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President Trump Is Mad As Hell and He’s Not Going To Take It Anymore

Mother Jones

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I missed President Trump’s press conference this afternoon, but Josh Marshall sums it up for me:

The only real consistency in Trump’s remarks are that he did nothing wrong and his anger at whomever he’s angry at at that moment. Everything else is mutable and up for grabs. He’s mad, mad at everyone, mad at Comey, also mad at Rosenstein and he made that anger clear in something like a million ways during this brief performance.

That’s our president. Mad at everybody, all the time—except himself. I wonder if he really lacks self-awareness so utterly that he has no idea he’s the one causing all the chaos? Or that he almost certainly broke the law pretty seriously when he asked Comey to kill the Russia investigation? Is he that clueless?

Probably. Trump always thought the business world was a lot tougher than politics, so being president would be a breeze. That was a level of cluelessness that’s truly mind-boggling. Leaving aside the fact that Trump never actually ran his business in any real sense of the word—and was never as successful as he thought he was—that world was patty-cake compared to big-league politics. In only a few months Washington DC has eaten him alive.

And the rest of the planet is even worse. Trump has already shown signs of being taken to the cleaners by foreign leaders, and this is almost certain to continue. That’s because despite his big talk, he’s never shown any real talent for negotiation. Dan Drezner makes the case here, and it’s not pretty.

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President Trump Is Mad As Hell and He’s Not Going To Take It Anymore

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It’s Easter in Mar-a-Lago

Mother Jones

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What’s on our president’s mind on this lovely Easter morning? Let’s check in:

This came after a series of tweets griping about folks who still want to see his tax returns; the paid agitators behind yesterday’s rallies; and China not being a currency manipulator as long as they play ball on North Korea. You can almost feel the morning star of our Savior’s resurrection infusing Trump’s heart with warmth and gladness, can’t you?

Speaking of which, I gather that there was no sunrise service on Trump’s schedule today. That’s OK with me—I slept in too—but it’s kind of funny, especially since Politico informs us that Trump is becoming more Godly now that he’s in the Oval Office:

President Donald Trump has increasingly infused references to God into his prepared remarks — calling on God to bless all the world after launching strikes in Syria, asking God to bless the newest Supreme Court Justice, invoking the Lord to argue in favor of a war on opioids.

He’s also taken other steps to further cultivate a Christian right that helped elect him, granting new levels of access to Christian media and pushing socially conservative positions that don’t appear to come naturally to him.

Apparently Trump isn’t even a Christmas-and-Easter Christian, but he’s still “cultivating” the Christian right. He may be an atheist in practice—none of us actually believe his recent nonsense about praying more often, do we?—but that won’t stop the Christian right from embracing Trump as long as he’s against abortion and Democrats and says the word “God” once in a while. With practice, maybe he’ll even be able to toss out the occasional Biblical allusion.

It probably sounds like there’s not much warmth in my heart either this morning, and obviously I need to work on that when it comes to Trump. After all, even here in the land of palm trees, light arises in the darkness for us upright folks.

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It’s Easter in Mar-a-Lago

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Media Goes Wild Over Trump’s First Address to Congress

Mother Jones

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During his first major address before Congress Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump managed to stick to his prepared remarks without veering off into one of his signature, often incomprehensible, rants. The unusually staid performance inspired lavish praise from pundits and commentators, with several members of the media even marking the occasion as the moment Trump officially became president.

“He became President of the United States in that moment, period,” CNN’s Van Jones said in a post-speech wrap-up. The frequent Trump critic even crowned it one of the most “extraordinary” hours he had ever witnessed in American politics.

But as pundits fawned over the speech, some pointed to Trump’s actions and policies during his first month in office, and the many inaccuracies and falsehoods he laid out in his speech, to caution against excessive optimism merely because he softened his tone. Examples included Trump’s move to eliminate key Obama-era environmental protections just hours before he told Congress he supported clean air and water, as well as his hard line approach to immigration, despite his new stance supporting compromises on the issue. Trump also began the speech by referring to Black History Month, an annual celebration he and his aides repeatedly botched last month.

By Wednesday morning, however, it’s obvious all Trump heard was the word “presidential.”

