Donald Trump loves this sign, even though it doesn’t make any sense.
According to Business Insider, Trump was rather taken with a sign reading “Hillary Clinton for Prisondent” at a rally in Iowa, and held it up for multiple photographs.
This sign is bad. If it said “Hillary for Prison” that would sort of make sense, except you don’t run for prison. If Clinton had a policy that we should put a bunch of dents in prison walls, it would make a little bit more sense, but it should still say something like “Hillary Clinton for President—because she’ll dent the shit out of some prison walls!”
“Hillary should go to the prison, not the White House” doesn’t quite have the ring that the sign-maker was going for, but sometimes it’s better to be right than clever.
“Prisondent” does not work as a pun or a portmanteau.
Would a tape with Trump using the n-word really change anything?
Thanks to Omarosa Manigault-Newman, longstanding rumors of a recording of the president using the n-word are again circulating. The current controversy has sparked an interesting debate on Twitter about whether, if such a tape did exist and was made public, it would have any effect on public opinion.
Some are doubtful:
Some analysts argue that such a tape would change minds, given the potency of using that particular slur:
Ultimately, those who are skeptical that the tape would make much of a difference have the better argument. After all, there is already ample evidence of Trump’s racism, going back decades. Anyone who still supports Trump either doesn’t mind that racism or shares it. Further, the fact that Trump still managed to get 63 million Americans to vote for him after the notorious Access Hollywood tape shows that his supporters are fully adept at setting aside offensive speech.
The release of this hypothetical n-word tape would confirm all camps’ prior opinions. In an election, it might motivate some Trump opponents to vote and it might discourage some marginal Trump voters from going to the ballot. But it won’t change the fundamental dynamic of opinion about him.
Trump campaign files arbitration claim against Omarosa.
In a statement to the press, the president’s reelection campaign said, “Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. has filed an arbitration against Omarosa Manigault-Newman with the American Arbitration Association in New York City, for breach of her 2016 confidentiality agreement with the Trump Campaign. President Trump is well known for giving people opportunities to advance in their careers and lives over the decades, but wrong is wrong, and a direct violation of an agreement must be addressed and the violator must be held accountable.”
The filing seems follows up on a tweet the president posted yesterday, which now seems like a threat:
As The Washington Postnotes, the president’s use of NDAs is unconventional. “Dozens of White House aides have signed NDAs in exchange for working for Trump, who has long relied on such agreements in his business career, according to current and former administration employees,” the Post reports. “But NDAs have not been widely used by past administrations outside the transition time between presidents, in part because most legal experts believe such agreements are not legally enforceable for public employees.”
In his response to tape allegations, Trump remains the master of kettle logic.
On Monday night, the president continued his escalating rhetorical war with Omarosa Manigault Newman, his former aide. Among other accusations, Manigault Newman claims to have heard a recording of Trump using the n-word while on the set of The Apprentice. (Manigault Newman had previously said she only knew that the tape existed.) The tape is reputedly in the possession of Mark Burnett, the producer of the show. Manigault Newman hasn’t provided evidence for this claim and her statements have been inconsistent.
In response, the president tweeted:
If it’s difficult to follow the logic of these tweets, it’s because they don’t follow the rules of normal rationality. Rather, they are examples of what the philosopher Jacques Derrida called “kettle logic,” where inconsistent arguments are made to prove a point. Trump is a frequent user of “kettle logic.”
Derrida coined the phrase “kettle logic” from a story that the psychologist Sigmund Freud related in two of his books.
The story goes like this. A man is accused by his neighbor of returning a kettle in a broken condition. In response to the accusation he argues:
1. That he had returned the kettle undamaged.
2. That it was already damaged when he borrowed it.
3. That he had never borrowed it in the first place.
In the same way, Trump’s response to this controversy can be broken down into several parts:
1. He never used the n-word.
2. Mark Burnett told Trump there is no tape of Trump using the n-word.
3. ManigaultNewman can’t be trusted because she is “Wacky” and “Deranged.”
4. The media didn’t listen to ManigaultNewman when she praised Trump.
Point number 4 seems wholly irrelevant. It’s natural, for obvious reasons, for a former White House aide who is critical of a president she worked for to get a lot more media attention than a normal White House aide. The point is also in contradiction with 3 since if she is “Wacky” and “Deranged” the press should avoid her at all times.
