Trump is going to be in a very bad mood tomorrow. In Touch is going to publish the lurid interview with adult film star Stormy Daniels in which she goes into detail sexual encounters with Donald Trump in the last decade.
Mother Jones has learned that Daniels years earlier talked about having had a sexual relationship with Trump—and in lurid detail. According to 2009 emails between political operatives who were at the time advising Daniels on a possible political campaign, the adult film actor and director claimed that her affair with Trump included an unusual act: spanking him with a copy of Forbes magazine.
“She says one time he made her sit with him for three hours watching ‘shark week.’ Another time he had her spank him with a Forbes magazine.”
In early 2009, Daniels announced that she was considering challenging Sen. David Vitter, the Louisiana Republican who two years earlier had been snared in a sex scandal. Vitter’s phone number was discovered in the records of the so-called D.C. Madam, who ran a prostitution ring in the nation’s capital. Vitter, who now is a lobbyist, was a prominent social conservative who opposed abortion and gay marriage. Daniels, who grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told reporters she wanted to highlight his hypocrisy. She offered up a potential campaign slogan: “Stormy Daniels: Screwing people honestly.”
Daniels was serious enough about running that she embarked on a May 2009 “listening tour” of the state and held discussions with local political consultants. Those conversations included coming up with possible campaign contributors. According to a May 8, 2009, email written by an operative advising Daniels, who asked not to be identified, Daniels at one point scrolled through her cellphone contacts to provide her consultants with a list of names. The email noted that the potential donors included Steve Hirsch, the founder of an adult entertainment company; Theresa Flynt, the daughter of Hustler’s Larry Flynt; Frazier Boyd, the owner of a strip club chain; and Jenna Jameson, the so-called “Queen of Porn.” Also on the list: Donald Trump.
This email was sent to Andrea Dubé, a Democratic political consultant based in New Orleans. In response, Dubé expressed surprise that Daniels was friendly with Trump. “Donald Trump?” she wrote. “In her cell phone?”
“Yep,” the other consultant replied. “She says one time he made her sit with him for three hours watching ‘shark week.’
Another time he had her spank him with a Forbes magazine.”
Dubé and the other consultant confirmed to Mother Jones they exchanged these emails.
The campaign consultant who wrote the email to Dubé tells Mother Jones that Daniels said the spanking came during a series of sexual and romantic encounters with Trump and that it involved a copy of Forbes with Trump on the cover.
A fall 2006 cover of Forbes does feature Trump and two of his children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka.
So, is everyone still sure that the golden showers tape couldn 't possibly exist?
They can pass a popular bill right this minute if they want to
If there's no funding bill signed by tomorrow, it'll be the first time a party that has majorities in both the House and Senate and White House shuts down its government.The Reagan, Clinton and Obama shutdowns all happened with a majority opposition in congress.
They may not even be able to get to 50 GOP votes in the senate at this point.
The Republicans can pass a bill with a huge bipartisan majority right now if they want to include a DACA fix and CHIP funding. It's there, waiting for them. The public supports it. It's dead easy.
It's all up to the leadership and that clownshow in the White House.
The Arkansas Times reports that Senator Tom Cotton is threatening his own constituents:
Ozark Indivisible, the activist group that has been pressing members of Congress from Arkansas on health care, immigration and other issues, reported on its Twitter account last night that people calling Sen. Tom Cotton's office had received cease-and-desist letters and posted the image above.
Billy Fleming, a Times contributor, also sent me a copy of the image and an account from a person who reportedly received the letter. That person wrote:
I received a letter from the office of U.S. Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas after calling and expressing my grave concerns over his actions and support of this administration's agenda concerning a wide variety of subjects from the attack on our healthcare, DACA and immigration issues, to national security, to the rise of white nationalist fascism, to the environment, the gutting of our State Department, the attack on the free press...and similar deeply troubling actions & motives I've seen Senator Cotton support & condone. It was odd to receive this letter as I've called other Members of Congress to express my strong thoughts and opinions about their actions and thought this to be not only my duty as an American citizen but my First Amendment right granted all U.S. citizens by our U.S. Constitution, the foundation of our Democracy.
I believe if Tom Cotton's office were to respond as to why they sent this letter, I think they just honestly don't want to listen to any citizen's opposing view or hear the numerous grave concerns U.S. citizens have about the serious & ongoing attack on our Democracy and past election cycle in which a foreign, hostile Russian government interfered, they don't want U.S. citizens to call and speak their mind and truth in a very direct manner and they obviously don't want to be held accountable for their words and actions while serving all the people in this nation. I may have used unprofessional and unbecoming language at times as the anxiety and stress of what I'm witnessing is at times too great a burden to control and I have vehemently expressed my righteous anger at Senator Cotton's complicitness with this harmful regime.
Fleming said he knew several people who'd received such a letter. He said he believed they all had made repeated phone calls to deliver similar talking points, but he said they were unlikely to have made rude or disparaging remarks.
Circulating yesterday was the film of an effort some months ago by a Boone County activist to pose questions to Rep. Steve Womack. She was persistent. He was not amused.
Yesterday, demonstrators — self-identified as being from "shithole countries" — were asked to leave Cotton's Washington office after a noisy encounter with staff members who told them they'd be arrested for unlawful entry if they didn't leave. They did, chanting "Dream Act Now."
Democracy can be a noisy thing. It seems to have some impact on members of Congress, too.
These Republicans are very delicate flowers. It's hard for them when they have constituents who don't recognize that they are talking to their betters and show the kind of respect that Republican aristocrats require.
President Trump blew up Republican strategies to keep the government open past Friday when on Thursday morning he said a long-term extension of the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program should not be part of a stopgap spending bill pending before the House.
With a possible government shutdown looming this weekend, the House had planned to vote late Thursday on a stopgap spending bill that would keep government funding flowing to Feb. 16 as delicate negotiations continue to protect young, undocumented immigrants brought illegally as children from deportation.
But by midday Thursday, the chances of a shutdown appeared to be rising. Efforts to negotiate a broader budget deal that would protect young undocumented immigrants, raise spending for military and domestic programs and fund children’s health care had been making progress until Mr. Trump referred to African nations as “shithole countries” last week. The ensuing uproar upended budget and immigration talks and emboldened Democrats. On Thursday, senior House Democrats introduced a resolution to censure the president for his words.
Republicans, hoping to keep the government open while tempers cool, turned to a one-month stopgap spending measure, but that gambit may be nearing a dead end. Illustrating the trouble, Virginia’s two Democratic senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, whose constituents include hundreds of thousands of federal workers, announced together that they would oppose the temporary spending bill. They had been seen as among the most likely yes votes in the Senate, where Republican leaders need at least nine Democrats to support the bill.
“Congress should remain in session with no recess until we work out a long-term bipartisan budget deal that addresses all issues,” Mr. Warner and Mr. Kaine said in a joint statement.
The president’s tweet only added to the confusion. Republican leaders had spent Wednesday pressuring Democrats to vote for the spending bill, arguing that opposing it would effectively block a six-year extension of the children’s health program, attached to the spending bill as a sweetener for lawmakers in both parties.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin said on Wednesday that it would be “unconscionable” for Democrats to oppose funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program with a “no” vote on the short-term spending bill.