Watch the rare media love-fest below:

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Media Goes Wild Over Trump’s First Address to Congress

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Donald Trump Edits a Tweet

Mother Jones

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At 4:32 pm, President Trump put up this tweet:

It was quickly deleted and 16 minutes later it was replaced with this:

Fascinating! Here are the edits Trump made:

  1. Changed “and many more” to the more specific @ABC and @CBS.
  2. Eliminated the ugly extra spaces after the parentheses.
  3. Capitalized the P in “people.”
  4. Removed “SICK!”

What can this mean? Did someone tell Trump that his tweet sounded like something Hitler might have written and he should probably revise it? No one has ever told him this before, so it seems unlikely this time too. Presumably he made these changes all on his own. Let’s do a little Kremlinology here:

  1. It’s obvious that Trump’s real enemies are CNN, NBC, and the Times. Then, later, he tossed in CBS and ABC. Was this to cover his tracks? Nah. He doesn’t care what us overeducated elitists think. More likely it’s because he decided his fans1 wouldn’t automatically fill in ABC and CBS, so he needed to be more explicit about it. After all, he wants his fans to distrust all the media they consume except for Fox, so it makes sense to be very clear about this.
  2. Eliminating the spaces is either because Trump has a love of neatness we’ve never seen before, or because they pushed his tweet over 140 characters. However, the tweet is only 123 characters long, so I guess it must have been a purely esthetic bit of editing.
  3. Hmmm. American people vs. American People. That’s a tough one. The latter is more Germanic, which might have appealed to him. In English, though, it’s also less literate. That might have appealed to him too. Or, maybe Trump just capitalizes stuff randomly and there’s nothing to this.
  4. This is the real chin scratcher. Did he think that SICK! was going too far? I can’t imagine why. And the one-word adjective at the end is standard Trump Twitter grammar. We do know that Trump is a germaphobe, so maybe he doesn’t even like typing the word. However, a quick search shows that he’s called several people sick in the past year (Karl Rove, Megyn Kelly, failing New York Times). So what is it? WHY DID DONALD TRUMP REMOVE THE WORD “SICK” FROM THIS TWEET???

Oh, and by the way, calling the press an enemy of the people really is pretty Hitleresque. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that an awful lot of Trump’s supporters might not consider that such a bad thing.

1As always, remember that his supporters are the audience for his tweets, not you or me.

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Donald Trump Edits a Tweet

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Fox News Screws Up Its Latest Lie

Mother Jones

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This post starts out in an all-too-familiar way: with a Fox News headline. Here it is:

Food Stamp Fraud at All-Time High: Is It Time to End the Program?

Now, the obvious response to this is twofold. First, they’re just lying, aren’t they? And second, this is like a headline that says, “Traffic Deaths at All-Time High: Should We Ban Cars?”

But at this point the story takes a strange turn. First, I have no idea where Fox’s $70 million figure comes from—and I looked pretty hard for it. The Fox graphic attributes it to “2016 USDA,” but as near as I can tell the USDA has no numbers for SNAP fraud more recent than 2011.1

But that’s not all: $70 million is a startlingly low figure. In the most recent fiscal year, SNAP cost $71 billion, which means that fraud accounted for a minuscule 0.098 percent of the program budget. Even if this is an all-time high, the Fox high command can’t believe this is anything but a spectacular bureaucratic success.

And it would be, if it were true. But it’s not. If you look at inaccurate SNAP payments to states, the error rate since 2005 has decreased from 6 percent of the budget to less than 4 percent. However, this isn’t fraud anyway: It’s just an error rate, and most of the errors are eventually corrected. SNAP “trafficking”—exchanging SNAP benefits for cash—is fraud, but it’s been declining steadily too, from 3.8 percent in 1993 to 1.3 percent in 2011 (the most recent year for which we have records):

So in any normal sense, the Fox story was a lie. SNAP fraud isn’t at an all-time high. It’s been declining for years. But here’s the thing: The fraud rate in 2011 may have been low, but this was in the aftermath of the Great Recession, when total SNAP payments were very high. So although the percentage is low, the dollar value of fraud clocked in at $988 million. Fox could have used this far higher number, which is, in fact, an all-time high. It’s only an all-time high because SNAP was helping far more people, but still. In the Fox newsroom, that would hardly matter.

