President Tough Guy

 

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At the Republican National Convention

 

(h/t LGM)

Twice a day since the beginning of the Trump administration, a special folder is prepared for the president. The first document is prepared around 9:30 a.m. and the follow-up, around 4:30 p.m. Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer both wanted the privilege of delivering the 20-to-25-page packet to President Trump personally, White House sources say.

These sensitive papers, described to VICE News by three current and former White House officials, don’t contain top-secret intelligence or updates on legislative initiatives. Instead, the folders are filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons (those lower-third headlines and crawls), admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful.

 

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Ibid

That alt-right RED PILL idiots bought into the most talentless con-man in American history is the only thing maybe more funny than the “fuck your feelings” crowd thinking the tenderest and most ludicrously sensitive manchild in American history a new Ceaser.

This will be less funny when we go to nuclear war with North Korea. Or maybe more funny. Who knows?

 

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“The Education of Donald Trump”: Politico Accidentally Shows Why Everything is Scary. (Bonus! The Most Newt Gingrich Quote Ever)

 

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“They might even impeach him! Who’s ever heard of such a thing!”

 

I don’t really have time to get into the fullness of how depressing and terrifying and bitterly funny this Politico article, “The Education of Donald Trump”, really is. It’s about how none of them knew that being President would be hard, and how it is especially hard because Trump doesn’t take the job seriously. It isn’t so much his education as how the people around him are learning how to manipulate him. I’ll just put in a few choice quotes.

He turned to his relationships with world leaders. “I have a terrific relationship with Xi,” he said, referring to the Chinese president, who Trump recently invited for a weekend visit at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

By all reports, they got along fine. Which is to be expected; only for Trump is not insulting a foreign leader the mark of a great relationship. But he won’t shut up about it. He mentions his great relationship with Xi once a day.  It’s like how he constantly brags about getting a Supreme Court nominee on the bench, when he has an open seat and a Senate majority. That’s literally the least you can do, you idiot.

Trump remains reliant as ever on his children and longtime friends for counsel. White House staff have learned to cater to the president’s image obsession by presenting decisions in terms of how they’ll play in the press. Among his first reads in the morning is still the New York Post.

I bet he still cuts out pages where he’s mentioned and sends them to friends, circling his name with his childlike hands. “They wrote about me again, Reince! I’m on the cover. Are you?”

As president, Trump has repeatedly reminded his audiences, both public and private, about his longshot electoral victory. That unexpected win gave him and his closest advisers the false sense that governing would be as easy to master as running a successful campaign turned out to be. It was a rookie mistake.

It’s not a rookie mistake; it’s an idiot mistake. Who would ever think that? How could any human think that?

As he sat in the Oval Office last week, Trump seemed to concede that even having risen to fame through real estate and entertainment, the presidency represented something very different.

Like with healthcare being complicated, this is something that no one knew.

Between Priebus and Vice President Mike Pence, who once served in House leadership, Trump thought he had the experts he needed and wouldn’t have to worry about Congress that much. But Priebus is a political insider, not a congressional one. And Pence, who was governor of Indiana before joining Trump’s ticket, has been absent from the Hill during the rise of the House Freedom Caucus, the ideological hardliners who delivered Trump the most stinging defeat of his young presidency.

Hey, not to belabor it, but these are things people knew in advance. Like, did you not know that Priebus has never had office? Leadership!

As Trump is beginning to better understand the challenges—and the limits—of the presidency, his aides are understanding better how to manage perhaps the most improvisational and free-wheeling president in history. “If you’re an adviser to him, your job is to help him at the margins,” said one Trump confidante. “To talk him out of doing crazy things.”

Maybe you shouldn’t have helped get a guy who does crazy things elected! That was something you cold have done that was a little nobler, Mr. Confidante. Or Mrs. This might actually be Ivanka.

But they’re learning. One key development: White House aides have figured out that it’s best not to present Trump with too many competing options when it comes to matters of policy or strategy. Instead, the way to win Trump over, they say, is to present him a single preferred course of action and then walk him through what the outcome could be – and especially how it will play in the press.

“You don’t walk in with a traditional presentation, like a binder or a PowerPoint. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t consume information that way,” said one senior administration official. “You go in and tell him the pros and cons, and what the media coverage is going to be like.”

