August 31st, 2017

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ON THE RECORD.....

Trump has transformed the bully pulpit — the president’s ability to rally the country in pursuit of his goals — into a sort of vanity project, staging events not to advance any substantive agenda but to vent and, as aides admit, bask in the adulation of supportive audiences.” -- LA Times

“When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter after I was shot down, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white or brown. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind.” -- Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a U.S. Army veteran who lost both legs in the Iraq war, criticizing Trump’s  ban on allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military.

“The obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.” -- Trump at a campaign rally in Phoenix http://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-72-hour-war-on-immigrants

"Try to impeach him. Just try it. You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection, like you have never seen before. Both sides are heavily armed, my friend." -- Roger Stone, Trump's former campaign adviser and close personal friend saying that an effort to impeach Trump would result in a literal "civil war."

Trump is always eager to tell people that they don’t belong here, whether it’s Mexicans, Muslims, transgender people or another group. His message is, “You are not one of us,” the opposite of “e pluribus unum.” And when he has the opportunity to unite Americans, to inspire us, to call out the most hateful among us, the KKK and the neo-Nazis, he refuses. -- Former Republican Sen. John Danforth of Missouri

“If you pardon that kind of conduct, if you forgive that behavior, you are acknowledging that racist conduct in law enforcement is worth the kind of mercy that underlies a pardon—and it’s not. And it’s an abuse of the President’s discretion. It’s an injustice, and speaks volumes about the President’s disregard for civil rights if this pardon takes place.” -- Paul Charlton, a former U.S. Attorney in Arizona on Trump's pardon for fellow "birther," Joe Arpaio.

Taxpayers paid more than $140m so far to settle & litigate 13,000+ claims of Arpaio staff abuses, deaths in custody, 1993-2016 -- David Cay Johnston‏ @DavidCayJ

“This man is a disgrace. I’ve tried to keep politics out of my social media feed as much as possible, but this is inexcusable… This veteran says sit down and shut the fuck up, you know-nothing, never-served piece of shit.” -- Jennifer Detlefsen, the daughter of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, on Trump‘s announcement that transgender soldiers would be banned from the military. 

"What a crowd, what a turnout," -- Trump's remarks to a crowd gathered outside the firehouse where he was briefed in the wake of the Houston disaster.

“He’s just like he is on TV. He’s an asshole, but he’s our asshole.” -- Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

Trump granted mercy to a man who swore an oath and then put himself above the law in the most fundamental way possible—by refusing to enforce the law as the courts had interpreted it. In Trump’s world that is celebrated as “public service.” In the real world we call that criminal contempt.. -- Andrew Cohen in the LA Times

"Absolutely, yes and more. And I'd throw another $5 billion on the pile and I would find half a billion of that from right out of Planned Parenthood's budget. And the rest of it could come out of food stamps and the entitlements that are being spread out for people who haven't worked in three generations." -- Rep. Steve King (R-IA), when asked if he was comfortable about providing $1.6 billion of taxpayer money to build Trump’s wall.

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Help The Victims Of Hurricane Harvey
2. Donald Trump has 'dangerous mental illness', say psychiatry experts at Yale conference
3. What Trump Has Undone
4. Republicans Increasingly Divided on Trump
5. The DAILY GRILL
6. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
7. From the Late Shows
8. Late Night Jokes for Dems
9. Interactive Timeline: Everything We Know About Russia and Donald Trump
10. How Trump Shaped the 2016 Campaign Agenda
11. Was the Arpaio Pardon a Signal to Those in the Russia Investigation?
12. Gallup Daily: Trump Job approval
13. Trump Associate Boasted That Moscow Business Deal ‘Will Get Donald Elected’
14. Russian Bots Are Trying to Sow Discord on Twitter After Charlottesville
15. Why Pardons Might Not End Russia Prosecutions
16. How Washington Made Harvey Worse

OPINION

1. Nicholas Kristof: We’re Journalists, Mr. Trump, Not the Enemy
2. Jonathan Chait: The Obama-Era Deficit Scolds Want Big Tax Cuts Now
3. Paul Waldman: Trump's losing war against reality
4. Arizona Republic Editorial: Racism Is Not Just OK With Him. It Is a Goal
5. Jonathan Chait: ‘I Alone Can Fix It’ Becomes ‘It’s Not My Fault’
6. Dan Balz: Trump’s pardon of Arpaio fits a pattern: A divider, not a uniter
7. Matt Taibbi: The Media Created a World Dumb Enough for Trump
8. Joe Biden: We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation.
9. Nicholas Kristof: There Once Was a Great Nation With an Unstable Leader
10. Doyle McManus: Trump is shedding supporters like no other president in modern history
11. Paul Krugman: Fascism, American Style
12. Jane Chong: The Arpaio Pardon Dangerously Accelerates Trump’s Assault on the Rule of Law
13. Eric Holthaus: Harvey Is What Climate Change Looks Like
14. Amanda Marcotte: Operation “Obama Eclipse”: Trump tweet confirms his singleminded obsession with that other president
15. Max Boot: 'Sheriff Joe' and Donald Trump are emblems of racism and lawlessness