Bottom line: Yes, Fox is lying in any ordinary sense of the word. But they’re also vastly understating the amount of SNAP fraud. Even when they’re trying to deceive their audience, it turns out, they’re also incompetent.

1SNAP = Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program = food stamps.

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Fox News Screws Up Its Latest Lie

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John Bolton Set To Be #2 At State Department

Mother Jones

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Andrea Mitchell reports on who will be working with Rex Tillerson at the State Department:

He will also be paired with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as his deputy secretary of state, one of the sources added, with Bolton handling day-to-day management of the department.

John Bolton? This is hardly unexpected, but holy shit. Bolton is a lunatic. Here he is on Fox News today:

Bolton is seriously suggesting that the hacks into Democratic Party computers might have been false flag operations, presumably with the goal of making it look like Russia supported Donald Trump. This would ruin Trump’s reputation and guarantee a win for Hillary Clinton.

This is completely nuts. It’s deranged. It’s unhinged. And it doesn’t even make sense on its own terms. No campaign in its right mind would do this, and certainly not a campaign desperately trying to keep the word “email” in any form out of the public discourse.

Dark insinuations of false flag operations are a favorite among conspiracy theorists. They think it makes them sound sophisticated and worldly. This means that either Bolton is a conspiracy theorist or else he doesn’t mind sounding like one if that’s what it take to defend his side. And soon he’ll be the #2 guy at State, the person really running things while Tillerson provides the public face. God help us.

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John Bolton Set To Be #2 At State Department

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Who Got the Comey Headline Right?

Mother Jones

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Here’s a question for you all to ponder. Last night I took snapshots of four newspapers after FBI director James Comey announced that the emails they had reviewed on Anthony Wiener’s computer didn’t show anything new. Here are the four headlines:

At the top left, the LA Times says the FBI has “cleared” Hillary Clinton. On the bottom left, the New York Times declines to say Clinton has been cleared, only that the new emails “don’t warrant action” against Clinton. Finally, on the right, we have the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. They use pretty loaded language, saying there are no grounds for “charges” against Clinton.

Who got it right? My take is that the word “charge” is inherently negative. It leaves readers with the impression that Clinton might be guilty after all, but has somehow managed to skate by. Given what we now know—that Clinton was careless but did nothing seriously wrong—it strikes me as putting a big thumb on the scale. If you’re going to use legalistic language, why not follow the lead of the LA Times and say that Clinton has been “cleared”? That’s what happened, after all, and it better gets the point across that this was basically good news for Clinton.

The New York Times is somewhere in between. Perhaps someone less partisan than me would find it the best compromise. For my part, I think the LA Times got it right, while the Journal and the Post screwed up. There’s nothing technically wrong with their headlines, but they leave a groundlessly sordid impression.

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Who Got the Comey Headline Right?

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Donald Trump’s Trillion-Dollar Lie

Mother Jones

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I come bearing good news. But first, we have to get a little technical. I promise it won’t hurt a bit.

Many corporations are “pass-through” entities. Mostly these are partnerships and small businesses, and they aren’t taxed on their profits. Instead, the profits are passed through to the business owners, who pay ordinary personal income tax on it. Donald Trump, for example, owns hundreds of separate businesses under the umbrella of the Trump Organization, and most of them are pass-throughs. All the profits go to Trump.

So how should these businesses be handled? In the tax proposal Trump unveiled last year, pass-throughs would be taxed at a low 15 percent rate. This is a huge tax cut for rich business owners—like Donald Trump—since their personal tax rate can be as high as 33 percent. A corporate rate of 15 percent combined with a zero percent personal rate represents a huge tax cut.

But that was then. Earlier this week Trump unveiled a shiny new tax plan. How does it handle pass-throughs? As usual, details are hard to come by in Trumpland, but he told the Tax Foundation that he had decided to eliminate the tax cut. They took him at his word and concluded that his new tax plan would cost $4.4 trillion.

