Saturday, August 17, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He warned people protesting white supremacists that he was watching them.

The Proud Boys, an all-male white nationalist group that has enthusiastically supported Trump, held a rally in Portland, Oregon today. The group advocates violence in the name of protecting "white culture," and has been trying to incite violence at its demonstrations by baiting their counter-protestors. The group did draw huge crowds of people opposed to their neo-fascist ideas. Thirteen arrests were made and six people were injured.

As the Proud Boy rally unfolded, Trump went on Twitter and warned that he was considering designating the counter-protestors as a terrorist organization.

Specifically, Trump said he was giving "major consideration" to designating Antifa as a terrorist organization. Antifa, short for "anti-fascist," isn't really a specific group of people so much as an organizing strategy that arose in the 1980s to stop neo-Nazi groups from recruiting. 

The Proud Boys were thrilled by Trump's tweet, and immediately celebrated his support.
Trump did not mention the white nationalist groups in Portland today. He's often shied away from even mild criticism of racist or right-wing militant groups, for fear that he needs their political support to stay in office.

Why should I care about this?

  • A president too cowardly to offend violent white nationalists is unfit for office.
  • A president who just doesn't care about violent white nationalists is also unfit for office.

Friday, August 16, 2019

What did Trump do today?

He got defensive about crowd sizes... again.

Trump tweeted four times today about the crowd he drew at a New Hampshire rally. While he's always been obsessed with the number of people who turn out to see him, he hasn't always called this much attention to it. But a trending Twitter hashtag—#EmptySeatMAGATour—seems to have gotten under his skin. Posts with that hashtag mocked Trump for the obvious bare patches in the small arena. (Trump blamed fire codes—a trick he's tried in the past to explain away empty seats.) 

Even seats immediately behind Trump were empty. The nearly-empty sections near the top of the arena were cropped out of campaign photographs.

Crowd size has been even more on Trump's mind than usual lately—which is saying something for a man who hijacked his own first day in office to insist that his poorly attended inaugural had the biggest crowds ever. Last week, left with time on his hands at an El Paso hospital because no shooting victims were willing to speak to him, Trump bragged to hospital staff about the comparative size of his El Paso rally vs. one held by Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke. (He lied about the size of the crowd during his speech at that rally and blamed the fire department, which was forced to correct him.)

Another bit of Trump crowd-related news also broke today: that most of the people in the audience at a bizarre hybrid campaign rally/policy speech he gave this week in Pennsylvania were paid to be there. Union workers in the energy industry were given a choice between attending the Trump speech or going without pay for the day—but only if they promised to stay quiet and do nothing that might suggest they disagreed with Trump. 

It's hardly the first time Trump has relied on paid attendees at his rallies: many of the people at his 2015 campaign kickoff event were actors being paid $50 apiece to cheer for him.

Who cares?

  • It's not a big deal if a president doesn't fill every seat at a campaign event, but it is a big deal if he's still obsessing over it the next day.
  • If you have to pay people to applaud your speeches, there's a problem with what you're saying in your speeches.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He reminded everyone it's never his fault, specifically about the economy.

Faced with an economy slowed by his trade war, and fears of recession that have sent the stock markets plummeting, Trump took action today: he got on Twitter and said it was the media's fault.

While this was good for a few laughs online, there's a theme emerging in Trump's comments on the economy, besides the idea that nothing bad is ever his fault. Trump seems to believe that the world economy is a zero-sum game, where every transaction has a winner and a loser. He also tweeted this today:

In the real world, "as others falter," the United States economy gets weaker—which is exactly why even his own advisors were against launching unprovoked trade wars on countries the United States does a lot of business with. Individual business compete, but the overall economy tends to get stronger and weaker in unison. 

For example, when Trump managed to bankrupt four Atlantic City casinos at the height of that city's economic boom, it wasn't a windfall for his competitors. Instead, the debts he never paid and the vacant shells he left behind hurt the local economy

Trump has made a version of this basic mistake before. When he launched his trade wars more than a year and a half ago, he frequently talked about how the United States was somehow losing money when it had a trade deficit with another country. Of course, all it really means is that American consumers could afford to buy things from other countries.

