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'He Sucks at His Job!': MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace Slams the Relentless Lying from 'The Worst Period' in Trump's Presidency

July 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

She describes the last year of Trump's presidency as “grave and sinister.”


While discussing former White House press secretary Sean Spicer's new book, the panel on MSNBC's “Deadline: White House” agreed that since Spicer's departure, President Donald Trump's administration has become even more mendacious and manipulative than it was when it began.

“I'm almost nostalgic for Sean Spicer, and here's why,” said Jason Johnson, politics editor for The Root. “In those first few months, that was when we could still laugh at some of this, in a weird sort of way.”

“It was less sinister, it was more like… he was breaking us in for the far the more grave and sinister period that followed him,” said host Nicolle Wallace. “To his credit, he was bad at the lies. They now have a team that is very good at the lies.”

“Yeah, they have no problem at all lying to your face and not blinking, which is really extraordinary,” said Kimberly Atkins of the Boston Herald.

“And Bill Shine, the former head of Fox News, is now the deputy chief of staff to the president of the United States. The guy who helped cover up Roger Ailes' pattern of behavior, and other patterns of behavior at Fox News, for over a decade, is now the deputy chief of staff to the president of the United States,” said conservative writer Bill Kristol. “And he's a clever guy.”

“But he sucks at his job!” said Wallace. “This is, arguably, since he has started, the worst period of the Trump presidency. What is he doing?”

“I hope you're right,” responded Kristol. “He has a deep contempt for the American public. He thinks they can be bamboozled and lied to. And I do very much agree that the lying is more shameless than it was, and that's the biggest story, isn't it? That Trump and his team are more brazen, more shameless, more liberated from the normal guardrails than they were a year ago.”

Watch the clip below:

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Trump Expert David Cay Johnston Warns that Russia Has 'More Than 30 Years' of Blackmail Material on the President

July 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Chris Sosa, AlterNet

He also explained how the president's narcissism factors into the equation.


Pulitzer-winning journalist David Cay Johnston said Tuesday on CNN that President Donald Trump is compromised by more than 30 years of information collected by Russia.

“We know the Russians have been courting Donald, spending money on him and putting money in his pocket for more than 30 years,” Johnston said. “Donald’s son, one of his sons, has said they were getting lots of money from Russians, and he’d been deeply involved with deals […] with Russian gangsters.”

“He believes in his own mind he’s better than the rest of us, and he should be in charge for life,” Johnston explained of the president's narcissism. “But Donald also knows that his tax returns are a real problem [...] Russian money is very important to Donald’s position.”

Johnston elaborated that Trump's financial ties to Russia explain “why when he has no money and he had no credit, he was flush with cash through all sorts of deals as well as being bailed out a few years ago.”

Watch the clip below.

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Wall Street Journal Reviewer Skewers Sean Spicer's New Book and Its Embarrassing Errors in Devastating Detail

July 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“Mr. Spicer’s book is much like his tenure as press secretary: short, littered with inaccuracies and offering up one consistent theme: Mr. Trump can do no wrong,” Jonathan Karl writes.


He was once a respected and highly regarded Republican spokesman, but working for President Donald Trump changed all that.

Now, Sean Spicer's reputation is in tatters and the Wall Street Journal has printed a devastating review of his new book describing his brief tenure as the White House press secretary.

Reviewer Jonathan Karl writes of The Briefing that it is “short, littered with inaccuracies and offering up one consistent theme: Mr. Trump can do no wrong.”

Karl also flays Spicer for his pitiful recounting of the most memorable moment of his time at the White House: his defense of Trump's inauguration crowd size. Karl notes that it doesn't even seem to occur to Spicer that he might have told his boss that claiming that the crowd was bigger than President Barack Obama's was false and mistaken. And when it comes to Spicer's dealings with the press, Karl argues that the book's criticisms of the media are poorly argued and misguided.

