Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Monday, May 1st, 2017.


Today’s Embarrassment

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Trump Maladministration

David Remnick in The New Yorker:

This Presidency is so dispiriting that, at the first glimmer of relative ordinariness, Trump is graded on a curve. When he restrains himself from trolling Kim Jong-un about the failure of a North Korean missile test, he is credited with the strategic self-possession of a Dean Acheson. The urge to normalize Trump’s adolescent outbursts, his flagrant incompetence and dishonesty—to wish it all away, if only for a news cycle or two—is connected to the fear of what fresh hell might come next. Every day brings another outrage or embarrassment: the dressing down of the Australian Prime Minister or a shoutout for the “amazing job” that Frederick Douglass is doing. One day nato is “obsolete”; the next it is “no longer obsolete.” The Chinese are “grand champions” of currency manipulation; then they are not. When Julian Assange is benefitting Trump’s campaign, it’s “I love WikiLeaks!”; now, with the Presidency won, the Justice Department is preparing criminal charges against him. News of Trump’s casual reversals of policy comes with such alarming regularity that the impulse to locate a patch of firm ground is understandable. It’s soothing. But it’s untenable.

It’s Monday morning, so what fresh embarrassments and outrages do we have to start the week? Well, apparently someone has persuaded the so-called president that he’s the new Andy Jackson. So, naturally, he’s eager to talk about how great Andy Jackson was.

Trump appeared to praise Jackson, a slaveholder who was accused of slave trading and who owned approximately 150 people at the time of his death, as a “swashbuckler.”

“Had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War,” Trump said. “He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart.” (Jackson engineered the deaths of thousands of Native Americans while he was in office.)

“He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, ‘There’s no reason for this,’” Trump continued. “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

Yeah, nobody ever asks why there was a Civil War. You’d think someone would have at least written a book about it.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the House are still trying to pass a bill to gut Obamacare. In an interview with CBS’s John Dickerson yesterday, Trump revealed he either has no clue what’s in that bill, or he just has no compunction about lying about it. Of course, both could be true.

Much of the Trump interview centers on Trump claiming that new changes to the Republican health care bill will protect people with preexisting conditions. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite: An amendment to the AHCA introduced this week would give states authority to let insurers charge sick people higher premiums.

Dickerson starts with a relatively simple question that is basically: How will this bill help your supporters? Here is Trump’s response:

Preexisting conditions are in the bill. And I just watched another network than yours, and they were saying, “Preexisting is not covered.” Preexisting conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, “Has to be.”

The first iteration of the Republican bill, introduced in the House on March 6, kept Obamacare’s protections for people with preexisting conditions. But a new amendment introduced this week to win Freedom Caucus support changes all that. It caves to conservatives’ demand that to deregulate the insurance industry and let health plans once again use preexisting conditions to set premium prices.

It creates waivers that states can use to let health insurers charge sick patients higher premiums, a practice outlawed under current law.

Trump ended the interview abruptly when Dickerson pressed him on the “Obama had me wiretapped” claims.

There is continued consternation about Trump’s invitation to Philippine strongman Duterte to visit the White House, which I understand won’t happen. Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice brought up an angle news media have missed:

As Bloomberg reported back in November, Trump’s business partner in the Philippines was appointed special envoy to the US shortly after the election:

Century Properties Group Inc. of Manila, the company behind the $150 million tower that’s set to open next year, paid as much as $5 million to use the Trump name, in a licensing agreement that’s common for the president-elect. Trump has at least 10 similar licensing deals around the world, each of which might complicate his administration’s international diplomacy, according to ethics specialists.

But in Manila, there’s an extra connection: Century Properties’ chief executive and controlling stakeholder, Jose E.B. Antonio, was appointed last month to serve as a special government envoy to the U.S. for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has vowed to expel American troops from his country and ranted against President Barack Obama. Antonio says he sees no conflict between his public role and private partnership.

What a coincidence — Trump also doesn’t see any conflicts between his public role and private business dealings.

Embarrassed yet? That’s barely scratching the surface, an it’s only Monday. What fresh hells await?

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