Why should I care about this?

  • The United States economy is way too important for the president to be this ignorant about it.
  • Not every problem Donald Trump has can be blamed on the media.
  • Having responsibility means taking responsibility.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He found something to like in the Chinese government.

Hong Kong is a "special administrative region" of China that has enjoyed a degree of local self-rule from the Beijing government since British rule ended in 1997. This summer, and especially in the past week, there have been massive pro-democracy and anti-Beijing protests and labor strikes aimed at keeping that independence from the rest of the nation. 

The government of Xi Jinping has called the protestors terrorists and rioters, and is massing military forces at the edge of the region.

There is almost unanimous bipartisan sympathy in the United States for the protestors. Unlikely allies like John Bolton and Nancy Pelosi both expressed their support, and warned Xi to tread carefully. 

Asked about the situation by reporters yesterday—which made American news because the protests shut down the Hong Kong airport for two days—Trump seemed uncertain what the questions referred to, and answered evasively.

Today, however, Trump has caught up, and responded—by praising Xi Jinping

Trump tweeted that Xi was a "good man" and a "great leader." Trump called the overwhelmingly peaceful pro-democracy protests a "tough business" that Xi could "humanely solve."

While Trump has often demonized the nation of China, comparing its trade with the United States to rape, it's hardly the first time he's expressed admiration for Xi personally. When Xi succeeded in changing internal rules so that he could serve as President indefinitely, Trump openly praised the move. Trump rarely praises people other than himself, but seems to be unable to contain himself around "strong" leaders—or dictators—like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Abdel Fatah el-Sisi of Egypt, and many others.

Why is this a problem?

  • Presidents shouldn't be caught completely unaware by major world news stories.
  • It's bad if the President of the United States can't find the courage to side with pro-democracy protests against a repressive government.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He got a little confused about energy during a speech about energy.

Addressing a crowd of oil and gas company managers today, Trump said this:

And when the wind stops blowing, it doesn’t make any difference, does it? Unlike those big windmills that destroy everybody’s property values, kill all the birds. Someday, the environmentalists are going to tell us what’s going on with that. And then, all of a sudden, it stops; the wind and the televisions go off. And your wives and husbands say, “Darling, I want to watch Donald Trump on television tonight. But the wind stopped blowing and I can’t watch. There’s no electricity in the house, darling.” No, we love natural gas and we love a lot of other things, too.

That got a laugh from the crowd, which knew better. It's genuinely not clear if Trump did, too.

Trump's tone was light, but he's been weirdly hostile to wind power for as long as he's known about it. He told a crowd this past April that "they say" that the sound from wind turbines causes cancer. (It, uh, doesn't.) He's also fond of saying that a nearby wind turbine will drive down property values by "75 percent." In the real world, turbines are almost never built near houses, but when they are, they don't drive down property values. (They do provide rental income for the farms and rangelands where they're often built, though.)

As for birds, it's true that wind turbines kill about 234,000 birds per year. That's about 0.04% as many as are killed by collisions with buildings, 0.1% as many as are killed by cars, and 0.009% as many as are killed by cats. (In other news, Trump rolled back big parts of the Endangered Species Act yesterday, the centerpiece of legislation that protects endangered birds, including the bald eagle.)

Trump's strange anger towards wind isn't just a joke, though. Yesterday, he moved to shut down an offshore wind farm near Martha's Vineyard that would have met 3% of the total electricity demand for all of New England.

Who cares?

  • It's bad if you can't tell if the president is genuinely dumb, or pretending to be dumb.
  • Someone who tells you that windmills cause cancer because "they say" so is either very gullible or thinks you are.

Monday, August 12, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He proposed yet more immigration restrictions that would have kept his family out of the United States.