Hours after Mr. Trump’s tweet, the White House tried to walk it back. A White House spokesman, Raj Shah, said that the president supports the House’s stopgap bill.
But Democrats pressed their advantage. Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, brought up the tweet and questioned whether it meant that the president opposes the stopgap measure that congressional leaders from his own party are trying to pass.
“Who knows?” Mr. Schumer asked. “It’s a mess.”
Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, made clear that she was unmoved by the inclusion of CHIP funding in the stopgap bill.
“This is like giving you a bowl of doggy doo, put a cherry on top and call it a chocolate sundae,” she said.
They're still laughably trying to shame Democrats with eye-rolling sanctimony that only a child could possibly believe was sincere:
“I’m more than puzzled why they would threaten to turn their backs on those children and shut down the government while they’re at it over the entirely unrelated issue of illegal immigration,” Mr. McConnell said.
Give that man a Fake News Award.
Why the president suddenly undercut Republican arguments was not immediately clear. On Wednesday, the Trump administration released an official statement endorsing the stopgap measure, including the extension of funding for CHIP.
He had no idea what the negotiations taking place on the Hill were because he's fulminating about his poll numbers and Steve Bannon. He probably just sent off that tweet while on the phone with his lawyer trying to get In Touch Magazine to spike their 5,500 word Stormy Daniels story about his sexual (non)prowess. He's busy.
I have no prediction about the possible shutdown.It could happen. But it will happen because Republicans couldn't muster the votes to keep the government open. That's on them. They have a majority and a daft president who has no clue what he's signing. This shouldn't be that hard.
Around the first of the year, the New York Post's Page Six published a blind item about the Russia investigation grand jury in Washington in which an alleged witness told the paper:
The grand jury room looks like a Bernie Sanders rally. Maybe they found these jurors in central casting, or at a Black Lives Matter rally in Berkeley.
The source went on to note that 11 of the 20 jurors are African-American and that "there was only one white male in the room, and he was a prosecutor."
This was briefly taken up by the right-wing media, which charged that this proved the whole process was rigged against Donald Trump, apparently on the assumption that black people could not possibly judge him fairly. That was strangely reminiscent of candidate Trump's insistence during the campaign that the judge in the Trump University case could not be fair because of his Mexican heritage. Indeed, that wasn't the only echo of Trump's own words. As Think Progress pointed out at the time: "whoever leaked this tidbit to the New York Post sounds an awful lot like Donald Trump."
Think Progress noted that the use of the words "central casting" was the first major tip-off, since that's an old-fashioned phrase Trump is particularly known for. MSNBC's Steve Benen even wrote a story last February asking why the president is so "preoccupied" with it. An even bigger clue is that Trump and Page Six columnist Richard Johnson have a close relationship going back decades. Last month, Johnson even wrote a column called "Richard Johnson's life with The Donald."
Between the signature phrase, the familiar racism and the relationship with the author, it's not much of a stretch to suspect that Trump himself was the source of this sneering little story. The fact that it would be shortsighted and counterproductive to insult members of a grand jury that's hearing evidence in a criminal case in which you may be implicated doesn't rule him out. If anything, it's another bit of evidence pointing in Trump's direction.
That story came to mind upon reading the news this week about former Trump campaign head and White House adviser Steve Bannon testifying before the House Intelligence Committee and being subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller's office. I couldn't help but think about Trump's scathing statement that Bannon had "lost his mind," and the tweet calling him "sloppy Steve," and wonder whether anyone had warned Trump that insulting a man who had been in the highest reaches of the campaign, the transition and the administration might not be the best strategy. Pushing for him to be fired and cast out of the movement he helped create just doesn't seem like a savvy move. It would have been easy to blow off the Wolff book as fiction and give Bannon a pass to keep him inside the tent. A man with a lot of ammunition and nothing to lose is dangerous.
This week, Bannon appeared before the House Intelligence Committee for about 10 hours and did something nobody else has been able to do. Members of both parties, who have not been able to agree on anything for months, came together to protest Bannon's claim of some form of executive privilege that has never existed before. They were upset enough that when Bannon's lawyer explained that he was making the claim because his testimony was voluntary, they quickly drafted a subpoena and gave it to him so that he could say he was compelled to talk.
It didn't work. According to Bannon and his attorney, the White House would not allow him to speak about anything to do with the presidential transition, the administration or any conversations he'd had with the president after leaving the White House. That's way beyond the scope of any legitimate executive privilege.
Bannon attacked the Republicans running these congressional committees for choosing to investigate the Trump campaign and Russia. He said it was part of an "establishment" plan to try to "nullify" the election result. Gowdy challenged him on that, asking Bannon who is this establishment you refer to who is trying to nullify Trump's victory? Bannon answered: Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Gowdy countered that Bannon couldn't have it both ways. Was he also referring to Trump confidant Kevin McCarthy — the leader of the Republican House conference — who is surely part of the same Ryan-McConnell "establishment?"
There's no word on how Bannon responded to that. But according to Swan he did "slip up" early on with a particularly damning little bit of info. He admitted that he'd had a conversation with former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, former press secretary Sean Spicer and former legal spokesman Mark Corallo about Donald Trump Jr.'s infamous Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. (Corallo later reportedly resigned over the cover-up.) That got the committee very excited, but Bannon clammed up afterwards and said he wished he could say more.
How funny that Bannon would drop that one little hint of inside knowledge of the single most important part of the puzzle -- a possible conspiracy and cover-up -- and nothing else. One might even suspect he did it on purpose just to let the White House know that even though they had claimed executive privilege, he was still in the driver's seat.
It was around the time of the supposedly inadvertent slip that word came into the committee hearing that The New York Times was reporting that Bannon had been subpoenaed by the Mueller grand jury. Presumably Bannon and his lawyer knew about that, but they hadn't mentioned it to the committee, which had to pause its questioning to make sure it was not interfering with the Mueller probe. We now know that the FBI had shown up at Bannon's house with the subpoenas on Jan. 9. We don't know why Mueller's team didn't ask him to come in voluntarily as they have done with everyone else, but in any case, as of yesterday he has agreed to do just that.
It's all very odd. Nobody else has been subpoenaed out of the blue by the special counsel, and nobody else has been instructed by the White House to claim such an expansive version of executive privilege before a congressional committee. It would seem that all the parties believe there is something unique about what Bannon has to offer.
A source close to Bannon told NBC News that “he’ll answer any questions” Mueller wants to ask. And why not? Donald Trump made sure that he has plenty of time on his hands and nothing left to lose.
One year into Donald Trump's presidency, the image of U.S. leadership is weaker worldwide than it was under his two predecessors. Median approval of U.S. leadership across 134 countries and areas stands at a new low of 30%, according to a new Gallup report.
The most recent approval rating, based on Gallup World Poll surveys conducted between March and November last year, is down 18 percentage points from the 48% approval rating in the last year of President Barack Obama's administration, and is four points lower than the previous low of 34% in the last year of President George W. Bush's administration.
Trend: Global Approval of U.S. Leadership
The recent drop in approval ratings is unrelated to the world's being less familiar with the new U.S. administration. The global median who do not have an opinion about U.S. leadership in 2017 (23%) is similar to the 25% in the last year of the Obama presidency.
