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How the Cloud Is Going Green

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You already know the many lauded benefits of the cloud — it saves paper, equipment and raw materials, while also providing employees and workplace teams an easier means to access important documents and files. But you may have also heard about how cloud data servers pack a punch in terms of environmental impact.

To minimize their carbon footprint, data centers are going green. Here are the ways companies behind some of the latest cloud-based technologies are working to reduce their environmental impact in the rollout of new products and services.

Starting Small

Like within many other industries, business owners who have previously invested in cloud data centers are starting small with their eco-friendly efforts. But this isn’t to say their current efforts aren’t making a difference. For example, many data centers are swapping out old, incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs, which conserve energy and provide massive cost savings on monthly utility bills.

Cloud computing is also a more environmentally friendly practice compared to investing in on-site servers. That’s because these cloud data centers simply don’t need the same amount of infrastructure and space compared to their on-site server counterparts.

In fact, businesses that invest in on-site servers typically have more space than they need to house this bulky infrastructure, particularly if they plan to grow or expand operations. This leads to a number of drives sitting empty in the short or long term that still need to be powered and cooled.

In comparison, cloud data center operators can optimize the number of servers they own and use depending on their client and storage needs. For example, instead of running an on-site, physical customer service department, businesses can invest in a cloud contact center that requires less space and infrastructure.

Using Renewable Energy

Some leading cloud computing companies, like Facebook, Google and Apple, are also paving the way when it comes to investing in renewable energy in their data centers. In fact, all of Apple’s data centers are powered entirely by solar energy, while Facebook installed some of its newest servers in Iowa so the company could take advantage of the area’s wind energy. Microsoft is using both types of renewable energy for its cloud centers: solar energy in Virginia and wind energy in Texas.

These giant corporations have a lot of political power and community clout, and they’re using it to not only enforce stricter regulations on energy use, but to also move the entire industry toward renewable energy.

Optimizing Energy Use

One of the biggest electricity sucks for on-site servers includes maintaining cool temperatures in the spaces that house this infrastructure to prevent overheating. According to REIT.com, an average office space uses three to five watts of power per square foot, whereas a physical data center uses 100 to 300 watts per square foot.

That’s why many on-site data centers are housed in buildings or spaces specifically designed for their use. As the major tech giants have shown, locating operations near water and other renewable energy sources is optimal for conserving energy. However, if that’s not in the cards, some companies are going a different, forward-thinking route: working with contractors to build energy-efficient and even LEED-certified warehouses.

Data center operators have also been examining the airflow in their buildings, so they can separate hot and cold air streams. By keeping cool air near their servers — and moving hot air away from this expensive equipment — companies don’t need to run as many fans to maintain them.

The cloud continues to get greener. Not only is this technology saving companies space, time and money on hosting their own servers — and saving them a lot of paper and filing cabinets — it’s now leading the way in renewable energy and energy optimization. These are the first steps to a more connected, eco-conscious world.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

Read More:
How 5G Technology Will Power a Greener Future
5 Top Tips for Recycling Old Technology
How to Finally Go Paperless in the Office

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How the Cloud Is Going Green – August 14, 2017
Hacks to Stay Cool: Beat the Heat Using Less Energy – July 31, 2017
How to Shop for Clothes with the Earth in Mind – July 28, 2017

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How the Cloud Is Going Green

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Here’s how Trump could crush cheap solar.

This week, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced a new initiative to combat climate change–augmented extreme heat in the city. It comes down to: Plant a tree! Make a palThose are actually not bad ideas. 

The $106 million package — dubbed Cool Neighborhoods NYC, which, yikes — will largely go to tree-planting across more heatwave-endangered communities in the South Bronx, Northern Manhattan, and Central Brooklyn. Funding will also further develop the unpronounceable NYC °CoolRoofs program, which aims to cover 2.7 million square feet of city roofs with foliage.

But, to me, the more noteworthy component of the plan is Be A Buddy NYC — again, yikes — which “promotes community cohesion” as a means of climate resilience.

“A heat emergency is not the time to identify vulnerable residents,” explains the Mayor’s Office’s report. “Rather, it is important to build social networks that can help share life-saving information prior to such an emergency, and can reach out to at-risk neighbors during an extreme heat event.”

The new policy supports the argument that this whole community engagement thing is a crucial tactic in the fight against climate change.

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Here’s how Trump could crush cheap solar.

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Can Angela Merkel hold the Paris Agreement together? The pope hopes so.