Today, Trump unveiled sweeping new restrictions designed to narrow the path to citizenship for legal immigrants—unless they are very wealthy. (Or, rather, his administration did. Trump once again spent the day at the golf course, tweeting.) The proposed rule would create a new interpretation of the "public charge" provision in existing law. In effect, it would bar any legal immigrant from getting a green card if an immigration official thought they might, at any point, use a public assistance program.

In practice, what this means is that legal residents of the United States would need to demonstrate  that they had income of 250% the poverty line. For a family of four, that would be $64,375. The median household income in the United States is about $59,000.

In other words, Trump is saying that more than half of American households are "a strain on public resources" who "abuse our nation's public benefit."

As is often the case with Trump, his own family history would be very different if his immigration policies had been in place. His grandfather came to the United States with little more than a change of clothes, no fluency in English, and no immediate prospect of a job. His mother, too, had no money when she came to the United States intending to work as a household servant. (Both relatives came to live with family already established in the U.S., which Trump now calls "chain migration" and is trying to ban.)

Neither of Trump's two foreign-born wives, Ivana Trump and Melania Trump, would have been able to get a green card under these rules either—except for the fact that they married Trump. There's no evidence that during the brief time that they worked as models in the United States, either would have been able to demonstrate a sufficiently secure income. Melania Trump in particular would have had difficulty, since she appears to have worked illegally in the United States.

Why does this matter?

  • It's wrong to hold other people's families to higher standards than you hold your own.
  • Working- and middle-class Americans might not like Trump suggesting they wouldn't be good enough for the United States if they hadn't been born here.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He gave North Korea an excuse to keep threatening South Korea and Japan.

Trump's inexplicable "love" affair (as he himself described it) with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un blossomed again this past week when Kim sent Trump another "very beautiful letter." Trump's seemingly genuine enthusiasm for the letter's characteristics ("beautiful") and length ("three pages, top to bottom") stood in awkward contrast to the fact that North Korea was once again violating U.N. mandates by conducting missile tests that doubled as obvious threats to Japan and South Korea.

Yesterday, possibly remembering that Kim is not quite as popular outside the Oval Office, Trump backtracked slightly. He belatedly insisted that the "very beautiful letter" contained "a small apology" for the missile tests. There's no way to know if that's actually true, as Trump has refused to share the contents of the letter with the public.

At the same time that Trump was tacking on part about the "apology," North Korea conducted yet another test.

Today, North Korean officials approvingly—and accurately—cited Trump's pro-Kim comments as justifying their missile tests. "With regard to our test for developing the conventional weapons, even the US president made a remark which in effect recognizes the self-defensive rights of a sovereign state, saying that it is a small missile test which a lot of countries do," read a statement attacking the South Korean government released through North Korean state media.

The United States is, at least as far as most other Americans are concerned, allied with Japan and South Korea and in a de facto state of war with North Korea.

Why does this matter?

  • It's extremely bad if a nuclear-armed dictator can honestly say that the President of the United States is on his side in a conflict with America's allies.
  • However Kim Jong-un has managed to do this to Trump—and it's not at all clear—it should not be possible to manipulate the President of the United States this completely.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He made sure that people thinking about Jeffrey Epstein were thinking about him, too.

Trump spent the first day of his (official) 2019 vacation on Twitter the way he spends many other days: at the golf course, tweeting. In what appears to be his first and so far only public comment on the death in federal custody of his former friend, the notorious pedophile and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, Trump... blamed it on the Clintons.

In reality, Trump is the president and head of the executive branch that controls federal prisons and how inmates are handled—not Bill or Hillary Clinton.

Trump has not come within earshot of a reporter since Epstein was found dead.

Trump and Epstein were longtime friends who once threw themselves a party in which they and 28 "calendar girls" were the only attendees. (The two later had a falling out over a real estate deal in 2004.) In a 2002 profile for New York Magazine, Trump joked about Epstein's attraction to young women. According to court documents unsealed yesterday, Epstein used Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort as a hunting ground for victims.