Instead, disapproval of U.S. leadership increased almost as much as approval declined. The 43% median disapproval, up 15 points from the previous year, set a new record as well, not only for the U.S. but for any other major global power that Gallup has asked about in the past decade.
Big Losses Are Among Close Allies, Few Gains
The relatively fragile image of U.S. leadership in 2017 reflects large and widespread losses in approval and relatively few gains. Out of 134 countries, U.S. leadership approval ratings declined substantially -- by 10 percentage points or more -- in 65 countries that include many longtime U.S. allies and partners.
Portugal, Belgium, Norway and Canada led the declines worldwide, with approval ratings of U.S. leadership dropping 40 points or more in each country. While majorities in each of these countries approved of U.S. leadership in 2016, majorities disapproved in 2017.
In contrast, U.S. leadership approval increased 10 points or more in just four countries: Liberia (+17), Macedonia (+15), Israel (+14), and Belarus (+11). The 67% of Israelis who approve of U.S. leadership is on par with the ratings Israelis gave the U.S. during the Bush administration. Notably, interviewing in Israel took place before Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but he had repeatedly promised to do so during his campaign for president.
And the people who hate us the most are are closest neighbors.I wonder why?
Regionally, the image of U.S. leadership suffered most in the Americas, where approval ratings dropped to a new low. The median of 24% who approve of U.S. leadership in the region now stands at about half of what it was in the last year of the Obama administration (49%).
Approval of U.S. leadership plunged in every country in the region in 2017. In fact, there were double-digit decreases in all countries except Venezuela, where approval dropped nine points.
A rogue superpower making enemies all over the world. I feel so safe.
From the Dept of What the $&*&%# Were They Thinking???
Remember when the NY Times devoted a complete editorial page to letters effusively praising Barack Obama, interspersed with pictures of exclusively black voters?
But today I woke up to find that the Times had turned over their entire editorial page to nothing but rabid Trump-ists and apologists... interspersed with pictures of white people: 3 white men and 1 white woman.
Folks, this is not normal behavior from a mainstream news outlet. I cannot recall anything remotely like this, ever, from the NY Times. It is beyond disgraceful editorial judgment. and the implications are downright terrifying.
White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly informed America yesterday that the president's campaign promise that Mexico would pay for a "big, beautiful" border wall was "uninformed." The wall wasn't the only exaggeration the president had difficulty erecting yesterday.
After much hype (his own) about the prospective "Fake News Awards," the launch of his awards page on gop.com last night flopped.
Prior to the crashed site, New York magazine inquired whether the awards, like Trump University, were actually a real thing:
During the White House briefing Tuesday afternoon, a reporter asked the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, what was up; Sanders had no information, but seemed to reveal herself when she referred to it as a “potential event.” In his newsletter that night, CNN’s Brian Stelter said that he’d “suspected for a few days that the idea has fizzled,” adding that his overtures to the White House had been met with silence.
And then, at 8:00 o’clock, Trump shared a link to the Republican National Committee’s website, gop.com. “And the FAKE NEWS winners are…” he said.
The link was broken, like everything else.
When finally the site was working, readers discovered the top award for fake news went to New York Times opinion writer Paul Krugman for predicting financial markets would collapse with the reality star in the Oval Office. Others covered errors by journalists on social media to a story about the president overfeeding Japanese fish. The eleventh and final envelope contained "THERE IS NO COLLUSION!" (All caps in the original.)
The "highly anticipated" awards have already vanished from the GOP's front page.
Trump has often used his bully pulpit to highlight errors in the media, even when news organizations have taken steps to correct and apologize for any inaccuracies, and he has labeled the press the “enemy of the American people”. Trump has yet to acknowledge any of his lies, which have been tracked in an exhaustive list by the New York Times and underscore the president’s near daily disconnect from the truth.
In anticipation of the "potential event," Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona denounced the president from the Senate floor, comparing him to Josef Stalin and Bashar al-Assad:
It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase “enemy of the people,” that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of “annihilating such individuals” who disagreed with the supreme leader.
This alone should be a source of great shame for us in this body, especially for those of us in the president’s party.
Flake gives a good speech. A pity he doesn't back them up with votes as high-minded.
* * * * * * * *
Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.
White supremacists in the United States killed more than twice as many people in 2017 as they did the year before, and were responsible for far more murders than domestic Islamic extremists, helping make 2017 the fifth deadliest year on record for extremist violence in America, a new report states.
The report, “Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2017,” published Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said extremists killed 34 people last year. Twenty of those victims — or 59 percent — were killed by right-wing extremists, a designation that includes white supremacists, members of the so-called “alt-right” and “alt-lite,” and members of the anti-government militia movement.
Of the 34 people killed, 18 were murdered by white supremacists, marking a 157 percent increase over the 7 people killed by white supremacists in 2016.
“It’s relentless, the unpredictability of it,” said Elisabeth Bumiller, the Washington bureau chief. “I knew it would be really wild and different, but I expected him to be somewhat different than the candidate Trump, and he really hasn’t been.”
Think about this for a second. The Washington Bureau chief of the New York Times - not some hack at a hack online pseudo-news source - actually thought that Trump would somehow change, like grow into the job or something. I can't think of a single thing Trump did or said during the campaign that would serve as the basis for such an utterly ridiculous expectation.
In fact I know at least three highly respected nationally known journalists who truly expected Trump to pivot and become statesmanlike. That his staff would contain him. Uh huh.
Sounds to me like a lot of respected reporters have been eating too much of their own dog food. They've actually come to believe believed all that nonsense about coming together and pivoting to the center they try to feed the rubes.
Of course, I'm shocked by what has happened over the past year. But surprised? Not for an instant.
What happened last year was exactly what I expected to happen. And I fear that the white supremacist sitting in the White House with the power to order a nuclear holocaust is just getting started. "Scared" doesn't begin to describe it.
In 2016 and even for part of 2017, the press, too busy telling itself that Trump wasn't...well, you know, everything Trump is... failed miserably. Their naivete was breathtaking. And people with authoritarian tendencies - like those who dominate American politics - thrive on naivete.
Here's hoping Bumiller et al are seeing things a bit more clearly now. And that it's not too late. tristero 1/17/2018 06:00:00 PM
Bannon knows things
Did the White House force Bannon to stonewall the Intelligence Committee to prevent leaks of what he knows? You never know. After the trashing he gave to Kushner and Junior in the Wolff book they must be worried that they don't know what he's going to say.
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon broke some bad news to House investigators on Tuesday, announcing that the White House has invoked executive privilege to keep him from answering many of their questions.
But executive privilege—the president’s right to keep certain information from the public so he can have frank conversations with aides—will not keep Steve Bannon from sharing information with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, according to a person familiar with the situation.
“Mueller will hear everything Bannon has to say,” said the source, who is familiar with Bannon’s thinking.
During a closed-door hearing before the House intelligence committee today, Bannon reportedly told lawmakers that President Donald Trump has invoked broad executive privilege for the purposes of Congressional inquiries. Because of that, Bannon refused to answer committee members’ questions about what happened during the presidential transition and in the White House.