But the most devastating portion comes when Karl addresses the factual errors in Spicer's book, which is particularly galling in light of the White House's overuse and abuse of the term “fake news”:

Mr. Spicer has not been well served by the book’s fact checkers and copy editors. He refers to the author of the infamous Trump dossier as “Michael Steele, ” who is in truth the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, not the British ex-spy Christopher Steele. He recounts a reporter asking Mr. Obama a question at a White House press conference in 1999, a decade before Mr. Obama was elected. There are also some omissions: He writes about working for Rep. Mark Foley (R., Fla.), who he says “knew how to manage the news cycle. And on top of all that, he was good to staff and fun to be around.” He never gets around to mentioning that Mr. Foley later resigned in disgrace for sending sexually explicit messages …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Hightower: Trump's Border Policies Undermine Our Democracy

July 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Jim Hightower, Creators Syndicate

Trump has turned immigration policy into a despotic nightmare of presumed guilt, mass incarceration and what amount to death-sentence deportations


In early June, I traveled to “The Valley,” as the McAllen-Brownsville area of Texas is called, down where the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico. This river, one of the longest in the U.S., forms the entire Texas-Mexico border, meandering south and east 1,250 miles from our far-west desert city of El Paso to the semi-tropical tip of my state. Its cartographic function aside, the narrow and shallow Rio Grande has historically been viewed by families in the region as more a connector than a divider, and it has long fostered a rich, cross-fertilized culture along its length, uniting generations of us Americanos with our Mexicano neighbors.

Though I had gone there to talk politics at a union conference, I wasn't about to pass up the chance to wallow awhile in the rich Tex-Mex experience. So I took an extra half day to savor some fresh shrimp from the Gulf, quff a couple or three good Mexican cervezas, let my mind drift to the lazy tempo of palm trees swaying in the sea breeze and generally absorb the area's unique spirit, character and centuries-old sense of place. It was an altogether pleasant experience.

Well, except that, just beyond the palms where I was floating in blissful reverie, a time bomb of sadistic immigration policy was ticking. Only a couple of days later, the border would explode in a media conflagration that would char Washington and burn across America as the public learned that our tempestuous, tweety-bird president had decided The Valley would be ground zero for his political mugging of border-crossing families. Suddenly (and stupidly) he and his agents mounted a full-scale terrorist attack on thousands of migrant children — 10-year-olds, 4-year-olds, toddlers and even babies!

Many of these tykes have trekked hundreds of miles with parents and other adults along the dangerous route to El Norte. Others have migrated alone in an urgent attempt to escape rampaging gang violence and life-crushing poverty stalking them in El Salvador, Guatemala, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Donald Trump’s Presidency Has Helped Buchananism Achieve Prominence in GOP Politics

July 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

It is obvious that Trump was paying close attention to the failed candidate in the 1990s.


It isn’t hard to figure out why right-wing pundit and former politician Patrick J. Buchanan has been a strong supporter of President Donald Trump: many of Trump’s ideas are also Buchanan’s ideas. And with Trump’s presidency, Buchananism—an angry, pseudo-populist mixture of xenophobia, anti-immigrant rhetoric, protectionism and hardcore social conservatism—has achieved a prominent role in Republican politics.

Although Buchanan, now 79, was a senior advisor to three Republican presidents—Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan—his more isolationist and protectionist views set him apart from many of the neocons who influenced GOP politics in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Buchanan was always a paleoconservative, not a neocon—and he had no use for the imperialist nation-building fantasies of Norman Podhoretz or Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol.

When AM talk radio host Rush Limbaugh and others in the right-wing media were aggressively pushing for the reelection of President George H.W. Bush in 1992, Buchanan challenged Bush via a Republican primary. And Buchanan’s 1992 campaign contained many of the themes that surfaced in Trump’s presidential campaign 24 years later: fear of immigration, isolationism, severe nationalism and a belief that non-white people were invading the U.S. in droves. Buchanan, who is Catholic, shared the Christian Right’s disdain for gays and abortion but not its passion for intervention in the Middle East.

Much of the Republican establishment shunned Buchanan not only in 1992, but also, when he ran for president again in 1996. Buchanan, however, developed a small but passionate cult following—and now, it is obvious that Trump was paying close attention to him during the 1990s. 