Epstein's sweetheart plea deal for earlier charges related to sex with minors was brokered by then-US Attorney Alex Acosta, who later became Trump's secretary of labor. (A federal court this year found that Acosta had broken the law by trying to hide the details of that deal from Epstein's many victims.) Trump's attorney general, William Barr, promised Congress that he would recuse himself from any Epstein-related matters, since he worked for the law firm that defended Epstein, and had an odd family connection to Epstein. But when Epstein was once again indicted by a federal grand jury, Barr reneged on that promise and has stayed involved in the case.

Of course, there's no evidence that Trump was personally, directly involved in Epstein's horrific crimes—although at least one of Epstein's victims has alleged that he was in a lawsuit. Nor is there yet any direct evidence that Trump somehow engineered Epstein's death—although there are angry and bipartisan calls in Congress for an independent investigation as to how Epstein died on Trump's watch. 

That said, Trump routinely accuses other people of doing things he himself has done.

So what?

  • Not every problem Trump has can be blamed on the Clintons.

Friday, August 9, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He was very impressed, once again, with Kim Jong-un's letters.

Trump boasted to reporters today about yet another "very beautiful letter" he'd received from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. He described it as "a beautiful three-page — I mean right from top to bottom — a really beautiful letter."

Talking about the letter led Trump to bash South Korea's government for wanting joint military exercises with the United States. Trump, who tends to view military cooperation with allies as a protection racket, shares Kim Jong-un's preference that they not happen. In fact, Kim has already persuaded Trump to cancel them once, during their ultra-secret, one-on-one summit meeting last year. (China found out, via Kim, that Trump had agreed to it before American military commanders did.)

It's not clear when Trump got the letter, but earlier this week he tweeted a boast that he'd forced South Korea to pay money to have American troops and equipment stationed there. (It's not at all clear that this is true.)

Trump's swoon over the letter comes during a busy few weeks for North Korea: it test-fired missiles five times since July 25, with the most recent test happening today. According to North Korea itself, the missile tests were intended as a warning to the United States and South Korea. 

At this point, it's not clear whether Trump fully understands what side of the conflict the United States is on. In his remarks today, he seemed confused about who had ordered the missile tests, defending Kim on that point before backing down when reporters followed up.

TRUMP: It was a great letter. He talked about what he’s doing. He’s not happy with the testing. It’s a very small testing that we did. But he wasn’t happy with the testing; he put that in the letter. But he also sees a great future for North Korea. And so we’ll see how it all works out. 
Q: Mr. President, what do you mean that he wasn’t happy with the missile tests? He carried them out. He ordered them. 
TRUMP: No, he wasn’t. He wasn’t happy with the tests — the war games. The war games on the other side, with the United States. And as you know, I’ve never liked it either. I’ve never liked it. I’ve never been a fan. 

Why should I care about this? 

  • It shouldn't be possible for an enemy nation to manipulate the President of the United States this much just by sending nice letters.
  • No one this easily confused about matters this important can serve as commander-in-chief.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He threatened to expand his trade war into a currency war.

Trump, who has spent the last 18 months learning the hard way that trade wars are not "good and easy to win," is now threatening to start a currency war with China. This morning, he tweeted:

As your President, one would think that I would be thrilled with our very strong dollar. I am not! The Fed’s high interest rate level, in comparison to other countries, is keeping the dollar high, making it more difficult for our great manufacturers like Caterpillar, Boeing,.........John Deere, our car companies, & others, to compete on a level playing field. With substantial Fed Cuts (there is no inflation) and no quantitative tightening, the dollar will make it possible for our companies to win against any competition. We have the greatest the world, there is nobody even close, but unfortunately the same cannot be said about our Federal Reserve. They have called it wrong at every step of the way, and we are still winning. Can you imagine what would happen if they actually called it right?

(Side notes: Trump appointed all but one member of the current Fed leadership who he thinks "have called it wrong." There is inflation for the moment, which is a good thing. Interest rates are very low, and dropped last week because the Fed knows that there are serious indications of a recession on the horizon. Trump personally saves millions of dollars in servicing his enormous personal debt when interest rates fall.)