Point number 1, if true, makes point 2 irrelevant and strange. After all, if Trump never used the n-word at all, he doesn’t need Mark Burnett to tell him no tape exits. Trump himself would know that no tape exists.
In sum, Trump is in the dream world of kettle logic, making whatever arguments he think will stick, no matter their internal coherence.
More and more Trump allies are caught in family feuds.
Monday was a day of family quarrelling in the Trump circle as uncle turned against nephew, son against father, and husband against wife.
It began with a much-read Politico article where Dr. David S. Glosser denounced his nephew Stephen Miller, a White House advisor, as a “hypocrite.” Glosser argued that Miller’s nativism was a betrayal of the family’s history as Jews who fled persecution in Europe:
I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses— the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants — been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom. The Glossers came to the U.S. just a few years before the fear and prejudice of the “America first” nativists of the day closed U.S. borders to Jewish refugees....I would encourage Stephen to ask himself if the chanting, torch-bearing Nazis of Charlottesville, whose support his boss seems to court so cavalierly, do not envision a similar fate for him.
The same day, Bobby Goodlatte tweeted out criticism of his father, retiring Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte, for his treatment of fired FBI agent Peter Strzok:
In a signing and speech at Fort Drum, Trump again showed his disdain for John McCain.
The president and vice president both spoke at the military base, where the president signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. But in touting the new bill, which they celebrated for increasing military spending, neither men uttered the name of John McCain. The senator, who has been fighting brain cancer for a year, was an unperson at the event.
Trump and McCain have long been political foes, despite belonging to the same party. In 2015, Trump notoriously said of McCain, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.” Trump later pretended not to have said McCain wasn’t a hero and never apologized for these words.
Later, after Trump won the presidency, McCain proved to be the decisive vote against Trump’s signature policy of repealing Obamacare. Trump continues to take jibes as McCain at rallies, notably when the president visited Nevada this past June:
Trump’s continued belittling of McCain speaks to the president’s pettiness and also his desire to remake the Republican Party in his image by casting aside all internal critics. The fact that Vice President Mike Pence followed the president’s lead in this matter shows that Trump’s campaign against McCain is shaping how others in the GOP treat the ailing senator.
Trump believes there are nations whose names are pronounced “Nipple” and “Button.”
Politico has published a comprehensive investigation of the president’s knowledge of the outside world, coming to some alarming conclusions. “Several times in the first year of his administration, President Donald Trump wanted to call Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the middle of the afternoon,” the news outlet reports. “But there was a problem. Midafternoon in Washington is the middle of the night in Tokyo—when Abe would be fast asleep.”
The president had a hard time being cognizant of time-zones and other basic information about foreign nations and leaders. “He wasn’t great with recognizing that the leader of a country might be 80 or 85 years old and isn’t going to be awake or in the right place at 10:30 or 11 p.m. their time,” a former Trump NSC official told Politico. “When he wants to call someone, he wants to call someone. He’s more impulsive that way. He doesn’t think about what time it is or who it is.”
Basic geography is also a problem for the president. Shown a map of Asia, he was puzzled by the nations nestled next to India, Nepal and Bhutan. “What is this stuff in between and these other countries?” he asked advisors. When informed of their names, the president took to calling those countries Nipple and Button. In the same spirit, Trump also imitated the accent of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
James Carafano, vice president for foreign policy at the Heritage Foundation, defended the president’s lack of rudimentary knowledge of the outside world. “If people are looking for more polish and more kind of conventional statecraft and that’s their metric for Trump learning, I think they’re going to be disappointed,” Carafano told Politico. “I don’t think he sees those as faux pas; I think he sees them as, ‘Look, I do things differently.’ If you say, ‘That’s not how things are done,’ he says, ‘Who says? Where is it written down that I can’t do that?’”
FBI fires agent over anti-Trump texts, fanning partisan flames.
The Washington Post is reporting that Strzok, a 22-year veteran of the agency who once led the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, was fired on Friday. Strzok became a controversial figure once it was revealed that he had written anti-Trump text messages. After reports of those texts were made known to special counsel Robert Mueller last summer, he removed Strzok from the Russia investigation.