This sweeping understanding of privilege will not impact what Bannon tells Mueller’s team, according to our source. (To be sure, Bannon isn't known for being predictable, and it's possible his team may still look for ways to dodge Mueller's queries.)
But it means he isn’t answering many of Congress’s questions. A source familiar with Bannon’s interview told The Daily Beast that despite the subpoena—issued by Devin Nunes, the typically Trump-friendly chairman of the committee—Bannon refused to answer questions about events that happened after Election Day.
“This was characterized as a result of his being there voluntary; he’s there of his own volition and could refuse to answer questions based on what the White House instructed him to do,” Schiff added. “We then were able to be promptly provide him with a subpoena and they went back to the White House and got the same instruction back again, basically: We don’t care whether it’s under compulsory process or voluntary basis, we’re instructing you to effectively put in place a gag rule.”
It probably wasn't all that wise to trash Bannon and get him fired before he testified before the Grand Jury, was it? He's no longer a friend. Maybe they can keep him from talking to the congress. But they can't stop him from talking to Special Prosecutor.
Wide gender, racial and political gaps leave American voters divided on whether President Donald Trump is "mentally stable," as 45 percent say he is stable and 47 percent say he is not stable, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today.
President Trump is stable, men say 53 - 40 percent, while women say 53 - 39 percent that he is not, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. White voters say 51 - 43 percent he is stable, as black voters disagree 71 - 15 percent. Republicans say 89 -9 percent that Trump is stable. Democrats say 80 - 10 percent he is not stable. Independent voters are divided as 46 percent say he is stable and 45 percent say he is not stable.
American voters disapprove 57 - 38 percent of the job President Trump is doing.
Trump is doing more to divide the nation than to unite the nation, voters say 64 - 31 percent. Every listed party, gender, education, age and racial group says the president is dividing the nation except Republicans, who say 70 - 24 percent that he is doing more to unite the nation, and white voters with no college degree, who are divided 48 - 46 percent.
Trump does not respect people of color as much as he respects white people, voters say 59 - 38 percent. Republicans, white voters with no college degree and white men are the only listed groups who say he respects people of color as much as white people.
"President Donald Trump can't seem to improve his approval rating, perhaps because of the troubling fact that half of the voters we spoke to think he is mentally unstable," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
"The president is a divider, not a uniter, say an overwhelming number of voters, an assessment made even more disturbing by his perceived lack of respect for people of color."
American voters say 58 - 35 percent the comments President Trump allegedly made about immigrants from certain countries are racist.
American voters are divided on the way Trump is handling the economy, as 48 percent approve and 46 percent disapprove. He gets negative marks on handling other key issues:
36 - 60 percent on foreign policy;
33 - 60 percent on health care;
38 - 60 percent on immigration;
42 - 51 percent on taxes.
Previously unpublished results from the nonpartisan online-polling firm SurveyMonkey show Trump losing ground over his tumultuous first year not only with the younger voters and white-collar whites who have always been skeptical of him, but also with the blue-collar whites central to his coalition.
Trump retains important pillars of support. Given that he started in such a strong position with those blue-collar whites, even after that decline he still holds a formidable level of loyalty among them—particularly men and those over 50 years old. What’s more, he has established a modest but durable beachhead among African American and Hispanic men, even while confronting overwhelming opposition from women in those demographic groups.
Together, the results crystallize the bet Trump is making for his own reelection in 2020, and for his party’s chances in November’s election: that he can mobilize enough support among older and blue-collar (as well as rural and evangelical) whites to offset the intense resistance he’s provoked from groups that are all growing in the electorate: Millennials, minorities, and college-educated whites—particularly the women among them.
These findings emerge from a cumulative analysis of 605,172 interviews SurveyMonkey conducted with Americans in 2017 about Trump’s job performance. At my request, Mark Blumenthal, SurveyMonkey’s head of election polling, calculated Trump’s average approval rating over the last year among groups of voters segmented simultaneously by their race, gender, education level, and age. That extra level of detail, not available in conventional polls because their samples are too small, offers a more precise picture of Trump’s coalition.
The SurveyMonkey results put Trump’s total approval rating for 2017 at 42 percent, with 56 percent disapproving. That’s slightly higher than, but within range of, other major public surveys.
In the 2016 election, exit polls found that Trump’s best group was whites without a four-year college degree; he carried 66 percent of them. But his approval among them in the 2017 SurveyMonkey average slipped to 56 percent. In 2016, whites with at least a four-year college degree gave Trump 48 percent of their votes. But in the 2017 average, just 40 percent approved of Trump’s performance, while a resounding 60 percent disapproved.
Layering in gender and age underscores voters’ retreat. Trump in 2016 narrowly won younger whites. But he now faces crushing disapproval ratings ranging from 62 percent to 76 percent among three big groups of white Millennials: women with and without a college degree, and men with a degree. Even among white Millennial men without a degree, his most natural supporters, Trump only scores a 49-49 split.
Trump’s support rapidly rises among blue-collar white men older than 35 and spikes past two-thirds for those above 50. But his position has deteriorated among white women without a college degree. Last year he carried 61 percent of them. But in the new SurveyMonkey average, they split evenly, with 49 percent approval and 49 percent disapproval. His approval rating among non-college-educated white women never rises above 54 percent in any age group, even those older than 50. From February through December, Trump’s approval rating fell more with middle-aged blue-collar white women than any other group.
There are credible allegations that the President of the United States engaged in an affair with an adult film actress, paid her over $100,000 to keep quiet about it weeks before the election, and is now actively engaged in an elaborate cover-up.
On January 12, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump, through his lawyer Michael Cohen, had paid Stephanie Clifford $130,000 one month before the election to buy her silence about an affair she had with Trump in 2006. Clifford is an adult film actor who performs under the name Stormy Daniels. The affair allegedly took place shortly after Trump’s third wife, Melania, gave birth to his son Barron.
Cohen then released a letter — purportedly by Daniels and dated two days before the story published — denying she ever had a sexual relationship with Trump.
The letter directly contradicts the contemporaneous account of another adult film actor, Alana Evans, who said she talked to Trump on the phone when he was with Daniels and he invited her to come over and “party.” Evans says Daniels later told her she had sex with Trump.
It also contradicts an interview Daniels gave to In Touch in 2011, according to a new report from the magazine. “[Sex with Trump] was textbook generic. I actually don’t even know why I did it, but I do remember while we were having sex, I was like, ‘Please, don’t try to pay me,” Daniels said, according to In Touch.
This scandal had not garnered the intense media coverage one might expect of a story about a porn actor’s affair with a president: At yesterday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders did not receive a single question about the alleged affair with Daniels or the payment.
It's going to explode soon because In Touch is going to release the full 5,500 word interview with Daniels from 2011 in which she describes sex with Trump in excruciating detail.
I'm getting my brain bleach ready.
Think Progress points out that this is a bigger story than just Trump having affairs. First of all, it shows that he lies about his sexual escapades. Stop the presses. But it also shows that he has been subject to blackmail and that his protestations that he couldn't possibly have done what the Steele dossier said he did because he's a germophobe are overblown.
Daniels says he didn't use protection.