FYI

1. Help The Victims Of Hurricane Harvey

To help those affected by Hurricane Harvey visit https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey  or call 1-800-RED CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

2. Donald Trump has 'dangerous mental illness', say psychiatry experts at Yale conference

Donald Trump has a “dangerous mental illness” and is not fit to lead the US, a group of psychiatrists has warned during a conference at Yale University.

Mental health experts claimed the President was “paranoid and delusional”, and said it was their “ethical responsibility” to warn the American public about the “dangers” Mr Trump’s psychological state poses to the country.

Speaking at the conference at Yale’s School of Medicine on Thursday, one of the mental health professionals, Dr John Gartner, a practising psychotherapist who advised psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School until 2015, said: “We have an ethical responsibility to warn the public about Donald Trump's dangerous mental illness.” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world-0/donald-trump-dangerous-mental-illness-yale-psychiatrist-conference-us-president-unfit-james-gartner-a7694316.html

3. What Trump Has Undone

President Trump has repeatedly argued that he’s done more than any other recent president. That’s not true, as measured by the amount of legislation he’s been able to sign. It is true, though, that Trump has undone a lot of things that were put into place by his predecessors, including President Obama.

For a list of rules, policies and tools the Trump’s administration has enthusiastically and systematically undone or uprooted go to https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/08/24/what-trump-has-undone/

4. Republicans Increasingly Divided on Trump

A new Pew Research survey finds that just 31% of Republican voters say they agree with President Trump on all or nearly all issues, while an additional 38% agree with him on many, but not all, issues.

In contrast, 77% of Democrats report virtually no agreement with Trump on issues.

In views of Trump’s conduct as president, 46% of Republicans express mixed feelings, while 19% say they do not like his conduct; 34% say they like the way he conducts himself as president. Among Democrats, 89% have a negative view of Trump’s conduct.

Overall, Trump’s approval rate is a dismal 36% to 63%. http://www.people-press.org/2017/08/29/republicans-divided-in-views-of-trumps-conduct-democrats-are-broadly-critical/

5. The DAILY GRILL

“No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold. Mr. Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for continuing to illegally profile Latinos living in Arizona based on their perceived immigration status in violation of a judge’s orders. The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.” -- Senator John Mccain on Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio

VERSUS

 “Karma about to get you, @SenJohnMcCain and you will burn in hell for all eternity.” -- Roger Stone, a close confidant to Donald Trump.

 

The photo at the top of her site is titled, "5 miles of Trump supporters waiting to meet POTUS in Phoenix." -- Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham 8/24/17

VERSUS

The photograph is actually an aerial shot of the parade for the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers Championship Parade and Rally, which took place in Cleveland last June. -- The Hill 8/24/17

 

If Senate Republicans don't get rid of the Filibuster Rule and go to a 51% majority, few bills will be passed. 8 Dems control the Senate! -- Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump at 3:33 AM

VERSUS

Few, if any, Administrations have done more in just 7 months than the Trump A. Bills passed, regulations killed, border, military, ISIS, SC! -- Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump at 3:44 AM

 

With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other. -- Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

As the Mexican government has always stated, our country will not pay, under any circumstances, for a wall or physical barrier built on US territory along the Mexican border. This statement is not part of a Mexican negotiating strategy, but rather a principle of national sovereignty and dignity.” -- Statement by Mexico's foreign ministry

 

“The idea that Donald Trump has to wait until a hurricane to do something that the media will find offensive is just a total knee-slapper.” -- Hannity on Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio.

VERSUS

“In the middle of a hurricane, even though it was a Friday evening, I assumed that the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally. You know, the hurricane was just starting.” -- Trump saying that the pardon announcement during Hurricane Harvey was done to maximize publicity.