As the newspaper notes, “Aitan Goelman, Strzok’s lawyer, said FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich ordered the firing on Friday—even though the director of the FBI office that normally handles employee discipline had decided Strzok should face only a demotion and 60-day suspension. Goelman said the move undercuts the FBI’s repeated assurances that Strzok would be afforded the normal disciplinary process.” If the firing was done for political purposes, it could run afoul of laws that protect the free speech of federal employees.
The president used Strzok’s firing to post a tweet designed to discredit the Mueller investigation:
As The Washington Post makes clear, the firing is part of a larger pattern: “Strzok is the third high-ranking FBI official involved in the Clinton and Russia investigations to be fired amid an intensely political backdrop. Trump removed Comey as the bureau’s director and said he did so thinking of the Russia case. Attorney General Jeff Sessions later removed Comey’s deputy, McCabe, after the inspector general alleged he lied about a media disclosure related to Clinton.”
Ryan Zinke: There are too many trees in the forest.
After touring several neighborhoods ravaged by the Carr Fire on Sunday, the Interior secretary said large, healthy trees must be removed from national forests to prevent the spread of wildfire flames. “It doesn’t matter whether you believe or don’t believe in climate change,” Zinke said. “What is important is we manage our forests.” Zinke also blamed environmental groups for the state’s devastating wildfire season, saying their opposition to industrial logging operations has worsened the tree problem.
This is not a new argument, and it’s a hotly contested one. While America’s forests are overgrown—thus providing more fuel for flames to quickly spread—dead trees and underbrush are considered greater problems. California’s forests have more than 100 million dead trees. The U.S. Forest Service is supposed to help manage this, but historically has had to spend most of its $600 million budget on directly fighting fires. In March, Trump signed legislation to give the Forest Service an additional $2 billion to manage forests, but it doesn’t go into effect until 2020.
Trump should have known Omarosa would stab him in the back.
Omarosa Manigault was open about it from day one of the first season of The Apprentice, back in 2004: She was not here to make friends. She was the show’s heel and its breakout star. Vicious and cutthroat, she would cross anyone to get ahead. She didn’t win, of course—the heel never wins, even in reality television—but her ability to draw ratings meant she kept coming back. She would go on to appear on (and be fired from) The Celebrity Apprentice twice, making numerous enemies, including Piers Morgan, in the process.
Omarosa’s whole character was built around being a ruthless competitor: She wanted to win at any cost. And while she would later deny that the character of Omarosa was anything like her true self—she called it a “a gross misrepresentation of who I am” that was performed for “ratings”—she is a true product of the reality television age, a person who will go any distance for ratings.
Trump, the greatest heel in American politics, may have seen a kindred spirit in Omarosa. His decision to bring her on as special assistant to the president raised eyebrows, as it was the kind of thing that late-night television hosts joked about when no one expected him to win the 2016 election. In Trump’s telling, he hired her out of pity, not respect:
Trump knew what Omarosa was like on The Apprentice, but hired her anyway. She then acted in the White House as she did on The Apprentice. But Trump didn’t hire her for her professionalism—he did so because she “said GREAT things about” him. Trump may be a heel, but he melts whenever anyone compliments him. Omarosa, meanwhile, has continued playing her character, goading the president of the United States into the kind of fight she would oftengetinto with Piers Morgan on The Celebrity Apprentice. It may very well push her book to number one on Amazon and The New York Times Bestseller List.
A new Gallup poll found that just 47 percent of Democrats and people who lean Democratic have a positive view of capitalism, the lowest percentage since Gallup started measuring the issue in 2010. Meanwhile, 57 percent of the same respondents felt positively about socialism. Among all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, opinion of capitalism is lowest among young adults (ages 18-29): 45 percent have a positive view of capitalism, versus 51 for socialism.
But the real story in Gallup’s data isn’t necessarily voters’ opinion of socialism. Among Democrats, attitudes toward socialism have remained relatively static; in 2016, during the heat of the Democratic presidential primary between a democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, 58 percent of Democrats said they had a positive view of socialism—roughly even with the new poll. But positive views of capitalism among Democrats dropped precipitously over that period, by nearly ten points. Among young voters of all political persuasions, favorable opinions of capitalism have dropped 12 points since 2016.
The poll isn’t entirely good news for the country’s resurgent democratic socialists. Among Democratic voters, a decline in support for capitalism did not translate to increased support for socialism; and among young voters, positive views of socialism have fallen four points since 2016 . But it is clear that the party’s base is disillusioned with capitalism.