This is literally saying that the President is a child who can’t handle making decisions, but if you tell him something will make Steve Doocey happy, he’ll do it. “He doesn’t consume information that way” is the polite way of saying “The President is a vastly unqualified idiot, and I mean that in every sense: there is nothing to qualify or ameliorate his idiocy, and he should not be President, and every day I work for him I am complicit in this disaster.” Granted, that’s a mouthful, but it is the whole story.

But the really prize isn’t really anything to do with Donald Trump. It is how Newt Gingrich, sycophant to the stars, justifies Trump having problems.

“I think he’s much more aware how complicated the world is,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who serves as an informal administration adviser. “This will all be more uphill than he thought it would be because I think he had the old-fashioned American idea that you run for office, you win, then people behave as though you won.”

Now, obviously, I didn’t hear Newt say this, but you can hear it. It’s a sneer against the liberals. He is obviously being sarcastic about “old-fashioned American idea”, and how it really shouldn’t be old-fashioned, but should be respected. Trump won, and the Democrats aren’t letting him do so. What happened to decency?

Newt Gingrich is saying this. Newt Gingrich. About Donald Trump. Donald Trump, whose political career started by literally saying for five years that Barack Obama wasn’t a US citizen and so an illegitimate President. And it wasn’t just Trump: Gingrich said this about him in 2010“What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?…This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president.” 

I guess he is saying that Obama was President, but it isn’t exactly behaving as though he won.

He’s saying this after the GOP did everything they could to obstruct the Obama administration, even nullifying his Constitutional duty to appoint a Supreme Court justice.

And, holy god, Newt Gingrich is talking about how no one is showing respect to the election results. Newt Gingrich impeached Bill Clinton over an affair. He shut down the government to try to force Clinton to do what he wanted. He had Congress investigate everything the Clintons had ever done. Again, just to be clear, he impeached a twice-elected President over an affair.

But listen to how aggrieved he is. How unfair the whole thing is. How victimized the Trump administration is by Democrats not recognizing his enormous mandate. There is no one, not even Ted Cruz, who is as self-righteously hypocritical and deeply unprincipled as Newt Gingrich. Mitch McConnell is cynical, but Newt actually believes this. He can say that and feel good about it.

This quote should be on Newt’s tombstone.

The Trump Voter, Revealed

NYTimes, (h/t Loomis at LGM, who actually analyzes this)

MERCED, Calif. — Jeff Marchini and others in the Central Valley here bet their farms on the election of Donald J. Trump. His message of reducing regulations and taxes appealed to this Republican stronghold, one of Mr. Trump’s strongest bases of support in the state.

As for his promises about cracking down on illegal immigrants, many assumed Mr. Trump’s pledges were mostly just talk. But two weeks into his administration, Mr. Trump has signed executive orders that have upended the country’s immigration laws. Now farmers here are deeply alarmed about what the new policies could mean for their workers, most of whom are unauthorized, and the businesses that depend on them.

“Everything’s coming so quickly,” Mr. Marchini said. “We’re not loading people into buses or deporting them, that’s not happening yet.” As he looked out over a crew of workers bent over as they rifled through muddy leaves to find purple heads of radicchio, he said that as a businessman, Mr. Trump would know that farmers had invested millions of dollars into produce that is growing right now, and that not being able to pick and sell those crops would represent huge losses for the state economy. “I’m confident that he can grasp the magnitude and the anxiety of what’s happening now.”

It is becoming increasingly clear that every Donald Trump voter just thought their man was only being serious when talking about screwing over someone else, but was joking around about how he’d make their life a disaster.

Well, I guess there were people concerned about EMAILS and the HINT OF CORRUPTION. You know, morons.

We Need to Talk Really Quick About Maureen Dowd

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There isn’t much to say about her latest column, which is basically that Trump might not have the right temperament to be President. It’s not, you know, incorrect, but it is without any demonstrable insight. It’s pretty typical Maureen Dowd. I just wanted to point out this part, while reminding you that this is in the New York Times, and not, say, the dot-matrix printed community newsletter of a particularly rundown condo board.

The new president will suddenly realize that Joe Biden is right. He needs to grow up. Chuck Schumer is right. He has to stop nonsense-tweeting and name-calling. John McCain is right. He needs to stop fawning over Vladimir Putin, his B.F.F. whose eyes flash “K.G.B.”

Donald Trump will, at long last, assume a mantle of dignity.

NOT!

