Stuff to Read

Trump is making a public announcement this afternoon and is expected to make some kind of offer to the Dems to end the shutdown. Why he couldn’t just do that in a meeting … well, it’s Trump. He just wants attention.

You may have been following the Buzzfeed story about Cohen being ordered to lie to Trump, followed by a statement from the Mueller investigation that the Buzzfeed story contained inaccuracies. Josh Marshall had some interesting observations on this (may be behind paywall):

There have been tons of stories, a number of which seem to have been erroneous or significantly incorrect. Mueller’s office has felt no need to correct them. The answer here has to be that this claim was so damning, so specific to the legitimacy of the presidency that Mueller or his overseers felt it was necessary to correct the record.

This is a case where it’s important to remember Rod Rosenstein’s role in overseeing the investigation. Rosenstein should know all relevant major details of the investigation. As far as we know he has steadfastly resisted any attempts to meddle with or interfere with the probe. But if a story like this is out there, this damning to the President and is in some material and significant way wrong, it quite plausible to me that he would have insisted the Mueller’s office release a statement. It’s equally plausible that the decision was Mueller’s.

Marshall goes on to present an argument that the story possibly came from leaks in the Southern District New York office, not from Mueller’s team.

We don’t know what’s really being disputed here. Maybe the idea that Trump explicitly told Cohen to lie is just totally bogus. But my sense is that it’s not quite that clear cut. The dispute about facts and I suspect the breakdown in the sourcing of information likely stems from the relationship between these two offices — New York US Attorney’s Office (SDNY) and Mueller’s office — different propensities to leak, different levels of knowledge of the case, different strategies about what they’re investigating.

Buzzfeed, meanwhile, is standing by its story. The story may turn out to be substantially true, although if Mueller’s team says there are inaccuracies there must be something wrong.

Other Stuff:

Politico ran a story last week documenting that at least half of Americans still don’t know that Trump was never a self-made successful businessman.

Large swaths of the public believe the Trump myth. Across three surveys of eligible voters from 2016 to 2018, we found that as many as half of all Americans do not know that he was born into a very wealthy family. And while Americans are divided along party lines in their assessment of Trump’s performance as president, misperceptions regarding his financial background are found among Democrats and Republicans.

The narrative of Trump as self-made is simply false. Throughout his life, the president has downplayed the role his father, real estate developer Fred Trump, played in his success, claiming it was “limited to a small loan of $1 million.” That isn’t true, of course: A comprehensive New York Times investigation last year estimated that over the course of his lifetime, the younger Trump received more than $413 million in today’s dollars from his father. While this exact figure was not known before the Times’ report, it was a matter of record that by the mid-1980s, Trump had been loaned at least $14 million by his father, was loaned at least $3.5 million more in 1990, had borrowed several more million against his inheritance in the 1990s after many of his ventures failed, and had benefited enormously from his father’s political connections and co-signing on loans early in his career as a builder.

This is the interesting part:

What happens when Americans learn of the president’s privileged background? In a 2018 survey, we provided half the respondents the following question, which was intended to impart Trump’s biographical information: To what extent were you aware that Donald Trump grew up the son of wealthy real estate businessman Fred Trump, started his business with loans from his father, and received loans worth millions of dollars from his father in order to keep his businesses afloat?

What happens is that there is a substantial drop in approval for Trump, especially among Republicans. There is less of a drop among Democrats because they didn’t like him, anyway.

The larger point is that Trump’s many business failures and dependence on his wealthy father were well known before Trump announced for president in 2015. We didn’t know how much Trump was dependent on his father before the Times expose, but there are reports of Fred bailing out his boy Donald when he was about to crash going way back. But little of that got into news stories about Trump, especially not television news.  People heard about Trump’s many divorces but not about the fact that he was a massive screwup at business who got money showered on him by his father.  How many election cycles do we have to go through complaining that political news coverage simply doesn’t do the job of providing voters with the information about candidates they need to know?

21 thoughts on “Stuff to Read

  1. Trump is a big bag of shit.. To give you an example. Back sometime in the 90's when Trump was crafting his image as the master builder one of the TV programs ( 60 minutes,20/20, Dateline,?) did a puff piece on Trump showcasing his prowess as a supreme entrepreneur and master builder.

    During the interview Trump was standing across the street from one of his high rise buildings with the host of the program. As they were looking at the building Trump pointed out that one of the balconies on —like on the eighth floor  —was out of level. The TV host commented that he couldn't see any of the balconies being out of level. Trump intimated that because he had such a critical eye as a master builder that he was able see a construction flaw than couldn't seen by an untrained eye. He followed up by saying that he would have his men fix it.