This week, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced a new initiative to combat climate change–augmented extreme heat in the city. It comes down to: Plant a tree! Make a palThose are actually not bad ideas. 

The $106 million package — dubbed Cool Neighborhoods NYC, which, yikes — will largely go to tree-planting across more heatwave-endangered communities in the South Bronx, Northern Manhattan, and Central Brooklyn. Funding will also further develop the unpronounceable NYC °CoolRoofs program, which aims to cover 2.7 million square feet of city roofs with foliage.

But, to me, the more noteworthy component of the plan is Be A Buddy NYC — again, yikes — which “promotes community cohesion” as a means of climate resilience.

“A heat emergency is not the time to identify vulnerable residents,” explains the Mayor’s Office’s report. “Rather, it is important to build social networks that can help share life-saving information prior to such an emergency, and can reach out to at-risk neighbors during an extreme heat event.”

The new policy supports the argument that this whole community engagement thing is a crucial tactic in the fight against climate change.

Continued here:  

Can Angela Merkel hold the Paris Agreement together? The pope hopes so.

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Trump Is Waiving His Own Ethics Rules to Allow Lobbyists to Make Policy

Mother Jones

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It seems clear now why the Trump administration fought so hard to avoid making public the details of the waivers it granted to White House staffers who might otherwise have been in violation of the president’s self-imposed ethics rules. They show that President Donald Trump, who made “drain the swamp” a campaign battle cry, has enlisted numerous swamp-dwellers—former lobbyists, consultants, corporate executives—to staff key positions in his White House and has granted them broad exemptions to work on issues directly related to their former jobs and clients.

After repeatedly slamming DC lobbyists during the campaign, Trump used one of his first executive orders to lay out ethics rules for his new administration. The January 28 order barred Trump officials from working on issues related to their former employers for at least two years, and these rules applied not only to lobbyists, but to anyone who worked for a business or organization potentially affected by federal policy decisions. The prohibitions were not absolute: Waivers would be available in certain cases.

The Trump administration initially balked when the Office of Government Ethics demanded the White House hand over the waivers it had granted. But after a standoff the administration relented late Wednesday and released about 14 waivers covering White House staffers. They make clear that Trump’s ethics rules are remarkably flexible and that his top staffers don’t need to worry too much about staying on the right side of them. On paper, Trump’s rules are similar to those imposed by President Barack Obama, but it appears that Trump is far more willing to hand out exemptions. At this point in the Obama administration, just three White House staffers had been granted ethics waivers. So far, Trump has granted 14, including several that apply to multiple people.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and adviser Kellyanne Conway were both granted waivers to deal with issues involving their previous employers. In the case of Priebus, this narrowly applies to the Republican National Committee. But Conway is now free to work on issues involving her ex-clients from her previous life as an operative and pollster—clients that included political campaigns, nonprofit activist groups, and corporations.

Conway’s relationships with these clients were murky to begin with; she was never required to disclose who she worked for. We do know that she repped virulently anti-immigration and anti-Muslim groups. The names of some of her corporate clients also have trickled out, including Major League Baseball, Hasbro, American Express, and Boeing. The waiver may have been granted to help smooth the way for Conway after evidence emerged that she continued to operate own her polling and consulting company even after she’d gone to work in the White House—a possible violation of conflict-of-interest laws that drew the attention of congressional Democrats who have begun probing her relationship with the company.

Conway’s waiver was not retroactive, but there is another that specifically allows White House employees to communicate freely with former employers and coworkers at media organizations—and applies back to January 20. Trump’s executive order didn’t simply prohibit any of his hires from working on matters relating to a former employer—it specifically covered “any meeting or communication relating to the performance of one’s official duties.” This means at least two of Trump’s top aides, former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon and his assistant Julia Hahn, would be prohibited from chatting with their former colleagues at Breitbart about anything work-related—a rule that Bannon appears not to have followed. While not named, it seems likely that protecting the Breitbart alums from ethics complaints was the aim.

Another takeaway from Trump’s waivers is that they appear to be far less restrictive than Obama administration waivers. Many Obama waivers (there were only 10 total granted to White House employees during his administration) were very narrowly tailored. For example, James Jones, Obama’s national security adviser, was granted a waiver to allow him to introduce Bill Clinton at an event for the Atlantic Council, even though Jones had previously worked for the group. John Brennan, at the time one of Obama’s deputy national security advisers, had previously worked for The Analysis Company, and he was granted a waiver to use the company’s data while investigating the so-called “Underwear Bomber” incident. Brennan was not cleared to talk to any of the company’s employees, however.