The tweet reflects Trump's recent flirtation with the idea of taking action to weaken the dollar, which would help U.S. exporters but make foreign goods more expensive for American consumers.

The problem is that China has an even bigger advantage in a currency war than it does in the trade war. The value of the yuan is essentially dictated by Beijing on a nightly basis; no such control is possible with the much more widely held dollar. When China allowed the value of its currency to drop below a certain benchmark on Monday, it triggered massive disruption in American markets—and the fair market value of the yuan is much lower than that. All China has to do is stop manipulating its currency in order to provoke catastrophic short-term damage to the U.S. economy. The more barriers to trade Trump piles up in the form of tariffs and currency manipulation, the less incentive there is for China to refrain from doing that.

Trump once called his national security advisor in the middle of the night because he couldn't remember whether he was supposed to be for a strong or weak dollar.

So what?

  • It is very bad if the president can't or won't learn the basics of how the economy works.
  • Presidents are supposed to act in the best interest of the country, not just their own personal interests.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He consoled people, as only he can.

This morning, before brief visits to El Paso and Dayton, where gunmen have recently committed mass murder, Trump said that his words "bring people together." He also said that he would "stay above the political fray."

Also today, Trump insulted Beto O'Rourke, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Dayton mayor Nan Whaley, former Vice-President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and South Korea (but not North Korea). He attacked the "fake news" media, Rep. Joaquin Castro and his brother, presidential candidate Julian Castro, CNN, Fox News anchor Shepherd Smith, the Federal Reserve (all but one of whose governors he appointed), the New York Times and "Radical Left Democrats" in general. Trump also equated the so-called "antifa," or anti-fascist movement, with the white supremacist ideology that motivated the El Paso terrorist attack. 

(This is a partial list, as full transcripts of Trump's public speeches are not always immediately available.)

Trump's visits outraged many in both cities, especially in El Paso, where last Sunday's terrorist attack was committed by a white supremacist who used Trump's own language as a justification for murdering Latinos. Trump last visited El Paso in February for a campaign rally—he still owes the city's police department more than half a million dollars as a result—and denounced Mexicans as the reason for the city's supposedly high crime rate. Before the terrorist attack committed against Latinos, El Paso was one of the safest cities in the United States.

Why should I care about this?

  • Donald Trump was not actually the victim of these attacks.
  • Not being able to control your temper, or behave appropriately in social situations, is a sign of mental illness.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He told bankrupt farmers they weren't being hurt by his trade war.

Yesterday's disastrous day on Wall Street was the result of China allowing its currency to devalue to closer to a free-market level. But Beijing also completely cut off imports of U.S. farm products, a move that will bar American farmers from their fourth-largest export market.

Previously, China had put tariffs on American farm products, which had already had devastating effects on American farmers. The Trump administration has twice tried to mitigate the damage to the agricultural sector with bailouts, although these have had problems of their own. (Farmers hate them, they don't make farmers whole, the bailout money goes mostly to large agribusinesses and foreigners, and they cost more than the U.S. is gaining in all tariff revenues.)

Today, Trump tried to put a good face on the Chinese farm boycott, promising even more bailout money and saying, "As they have learned in the last two years, our great American Farmers know that China will not be able to hurt them." 

Farm bankruptcies are up sharply since the start of Trump's trade war. 

American farmers definitely know this, and have been extremely vocal about their opposition to Trump's disruption of their livelihood. Even Trump's own Secretary of Agriculture has admitted that farmers are "one of the casualties" of Trump's trade war. 

So what?

  • Farmers are not as stupid as Trump thinks they are.

Monday, August 5, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He complained that China was fighting back in the trade war.

American stock markets plummeted today, with major indices losing between 2.9 and 3.5% of their value in a single session. As the carnage unfolded, Trump was on Twitter blaming Chinese currency manipulation for the sudden shock to the economy. He said that the Chinese government had artificially devalued the yuan, and that this was a “major violation.”