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

Fox & Friends is sympathetic to neo-Nazis marching but outraged over sports players kneeling. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2017/08/22/fox-friends-sympathetic-neo-nazis-marching-outraged-over-sports-players-kneeling/217726

Fox guest: Anti-immigrant former sheriff Joe Arpaio "should be … getting the Medal of Freedom.” Doug Wead claims Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt of court after flouting an order to stop racist policing practices, only "got this charge ... because he supported Donald Trump for president" https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/08/25/fox-guest-anti-immigrant-former-sheriff-joe-arpaio-should-be-getting-medal-freedom/217763

Fox & Friends defends Trump for lashing out against Mitch McConnell. Steve Doocy: "Trump was elected because he wanted to drain the swamp and take on the establishment. Of course, Mitch McConnell is the establishment." https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/08/25/fox-friends-defends-trump-lashing-out-against-mitch-mcconnell/217764

Fox host defends Trump's pardon of Sheriff Arpaio because Obama commuted sentences for "Bradley Manning" and "a lot of crack dealers" Jesse Watters continues long history of misgendering Chelsea Manning by calling her "Bradley" https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/08/25/fox-host-defends-trumps-pardon-sheriff-arpaio-because-obama-pardoned-bradley-manning-and-lot-crack/217775

Fox News hosts fall for internet hoax, call it a real-life “Sharknado.” Watters: "I saw a shark on the highway swimming in the water "https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/08/28/fox-news-hosts-fall-harvey-internet-hoax-call-it-real-life-sharknado/217791

7. From the Late Shows

Donald Trump Phoenix Rally Cold Open - SNL: https://youtu.be/ioB2Vs_G45U

8. Late Night Jokes for Dems

At his Arizona rally President Trump said of his critics, "I went to better schools than they did. I was a better student than they were. I live in a bigger, more beautiful apartment. And I live in the White House, too." Then someone handed Trump a fidget spinner and he quieted right down. -- Conan O’Brien

At last week’s Trump rally, the crowd was chanting "CNN Sucks!" And man, you do not want to hear what they had to say about the Science Channel. -- Conan O’Brien

President Trump spoke at a rally in Arizona and really fired up his supporters. He opened his speech by saying, "Our movement is a movement built on love." In other words, he started with his best joke. -- Conan O’Brien

It is being reported that President Trump is no longer speaking to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Upon hearing this, Melania went to McConnell and said, "Teach me, Master." -- Conan O’Brien

In her new book, Hillary Clinton calls Donald Trump a "creep" who "made her skin crawl." When he heard, Trump smiled and said, "I still got it."-- Conan O’Brien

9. Interactive Timeline: Everything We Know About Russia and Donald Trump

This deeply comprehensive timeline details what actually happened and what’s still happening in the ever-changing story of the president, his inner circle and a web of Russian oligarchs, hackers and government officials.

What have reporters and investigators already uncovered and made public? What are the connections and patterns? Review the timeline at: http://billmoyers.com/story/trump-russia-timeline/

10. How Trump Shaped the 2016 Campaign Agenda

A  new report from the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for the Internet and Society documents that the majority of mainstream media coverage was negative for both candidates, but largely followed Donald Trump’s agenda. When reporting on Hillary Clinton, coverage primarily focused on the various scandals related to the Clinton Foundation and emails. When focused on Trump, major substantive issues, primarily immigration, were prominent. Indeed, immigration emerged as a central issue in the campaign and served as a defining issue for the Trump campaign.

They found that the structure and composition of media on the right and left are quite different. The leading media on the right and left are rooted in different traditions and journalistic practices. On the conservative side, more attention was paid to pro-Trump, highly partisan media outlets. On the liberal side, by contrast, the center of gravity was made up largely of long-standing media organizations steeped in the traditions and practices of objective journalism.. August 25, 2017 https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3019414

11. Was the Arpaio Pardon a Signal to Those in the Russia Investigation?

Trump has given hope to anyone implicated in his own scandals that—if they keep loyal to him—he will defy all other considerations and ignore all contrary advice to protect them. Like his presidency, Trump’s pardons will be a one-man show, conducted without regard to ethical niceties or even ordinary political calculations. That must come as reassuring news to a whole host of characters embroiled in the Russia probe. August 26, 2017 https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/no-he-wont-back-down/538125/

12. Gallup Daily: Trump Job approval

Donald Trump started as the most unpopular new president in the history of modern polling. After seven months, things have only gotten worse.

Plunging into undesirably uncharted territory, Trump is setting records with his dismally low approval ratings, including the lowest mark ever for a president in his first year. In fact, with four months left in the year, Trump has already spent more time under 40 percent than any other first-year president.