Trump’s waivers, on the other hand, are broad.

For instance, Trump granted a waiver to Michael Catanzaro, who is the president’s most senior energy policy aide, allowing him to work freely on “broad policy matters and particular matters of general applicability relating to the Clean Power Plan, the WOTUS Waters of the United States rule, and methane regulations.” Catanzaro worked as a registered lobbyist for several oil and gas companies as recently as January, which made the waiver necessary. On his most recent lobbying disclosure form—filed on behalf of one of his clients, natural gas company Noble Energy—Catanzaro wrote that he was working on “EPA and BLM’s proposed and final regulations covering methane emissions from new and existing oil and gas facilities.” Nearly identical language appears in his most recent lobbying disclosure on behalf of another natural gas company, Encana. In other words, Catanzaro is now making policy on the very issues he was paid by corporations to lobby on. There are no restrictions in Catanzaro’s waiver relating to his previous clients.

Another lobbyist turned Trump aide is Shahira Knight, who was previously employed as vice president of public policy for mutual fund giant Fidelity and now serves as Trump’s special assistant for tax and retirement policy. Her waiver grants her permission to work on “matters of general applicability relating to tax, retirement and financial services issues.” Fidelity’s most recent lobbying report—filed while Knight ran its lobbying shop—lists the main issue areas targeted by the company’s lobbyists: finance, retirement, banking, and taxes.

While the Obama administration reluctantly granted waivers for narrow sets of circumstances, the Trump waivers appear to be written to carefully exempt the previous lobbying work done by White House aides.

And this is just the beginning. The administration released only the waivers granted to White House employees—the release does not include waivers granted to administration officials who work for federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the Treasury Department. The White House will turn those waivers over to the Office of Government Ethics on Thursday, but it’s not clear when they will be made public.

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Trump Is Waiving His Own Ethics Rules to Allow Lobbyists to Make Policy

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Trump WH: Birth Control Mandate Is Unnecessary Because of Planned Parenthood, Which We’ll Also Defund

Mother Jones

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The Trump administration’s argument for letting lots of employers opt out of covering birth control is…not exactly bulletproof.

Yesterday, Vox reported that the Trump administration is considering a broad exemption to Obamacare’s mandate on contraceptive coverage, according to a leaked draft of the proposed rule. If passed, the rule would allow virtually any employer, not just a religious one, to remove birth control coverage from its insurance plan if contraception violates the organization’s religious beliefs or “moral convictions”—a broad and murky standard.

But, in a curious twist, part of the Trump administration’s justification for the move hinges on the existence of hundreds of Planned Parenthood clinics, many of which the White House is actively trying to close by “defundingPlanned Parenthood.

As the draft text explains, the administration believes the past rationale for Obamacare’s contraception mandate is insufficient. The document lists several reasons why this is the case. Here’s one of them:

“There are multiple Federal, state, and local programs that provide free or subsidized contraceptives for low-income women, including Medicaid (with a 90% Federal match for family planning services), Title X, health center grants, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. According to the Guttmacher Institute, government-subsidized family planning services are provided at 8,409 health centers overall. Various state programs supplement Federal programs, and 28 states have their own mandates of contraceptive coverage as a matter of state law. For example, the Title X program, administered by the HHS Office of Population Affairs (OPA), provides voluntary family planning information and services for clients based on their ability to pay.

“The availability of such programs to serve the most at-risk women identified by IOM Institute of Medicine, now known as the National Academy of Medicine diminishes the Government’s interest in applying the Mandate to objecting employers.”

The implication here is that since there are already programs like Medicaid and Title X to help low-income women afford contraception, the requirement that most employers provide no-cost birth control is less pressing.

But there are a couple of glaring contradictions here: First of all, of the 8,409 health centers that provide Medicaid and Title X family planning services, as cited in the rule, 817 of them are run by Planned Parenthood—the very group that Congress and the administration are trying to exclude from using Title X and Medicaid funds to provide health care.

Trump has already signed a bill into law allowing states to exclude Planned Parenthood and other providers who offer abortions from receiving Title X family planning funding—never mind that Title X funding is used exclusively for nonabortion services. Beyond that, there are several more proposals moving through government—including in the House’s American Health Care Act and in the Trump budget proposal—to withhold Medicaid and other federal dollars, including Title X, specifically from Planned Parenthood.