The problem is, he’s probably correct—and there’s not much he can do about it.

The abrupt devaluation, to the lowest rate against the dollar in eleven years, is just one form of retaliation that Beijing has at its disposal, now that talks to end the trade war Trump started last March have once again collapsed. It effectively lowers the costs of Chinese-made goods, counteracting the effect of the extra taxes American consumers pay as the result of Trump’s tariffs.

More than 18 months ago, when he first announced tariffs against China, Trump predicted a quick and easy win to the trade war.

On Twitter today, Trump also predicted that the devaluation would hurt China’s economy. In the long run, that might be true—just as Trump’s tariffs have inflicted hardships on American consumers and all but crippled certain key economic sectors. But it is hurting the American economy much more now, precisely when Trump is most vulnerable politically.

Economists from all over the political spectrum, including his own advisors, warned Trump away from the trade war, only to be ignored. Trump didn’t say what plan, if any, he has to respond beyond complaining about the unfairness of it all on Twitter.

Why should I care about this?

  • A president who knew even the basics of how the economy works would not have been surprised that this happened.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tried to distance himself from the El Paso mass murderer's interpretation of his words.

Yesterday, a 21-year-old man drove ten hours to El Paso, Texas. He posted a white nationalist screed online explaining his motivations for what he was about to do, then opened fire at a Wal-Mart, killing 20 people and injuring at least 26 more. 

Trump has spent the weekend on the golf course (with a quick detour to crash a wedding at his Bedminster luxury resort). He—or staff using his account—has commented on the shooting mostly through Twitter, and so far he's avoided reporters and cameras. The exception was a brief comment to reporters as he traveled back to Washington, in which he called the weekend's shootings a mental health matter.

The actual reason for his shyness in the face of an act of domestic terrorism, though, is that the manifesto the terrorist posted closely follows Trump's own rhetoric and policies on the subject of Hispanic migrants.

Trump is clearly worried about a repeat of the Charlottesville situation, where he was extremely reluctant to condemn racially motivated domestic terrorism for fear of upsetting his political base. (His solution, which was to praise the "very fine people" in a crowd carrying torches and chanting Nazi slogans, didn't go over well.) Once again, Trump has so far refused to mention the racist motivation that the murderer acknowledged, or to call the attack terrorism.

One thing Trump did do today was play games with his Twitter account. He deleted his own generic tweets on the shooting, then reposted them verbatim a few hours later. This meant that comments on the original tweets—which were mostly links to Trump's own tweets on subjects that he and the terrorist explicitly agreed on—were no longer visible.

Here are just a few of the general areas where Trump and Patrick Crusius, the apparent mass murderer of 20 people yesterday, agree. 


This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.

Trump routinely describes the United States as being the victim of an "invasion" from Mexico.

Trump, June 6, 2019And now I've told Mexico, if you don't stop this onslaught, this invasion, people get angry when I use the word invasion, people like Nancy Pelosi that honestly they don't know what the hell they're talking about. I watched her -- she was saying we have to protect Mexico, we have to take care of Mexico, look, I'm dealing with Mexico right now. They send in $500 billion worth of drugs, they kill 100,000 people, they ruin a million families every year if you look at that, that's really an invasion without the guns.

Trump, June 4, 2019: A lot of people are saying that. Mexico has something to prove. But I don't want to hear that they're run by the cartels. You understand. You report on it all the time. A lot of people do. That would be a terrible thing. Mexico should step up and stop this onslaught, this invasion into our country, John.

Trump, April 6, 2019: You know, there are a lot of advantages too, a lot of advantages. I'm OK with it. I don't want to do it, but I'm OK with it, I'll do it. I'll do whatever is necessary to stop an invasion of our country. That's what it is. At the heart of the crisis are the 9th Circuit rulings in the Flores case and the Trafficking Victims, Protection Reauthorization Act, driving a staggering surge of illegal families and minors into the hands of our incredible border patrol people.