At 34 percent, his current approval rating is worse than President Barack Obama’s ever was. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-keeps-setting-lower-approval-ratings

The Gallup daily tracking poll finds Trump’s approval rating among people aged 18 to 29 has reached a new low of 20%. https://www.axios.com/trumps-approval-among-people-under-30-reaches-new-low-2479223836.html

13. Trump Associate Boasted That Moscow Business Deal ‘Will Get Donald Elected’

A business associate of President Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, that he said would help Mr. Trump win the presidency.

The business associate, Felix Sater, wrote a series of emails to Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which he boasted about his ties to Mr. Putin and predicted that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would be a political boon to Mr. Trump’s candidacy.

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Mr. Sater wrote in an email. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.” 8/28/16 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/us/politics/trump-tower-putin-felix-sater.html-

14. Russian Bots Are Trying to Sow Discord on Twitter After Charlottesville

The same Russian social media machine that blanketed Twitter with pro-Trump posts during the 2016 presidential election were reportedly at work after Charlottesville, too. Bots were weaponized during the presidential debates to give a false impression of a groundswell of grass-roots support for Trump. Bots sharing pro-Trump–related content outnumbered pro-Clinton bots by 7 to 1 during the third debate between the Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, according to research from Oxford University’s Project on Computational Propaganda. In the timespan between the first and second debates, more than one-third of the pro-Trump tweets were found to came from automated bot accounts.

Bots are becoming a staple of social media as Western countries find themselves embroiled in polarized political debates. Trump’s Twitter followers, after all, are about 59 percent bots or fake accounts, according to TwitterAudit, a website that measures the authenticity of Twitter followers. All of which goes to show that retweets, likes, trending hashtags, and followers shouldn’t be taken as a strong indication of public opinion—and moreover, that virality is hardly a demonstration of genuineness. http://www.slate.com/blogs/
future_tense/2017/08/24/russian_bots_are_sharing_extreme_right_wing_information_on_twitter_after.html

15. Why Pardons Might Not End Russia Prosecutions

While presidential pardons can halt the federal case, local prosecutors could then pursue any Americans suspected of aiding Russia’s election meddling. In fact, legal experts say presidential pardons could make that prospect more likely.

According to a new MSNBC legal analysis, federal pardons could open the door to local criminal investigations in several states… According to a source with knowledge of one state attorney general’s preparations, the office is already studying its potential state jurisdiction for Russia-related crimes. The source told MSNBC that state investigators typically defer to federal inquiries, but there is a perception the Russia inquiry may not turn out to be a typical situation. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/presidential-pardons-might-not-end-russia-prosecutions-n797266

16. How Washington Made Harvey Worse

Nearly two decades before the storm's historic assault on homes and businesses along the Gulf Coast of Texas this week, the National Wildlife Federation released a groundbreaking report about the United States government’s dysfunctional flood insurance program, demonstrating how it was making catastrophes worse by encouraging Americans to build and rebuild in flood-prone areas. The report, titled “Higher Ground,” crunched federal data to show that just 2 percent of the program’s insured properties were receiving 40 percent of its damage claims. The most egregious example was a home that had flooded 16 times in 18 years, netting its owners more than $800,000 even though it was valued at less than $115,000.

That home was located in Houston, along with more than half of America’s worst “repetitive loss properties” identified in the report. There was one other city with more repetitive losses overall, but Houston is where the federation went to announce its Higher Ground findings in July 1998, to try to build a national case for reform. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/29/a-storm-made-in-washington-215549


OPINION

1. Nicholas Kristof: We’re Journalists, Mr. Trump, Not the Enemy

Look, we in journalism deserve to have our feet held to the fire. We make mistakes all the time, and too often we are superficial, sensationalist, unfair, defensive or diverted by shiny objects. Critics are right that we in the national media are often out of touch with working-class America, and distressingly often, we are lap dogs instead of watchdogs.

Yet for all our failings, journalism remains an indispensable constraint on power. Trump has systematically tried to delegitimize the institutions that hold him accountable — courts, prosecutors, investigators, the media — and that’s the context for his vilification of all them, for we collectively provide monitoring that outrages him.