The problem with the White House’s logic boils down to this: As the nation’s largest provider of federal Title X-funded care, in 2015 Planned Parenthood centers served more than 40 percent of women nationwide using Title X-funded family planning care—a whopping 1.58 million patients. But if Planned Parenthood can no longer receive a single federal dollar to provide contraception and other family planning care—an oft-repeated goal of the Trump administration—then these nearly 1.6 million low-income patients will suddenly lose their family planning care. And now their employers may not cover that care either.

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Trump WH: Birth Control Mandate Is Unnecessary Because of Planned Parenthood, Which We’ll Also Defund

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Trump Can Fire People, But He’s Having Trouble Hiring New Ones

Mother Jones

Gloria Borger reports:

Trump returns to the White House this week just as he left — lonely, angry and not happy with much of anyone. The presidency, Donald Trump is discovering, is not an easy or natural fit. “He now lives within himself, which is a dangerous place for Donald Trump to be,” says someone who speaks with the President. “I see him emotionally withdrawing. He’s gained weight. He doesn’t have anybody whom he trusts.

Unfortunately, Trump has a big problem hiring new staffers who he might trust:

The disclosures from investigations stemming from Russian meddling in last year’s election — coupled with the president’s habit of undercutting his staff — have driven away candidates for West Wing jobs that normally would be among the most coveted in American politics, according to people involved in the search.

By the time the first change in what may be a broader shake-up was announced Tuesday, the White House was left without a replacement. Michael Dubke, the White House communications director, said he would step down, but four possible successors contacted by the White House declined to be considered, according to an associate of Mr. Trump who like others asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.

At the same time, talks with two former advisers, Corey Lewandowski and David N. Bossie, about joining the White House staff grew more complicated. Mr. Bossie, a former deputy campaign manager, signaled that he does not plan to join the staff.

I can’t imagine why anyone even semi-competent would be willing to work for Trump, especially in the press operation. Trump undercuts them constantly, and he obviously wants to be the public face of the administration himself. The problem is that he’s afraid to face the press on a regular basis. Even he realizes that his administration is epically incompetent, and reporters have started calling him out on this. So he hides in the Oval Office and feeds his press staff to the lions instead.

As for every other position, too many people finally understand what Trump is really like:

There is this storyline about Donald Trump, one longtime Trump watcher says, that he’s a loyal guy. That he sticks with his old friends and defends them and supports them. “You have it all wrong,” he says. “Trump is not loyal, except to his family. He can be solicitous and ingratiating. But if there’s a moment you are not useful, forget it, you’re done. No matter what you have done for him.” Consider: Rudy Giuliani, Paul Manafort, Chris Christie.

I don’t know what took everyone so long to figure this out, but by now they have. There’s just no upside working for a shitshow of a White House and a shitshow of a man.

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Trump Can Fire People, But He’s Having Trouble Hiring New Ones

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British Officials Angered by US Leaks of Manchester Intelligence to Media

Mother Jones

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High-ranking British officials, including Home Secretary Amber Rudd, are speaking out against the United States, after a number of confidential details in the ongoing investigation into Monday’s Manchester attack appeared in American media before British authorities confirmed them.

“The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise,” Rudd said in an interview Wednesday with BBC’s Radio 4. “So it is irritating if it gets released from other sources.”

“I have been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again,” she continued.

The information in question includes the suspected attacker’s identity and the detail that the attack was likely a suicide-bombing—intel that emerged in American reports hours before authorities publicly verified them. BuzzFeed reports CBS News and the Associated Press were among the American media to cite anonymous US intelligence officials in the reports in question. Notice the time-stamps below:

Meanwhile, British news outlets adhered to police exhortations and waited to disclose such details until officials were ready to reveal them.

Rudd’s admonishment comes as the latest setback in the United States’ intelligence-sharing relationships with key allies, after the Washington Post reported last week that President Donald Trump divulged highly classified information to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister during a meeting in the Oval Office. The bombshell allegation raised concern that Trump’s reveal could jeopardize relations with the intelligence-sharing partner—later reported to be Israel—who relayed the information to the United States in the first place.

On Monday, Trump stepped into it again, when he appeared to inadvertently confirm that the source was in fact Israel.

“This is a leaky administration,” Thomas Sanderson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in DC told the Guardian. “What does that mean for sharing information we need to going forward? The UK and Israel are probably our two biggest sources of intelligence. Now they’re thinking, ‘Is this going to cause us damage every time we share?'”