In fact, when Trump’s presidential campaign was picking up more and more steam in 2015 and 2016, the National Review was highly critical of his platform—arguing that Trump was rehashing Buchanan’s campaigns of 1992 and 1996. 

In an August 31, 2015 article, the National Review’s Jim Geraghty wrote, “The similarities between the Buchanan and Trump agendas are pretty clear: both are harsh critics of free trade, both staunchly oppose …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump’s Deceitful Claims About Carter Page Have Obscured a Bigger Debate on Privacy

July 24, 2018 in Economics

By Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez

“Who are you going to believe, me or your lying
eyes?” That’s the essence of the response from President Trump and his allies to the
unprecedented release of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
warrant application, the basis for extended
surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump adviser.

We are now witnessing an effort to gaslight the press and the
public in support of a discredited narrative about politically
motivated surveillance of the Trump campaign.

What’s more, that gaslighting is obscuring the need for a
more nuanced debate about whether our intelligence surveillance
authorities are in need of systemic reform. The question we should
ask isn’t whether the F.B.I. followed the laws in wiretapping
Carter Page — they clearly did — but whether the laws
they followed protect our privacy well enough.

Mr. Page’s brief tenure as a foreign policy adviser to Mr.
Trump in 2016 was cut short after reports disclosed that
investigators were probing his ties to Russia. He has become a pillar of
Mr. Trump’s frequent claims that a “Deep State”
cabal within the intelligence community is determined to undermine
his administration.

The F.B.I. followed the
laws in wiretapping the former Trump adviser. But do those laws
protect our privacy well enough?

Earlier this year, a memo prepared by staff for Representative
Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence (known now as “the Nunes memo”), charged that the F.B.I. had
essentially duped the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court into
issuing — and repeatedly renewing — a wiretap order
targeting Mr. Page as an “agent of a foreign
power.”

The application released Saturday remains too heavily redacted
to meaningfully assess the strength of the F.B.I.’s argument
that Mr. Page engaged in “clandestine intelligence
activities” on behalf of Russia. But it does make crystal
clear that Mr. Nunes abused his position and his access to
classified information to level a series of grossly misleading
accusations against the F.B.I. Which is presumably why Mr. Nunes,
Mr. Trump and a handful of media allies are engaged in a brazen
campaign to obscure what the documents actually show.

Even redacted, the applications lay waste to the central charges
made in the Nunes memo. Chief among these was that the
F.B.I., in relying on controversial reporting by the former British
intelligence officer Christopher Steele, had failed to
“mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of —
and paid by — the D.N.C. and Clinton campaign.”

It’s true the application does not name Mrs. Clinton. Nor,
per the general practice of not naming Americans who aren’t
investigative targets, does it name Mr. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Finding an Alternative to Paid Family Leave

July 24, 2018 in Economics

By Vanessa Brown Calder

Vanessa Brown Calder

Earlier this week, a Senate subcommittee held a hearing on
government-supported paid family leave, with Sens. Joni Ernst, Iowa
Republican, and Kirsten Gillibrand New York Democrat, both
testifying in favor of providing paid family leave through the
federal entitlement system. Mrs. Ernst especially touted her
commitment to supporting working families, and mentioned her
collaborative efforts working with Senate conservatives like Marco
Rubio on the current paid family leave bill.

Mrs. Ernst’s desire to improve working families’
lives is understandable, but misdirected. Like many conservative
members of Congress, Mrs. Ernst has allowed Democrats to set the
policy agenda, rather than thinking creatively about how to apply
her own conservative principles to improving working parents’
lives.

There are better ways than government-supported paid family
leave to support working families, and they don’t cost
money.

Policymakers should
refocus their sights on reforms that improve worker-choice without
increasing government dependence.

The first is reducing labor regulation that hampers flexible
working arrangements. In a poll conducted by the Rockefeller
Foundation which asked what “would need to change in order
for working parents to evenly balance their job or business, their
marriage, and their children?” the answer “more
flexible work hours/schedules” won by a mile compared to
“more paid time off” and other options.