Democrats and immigrants

America will soon become a one party-state. The Democrat party will own America and they know it. They have already begun the transition by pandering heavily to the Hispanic voting bloc in the first Democratic Debate. They intend to use open borders, free healthcare for illegals, citizenship, and more to enact a political coup by importing and then legalizing millions of new voters.

Trump has falsely accused Democrats of exactly these things countless times.

Trump, August 1, 2019So many of these mayors right now, you know what they are? They're in jail, that's where they are. Republicans believe that every parent has the right to send their children to the school of their choice. But the greatest betrayal committed by the Democrats is their support for open borders, and these open borders would overwhelm schools and hospitals, drain public services, and flood communities with poisonous drugs... Democrat lawmakers care more about illegal aliens than they care about their own constituents. They put foreign citizens before American citizens.

Trump, June 11, 2019Illegal immigration, not only threatens public safety, but it drains the public treasury, overcrowding schools and hospitals, and depleting the resources low-income Americans depend on. You see what's happening in California, where they just announced a plan to give free health care to illegal immigrants when it could very well be used, all of that money, to provide housing and hospitalization and medical for the rising number of homeless people, then the Democratic run cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Do you see what's happening to those cities?

Trump, July 28, 2016: Hillary Clinton will give citizenship to illegal immigrants who compete directly against vulnerable American workers for the right to high-paying jobs, safe housing and good schools.

Giving refugees "incentive" to leave

They come here as economic immigrants, not for asylum reasonsThis is an encouraging sign that the Hispanic population is willing to return to their home countries if given the right incentive. An incentive that myself and many other patriotic Americans will provide.

Trump openly admits that he is trying to make the experience of seeking asylum so dangerous and terrifying that it will discourage other migrants from attempting it. He's also said that aslyum-seekers are lying about their claims.

Trump, May 19, 2019: You look at some of these people; you want protection from them. And they're saying, "We need protection from our country." In the meantime, they're carrying their country's flag thousands -- 2,000 miles walking up the journey. It's a big con job. That's what it is.

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, March 6, 2017: Let me start by saying I would do almost anything to deter the people from Central America to getting on this very, very dangerous network that brings them up through Mexico to the United States. ...Yes, I am considering, in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network, I am considering exactly that [separating children from their parents].

Trump, July 3, 2019: If Illegal Immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved!

Crusius ended his manifesto with a pre-emptive defense of how Trump would be viewed by the "fake news."

Why does this matter?

  • A president who can't bring himself to acknowledge terrorism, can't defend the country from it.
  • A president who can't take responsibility for the effects of his own words and policies is unfit for office.
  • It's bad if the president is playing golf and going to parties hours after a terrorist mass murder.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He was wrong about what tariffs are, again.

This morning, Trump tweeted this:

Literally no part of this is true. As is often the case, the only question is whether Trump is deliberately lying about any given part, or simply confused.

For example, the question of whether things are "going very well with China" is more or less answered by the fact that trade talks once again broke down this week, and Trump responded with yet another round of tariffs. (China immediately promised to retaliate.) It is now more than 18 months since Trump first declared that "trade wars are good, and easy to win." 

But when Trump falsely says that China is "paying us Tens of Billions of Dollars," it's just possible that he may actually believe it. (Trump, who brags about having eventually gotten an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, is notoriously easily confused by basic economic concepts.) In reality, as everyone else—consumers and retailers and markets and economists and central bankers and his own advisors—are aware, tariffs are taxes paid by consumers in the form of higher prices. (If American consumers didn't pay Trump's tariffs, they wouldn't work. The whole point is to discourage buying foreign goods.) 

American consumers are now expected to pay about $1,270 more at the cash register per household per year as a result of Trump's tariffs, with the cost falling disproportionately on poorer families. (That figure does not include the cost of the first year and a half of Trump's trade war.)

The amount of money collected up front at the border—the money that is then re-collected from Americans in the form of higher prices—is less than the amount the government is spending to bail out just one sector of the economy hurt by the trade war. 