And then there's this:
The story suggests Trump is vulnerable to blackmail and extortion.
According to reports, Daniels was able to extract a $130,000 payment to keep quiet about her affair with Trump. How many other women have stories about Trump that he does not want told? This is potentially a very dangerous predicament for a sitting president. In the unverified Steele dossier, there is an allegation that Russian officials have information about Trump’s interactions with sex workers in Moscow that Russian agents are using as leverage. There is not evidence that this is true (although Trump’s bodyguard confirmed he was offered the sexual attention of prostitutes) but Daniels’ story suggests similar circumstances may be possible. Trump, reportedly, has things to hide and is willing to go to substantial lengths to hide them.
This is what's important I think. I don't care what Trump does with porn stars and I really don't want to know the details. But it is important that he was worried enough about it that he paid them off. And it is important that his excuse that he couldn't have done anything untoward in Russia because he's a germophobe.
It makes you wonder just what were the "dark whispers" about Trump's longtime former bodyguard Keith Schiller to which Michael Wolff referred in "Fire and Fury." He's the guy who knows about this stuff.
It may be that there's nothing to the kompromat rumor. I tend to believe it's unlikely. But this new scandal makes it seem a little less unlikely than it was before.
Jonathan Chait on the president being cleared of charges of mental deterioration:
A recent Washington Post story chronicled the rise of Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, who has gained special influence with President Trump. McCarthy’s methods include obsequiousness, attention to detail, and an ability to bring the discussion down to a sub-literate level so Trump can follow it. At Camp David, McCarthy gave a presentation on the midterm elections. “According to two people familiar with the presentation, Trump appreciated McCarthy’s use of pictures and charts rather than a memo. It was a basic and ‘foundational’ presentation that explained midterm politics to Trump, in the words of one senior White House official.”
Note that McCarthy was not walking the president through a complex technical policy requiring expertise in a field like science or economics. He was trying to explain the elections. He had to use pictures. It has been publicly known since last year that Trump cannot read a memo longer than a page, and any written material must be in bullet-point form. Trump himself admitted (or bragged) a year and a half ago that he does not read. “I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy, I guess, than ever before.” By this point it is simply taken as a matter of course that people wishing to communicate with the president must treat him as though he is suffering a severe mental impairment.
Trump is not actually suffering a severe mental impairment. White House doctor Ronny Jackson, who has served in the post since 2013, informed reporters on Wednesday that the president is in fine physical and mental health. The report comes as the national media has discussed whether Trump’s functional near-illiteracy, minuscule attention span, and narcissistic pathos are the symptoms of dementia or some other kind of cognitive incapacitation. We should take Jackson’s diagnosis at face value. Trump is just an idiot.
Personally, I never bought the idea that there was ever a more intelligent Trump and it's just age that's made him incapable. People point to his older videos and show that he sounded more fluent and had a better vocabulary. I don't see it. He looked more normal, he sounded younger, but if you stop to actually listen to what he is saying rather than the sound of his younger voice, you'll see that he was just as much of an imbecile then. In fact, he said exactly the same things. He has never evolved even a tiny bit from what he thought back in the 1980s. He was shallow and arrogant and completely full of shit, blathering on stupidly about crime, foreigners (who are always "laughing at America") under-funding the military yadda, yadda. In recent years he got on the Muslim and immigration train but that's just an extension of his inherent xenophobia and racism.
He hasn't changed. He's always been a fucking moron.
Poor Lindsey Graham. The "maverick" senator from South Carolina had spent the last two years expressing his scorn for Donald Trump, calling him "unfit" and "a kook." Then, sometime in the late summer, Graham apparently reconciled himself to the fact that Trump wasn't capable of growing or "pivoting" into the job, so he took it upon himself to cultivate the mercurial manchild, perhaps in the vainglorious belief he could influence Trump to become a mainstream conservative and stamp out the rapidly burning fuse that was going to blow up the presidency and likely the entire Republican Party.
Graham played golf with his president, he complimented him on his swing, he flattered his intelligence and he even agreed to throw some red meat at the base on Trump's behalf by taking up the ridiculous crusade to jail Hillary Clinton. He cajoled and he petted and he whispered the sweet nothings that the president needs to hear to make him feel powerful. Graham thought Trump trusted him and looked to him for guidance. He thought he could speak for the president in negotiations.
He was wrong -- and it was proven in classic Trump fashion last week. Like so many of Trump's close confidantes before him, Graham was stabbed in the back by the man he thought he was guiding. He was outmaneuvered by other "guides" who understand the dark impulses that drive their leader much better than Graham ever will.
Graham and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., along with a few others, have been working for months on a bipartisan immigration deal that would save the young DACA recipients from being deported by Trump's ICE agents after his abrupt cancellation of their program. In a televised meeting last Tuesday, this group all believed they had received guidelines from the president. By Thursday, they came up with a tentative compromise deal. Graham and Durbin called Trump at 10 a.m. He sounded enthusiastic and told the two senators to come up to the White House at noon to talk about it.
When the bipartisan duo got there, the room had been stacked with hardline anti-immigration right-wingers, led by Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, whom staffers had hurriedly called to get to the meeting and help run interference.
According to The Washington Post, Chief of Staff John Kelly (a well-known anti-immigrant zealot from way back) got in the president's ear and worked him up so much that when Graham and Durbin showed up to find they'd been sandbagged, he was already fuming. That's when he went off about not wanting any more immigrants from "shithole" countries. Graham and Durbin tried to fight for their deal, but they had been outplayed.
It turns out that Graham's not the only one who is trying to manipulate this president. The old-guard Breitbart "base whisperers" Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka have been supplanted by Kelly and professional hard-right extremists like Cotton, Perdue, Stephen Miller and Jeff Sessions, with backup from Trump's "candyman," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. They were more than willing to appeal shamelessly to Trump's racist id to get what they wanted. They knew it was what he really wanted too.
This bunch evidently told Trump "the base" would be thrilled if he rejected "shithole" immigrants, and he was so proud of himself for doing it, at least at first, that he called up his friends to see how they thought it was playing. It was only later that he realized he'd caused an international incident and destroyed the best hope of a bipartisan deal.
What happens now is anybody's guess. The deadline to fix this DACA problem is fast approaching and the government will shut down at the end of the week if the Congress fails to act on a budget. At the moment it's a standoff, with Republicans (and some members of the press) absurdly insisting that the Democrats will be responsible for a shutdown if they hold out for the DACA fix, even though the Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House and can pass any bill they actually agree on. If the government turns off the lights this week, the GOP leadership needs to talk to the Republicans who refuse to vote for their own bill.
The other important question for the country is how we can preserve our democracy when one of the major parties has decided that it would rather accommodate and manipulate an unfit, unqualified and unstable president in pursuit of its white nationalist agenda than do its constitutional duty.
That's what's known as selling your soul. It would be one thing if "shithole" was the only offensive racist comment Trump has ever made. But it isn't even close.
Trump is also wholly corrupt, making millions of dollars servicing his "brand" as president. He refuses to release any information about his finances and is under intense scrutiny by the press and possibly law enforcement for past dealings that look an awful lot like money laundering for foreign criminals.