     I would assume that most people who aren't familiar with high rise steel construction would get the impression that the balconies are attached to the structure independent of the steel framework. There is no way a balcony would be out of level without the entire building being messed up. Like they are affixed by somebody using a 4ft level..Nunzio's Balcony and Portico Service? "Hey, Vito, your end has to come up about a quarter of an inch"

    It's things like that that makes you understand what a fraud and con artist Trump is. He's a big bag of shit who promotes himself by means of people's ignorance and lack of knowledge.


  2. You can show tRUMP's and the GOP's base all of his and his daddy's bank records and the inheritance documents, and  those deplorable dim/nit/half/fuck-wits will scream, "FAKE NEWS!", and say that all of the "evidence" was created by the "Deep State" (which should from now on, be known as the 'Derp State).

    And 'Derp State Donnie' will do what he can to keep stirring-up his "Deplorables."

    tRUMP will not go 'quietly into that bad night.

    And neither will his Deplorables.

  3. WOW!

    What a roof-raising, rafter-shaker THAT tRUMP speech was!  NOT!!!!!!!!!

    I wanna take a nap…

    But the thought of the millions and millions of people affected by tRUMP's moronic shutdown, won't let me sleep peacefully. 

    tRUMP, on the other hand, will sleep like a baby.

    A fat, sated, orange, sociopathic man-child.


  4. Anastasia Edel writes of Agent Orange in a brilliant piece today in the NYT.  As a Russian by birth she sees another perspective.  Here is a tease:

    Twenty-two years later, we, heirs to Mr. Gorbachev’s perestroika and the dreams of our dissident fathers, are staring at the chilling reality of an American president not calling for a wall to be torn down but fighting to put one up. A president who sends American troops to stave off, not shelter, the hungry and the poor. A president who doesn’t care about sharing Reagan-like optimism with Russians but who is so hungry for deals that would expand his business empire, exporting ’80s-style American excess and glitzy hotels to Moscow, that he may be willing to commit crimes to do so.

    Yes, calling for, demanding, throwing tantrums over, an iron curtain, a steel curtain, a concrete wall which will satisfy his need for a hate symbol to satisfy Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter.

  5. The 'offer' was the pretense of an offer. Trump offered DACA people what they already have. The courts have shut down the deportation of DACA recipients and Trump only offered them three years protoection. The USSC has refused to take up the case so the current protection is there. What was Trump offering? The illusion of an offer.

    When Trump offers full DACA with a path to citizenship, I will be the first to argue we should negotiate. That wasn't the offer, but you won't hear from Fox that the offer was smoke and mirrors.

    WHY did Trump bother? 1) He's getting the blame. 2) The shutdown is hurting the economy. Consumer confidence is going down – that affects spending. 3) Trump wants to pretend for the base that he's making valid concessions while making none. 4) The shutdown is a partial distraction from Russian news. 5) Trump has painted himself in a corner and has no idea how to get out.

  6. To address the Buzzfeeed report separately. It doesn't make sense that the facts and evidence of Trump obstruction and the underlying motive for obstruction isn't way more serious than what's in the proven factual public record. IMO, whatever I've figured out is only half of what Mueller has. Or less than half. 

    IF members of Congress were going off on an impeachment tear based on false evidence, Mueller may have reined them in to prevent even the pursuit of investigating obstruction when the investigation would fail. Again, just my opinion, but Mueller may want to restrain flawed impeachment proceedings until the facts of obstruction (and the evidence of Trump's motives) are in the open. 

    It's 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf' written presidential. Pursue any impeachment thread and be wrong, Trump will seize on that as proof nothing else is true. I don't think Mueller was doing Trump any favors by preventing Congress from engaging in a wild goose chase – not when Mueller knows exactly where true crimes were committed.

  7. Shutting down the government as a pressure tactic is a tyrant's move, which suits Trump. Forcing government workers to labor without pay is enslavement; abandoning public commitments is betrayal. And shutting down the government violates his oath to execute the nation's laws.

    Therefore, to protect the republic, Pelosi should stand her ground. He must gain nothing from the shutdown, lest he do it again.

    Whatever it takes. However long. Impeach him by candlelight if necessary.

    Also I recommend that Congress pass legislation preventing any other shutdowns.

  8. doug…I agree with your assessment about the Buzzfeed report. I suspect Mueller just wanted to put a damper on the story because it claimed more than Mueller was prepared to divulge by letting the story run wild at this time. I'm sure Mueller has the goods on Trump but isn't able to present it in such a simplistic cut and dried manner as the Buzzfeed report describes it to be.