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British Officials Angered by US Leaks of Manchester Intelligence to Media

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Look at the Difference in Trump and Obama’s Notes for Israel’s Holocaust Memorial

Mother Jones

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Before leaving Israel’s Holocaust museum Yad Vashem Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump continued the tradition of US leaders who have visited the memorial before him, including former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, by writing a message in the Book of Remembrance.

“It is a great honor to be here with my friends!” Trump’s signature read. “So amazing and will never forget!”

The president’s note quickly attracted criticism for its strangely upbeat tone, with many mocking the message for appearing out of step with the memorial’s somber setting, especially when compared with former president Barack Obama’s 2008 message when he was still a senator.

The note on Tuesday is the latest in a series of awkward moments for Trump during his first overseas trip as president. The day before, while addressing reporters at a press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump appeared to inadvertently confirm that Israel was the source that provided the intelligence he shared with high-ranking Russian officials in the Oval Office last week.

Trump’s unusually lighthearted Book of Remembrance message is only the most recent example of tone deafness coming from the administration regarding the Holocaust. In February, the administration sparked by the ire of Jewish groups when it released a statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day that failed to mention the word Jews. White House press secretary also once called Nazi concentration camps “Holocaust centers” while positively comparing Adolf Hitler to Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad.

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Look at the Difference in Trump and Obama’s Notes for Israel’s Holocaust Memorial

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Another Trump Bombshell Hits: New York Times Reports He Asked FBI Chief to Drop Flynn Investigation

Mother Jones

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President Donald Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to drop the FBI’s investigation of former national security adviser Mike Flynn, according to a bombshell report published by the New York Times that was based on a memo Comey wrote following the conversation.

“I hope you can let this go,” Trump told Comey in a private one-on-one meeting at the White House in February, the day after Flynn was fired for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the Times reports. Comey supposedly felt uncomfortable with the exchange and wrote a memo detailing the discussion. From the Times:

The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.

Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, only replying: “I agree he is a good guy.”

The Times included a denial from the White House:

While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn. The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.

After the Times published the story late Tuesday afternoon, the White House sent the same statement to members of the White House press corps.

The Times notes that Andrew McCabe, Comey’s deputy and the current acting director of the FBI, told a Senate panel last week that there hadn’t been any interference in the FBI’s investigation so far.

The story also reported that Trump had asked Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to leave the room so he could speak to Comey by himself. In this private conversation, Trump also reportedly pressed Comey to prosecute reporters for publishing classified information.

The Times‘ explosive story came at the end of a day that was already full of White House chaos, with Flynn’s successor, retired Lt. General H.R. McMaster trying to defend Trump in the face of the previous day’s Washington Post‘s report that Trump had disclosed highly sensitive classified information during his Oval Office meeting with Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

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Another Trump Bombshell Hits: New York Times Reports He Asked FBI Chief to Drop Flynn Investigation

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A Behind-the-Scenes Look at How Producers Manage The Trump Show

Mother Jones

Over at Politico, “How Trump Gets His Fake News” is getting a lot of play this morning. And why not? In one sense, it’s an old story: Trump’s staff has to treat him like a volcanic nine-year-old lest he decide on a whim to move the Oval Office onto a barge in the Chesapeake Bay or something. We’ve read dozens of pieces like this in the past few months because Trump, by all accounts, really is a lot like a high-strung nine-year-old. At the same time, this kind of stuff is liberal crack: you can never get enough.

So what’s the best part of this latest installment in the Trump saga? The fake Time cover that got Trump lathered up about climate change? How Katie Walsh almost got fired because of a blog post from a conspiracy theorist? The fact that aides desperately try to ply Trump with good news to keep his temper in check? The endless search for whoever fed him the latest unapproved tidbit of Trumpbait? They’re all good. But maybe this is the best:

More recently, when four economists who advised Trump during the campaign — Steve Forbes, Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore — wrote in a New York Times op-ed that “now is the time to move tax reform forward with urgency,” someone in the White House flagged the piece for the president.

Trump summoned staff to talk about it. His message: Make this the tax plan, according to one White House official present.

Once again, we see that Trump couldn’t care less about policy. Any old health care plan is OK. Any old tax plan is OK. Just announce something and get it passed. Who care about all the stupid details, anyway? Just smug PhD types and annoying tea party crackpots.

Nothing matters. It’s all just a big show.

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A Behind-the-Scenes Look at How Producers Manage The Trump Show

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