He's got absolutely no knowledge of policy, or ability to learn about it, and his nepotistic, amateurish White House is in a constant state of chaos. Trump acts belligerent toward America's allies and weirdly friendly toward many of its adversaries. He uses his Twitter feed to spew juvenile insults and, in some cases, alarming threats of nuclear war.
Trump has been credibly accused of sexual assault by nearly 20 women and was revealed just this week to have paid porn stars to keep silent about his sexual escapades with them, possibly lending credence to charges that he was a potential target of blackmail.
He is the subject of the first counterespionage investigation ever launched against a president over suspicions that he conspired with the Russian government to win the presidential election. There is ample evidence that he has obstructed justice trying to stop the probe.
If Republican officials have decided to overlook all that, it's hard to imagine what it would take to get them to do their duty.
Tuesday's Senate testimony by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had poor Lindsey Graham lamenting:
[Last] Tuesday we had a president who I was proud to golf with, call my friend, who understood immigration had to be bipartisan . . . but he also understood the idea that we had to do it with compassion. I don't know where that guy went. I want him back.
That guy never existed. The president of the United States is a man named Donald Trump. He is a racist and a xenophobe, and the vast majority of the Republican Congress doesn't have a problem with that. In fact, they've eagerly signed on to the Trump crusade.
This is a record not to be coveted: Donald Trump is wrapping up a year in office with the lowest average approval rating of any elected president in his first year.
That’s according to polling by Gallup, which shows that Trump has averaged just a 39 percent approval rating since his inauguration. The previous low was held by Bill Clinton, whose first-year average stood 10 points higher than Trump’s, at 49 percent.
Recent surveys show most Americans view Trump as a divisive figure and even question his fitness for office. One relative bright spot for Trump is his handling of the economy, though even there his ratings are not as high as might be expected given a relatively strong economy.
What the polls show about how Americans view their president a year into his term:
Trump’s current approval rating in Gallup’s weekly poll is comparable to his average rating, standing at just 38 percent, with 57 percent saying they disapprove.
The persistence of Trump’s first-year blues is unprecedented for a president so early in his term. Americans usually give their new presidents the benefit of the doubt, but Trump’s “honeymoon period,” to the extent he had one, saw his approval rating only as high as 45 percent.
Since then, Trump has spent more time under 40 percent than any other first-year president.
Presidents have recovered from periods of low popularity before. For example, Clinton’s rating fell to just 37 percent in June 1993 before quickly regaining ground, and he went on to win re-election. Harry S. Truman held the approval of less than 40 percent of Americans for significant chunks of his first term and was also re-elected. He went on to set Gallup’s lowest-ever approval mark, at just 22 percent in 1952.
Trump’s lowest point in Gallup’s weekly polling — 35 percent — remains higher than those of several earlier presidents. Truman, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter all had their ratings dip under 30 percent.
There aren’t many bright spots for Trump, but there are some. For one, most Republicans continue to approve of him — 83 percent of registered voters who identify as Republicans, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.
The same poll found that most voters overall find Trump to be intelligent and a strong person.
And positive ratings for Trump’s handling of the economy have tended to run higher than his overall job ratings.
In a December poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, Trump’s rating on handling the economy was 8 percentage points higher than his overall approval, though even that stood at just 40 percent in the survey, which was a particularly negative one for Trump.
In the Quinnipiac poll, voters were more likely to say Trump is helping the economy than hurting it, 37 percent to 29 percent. On the other hand, more said President Barack Obama deserves the credit than Trump does, 49 percent to 40 percent.
ON THE ISSUES
Aside from the economy, surveys have suggested few policy bright spots for Trump.
Health care has been a consistent low point. Seven in 10 Americans in the December AP-NORC poll said they disapproved of Trump’s handling of the issue, even as 85 percent called the issue very important to them personally.
In another AP-NORC poll conducted late in 2017, just 23 percent of Americans said he has kept the promises he made while running for president, while 30 percent said he’s tried and failed and 45 percent said he has not done so at all. More than half said the country is worse off since Trump became president.
That poll was conducted before the passage of a tax bill that Trump signed into law in late December, but there’s little sign that the law will have an immediate positive impact. A Gallup poll conducted in January found that just 33 percent of Americans approved of the legislation.
But it may be character more than policy that’s driving negative opinions of Trump. In the January poll by Quinnipiac University, most voters said Trump is not level-headed, honest or even fit to serve as president.
And the AP-NORC poll conducted in December found that two-thirds of Americans thought the country has become even more divided as a result of Trump’s presidency.
In a July Gallup poll that asked those who disapproved of Trump for their reasons why, most cited his personality or character over issues, policies or overall job performance. That stood in stark contrast to Gallup’s polling on Obama in 2009 and George W. Bush in 2001, when far fewer cited such concerns about personality or character as reasons for their negative opinions.
So that went well. Former White house chief strategist Steve Bannon stonewalled the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday when asked questions regarding his part in the Trump transition team and in the White House, reports The Hill:
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday night slammed what he described as a "gag order by the White House" following testimony from President Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon before the panel amid its Russia probe.
Bannon refused to answer questions regarding his time in the White House in a hearing lasting ten hours. Sources told The Hill the meeting was a “total free-for-all.” “He doesn’t have any friends in that room,” another said.
Bannon's appearance yesterday was voluntary. His next won't be.
In conversation with Bannon's attorney, the White House "doubled down" on its demand Bannon answer no questions.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders characterized the White House stance as "fully cooperative."
"This was effectively a gag order by the White House," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters. Politico reports:
Tensions flared early in the proceedings after Bannon informed the committee that he was refusing to answer any questions about his time in the White House or on the post-election transition, infuriating Democrats and Republicans on the panel, who subpoenaed him on the spot, according to a source familiar with the interview.
It wasn't Bannon's first. Special counsel Robert Mueller issued a subpoena last week for Bannon to testify before the grand jury in the Russia investigation. The subpoena suggests Bannon is not personally a subject of Mueller's inquiry, the New York Times explained:
The move marked the first time Mr. Mueller is known to have used a grand jury subpoena to seek information from a member of Mr. Trump’s inner circle. The special counsel’s office has used subpoenas before to seek information on Mr. Trump’s associates and their possible ties to Russia or other foreign governments. The subpoena could be a negotiating tactic. Mr. Mueller is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel’s offices about ties between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia and about the president’s conduct in office, according to the person, who would not be named discussing the case. But it was not clear why Mr. Mueller treated Mr. Bannon differently than the dozen administration officials who were interviewed in the final months of last year and were never served with a subpoena.
Appearing under a subpoena, Bannon will have cover for telling all. The White House has already telegraphed that it doesn't want that to happen, making the prospect all that more tantalizing. If this were a Trump reality show, that would be good marketing. But when it's Robert Mueller posing questions, maybe not.
* * * * * * * *
Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.
In this moment of growing feminist awareness and solidarity it would be a mistake to think that everything has changed:
During a White House event on Tuesday entitled “A Conversation with the Women of America,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders advised women to ask their husbands and boyfriends to buy them jewelry. And things got even stranger from there.
Sanders plug for jewelry came after she introduced a woman named Sharon who told panelists — including White House staffer Ivanka Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao — that she’s a business owner.
