The reason for Trump's disdain for the 4th estate is rather simple. At least from my perspective. He has had a tabloid fetish for most of his life. And in tabloids, any news, is good news.
Trump could also control the tabloids. He even once called a tabloid as a source on himself! There is a certain currency for public people to be in the tabloids. It reenforces their need to be seen as relevant.
Now this 70-year old fan-boy of himself is trying to apply the same logic to the mainstream press. He doesn't seem to understand the difference between tawdry tabloids and serious journalism. He can't control the latter. And it is frustrating him enough to call it "fake".
While I think that serious journalism doesn't always happen in the mainstream press, it more often does. Serious journalism is fact-based. Tabloids don't have to be fact-based.
Until Trump understands that facts are now critical to his presidency, there will continue to be a sustained infinite loop of criticism that will feed itself to his demise.
March 21, 2017
I remember when I was a kid and the Watergate hearings dominated all three networks. I remember being upset that my kid-TV shows were preempted. But I do remember how the hearings felt. Serious.
Yesterday seemed like a turning point. No longer were the tweets and Trump-Russia ties being fought in the press. It was out in the open. It was on TV. The message was unambiguous from the Director of The FBI and the Director of the NSA. Trump lied about the wiretapping in his tweets. Russians did try to interfere in the election to defeat HRC and elect Trump. The Russians succeeded and are likely to do it again in Europe and in the US during 2018 and 2020. And Trump World's circumstantial ties to Russia are being investigated for collusion and will go on indefinitely.
To quote Watergate, a certain cloud now surrounds the Trump presidency.
As tough as the House hearings were, the Senate hearings are going to be tougher. The Senate isn't perpetually up for reelection. The Senate isn't on board with a lot of Trump/House bills being planned. The Senate includes many establishment Republicans who truly want to get to the bottom of what was and is a quasi-act-of-war by the Russians. The Senate is dead serious on maintaining the credibility of the presidency. And the Senate's GOP membership is dead serious about maintaining the credibility of the party.
This is not to extrapolate Russia-Gate with Watergate. While the former is much more serious as to the nation's best interests, there is no fait accompli that this will turn out the same as to Trump continuing to hold office.
But if will effect everything Trump wants to do short his Supreme Court nominee. If the plurality of American's couldn't trust what Trump said about a foreign crisis, now GOP legislators are going to be very selective in working with Trump on legislation beyond telling him to just "sign it". It is critical for all three branches of the federal government to operate as they are firmly established and in control.
After yesterday, the executive branch is now not as firmly established and in control. That's a big problem. And one that will most likely get worse.
James Comey is set to testify in front of a public congressional hearing today. I am not sure Comey will be able to comment on Trump World's relationship with Russia. But there are other questions Congress and the American people should be asking themselves.
Donald Trump has attacked our own country's institutions. He has attacked our military and our intelligence communities. He has attacked our economy. He has attacked and mocked our national mythology of being the melting pot of America. Not to mention, questioning a president's birth to calling that same president "sick" for wiretapping him, he has attacked the very office he holds today. Finally, he had said that America doesn't win anymore.
He has attacked Australia. A country that has participating in every military engagement of the US - regardless of its merit - since World War II.
He has attacked England. Most recently, he has accused our closest ally of aiding and abetting, his baseless claim of being wiretapped. And then refusing to apologize.
He just attacked Germany. Some people are now calling Angela Merkel the "leader of the free world". Trump wouldn't shake her hand. Trump said Germany owes us a massive amount of money. Then Trump disparaged his own nation by claiming the US tapped her phones during the previous administration and drawing a parallel to his own baseless wiretapping claim.
Trump has attacked Nato, Mexico and the G20 on world trade. The list of countries and institutions he has attacked is too long to fit within this post.
But there is one exception. He has not only not attacked Russia, he continues to glorify Putin. Germany and France are facing general elections this year, and Russia is trying to influence those elections. Trump's tactics are a mirror image of Putin's. Destroy the legitimacy of the center of both key European countries.
I don't know whether Comey will comment on whether they has been collusion between the Trump World and Russia today. But I do know that Trump's attacks on everyone else but Russia and Putin, should be disturbing to Congress and the American people.