May I humbly suggest that when a megalomaniacal leader howls and shrieks at critics, that is when institutional checks on that leader become a bulwark of democracy. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/24/opinion/trump-journalists-enemy.html

2. Jonathan Chait: The Obama-Era Deficit Scolds Want Big Tax Cuts Now

One of the unnoticed ways in which American politics has changed under Donald Trump is the quiet disappearance of the budget deficit as a fixation of the news media and the business and political elite. During Barack Obama’s two terms in office, terror about deficits positively consumed the discourse. A terror of doubt inspired an endless stream of presidential debate questions (none of which bothered with climate change), bipartisan commissions, supercommissions, panels, and op-eds. The concern transcended partisanship — indeed, it usually manifested itself as a concern about partisanship, expressed as the hope that the two parties could work together, the purpose of which was assumed axiomatically to be the prevention of fiscal calamity. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/08/the-obama-era-deficit-scolds-all-want-big-tax-cuts-now.html

3. Paul Waldman: Trump's losing war against reality

You may have heard a lot about the difference between Teleprompter Trump and Extemporaneous Trump: The first is presidential, responsible, and even inclusive, while the second is angry, impulsive, and inflammatory. The first is who we see when President Trump's aides have prevailed upon him to lower the temperature of a controversy or say the right thing, while the second is who we see a day or two later, the real representation of what Trump believes.

All that's true. But it's also important to look closely at what Extemporaneous Trump says, beyond the "25 crazy things the president said at yesterday's rally." When you do, you see that his primary goal when he's expressing his true feelings by talking off the cuff is to create an alternate reality — and he's livid that it's not working.

Teleprompter Trump actually makes substantive arguments about issues. You may find them shallow or misleading (they often are), but at least the aides who write the words are attempting to make a case for the things the administration is doing or wants to do. But when Trump is unscripted, he can't be bothered. When he addresses something substantive, his case seldom goes much deeper than, "Oh, it's terrible" (for something he wants to change) or "Oh, it's gonna be so great" (for something he's proposing).

The things people supposedly say are a force against which Trump must constantly fight, as well as evidence that there exists an imaginary conventional wisdom he is constantly proving wrong. "Remember, everybody said you won't bring [GDP growth] up to 1 percent," he said in Phoenix. "You won't bring it up to 1.2 percent."

No one said that, because GDP growth is almost always over 1 percent unless we're in an actual recession or a temporary downturn, and it was 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 before Trump took office. But every Trump achievement is accompanied by an insistence that everyone said it was impossible to do something as fantastic as he has done. 8/24/17 http://theweek.com/articles/720133/trumps-losing-war-against-reali

4. Arizona Republic Editorial: Racism Is Not Just OK With Him. It Is a Goal

After Trump was elected, many hoped he would abandon his habit of appealing to the worst instincts of disaffected white Americans who have been left behind by economic changes that had little to do with undocumented immigration.

Many hoped Trump would decide to become the president of all the people.

But Trump spent last week demonstrating that he wants to be president of the few.

By pardoning Arpaio, Trump made it clear that institutional racism is not just OK with him. It is a goal.

That should trouble every American who believes that our duty as a nation is to continue working on behalf of equal justice. August 26, 2017 http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/editorial/2017/08/25/donald-trump-resurrects-joe-arpaio-irrelevance/604067001/

5. Jonathan Chait: ‘I Alone Can Fix It’ Becomes ‘It’s Not My Fault’

Trump inexplicably believes he can save his own political standing by detaching himself from the majority party in Congress. One White House adviser tells the Washington Post that, if Republicans lose control of the House, Trump will be able to say, “See, I told you these guys wouldn’t get anything done. I’ve been saying this for months. They’re not following my agenda.”

It might make sense for Trump to chart an independent course if he were forging partnerships with Democrats. But cutting himself off from his party as a blame-shifting exercise is utter political madness. It simply encourages a vicious cycle in which Republicans in Congress have less reason to take unpopular votes on behalf of Trump’s agenda, Trump lashes out at them more, and Republican voters act on his dismay by refusing to come out to vote for their congressional races.

To the (very limited) extent Trump had a successful positive message in 2016 — and did not merely rely on tarnishing his opponent — he appealed to low-information voters as a deal-making virtuoso. They didn’t understand the complexity of passing legislation through a fragmented system with multiple veto points, and believed Trump was some close approximation of the character he played on The Apprentice, who could overpower the mysterious gridlock in Washington. Trump boasted over and over that he was a dealmaker, deals are what he does, and his negotiating prowess would overcome any barrier. He may well have believed this himself. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/08/i-alone-can-fix-it-becomes-its-not-my-fault.html

6. Dan Balz: Trump’s pardon of Arpaio fits a pattern: A divider, not a uniter

Trump has set his presidency on an unambiguous course for which there could be no reversal. He has chosen to be a divider, not a uniter, no matter how many words to the contrary he reads off a teleprompter or from a prepared script. That’s one obvious message from Friday’s decision to issue a pardon for controversial former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Trump has been a divisive force from the very start of his campaign for president, a proud disrupter of the political status quo. His swashbuckling contempt for political correctness and the rules of the game endeared him to millions of Americans who were fed up with Washington, with career politicians, with liberal elites and with the mainstream media. The more he is under fire — as he is now — the more he returns to that strategy.

