of us all. The campaign and the election that brought Trump to power certainly proved that, since the majority of the media — myself included — predicted he would not win.

But it is no liberal fantasy to say the odds of a Trump resignation or impeachment before 2020 are looking better by the day. http://thehill.com/opinion/juan-williams/326930-juan-williams-trumps-risk-of-impeachment-rises

9. Jonathan Allen: The S.S. Trump Is Sinking — Find a Lifeboat

Dear Republican member of the House:

Run away from Donald Trump. Run hard. Run fast. And don’t look over your shoulder.

By dozens of points, Trump is the least-popular modern president at this stage in his presidency. While polls are snapshots — and public opinion could surely change between now and next November — are you willing to bet your seat that he’s going to gain enough ground to be helpful to you by then? If you are, let’s set up a regular card game, because I’d be happy to take your money every week.

And that assumes that he would want to help you. What he’s shown so far is a loyalty so shallow that you couldn’t submerge your voting card in it. Trump’s attacked fellow Republicans by name and suggested that voters ought to turn on Democrats and the GOP’s Freedom Caucus — which, as a friend points out, pits him against a majority of the members of the House.

His presidency so far has been a comedy — or tragedy — of ill-considered and ill-advised political and policy moves.

If you’re smart, you’ll see what all of these signs add up to: Trump is sinking in quicksand. Being tied to him is a recipe for going down. So, cut ties. Sprint to safe ground. And pray that by distancing yourself from him, and hammering away at Democrats, you can save yourself. For some of you, it may already be too late.

With regards, Jonathan http://www.rollcall.com/news/opinion/donald-trump-republican-house-members

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