“I’m a jewelry store owner of more than 20 years in the Atlanta area, so I’m ecstatic about the tax reform bill,” Sharon said, at which point Sanders jumped in with some advice.
“Give your husbands, your boyfriends her contact information,” Sanders said, with Ivanka Trump adding, “We’re going to have to send some people your way… my secret skill, matchmaking.”
Women can buy their own jewelry these days. Maybe Sarah hasn't heard.
The next thing you know, Sarah's going to be holding Tupperware parties in the West Wing. (Not that there's anything wrong with selling Tupperware. Just that Huckabee Sanders probably ought to stick to her own business...)
Listen up, racist Trump voters: you personally need immigration
If you persist in this inane demand that the country be purged of immigrants (and no new ones allowed) you're going to destroy yourselves. And you're going to take the rest of us with you.
Ron Brownstein smartly points out that us old white people depend upon younger immigrants to help finance our Social Security and Medicare. I know you conservative Trump voters all think you'll win the lottery and that the government put's your Social Security payments in a special envelope and then gives it back to you when you get old but that isn't really how it works. That isn't how any of this works:
The irony in President Donald Trump's hostility to immigration, expressed again in reports of his vulgar comments about Africa and Haiti last week, is that in appealing to the racial and cultural resentments of his political base he is directly threatening their economic interests.
The equation is unmistakable: as America ages, the older and blue-collar whites at the core of Trump's electoral coalition in 2016 need more working-age immigrants to pay the taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare.
Without robust immigration, each American worker will need to support substantially more retirees in the future than workers do today. And that will greatly increase the pressure for either unsustainable tax increases or biting benefit reductions in the federal retirement programs that the older and blue-collar whites central to Trump's support rely upon so heavily.
Trump's hostility to immigration ignores one of the central dynamics of 21st century American life: an increasingly non-white workforce will pay the taxes that support Social Security and Medicare for a rapidly growing and preponderantly white senior population.
"As every baby boomer retires over the next 15 years, we are going to need many more of these (diverse) young people to take their place," says William Frey, a demographer at the center-left Brookings Institution.
Because the US largely shut off immigration between 1924 and 1965, today's senior population is preponderantly white. Frey has calculated that three-fourths of all Americans 55 and older are white. Those older whites were the cornerstone of Trump's coalition in the 2016 election: whites over 45 gave Trump over three-fifths of their votes, and provided a majority of all the votes he received, according to exit polls.
Frey and other demographers project the white share of the senior population will decline very slowly over the coming decades-even as the total number of seniors explodes. The Social Security Trustees have forecast that the number of seniors receiving Social Security and Medicare will grow from about 48 million today to 86 million by 2050. That's an increase of nearly 40 million.
Though many Americans incorrectly think of the programs as a kind of massive 401(k) where their earlier taxes pay for their own later benefits, Social Security and Medicare are funded by what amounts to a generational compact. Each generation of workers, through their payroll taxes, funds the benefits for retirees at the same time. As the number of seniors increases, that means the US needs to increase the number of workers if it is to keep a sustainable balance between those receiving benefits from the programs and those paying the taxes that support them.
Because of the underlying child bearing and aging trends among native-born Americans, that won't be possible without immigration.
Frey has calculated that from 2000 through 2016 the absolute number of whites younger than 15 -- and not just the share -- declined in 45 of the 50 states. (The only states that increased their population of whites under 15 over that period were Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Carolina and Idaho.) Over those years, the total number of whites younger than 15 fell by nearly 6 million, Frey found, while the number of Hispanic, Asian and mixed race kids increased by about seven million. (The number of young African-Americans slightly declined too.)
Like other demographers, Frey projects that the 2020 Census will find that non-white kids represent a majority of all Americans younger than 18; kids of color are already a majority of all K-12 public school students.
What these numbers make clear is that, whatever Trump does to restrict immigration, there is no cavalry of white kids coming to fill the jobs that the mostly white baby boom is vacating.
Non-white young people-reinforced by future immigrants-will drive almost all of the workforce's future growth, according to widely respected projections by the non-partisan Pew Research Center.
In a detailed forecast last year, Pew examined the trajectory of the prime working-age population -- that is, ages 25 to 64 -- over the next two decades. Strikingly, it found that over that period the number of prime working-age adults whose parents were both born in the US will actually decline by over eight million. But Pew projects that loss will be offset by increases in the number of both prime-working age adults who are either the children of immigrants (13.5 million), or future immigrants themselves (17.6 million).
Looking further ahead, Pew has calculated that under current levels of immigration, the workforce will increase by about 30 million people through 2065-virtually equal to the increase in the senior population over coming decades. Almost all of that workforce growth will come from immigrants and their children, which Pew projects to account for fully 88% of the nation's total population increase over that period.
A growing workforce would ease the fiscal pressure that the expanding senior population will impose on Social Security and Medicare. But Trump's efforts to reduce legal immigration would consign the U.S. to virtually no growth in the workforce, Pew projects. Trump has endorsed legislation from Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, two attendees at last Thursday's explosive White House meeting, that would cut the total level of legal immigration in half. Pew projects that under that level of future legal immigration, the size of the workforce will remain virtually stagnant over the next half century.
If the workforce remains essentially unchanged while the senior population grows by 40 million, each worker will be required to fund 80% more seniors than they do now. That demographic imbalance represents a political tourniquet that will inexorably increase pressure for cuts in Social Security and Medicare -- a prospect that polls show are anathema to the older and working-class whites Trump relies on.
"We shouldn't be shutting the door on this (immigration)," Frey says. "Trump ... is really putting us in a very difficult situation demographically and also economically in the future."
Yet Trump, like many congressional Republicans and conservative commentators, almost always portrays immigrants as economic, cultural and security threats. From the outset, Trump's coalition has been centered on the voters -- primarily older, blue-collar, evangelical and rural whites -- most uneasy about the growing number of immigrants and demographic change more broadly.
Voters who supported deporting all undocumented immigrants represented a minority in almost all the Republican primaries in 2016 -- yet provided a majority of Trump's votes in almost all of those contests.
Pew Research polls last year found that the strongest predictors of warm feelings toward Trump were agreement with the ideas that the growing number of immigrants "threatens traditional American customs and values," that Islam is inherently more violent than other religions and that growing diversity overall was bad for the country.
In the general election against Hillary Clinton, Trump won 26 of the 30 states with the smallest share of foreign-born residents and lost 16 of the 20 with the most. And in a national NBC/Wall Street Journal poll last September, Trump voters from 2016 were nearly five times as likely as Clinton voters to say immigration weakens, rather than strengthens, the nation.
In his repeated appeals to nativist sentiments, and his multiplying efforts to reduce immigration and remove immigrants (such as those from El Salvador), Trump may indeed be reflecting the racial and cultural anxieties of many of his voters. But the principal economic impact of slashing immigration as deeply as Trump is seeking would be to destabilize the federal retirement programs that are indispensable to those same voters. With his systematic offensive against immigration, Trump is feeding the prejudices of some of his supporters -- while threatening their ability to keep food on the table when they retire.
Yet another reason why racism is stupid and self-defeating as well as being immoral and un-American.