    I still believe that the Mueller report is going to be a whopper, and nothing Trump does in the way of  trying to suppress it will overcome the public's desire to get all the details of what transpired between Trump and the Russians.

  9. The Politico finding that puncturing Trump's myth causes Republicans to think worse of him is important. True, the Mueller report may provide the final nails for Trump's coffin, but Republicans are largely discounting that now. Cognitive dissonance shows that many of his supporters will choose to disbelieve such evidence against Trump rather than give up their defense of Trump in which they have invested so much emotional energy over the years. But they have not invested much in the Trump myth as a self made businessman and master negotiator, since the post election attacks on Trump have focused on Trump's racism, greed, immorality, and possible criminality. All the pollsters had to do was to present the facts in a poll question. As Lewis Black pointed out when Trump threw his hat into the ring, how can a man run the country who can't even make money on a casino? Trump is quite vulnerable to having his image pricked. The availability of the internet is important, because citizens whose local news sources are biased in Trump's favor, can still check out questions about Trump's myth with a few internet searches. 

  10. I kinda thought that Mitch McConnell was teaching Trump a lesson by refusing to bail his ass out over Trump's impetuous decision to shutdown the government. I'm beginning to realize that Mitch has been in Trump's pocket all along as a supporting lackey with his only intention being that of serving Trump's reckless agenda.

     This one goes out to the little butt marble from Kentucky. An affirmation to his master.

  11. Swami:" little butt marble from Kentucky "

    I just think that phrase should be read again! I didn't watch tRumps "speech" who has the stomach for that? From what I understand he's offered to give back some things that he took away (dreamer protections) and that the courts have already said he can't have! Obviously not a real offer, that being said I'm not so sure the democrats should just reject it without at least having some sort of counter offer? I suggest meeting him halfway on the money (2.85 billion) and taking his deal with added language:"that is all the money you will get for your wall until after the 2020 election"! I think that is a good deal, tRump can claim victory but everyone including his base will know that Nancy stole his lunch!

  12. Swami:" little butt marble from Kentucky "

    I just think that phrase should be read again! I didn't watch tRumps "speech" who has the stomach for that? From what I understand he's offered to give back some things that he took away (dreamer protections) and that the courts have already said he can't have! Obviously not a real offer, that being said I'm not so sure the democrats should just reject it without at least having some sort of counter offer? I suggest meeting him halfway on the money (2.85 billion) and taking his deal with added language:"that is all the money you will get for your wall until after the 2020 election"! I think that is a good deal, tRump can claim victory but everyone including his base will know that Nancy stole his lunch!

  13. Does Mueller know about the psychology behind inoculating against shock value?   Or in other words, prosecutors don’t try to create a callousness in observers that makes them lessen crimes in their own minds, when they want an honest justice that fits the crime.

    Trump gets away with a hundred times more than any actual stable genius President could, because too many people have some kind of mental defense which results in callousness.  Good guys just trying their best get slammed when they make the inevitable honest mistake.  But bad guys get away with murder when it’s perceived that they cannot be controlled.  An average Joe knows he might be able to control another regular Joe, but a billionaire with incorrigible destructive mental issues, not so much.  So many people (IMO, of authoritarian mindset) unconsciously hope some higher power might have control.

    Still, I’ve never completely understood why people who cannot be controlled (incorrigible assholes), are given such a pass by so many otherwise normal people.  I knew Trump was a control freak sociopath way back when he didn't pay contractors for honest work rendered.  I wouldn't let a guy like that anywhere near real power.  But many didn't care.

  14. uncledad – There's a serious ethical problem with any compromise in exchange for ending the shutdown. It ensures another hostage-taking event. It's obvious that McConnell did not want a shutdown. It's equally obvious why. A shutdown hurts the party that the public blames for the shutdown and that's the GOP. Trump claimed credit for the shutdown in advance on camera.

    Trump is negotiating by terrorism, creating misery for millions of federal employees and contractors as a bargaining strategy. If Democrats reward it, the result will be more terrorism. God only knows who the victims willbe next time. Regardless of cost. this also has to net Republicans nothing – that will end the tactic forever. (I hope.) AFTER the shutdown is ended, I'm fine about giving ground in negotiations – Trump will also have to give in those negotiations. But give Trump NOTHING in exchange for honoring the obligation we have to the people who work for us.