It wasn’t even close: 51 percent of respondents selected
workplace flexibility as the problem, which is consistent with
sociological research which found nearly 9 of 10
“opt-out” moms left work due to limited workplace
flexibility.

Flexible working arrangements would occur naturally, but
regulation gets in the way. As an example, the Fair Labor Standards
act doesn’t allow some workers to bank overtime as future
time off. Interestingly, government and union workers are allowed
to do this while private-sector workers are not.

Independent contractors are allowed to set their own schedules
and be their own boss, but legislative and judicial efforts are
curtailing this flexibility and seem intent on forever shackling
workers to an outdated 1930s model of work.

Advocates that seek to curtail independent contractor status
cite protecting worker interests as their goal. But according to a
2018 Bureau of Labor and Statistics survey, workers don’t
want to be protected: “fewer than 1 in 10 independent
contractors would prefer a traditional work arrangement.”

Since labor regulations are often set at the state level, there
are many reforms that would improve flexibility there, as well. For
example, shift-work laws require employees/employers to set
schedules weeks in advance of working, and this is likely a burden
to working parents whose schedules are constantly in flux.

Lunch-break laws like the one in California penalize employers
for allowing employees to take lunch breaks more than an hour long.
But working mothers often need …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Trump Spends Billions in Taxpayer Dollars to Fix a Problem He Created: Taxpayer Subsidies Thrown at U.S. Agriculture Are a Huge Waste

July 24, 2018 in Economics

By Simon Lester

Simon Lester

President Trump has been imposing tariffs left and right, on
close allies and on budding rivals, and on steel and aluminum from
everywhere and on everything but the kitchen sink from China. The
predictable response from U.S. trading partners was to impose
retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports. Now, in response to that
retaliation, the Trump administration is proposing to counter the retaliatory tariffs with
subsidies
to the agriculture sector, which has been
particularly hurt by these tariffs. Next up, presumably, is more
subsidies by other governments, as the market distortions escalate
and proliferate.

Agriculture subsidies are nothing new. The U.S. agriculture
sector is already heavily subsidized, which has long been an
irritant for many U.S. trade partners. When Trump complains about
high Canadian tariffs on dairy products, Canada responds with
complaints about U.S. dairy subsidies. These new subsidies just add
to the problem. The Trump administration’s proposed agriculture
subsidies will be carried out through the Commodity Credit
Corporation Charter Act, a Depression-era funding program. That is
appropriate somehow, as the Trump administration’s trade war
harkens back to the Smoot-Hawley tariffs of the same era.

The question many people are asking is, where does this end?
Will we reach a new status quo in which all tariffs on goods
imported and exported from the United States are subject to
significantly higher taxes? And what will that do to the economy?
The economy has stayed strong so far, but the amount of trade
subject to tariffs is still small.

Trade policy is going in
the wrong direction, and the pace is picking up.

As the amount of trade covered grows, the impact on the economy
will become more apparent. We are already seeing reports of lost jobs, and as publicly listed
companies feel the pain, the effects are likely to spread to the
stock market. Perhaps that will be enough to sway Trump?

One way to put an end to this destructive trade policy is for
Congress to step in. Congress has the Constitutional power over
trade, and all of these tariffs are taken pursuant to authority
Congress had delegated by statute. Congress can and should revisit
the statutes, and rein in Trump’s actions on tariffs.

It should also step in to stop the agriculture subsidies. Back
in the 1990s, a Republican-led Congress passed the Freedom to Farm Act, in order to reform and
reduce farm subsidies. If the Republicans want to be the party of
free markets and limited government, they should act like it.

At the same time U.S. trade policy is mired in protectionism,
the rest of the world is …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Misguided Ideas on 'Costs to the Economy' Harm Our Individual Right to Make Choices in a Free Market

July 24, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

One of the most cliched, misguided ideas in economic debate is
the view that politicians are focused on GDP above all else. Yes,
politicians of all parties clearly consider growth important.

But the existence of constrictive planning laws, migration
controls, and regulation for social ends makes a mockery of the
idea that MPs and government cast all other concerns aside for
raising GDP.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a proliferation of
economics-style campaigning that lends weight to the GDP-fetish
theorists.