Ever since his election, Trump has had the opportunity to try to expand his coalition, to reach beyond his base and to increase the size of his governing constituency. His electoral margin was comfortable enough, but three of the states that tipped the balance — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — were decided by less than a percentage point, and he lost the national popular vote to Hillary Clinton. That’s a fragile basis from which to govern.

Given those realities, a prudent politician presumably would seek ways to draw more voters into his or her orbit. Trump consistently has done the opposite, with actions designed to bind himself ever more tightly to the constituency that elected him at the cost of permanently losing potential supporters. The Arpaio pardon fits that pattern in bold colors. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-pardon-of-arpaio-fits-a-pattern-a-divider-not-a-uniter/2017/08/26/e28e0616-8a5e-11e7-a94f-3139abce39f5_story.html

7. Matt Taibbi: The Media Created a World Dumb Enough for Trump

For more than two years now, it's been obvious that Donald Trump is a disaster on almost every level except one – he's great for the media business. Most of us who do this work have already gone through the process of working out just how guilty we should or should not feel about this.

Many execs and editors – and Maddox seems to fall into this category – have convinced themselves that the ratings and the money are a kind of cosmic reward for covering Trump responsibly. But deep down, most of us know that's a lie. Donald Trump gets awesome ratings for the same reason Fear Factor made money feeding people rat-hair tortilla chips: nothing sells like a freak show. If a meteor crashes into jello night at the Playboy mansion, it doesn't matter if you send Edward R. Murrow to do the standup. Some things sell themselves.

The Trump presidency is like a diabolical combination of every schlock eyeball-grabbing formula the networks have ever deployed. It's Battle of the Network Stars meets Wrestlemania meets Survivor meets the Kursk disaster. It's got the immediacy of a breaking news crash, with themes of impending doom, conflict, celebrity meltdown, anger, racism, gender war, everything.

Trump's monstrousness is ironic, since the image of Trump as the media's very own Frankenstein's monster has been used and re-used in the last years. Many in the business are of the opinion that, having created Trump and let him loose in the village, we in the press now have a responsibility to hunt him down with aggressive investigative reporting, to make the world safe again.

That might indeed be a good idea. But that take also implies that slaying the monster will fix the problem. Are we sure that's true?  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/taibbi-blame-media-for-creating-world-dumb-enough-for-trump-w499649

8. Joe Biden: We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation.

The giant forward steps we have taken in recent years on civil liberties and civil rights and human rights are being met by a ferocious pushback from the oldest and darkest forces in America. Are we really surprised they rose up? Are we really surprised they lashed back? Did we really think they would be extinguished with a whimper rather than a fight?

Did we think the charlatans and the con-men and the false prophets who have long dotted our history wouldn’t revisit us, once again prop up the immigrant as the source of all our troubles, and look to prey on the hopelessness and despair that has grown up in the hollowed-out cities and towns of Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania and the long-forgotten rural stretches of West Virginia and Kentucky?

We have fought this battle before—but today we have a special challenge.

Today we have an American president who has publicly proclaimed a moral equivalency between neo-Nazis and Klansmen and those who would oppose their venom and hate.

We have an American president who has emboldened white supremacists with messages of comfort and support.

This is a moment for this nation to declare what the president can’t with any clarity, consistency, or conviction: There is no place for these hate groups in America. Hatred of blacks, Jews, immigrants—all who are seen as “the other”—won’t be accepted or tolerated or given safe harbor anywhere in this nation. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/joe-biden-after-charlottesville/538128/

9. Nicholas Kristof: There Once Was a Great Nation With an Unstable Leader

What happens when the people of a great nation gradually realize that their leader may not be, er, quite right in the head?

When Caligula became Roman emperor in A.D. 37, the people rejoiced. “On all sides, you could see nothing but altars and sacrifices, men and women decked in their holiday best and smiling,” according to the first-century writer Philo.

The Senate embraced him, and he was hailed as a breath of fresh air after the dourness, absenteeism and miserliness of his great-uncle, Emperor Tiberius. Caligula was colorful and flamboyant, offering plenty of opportunities for ribald gossip. Caligula had four wives in rapid succession, and he was said to be sleeping with his sister. (Roman historians despised him, so some of the gossip should be treated skeptically.)