Capitalization, and indeed, using a “not” joke that would have been hacky 25 years ago, are hers.

This has been your semi-regular reminder that Maureen Dowd is paid to do this.

APOLOGETIC UPDATE: As Diamond Mark Perrone pointed out, this was clearly a reference to Trump making a “NOT!” reference with Obama. Given the endless nonsense coming from him, I had forgotten about that. Given how hacky a writer Dowd is, I had assumed it was her “joke”. But this was not hacky. I retract my statement.

However, “his B.F.F. whose eyes flash ‘K.G.B.'” is hers.

Pence Pretends To Take The High Road

 

Mike Pence quieted the crowd at a rally in Carson City, Nevada, that was booing a women named Catherine Byrne who asked Pence about Donald Trump's treatment of members of the military on Aug. 1.

2016

 

 

(via Politico)

CARSON CITY, Nevada — The woman, in a quiet voice, stood before the crowd of hundreds at a town hall-style event here with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and announced that her son serves in the Air Force. The crowd applauded.

Did someone say veteran? Good, I like where this is going. I can work with this. Fingers crossed she says she was going to get an abortion but changed her mind, and her son killed bin Laden. That would be great. She’s about to say that, right?

But then the woman said, “Time and time again, [Donald] Trump has disrespected our nation’s armed forces and veterans. And his disrespect for Mr. Khan … ”

Wait, what the mudflap? Ah man, I really didn’t want to have to think about this. I issued a statement where I said that my candidate believes the opposite of what he keeps, keeps saying. God in Muncie, he won’t shut up about it. Uh oh- I think I hear the ritual Bellowing of Lungs.

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TRONC! Today is a TRONC Day. TRONC Today. TRONC Forever.

It’s somehow completely slipped this blog’s mind to talk about the Tribune Company rebranding itself as TRONC: Tribune Online Content. I don’t think I really wanted to think about it, or believe it, for while the Tribune has frequently lost its damn mind, I still wanted it to be, you know, a newspaper. But we are not! We are TRONC. TRONC. Say it loud and there’s music playing. Say it soft, and it’s almost like a robot staring unblinkingly at you while it dispassionately burns down your house.

How bad is it? Well, if you didn’t think it could get any worse than establishing itself as a “content curation and monetization engine”, then you haven’t been paying attention to the present. As Verge reported the other day, “the leaders of the Tronc empire unveiled phase two of their plan: the gradual transformation of the company into a series of video embeds.”

Does that not sound terrible? Then you haven’t watched the video.

 

Luxuriate in this hideousness. “The future of journalism. The future of content.” These two bloodless technobabblers are the vampiric  avatars of a joyless future. “Harness the power of local journalism. Feed it into a funnel. And then optimize it to reach the broadest global audience.” Sounds great! Except that it means “what’s trending on Reddit now? Trouble in Palestine? Waukesha? Nah, it’s a dog on a tricycle!”

Or, as The Verge puts it (and really, read their piece: it’s perfect).

The basic idea here is that Tronc will syndicate articles and videos across its properties. Which is fine! But there’s not much money in text, and so Tronc is leaning hard into video. Today, 16 percent of the company’s articles include an embedded video; that number will more than double to 50 percent next year. But what if the article I just wrote doesn’t make sense as a video, you might ask? Congratulations! You’ve just been laid off.

Look, it’s a different market. Video is important. We watch video, and it makes a profit. I totally get that. But the trick is not to gear journalism around video; it’s to make the video relevant to journalism. That’s what we’re losing. In a rush to be viral, to make every story “Seth Meyers CRUSHES Trump”, we lose something.

Basically, it’s this. At the end, the nice lady from the grimmest of all possible futures says, boldly, without any embarrassment, “We’re a content company. First. Last. And always.” Content. Content. In my day job, I am a “Senior Content Developer”, B2B and B2C. I work hard and try to write interesting articles, that help our clients but are also readable and engaging, and hopefully in which you can learn something. I try to do my best. But I know what content is. It’s marketing, plain and simple. To reduce everything to “content” is to erase what journalism is. To transform the Tribune papers, which include the excellent LA Times, is to damage our civic knowledge, our democracy, and probably our intelligence.

Luckily, it seems that other papers are trying to embrace the new world differently, letting Facebook be the guardian. It isn’t ideal, but it allows for journalism. TRONC is a way around that, trying to beat the reductors at their own game. Goddamn, I hope it fails.