Groups seeking the introduction of new regulations or spending
feel that they have to put economics front and centre of their
reasoning — pointing out how much the status quo “costs
the economy” and how their idea would boost it.

A simple search online, for example, implies that company
culture, the gender pay gap, lack of sleep, mothers opting out of
the labour force, obesity, and much else besides all “cost
the economy” billions of pounds per year. The implied message
is that if we only adopted some new intervention to counteract
these problems, we’d all be better off.

The essence of choice is
allowing people to take what they consider the best decision, given
the information and structures in front of them.

To be sure, some of these examples (obesity in particular) may
well have what we consider “social costs” —
effects on broader society beyond those faced by the
individual.

In most other cases though, the supposed problems arise out of
decisions made by free individuals, with no obvious harm to a third
party. Such behaviour should not be thought of as a cost to the
economy at all.

Take the example of lack of sleep. A report in late 2016 by the
Rand Corporation suggested that this cost the economy £40bn per
year, because tiredness sees employees less productive at work than
they might otherwise be, lowering measured output and hence
GDP.

But GDP is emphatically not economic welfare — the true
metric of our economic wellbeing.

Yes, being more productive at work comes at a cost. But our
starting assumption should surely be that people do what they
prefer — some people might value staying up late partying,
caring for their newborn child, or a whole range of other
activities.

People make these kinds of judgments every day, and they weigh
up any potential adverse effects on their work performance against
the enjoyment from all these other activities. When someone decides
to leave a lucrative job in the financial sector to become a
teacher, they might expect to be less “productive” from
the perspective of measured GDP contributions. If this person is a
woman, her decision might also …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Trump Could Get His Intel from the Government. Instead, He Gets It from Fox News.

July 24, 2018 in Economics

By Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez

President Trump’s performance at a joint news conference
with Vladimir Putin this past week was a stark illustration not
only of his strange and persistent deference to the Russian
president, but also of his profound alienation from his own
government. In command of the most powerful intelligence-gathering
apparatus in the world, Trump still prefers to get his information
from cable news pundits and right-wing websites.

Helsinki was only the latest example of a pattern that has
marked his administration from the outset. His tweets and
off-the-cuff remarks constantly reference weird theories from the
fringes of the right-wing media ecosystem, yet he exhibits little
interest in the resources uniquely available to a president. He has
asked for far-less-detailed daily briefings from the
intelligence community than his predecessors got, and he reportedly ignores background material on
policy decisions. Cut off from systems designed to inform him Trump
instead echoes dubious narratives crafted to energize his
supporters.

Invited by a reporter at Monday’s news conference to
denounce Russian electoral interference, Trump’s first
response was a
rhetorical question based on a false premise: “You have
groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why
haven’t they taken the server?”

To those not steeped in Trump-friendly blogs and cable programs,
it might have seemed like a bizarre non sequitur. But regular
viewers of Fox News would have understood “where is the
server?” as shorthand for a fanciful theory that it was not
Russian hackers but an insider at the Democratic National Committee
who made off with DNC emails that were published by WikiLeaks.
According to this narrative, DNC officials have denied law
enforcement access to their computer systems to conceal an
“inside job,” and the attribution of the theft to
Russian intelligence was made without this obviously crucial piece
of evidence. Trump has raised questions about the supposedly
“missing” server again and again on Twitter.

Most of the dubious
theories he espouses imagine a “deep state” cabal working to bring
him down.

Yet the answer to those questions is embarrassingly simple: The
FBI did get all the relevant information
from the DNC’s network. The incident-response firm hired by
the DNC, CrowdStrike, had exact digital copies of the systems that
U.S. authorities say were targeted by a Russian military operation
in 2016, as well as logs showing the intruders’ actions in
the system as they occurred. As CrowdStrike, the DNC and senior FBI
officials have all repeatedly made clear, all the data captured by
CrowdStrike — which would be far more useful for forensic
purposes than having access to the physical machines after the fact
— was …read more

Source: OP-EDS