He was charming, impetuous and energetic, sleeping only three hours a night, and he displayed a common touch as he constantly engaged with the public. His early months as emperor brimmed with hope. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/26/opinion/sunday/caligula-roman-empire.html

10. Doyle McManus: Trump is shedding supporters like no other president in modern history

Trump’s poll numbers are bad and getting worse. He began his presidency on shaky ground; on Inauguration Day, only about 45% of Americans said they approved of the job he was doing. Since then, it’s been a bumpy ride downhill. Last week, the Gallup Poll reported that Trump’s job approval had sagged to a low of 34%.

Other surveys’ findings are slightly less dire, but all show the same downward trend. No president has fallen so low in public esteem so early in his tenure in the history of modern polling.

Those aren’t the only daunting numbers Trump has had to contemplate. (He claims he ignores the polls, but often betrays his denials with complaints about specific surveys.) The president’s disapproval rating, the share of Americans who think he’s doing a bad job, rose above 50% faster than any of his predecessors’.

He has created, almost single-handed, an unusually passionate opposition: One poll found that almost twice as many voters “strongly disapproved” of his job performance as said they “strongly approved.”

And while Trump claims that his base of support remains impregnable, that’s proven to be a myth.

“The Trump base is far bigger & stronger than ever before,” the president claimed on Twitter this month. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-mcmanus-trump-polls-20170827-story.html

11. Paul Krugman: Fascism, American Style

Standing up for white people who keep brown people down pleases Trump’s base, whom he’s going to need more than ever as the scandals creep closer and the big policy wins he promised keep not happening.

But the Trump base of angry white voters is a distinct minority in the country as a whole. Furthermore, those voters have always been there. Fifteen years ago, writing about the radicalization of the G.O.P., I suggested the hard core of angry voters was around 20 percent of the electorate; that still seems like a reasonable guess.

What makes it possible for someone like Trump to attain power and hold it is the acquiescence of people, both voters and politicians, who aren’t white supremacists, who sort-of kind-of believe in the rule of law, but are willing to go along with racists and lawbreakers if it seems to serve their interests. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/opinion/fascism-arpaio-pardon-trump.html

12. Jane Chong: The Arpaio Pardon Dangerously Accelerates Trump’s Assault on the Rule of Law

Like his first executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, which was reportedly rolled out without the rigorous review normally conducted by the Justice Department, Trump’s pardon of Arpaio is an express repudiation of the many systems that exist to appropriately and lawfully channel the President’s power. Their destruction will be costly not only to the rule of law but to the President’s place in the constitutional firmament, as it may well prompt the courts and Congress, in the long run, to cast a skeptical eye on the deference long enjoyed by the President when it comes to core executive functions like enforcement of the law. The vastness of the President’s power does not protect Trump from being impeached for abuses like the Arpaio pardon. Instead, it is a testament to the opposite proposition, and his willingness to use that power as he pleases will not strengthen the executive branch; it will diminish it.

Since the start of the Trump Presidency, commentators have fallen back repeatedly on technical questions of legality to decide how seriously to take Trump’s extraordinary rejection of the most basic norms of public office. But his threatened, and now actual, abuse of the pardon power underscores the flaws of this approach. The Arpaio pardon is a constitutional milepost not because it provides us with any new evidence of Trump’s personal willingness to abuse Presidential power. Instead, it is a dangerous warning sign that neatly captures the many facets of Trump’s ongoing war on the apparatus designed to insure our government is one of laws—an apparatus that begins, and, in the case of a pardon, ends with the President. August 27, 2017 https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-arpaio-pardon-dangerously-accelerates-trumps-assault-on-the-rule-of-law

13. Eric Holthaus: Harvey Is What Climate Change Looks Like

Climate change is making rainstorms everywhere worse, but particularly on the Gulf Coast. Since the 1950s, Houston has seen a 167 percent increase in the frequency of the most intense downpours. Climate scientist Kevin Trenberth thinks that as much as 30 percent of the rainfall from Harvey is attributable to human-caused global warming. That means Harvey is a storm decades in the making.

While Harvey’s rains are unique in U.S. history, heavy rainstorms are increasing in frequency and intensity worldwide. One recent study showed that by mid-century, up to 450 million people worldwide will be exposed to a doubling of flood frequency. This isn’t just a Houston problem. This is happening all over.