March 20, 2017
While I personally find the House HCR plan distasteful and perhaps immoral, I think the House GOP has a legitimate right to propose their plan - 03.14.17
I don't think Republicans and Democrats are evil. They just differ in ideologies. Democrats believe in wealth distribution from the wealthy to the non-wealthy. Republicans believe in wealth distribution the other way around.
The GOP House HCR "tax cut" seems misreported to the masses. Like it is arbitrary. It's not. But before explaining the "tax cuts", it is important to understand how Obamacare works today.
Obamacare in short, was supposed to make health care more affordable for people. It's greatest legacy and probably most enduring legacy is access to health insurance for people with preexisting conditions and children up to 26 years of age.
Obamacare, modeled from a Republican plan to counter Universal Health Care Insurance in 1994 and implemented in Massachusetts, is a state-based plan where health care exchanges and/or Medicare provide affordable health insurance.
The flaw in the plan, is that some states chose not to take Medicare block grants and there hasn't been enough market competition between health care companies. The result has been sky high premiums. While other states took Medicare block grants and are fine with Obamacare. Whether a state took Medicare block grants or not, isn't a blue state/red state decision. That is why in part, GOP members of the Senate differ on repeal and replace strategies.
The GOP House plan would systemically reduce Medicare block grants to state's that are receiving them today. That's where the federal cost savings come from. The plan foresees allowing health care companies to compete across state lines - keeping Obamacare's protection of preexisting conditions and children up to 26 years of age - as the main instrument to make health care more affordable.
Now the "tax cuts". Because Medicare block grants would be systematically reduced, people that make a lot of money, would return to having their Medicare withholdings capped. As such, it isn't a "tax cut" but a "tax rollback".
Which brings me back to ideology. Republicans believe that people like me are going to spend or invest the money we save. That might be true for some of the 1%, but not true for others. Speaking for myself, I would just hoard the money into my FDIC guaranteed network of banks.
Again the GOP House HCR plan isn't evil. It isn't something that is being driven by Citizens United. It's just a different ideological approach to health care and how wealth distribution works.
March 19, 2017
How many of you have dealt with realtors? How many of you have met realtors outside of their professions? There are some good people that are realtors. But the majority are not.
Realtors, at least the effective ones, are natural born hucksters and con-men. They say things like, this house is going fast so you should buy it now. They say things like the market is just in a tiny dip when in fact it is collapsing. They tell sellers why their houses are not worth as much as they think. They are indifferent to the morality of a house buyer, seeing them as only an economic instrument, and not taking a position whether they are good for the neighborhood.
These same realtors, if you met them outside of working, don't have an opinion on any subject matter other than real estate. If they talk - a lot of them don't outside work - they instantly engage in marketing themselves as a realtor. Try it. More than likely, they will try to end the conversation by handing you their business card.
Everything about Trump is a realtor-like.
Inaugural crowd size overblown despite physical evidence? Just as natural as a realtor telling you that a terrible house is alternatively a great fixer-upper.
Better health care for everyone and then admitting it's not and it will hurt the very people who voted for you? Just as common, as a realtor telling you the truth, after the transaction has been completed.
From Obama tapped my phones to admitting he got the facts from Fox News who disavowed the claim amongst members of his party disavowing said claim? Just as common as a realtor not caring, that other realtors in their realtor company are saying they are not a good realtor.
Not caring nor understanding about other events? Just like the realtor who has nothing to say when you meet them outside of work.
And what about Russia? It is a fact that wealthy Russians have to park their wealth outside of banks. It is a fact, that they can find realtors, willing to broker deals in Europe or the US using a LLC to hide their identity.
Reuters is reporting that that at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida. Those are just the ones that bought it under their own names. They don't include Russians using LLCs.
One NY-funded real estate project generated $2 billion in initial sales, from which Trump took a commission.
If you are looking for Trump-Russian ties, it most likely involves Trump - perhaps legally - participating in Russian's hiding their money in real estate.
Again this is your realtor-in-chief. He doesn't care about who buys the property. He just cares about the transaction - or what he calls the art of the deal - and how much money he can make.
Trump is all about today and the transaction. It has worked for him his whole 70-year old life. Their is no long game. There is no strategy. And there is no such things as yesterday.