A few weeks ago the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography was awarded to a freelance photojournalist named Daniel Berehulak for a multimedia report that was published in The New York Times in December called "They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals." It documented the deaths of 57 homicide victims in the Philippine government's brutal campaign against drug users and dealers. The photographer had this comment upon winning the prize:
The story is indeed important. Those photographs document the grotesque campaign of terror in the Philippines, which experts believe has left more than 7,000 people dead in less than a year from extrajudicial killings at the hands of police and vigilantes.
The Philippines is currently run by President Rodrigo Duterte, who won the election last June after his final campaign speech, when he said, "Forget the laws on human rights; if I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor [of the coastal city of Davao]. You drug pushers, holdup men and do-nothings, you better go out because I'd kill you." He kept to his word, telling his police forces the day after he was sworn in, "Do your duty, and in the process, [if] you kill 1,000 persons, I will protect you." Last September Duterte proudly compared himself to Adolf Hitler:
Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now there is 3 million, what is it, 3 million drug addicts [in the Philippines], there are. I'd be happy to slaughter them. At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have [me]. You know, my victims, I would like to be all criminals, to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.
“I killed about three of them because there were three of them,” Mr. Duterte told reporters at a news conference in Manila, the capital. “I don’t really know how many bullets from my gun went inside their bodies.”
“It happened. I cannot lie about it,” he said in English.
The remarks followed comments he made on Monday, when he told business leaders that as mayor, he had patrolled the streets on a motorcycle and killed criminal suspects in order to set an example to his police officers.
None of that stopped President-elect Donald Trump from chatting up Duterte after the election, telling him that he was going about his war on drugs "the right way." And last Saturday night the White House released a statement that the two men had had another "very friendly conversation," in which they had talked about regional security and "discussed the fact that the Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs." (That's one way of putting it.) It said that "President Trump enjoyed the conversation and looks forward to visiting the Philippines in November" for the East Asia Summit meeting.
Then the statement said that Trump had invited the admitted murderer and Hitler admirer, Rodrigo Duterte, to the White House.
The visit hasn't materialized. But Trump did yuck it up with pal on his Asia trip last fall. He admires him.
On the eve of the Martin Luther King holiday, President Donald Trump visited Trump International Golf Club for his usual weekend promotional appearance at one of his properties. He stopped off to assure the gathered press that he is not a racist:
Standing next to Trump in that clip is his newest BFF and chief enabler, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. McCarthy was present in the infamous White House "shithole" meeting, but has not weighed in on what exactly he saw and heard. Unlike the Hawaii state government Trump extols in that comment, the president has refused to take responsibility for the international furor resulting from his reported actions. Trump needn't worry that McCarthy will tell the truth because of personal integrity or lack of loyalty. But he ought to be a little bit concerned that his pal will let something slip inadvertently. They don't call him Kevin "Loose Lips" McCarthy for nothing.
McCarthy first came to national attention when John Boehner resigned from the speakership and he was assumed to be the heir apparent. He is a prolific fundraiser and had worked his way up through the leadership hierarchy the old-fashioned way -- by doing favors for his fellow Republican congressmen. Unfortunately, McCarthy is not as well known for his judgement or intellect, and he made one of the most memorable gaffes in congressional history. He appeared on Sean Hannity's Fox News show and said that he was developing a "fight and win strategy" and used this as an example:
Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.
Setting aside the neologism, McCarthy effectively admitted that the endless Benghazi investigations were political. Not that everyone didn't know that already, but you can't have the prospective speaker of the House admitting that he is persecuting a rival for political gain. It's a bad look, and it cost McCarthy the job.
More recently, McCarthy was reported to have made a stunning gaffe in June of 2016, telling a group of fellow congressmen: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump." The first name mentioned refers to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a fellow California Republican who is known to be a vocal Putin apologist.
When word of this comment was leaked to the media last May, McCarthy at first denied saying it -- until he was played a recording of the event, which also featured Speaker Paul Ryan swearing everyone in the room to secrecy. Here is The Washington Post's account:
Before the conversation, McCarthy and Ryan had emerged from separate talks at the Capitol with Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions.
News had just broken the day before in The Washington Post that Russian government hackers had penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee, prompting McCarthy to shift the conversation from Russian meddling in Europe to events closer to home.
Some of the lawmakers laughed at McCarthy’s comment. Then McCarthy quickly added: “Swear to God.”
Like Trump, he doesn't seem to have learned discretion. Unlike Trump, he knows how to curry favor with important people. Indeed, that seems to be his one talent.
Trump either doesn't know about that Putin comment or has chosen to forget about it, because McCarthy has become one of the most powerful Trump enablers on Capitol Hill. He apparently decided that being in league with a man he suspects of being on Putin's payroll is just part of the job of majority leader. According to a new profile by Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa in the Post, he has taken to it with relish.
They recount the astonishing little anecdote that McCarthy once observed that Trump, like many six-year-olds, only likes the pink and the red Starburst candies, but none of the other colors. So McCarthy got a staff member to buy some in bulk and put the president's favorites in a jar with McCarthy's name on it. They apparently have been chatting on the phone regularly since the campaign and often watch movies together where they both talk all the way through. Trump calls him "my Kevin."
At the recent GOP Camp David retreat to talk about the impending midterm elections, McCarthy was lauded for his ability to communicate with Trump using colorful pictures and big charts to show him the lay of the land in this crucial year. He urged the president to do all he can to raise money for Republicans. There is no word about whether McCarthy also whispered in the president's ear that no Republicans actually want him to campaign for them, but it's unlikely. If there's one thing that sycophantic courtiers understand better than anyone, it's that you never let on that the sovereign is unpopular.
There are more and more Republicans joining Trump's court these days, apparently operating on the assumption that their own parochial interests are best served by making him successful, or at least by manipulating him for their own ends. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is tying himself in knots trying to pretend that he hasn't become a fawning yes-man. in a naked attempt to manage the unmanageable, and that has not completely betrayed the independent truth-teller image he's tried to build over the last few decades. It's not working for him.
Meanwhile, McCarthy is actually helping Trump destroy the GOP's chances of holding on to its majority by forcing his own California delegation to vote the party line, in a state that is itching to unseat as many of its remaining Republicans as possible. In just the last few weeks, two longtime GOP congressmen from rapidly diversifying districts in the Southern California suburbs, Reps. Darrell Issa and Ed Royce, announced they would not run for re-election. Both districts are now viewed as likely Democratic pickups, and they're not alone.
Trump has a 22 percent approval rating in California, so you might think Golden State Republicans would be more vocal in their condemnation of Trump and the draconian policies he's proposing. So far they haven't been. Tara Golshan at Vox calls this "The McCarthy Factor," meaning that the fundraising powerhouse constantly assures his delegation that he's got their backs, no matter what. Issa and Royce lost their faith in McCarthy's ability to protect them from a big blue tsunami next fall. Of California's 53 House seats, only 14 are now held by Republicans, seven of those in districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.
McCarthy's seat may not be in danger, but his delegation -- like the entire Republican caucus -- could be a lot smaller next year. Unless his strategy of feeding pink Starbursts to a historically unpopular president turns out to be genius.