A warmer atmosphere enhances evaporation rates and increases the carrying capacity of rainstorms. Harvey drew its energy from a warmer-than-usual Gulf of Mexico, which will only grow warmer in the decades to come. At its peak, on Saturday night, Harvey produced rainfall rates exceeding six inches per hour in Houston, and its multiday rainfall total is close to the theoretical maximumexpected for anywhere in the United States.

The symbolism of the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history hitting the sprawled-out capital city of America’s oil industry is likely not lost on many. Institutionalized climate denial in our political system and climate denial by inaction by the rest of us have real consequences. They look like Houston.

Once Harvey’s floodwaters recede, the process will begin to imagine a New Houston, and that city will inevitably endure future mega-rainstorms as the world warms. The rebuilding process provides an opportunity to chart a new path. The choice isn’t between left and right, or denier and believer. The choice is between success and failure. August 28, 2017 http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/28/climate-change-hurricane-harvey-215547

14. Amanda Marcotte: Operation “Obama Eclipse”: Trump tweet confirms his singleminded obsession with that other president

One of the most frustrating aspects of punditry, circa 2017, is how everyone involved has become the Donald Trump Whisperer, endlessly trying to plumb the depths of the imperious orange monstrosity’s mind. Psychoanalysis of politicians is a waste of time for those of us unblessed with telepathy in ordinary circumstances. With Trump, it’s a particularly useless way to wile away our short hours on this planet. The man’s mind is only an inch deep. There are dog breeds with more complex and nuanced thought processes. Trump is a blustering bully and a racist, and there really isn’t much more to the man.

For those who wonder why such a selfish, intellectually constrained individual would want to run for president, well, he just told you: He was angry that a black man, one who is superior to him in both morality and intelligence, got a job that had previously only been held by white men. It made him so angry, in fact, that Trump completely rearranged his entire soft, easy life in a pitiful effort to erase that fact.

Trump’s racist obsession with delegitimizing Obama has now lasted longer than at least one of his marriages. In 2011, he started flogging the “birther” conspiracy theory, using his status as a reality TV show star to inject insinuations into the mainstream media that Obama was not a native-born American. A month after Trump started pushing this idea, which is rooted in the racist refusal to accept black Americans as full citizens, Obama released his long-form birth certificate. This didn’t slow Trump down, however, because birtherism was never about facts. It was just an excuse to push the narrative that is dear to Trump’s heart: A black president cannot, by definition, be a real president.

Now he’s in the White House, but Trump’s obsession with un-making Obama’s presidency hasn’t let up one bit. Earlier this month, Alberto Nardelli of BuzzFeed reported that European diplomats understand Trump’s hatred of Obama as the central organizing feature, and perhaps the only relevant aspect, of his foreign policy decision-making.

“It’s his only real position,” one of the diplomats told BuzzFeed. “He will ask: ‘Did Obama approve this?’ And if the answer is affirmative, he will say: ‘We don’t.’ He won’t even want to listen to the arguments or have a debate. He is obsessed with Obama.” http://www.salon.com/2017/08/25/operation-obama-eclipse-trump-tweet-confirms-his-singleminded-obsession-with-that-other-president/

15. Max Boot: 'Sheriff Joe' and Donald Trump are emblems of racism and lawlessness

Coming from anybody but Donald Trump, the pardon issued to rogue cop Joe Arpaio would be shocking. The former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., which includes Phoenix, was found guilty of criminal contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge’s order not to arrest Latinos solely because he suspected them of being in the country illegally.

Arpaio has also been accused of a horrifying litany of other misconduct. He housed inmates in such inhumane conditions — an outdoor tent city that was an inferno in the summer and a freezer in the winter — that he himself described it as a concentration camp. He overlooked routine brutality by his deputies, which led to legal settlements costing taxpayers at least $140 million. He arrested the owners of a newspaper, the Phoenix New Times, which ran critical coverage of him, leading to a $3.75-million settlement. He was so busy pursuing immigrants that he neglected to investigate cases of rape and child abuse.

Yet President Trump has had nothing but praise for “Sheriff Joe,” who joined him in a racist, crackpot attempt to prove that President Obama had forged his birth certificate. The Washington Post reported Saturday that Trump asked Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to drop the criminal case against Arpaio but the attorney general would not agree to obstruct justice. Trump went ahead and pardoned Sheriff Joe.

Arpaio lost his reelection campaign in fall 2016, but he now has the satisfaction of watching a kindred spirit rule the entire country. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-boot-arpaio-pardon-20170827-story.html

 

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