  15. Doug, I agree we shouldn't reward tRumps terrorism, ethically it is wrought with unintended consequences, but this is politics, eventually the shutdown needs to end, there is going to have to be compromise. My fear is the longer this goes on the more likely the blame will spread to "washington dc" in general, meaning the democrats are going to take a big hit as well. I say it's best for all concerned (not the least of which are federal employees working without pay) to end this sooner than later. Trump has laid a deal on the table that if tweaked can be a real win for Pelosi and our side! I say cut a deal sooner rather than later.

  16. uncledad… I totally disagree that the Dem's should make some sort of a counter offer in the midst of a hostage situation. To do that, Trump would have succeeded in perpetrating a shakedown of the American people and the American political system. 

    It's not about the money or the wall…It's a spiritual battle of who defines America and our values. It all stems back to his "America First" bullshit where he divides humanity by his selective criteria. Two thoughts that have been expressed in our history as a nation pop out to me when I consider what a scourge Trump has been to our nation.. One, from Lincoln, and also expressed in the bible…A house divided against itself cannot stand. And two, from Dr. Martin Luther King…Judge a man by the content of his character, not by the color of his skin.

     Trump has cultivated racial divisions by distorting perceptions and exacerbating misconceptions toward anyone who doesn't fit into the mold of what he constitutes to be an America. He's a big bag of shit, and it's far better to endure the pain of a shutdown now without compromise than to acquiesce to the demands of a hostage situation. He's got to be broken or it will continue on and only get worse.

    If you give an inch..He'll take a mile!

  17. Trump's 'offer' gives Dreamers the protection they have from the courts and no commitment they will have permanent legal status or a path to citizenship. Ann Coulter slammed the offer that Trump made – Jabba the Hut hasn't weighed in but I suspect Limbaugh will demand all or nothing. SO the offer Trump made probably won't be honored, much less tweaked. But let's pretend Trump can negotiate.

    Permanent legal status would be the least that would get my attention and there's not a snowball's chance in hell Trump can offer that. The 'offer' Coulter and Limbaugh will demand would enable eventual deportation of Dreamers but the wall would be permanent. The only thing we 'get' is that people in the federal government would be paid for their work. 

    What will we have to give up if Trump wants to starve the elderly? What will we concede to prevent Trump from confiscating children at the border? We can't enable negotiation by extortion. It will become the normal way Trump deals with divided government. I was a federal employee who could not strike. I DO identify with the plight of federal workers. Sooner or later there will be an air disaster. We can't even allow Trump to save face until AFTER he re-opens government.

  18. Thanks Doug for mentioning the Ann Colter tweet of opposition.  Trump is compromised in several ways it seems.  He sold out to more than the Russians, but also to Hate Media Celebrities and Moguls.  Now they play him like a puppet also.  When you negotiate with Trump he is a middle man for those he is sold out to who have him just where they want him.  I think Trump probably would claim control over them, but others close to him must know how much he is getting played.  They and the Russians know they own him.  He constantly grovels to both.  

    More and more he has no choice.  He has alienated way too many of the old journalistic standard bearers who understand why you do not make deals with those who profit from selling hate.  Just as he ran out of the more legitimate bankers by his defaults, and was left, apparently, only with Russian Oligarchs.

    He is in a box more perplexing than Schrodinger's cat.  He is neither politically alive or dead, but essentially both simultaneously.  



  19. Yes, the war over the wall is politics and will probably end with some sort of compromise. We may view it as a 3 person game: Trump vs. Pelosi vs. McConnell. McConnell may well hold the, ahem, trump card because

    1) The public gives little blame to the Republicans, mainly blaming Trump and then the Democrats.

    2) Trump is bluffing, and all three players know it by now. (That's why Trump is pretending to negotiate; it's a symbolic retreat.)

    3) Pelosi will not negotiate with Trump, either publicly or privately. Privately Trump does not negotiate in good faith. Publicly Pelosi cannot appear to back down to a bully.

    4) McConnell and Pelosi can negotiate. They have done so in the past, and they are the professionals in this game.

    However, McConnell cannot be seen to join Pelosi against Trump. Trump enjoys an 80%+ approval rating among Republicans. The Senate could pass a continuing resolution right now that would have veto proof majorities in both the Senate and the House. But that would spell disaster for McConnell in his own party. 

    The most likely way out would be for McConnell and Pelosi to reach a compromise with some face saving features for Trump. They may have to negotiate through lieutenants, because neither can be seen to negotiate, and Congress and the Senate leak like sieves. Maybe Lindsey Graham and Tim Kaine will announce a compromise and have a public meeting with Trump where he says he will sign it. Quien sabe?

  20. Well, I was right about McConnell having the best hand. But I did not see him joining Trump, at least not so soon. But McConnell sees this as the best way out for himself and the Republicans. He is probably right.

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