March 18, 2017
Interest Rates Are Going Up - But That Is, By Far, Not The Main Real Estate Issue - The Fed is increasing rates and will continue to do so throughout this year. But in my opinion this is a side-show. Has everyone forgotten that Freddie Mac and Fannie May are still part of the federal government? Does everyone understand that Freddie Mac and Fannie May, as a quasi-federal agencies, can effectively shift risk from banks to the taxpayers as they buy up and/or guarantee mortgage bonds? Can anyone predict whether we have a housing bubble crisis or not? Is our small GDP growth, besides the laws of large numbers, being fueled by a false wealth effect on consumers?
Trump Walking Back "Wiretapping" Claim. See last blog post. Trump can't walk back that he accused a former president of wiretapping him, by illegally doing so after a FISA court denied the request. That's either a felony or a lie. Trump also can't walk back that he called a former president "bad" or "sick". My anti-Obama friends, would never accuse Obama of being a bad guy or being sick. Trump might be called unhinged by the other 40%, but even the Trump 40% wouldn't accuse Obama of being unhinged. Maybe feckless, too cerebral and too timid in light of risk. But not unhinged.
Speaking Of Unhinged, McCain Is Hurting The Cause Of Being A Balance To Trump. The country relies on John McCain and Lindsey Graham being impartial. McCain saying Rand Paul of "now working for Vladimir Putin", because Paul is an isolationist, makes McCain seem unhinged.
Trump's Credibility And The Need To Talk To Him Like A Child. Trump's alternative facts present a clear and present danger to this country. If 40% of the country knows he is lying (20% don't care), how would they react to Trump accusing, say Iran of cheating on the international weapons treaty, and threats of military force?
What is also amazing is how his party talks about him, saying publicly how he should act. They talk like he is a child and they are trying to parent-him-up to act and talk like a grown up. Again that is not a good thing. It is a scary thing.
March 16, 2017
I am asking two basic questions. I am not qualified to answer both. But I have legitimate concerns.
I think we can all agree that Trump's charges are unprecedented. There have been no facts put forth to support the claim. The Justice Department was supposed to provide "incriminating" evidence yesterday. That deadline has come and went.
There is only a binary answer to all of this. Either Trump has proof and Obama should convicted of a felony. Or Trump made it up and is hoping it will go away through standard diversionary tactics.
Why is this a serious question? If Trump indeed lied - as he has in the past during his first two months in office - exactly how are the American people going to believe him when a real crisis happens?
Trump was supposed to be a supporter of the working class. His cabinet of billionaires should have raised eyebrows. But now he has attached himself to the House HCR plan. While I personally find the House HCR plan distasteful and perhaps immoral, I think the House GOP has a legitimate right to propose their plan.
But why is Trump attaching himself to the plan? Has he purposely, been running a large scam with the working class? Or is Trump - as I suggested before - being held hostage by the GOP, due to Russia, until they can get what they want?
Here is what the House GOP HCR bill means in terms of cold hard numbers (Steve Rattner) -
So basically the new bill would return the uninsured rate to 19%. While I think that's a perfectly acceptable construct for the GOP House - assuming they are a pure anti-government spending conservative caucus - it doesn't make sense that the plan hurts the poor and rewards the rich. How many times can the 1% vote exactly? Why is Trump "owning" this plan?
From a conservative point of view, putting aside my own sense of right and wrong, $1.12 trillion is a VERY MEANINGFUL deficit reduction idea. But then adding tax cuts of $785 billion, for the more wealthy, looks like a mathematical formula for obvious wealth distribution that the House Freedom Caucus can support.
I am not confident this bill will be passed in the Senate. So again, why would Trump attach himself to such a anti-working class bill?
So, we have to wait and see if Trump is a serial liar and/or running a scam on working class Americans.
In the meantime, I will just wait until both of these questions are flushed out by Congress and the press.
March 14, 2017
General Michael Flynn was a paid foreign agent for Turkey - a country that allowed ISIS right-of-way from and to Europe - from August to November of last year.
The White House is saying they knew about it, but Trump didn't know about it. That's not only hard to believe - Flynn traveled with Trump throughout the campaign - but it adds yet another connection between Trump and his staff with other foreign countries.
Flynn was tapped to be Trump's NSA chief. The NSA and the Secretary of State are arguably the center of foreign national policy.
If the White House knew Flynn was a foreign agent and didn't tell Trump - which is hard to believe - they were incredibly reckless.
And speaking of the Secretary Of State, Rex Tillerson, he has been kept from acquiring a deputy from the Bannon/Kushner White House. Tillerson has been sidelined. It's hard to imagine, that Tillerson - who was the CEO of one of the world's largest company - is going to want to continue in that "role" for much longer.