As for inflation, it is fairly low—although Trump's price increases via tariffs are certainly helping to prop up prices. The problem is that Trump seems to think that "no inflation" is a good thing. It's not, if you're trying to avoid economic contractions and recessions. Worries about a looming disaster are why the Federal Reserve did act this week. Trump, who personally saves tens of millions of dollars in debt financing each time interest rates fall, may already have forgotten that.

So what?

  • Past a certain point, where the economy is concerned, it doesn't matter if a president is incompetent or lying or corrupt.

Friday, August 2, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He blamed the media for a failed nomination, and then blamed them for not catching it sooner.

Trump abruptly withdrew his nomination of Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) as the Director of National Intelligence today. Ratcliffe, who more or less openly auditioned for the job by attacking Robert Mueller during a congressional hearing, brought no qualifications to the job—something even Republicans had privately warned Trump about. But the nail in the coffin was the revelation that Ratcliffe had lied about his previous work as a prosecutor.

Ratcliffe had claimed that "as a U.S. Attorney, I arrested over 300 illegal immigrants on a single day." This turned out to be fantastically untrue. The raid in question resulted in 45 arrests, not 300—and Ratcliffe was not personally involved in the arrests. Of those 45, six were immediately dismissed. Two of the people arrested as "illegal immigrants" were, in fact, U.S. citizens. Those arrested were working at poultry processing plants, and no serious charges were filed as a result of the raid.

Ratcliffe also claimed to have "put terrorists in prison," but there's no evidence he ever worked on any terrorism cases.

Trump's first reaction to these lies—all of which were discovered by reporters consulting publicly available documents—was to blame the reporters. In a defensive tweet announcing that he was pulling Ratcliffe's nomination, Trump complained that Ratcliffe was being "treated very unfairly."

Later in the day, asked why his administration had failed to adequately look into Ratcliffe's past, Trump said that vetting his nominees was the media's job—but eventually wandered back to the idea that it was "unfair" for the media to report on Ratcliffe.

No, you vet for me. I like when you vet. No, you vet. I think the White House has a great vetting process. You vet for me. When I give a name, I give it out to the press and you vet for me. A lot of times you do a very good job. Not always… If you look at it, I mean, if you take a look at it, the vetting process for the White House is very good. But you’re part of the vetting process, you know? I give out a name to the press and they vet for me. We save a lot of money that way. But in the case of John, I believe that he was being treated very harshly and very unfairly.

Who cares?

  • The president, not the media, is responsible for the people he appoints.
  • This is why it's bad to give out important government positions on the basis of flattery.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He belatedly admitted he'd offered Russia help that he wouldn't give California.

Yesterday, Trump spoke on the phone with Russian president Vladimir Putin. The White House acknowledged the existence of that call, and released a readout of it, during the Democratic debate—and only after the Kremlin had once again been the first to tell Americans about contacts between the two.

According to the Russian version of the call, which the White House later confirmed, Trump offered Russia assistance in fighting wildfires that are raging in Siberia. 

It's not unprecedented for the United States to offer humanitarian aid to hostile countries—although Trump may be the only person in his administration who doesn't understand that Russia is not an ally of the United States. (Trump confirmed that he didn't bring up Russia's interference in U.S. elections, and specifically rejected the idea that it was ongoing. It is.)

Asked about it by reporters today, Trump said that he made the offer because the United States was "because we're very good at putting out forest fires, frankly."

That's true—when Trump is willing to let forest fires be put out. When wildfires struck California last year, though, Trump threatened to withhold federal money to fight them. Both the Siberian and California fires were the result of unusual weather patterns due to climate change, but Trump blamed California's problems on "gross mismanagement." (In reality, the fires started and spread on federal lands managed by the Trump administration.)

Why is this a bad thing?

  • California should be at least as high a priority for the President of the United States as Siberia.
  • A president who can't or won't acknowledge threats to the United States is unfit for office.