But Trump told the National Federation of Independent Business that he was keeping the tax cut. They also took him at his word and gave him their support. So which is it? Binyamin Appelbaum investigates:

Call it the trillion-dollar lie: Both assertions cannot be true.

….Steven Mnuchin, Mr. Trump’s finance chairman, said Friday that the campaign’s tax plan had not changed at any point on Thursday….“The intent of the plan is that big and small businesses have tax relief,” he said. He declined to comment on the conflicting accounts provided by the two groups.

So what’s the good news in all this? Here it is: Appelbaum called it a lie. That may be a bit rude, but it’s the most accurate way of characterizing what happened. Trump has been working on this plan for months and clearly has some idea of exactly how he plans to handle pass-through businesses. But he told business owners one thing and a tax scoring group another. What else would you call this?

This article – 

Donald Trump’s Trillion-Dollar Lie

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Canada’s Trudeau promises to do no harm to First Nations, does harm anyway

Canada’s Trudeau promises to do no harm to First Nations, does harm anyway

By on Aug 3, 2016Share

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was expected, by some, to reset his government’s relationship with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples, because he claimed his administration “will never impose solutions from the top down.”

Less than a year after assuming office, he’s already broken his word: Instead of working in partnership with indigenous peoples, Trudeau’s government is backing a hydroelectric dam project that will cause unnecessary and irreparable harm.

As DeSmog Canada reports, Trudeau’s government is pushing through permits for the British Columbia dam project, which is contested by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations. The dam’s own environmental assessment report finds dam would flood surrounding agricultural land and “result in the loss of some important multi-use, cultural areas and valued landscapes.” The losses would be permanent and a violation of treaty.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans told DeSmog Canada that it would take First Nations’ concerns into account — but those concerns mean very little once construction goes forward.

Despite so many promises from Trudeau, indigenous peoples still have to take Canada’s government to court to answer for broken treaties and broken promises.

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Canada’s Trudeau promises to do no harm to First Nations, does harm anyway

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Democrats and Republicans Have Mirror Image Race Problems

Mother Jones

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On Sunday, Chuck Todd asked Donald Trump about former KKK grand wizard and famous white nationalist David Duke:

On Tuesday, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman asked about Trump’s reply to Todd:

And here is longtime Republican policy wonk Avik Roy:

“Conservative intellectuals, and conservative politicians, have been in kind of a bubble,” Roy says. “We’ve had this view that the voters were with us on conservatism — philosophical, economic conservatism. In reality, the gravitational center of the Republican Party is white nationalism.

….He expands on this idea: “It’s a common observation on the left, but it’s an observation that a lot of us on the right genuinely believed wasn’t true — which is that conservatism has become, and has been for some time, much more about white identity politics than it has been about conservative political philosophy. I think today, even now, a lot of conservatives have not come to terms with that problem.”

Trump’s politics of aggrieved white nationalism — labeling black people criminals, Latinos rapists, and Muslims terrorists — succeeded because the party’s voting base was made up of the people who once opposed civil rights. “Trump tapped into something that was latent in the Republican Party and conservative movement — but a lot of people in the conservative movement didn’t notice,” Roy concludes, glumly.

The problem for Republicans is simple to describe: it’s not that their leaders are racist, but that they’ve long tolerated racism in their ranks. They know this perfectly well, and they know that they have to broaden their appeal beyond just whites. But they’re stuck. If they do that—say, by supporting comprehensive immigration reform or easing up on opposition to affirmative action—their white base goes ballistic. In the end, they never make the base-broadening moves that they all know they have to make eventually.

For Democrats, the problem is the mirror image. Bashing Donald Trump and his supporters for their white nationalism helps with their base, but it’s the worst possible way to attract working-class whites who might be attracted to traditional Democratic economic messages. Once you say the word “racism,” the conversation is over. Potentially persuadable voters won’t hear another word you say.

As long as this remains the case, Democrats will routinely win the presidency because their non-white base is growing every year. But Republicans will routinely win the House—and sometimes the Senate—because way more than half of all congressional districts are majority white. Result: endless gridlock.

I wish I knew the answer.

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Democrats and Republicans Have Mirror Image Race Problems

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