The Mexican ambassador to the US met with Kushner recently and didn't meet with Tillerson.
I get that Trump/Bannon are intent on destroying the "administration state". But it isn't clear how the US can function internationally with a kitchen cabinet. Diplomacy is a critical governmental tool and it requires strong leadership and consistency. Without diplomacy, all you are left with is the military, tweets and Trump surrogates walking them back.
More than half way through Trump's first critical 100 days, the White House is still dysfunctional. The Flynn matter, should serve as a wake up call. If Trump has any chance to be credible - assuming he is found out to not have ties to Russia - he needs to bring into the White House a respected AND experienced chief of staff to get things under control. Call it a David Gergen (Clinton move with someone who had worked in the Ford and Reagan White House) or Howard Baker (Reagan move with a moderate centrist Republican) moment.
Time is not on Trump's side.
March 11, 2017
Lindsey Graham's Totally Brilliant Move. Trump's tweet on Saturday - accusing Obama of wiretapping him and his campaign and calling Obama (sick) - was an unprecedented presidential action that shook his staff, his cabinet, the legislative branch, many Americans and people around the world. It was also exacerbated by the Trump White House providing no proof to back up the claim.
With reports that James Comey was furious and wanted the Justice Department to call Trump out, I think people expected Comey to do what he has done in the past: call a press conference. But a funny thing happened for the last four days. Comey went radio silent.
So Lindsey Graham took Trump's claims and along with Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse sent a letter to the FBI and Department of Justice on Wednesday requesting documents related to President Donald Trump’s claim that Trump Tower had been wiretapped by former President Barack Obama during the election. “Congress must get to the bottom” of the allegation, the two senators said.
Comey had air-cover under Obama and Holder/Lynch. He now doesn't have that air cover. Sessions has recused himself from all such matters and his deputy hasn't been approved yet. So Graham gave Comey the air cover he needed, under the auspices of a congressional request. It was a move that both the Senate and House Intelligence committees hadn't taken. They probably would have at a later date. So Graham took action because Comey needed air cover now and not later. Graham proved, what he and John McCain have always stood for: country first and party second.
The GOP's Sophie's Choice on Health Care Reform. House Republicans are on the hook for repealing ObamaCare. They all face primaries and reelection next year. They promised they would do it and do it fast.
The problem is the Freedom Caucus doesn't think the replacement plan is conservative enough. While another part of the party is worried that their constituents will be negatively affected as the plan exists today.
There is another problem. One-third of the Senate doesn't face primaries or reelections next year. They want to slow the process down.
The GOP's denouncing of ObamaCare was a great election strategy since 2010. But in 2017, repealing and replacing ObamaCare, is going to be very difficult to do, with the GOP on the hook if it passes OR if it doesn't pass.
March 8, 2017
I don't know about the reader, but even the most current-event-conscious working people like myself, have a hard time remembering timelines.
The link above, is an accurate timeline of the Trump campaign and presidency. While I found there to be a sizable amount of milestones, that either don't seem suspicious or maybe are just coincidence, there does seem to be enough smoke to warrant the ongoing investigations.
What it means. The Russians hacked the DNC computers. It seems to me that the 21st century word - "hacking" - too often implies an act of mischief. I think the more accurate way to view what the Russians did, is more analogous to picking the locks of a US political institution on American sovereign soil and stealing documents. The timeline does show un-savvy email usage to enable the backdoor hacks. But I don't equate the DNC nor the RNC as savvy business people.
Second, Obama was justified in not only maintaining sanctions for Crimea, but punishing Russia after the entire US intelligence confirmed the Russians did willfully try to influence the 2016 presidential election. I have written before that the Crimea sanctions were not a slap on the wrist. How severe was the impact? Severe enough that the Russian's had an interest in not seeing Obama's successor winning.
Finally, it is becoming more clear, that if Trump is innocent, he needs to come clean quickly in order to maintain any credibility to run the country. Right now, assuming the GOP can draft laws - such as repeal-and-replace and other long-term wish list items - they will hold Trump hostage until they get him to sign everything they wan't.
Once the GOP - which now holds unprecedented power, but with a limited shelf-life - gets what they want from Trump, whether Trump is diversionary out of innocence or guilt, they will not shed a tear of dropping the hammer.