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A Very Stable Genius review: dysfunction and disaster at the court of King Donald – The Guardian

In January 2018, Michael Wolffs Fire and Fury made headlines as it depicted a president out of control and a White House that careened from crisis to crisis. Donald Trump threatened legal action against author and publisher. He also lauded himself and his electoral college victory: I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius and a very stable genius at that!

Trumps outburst confirmed what many already feared. In the aftermath of the firing of FBI director James Comey in May 2017, Rod Rosenstein, then deputy attorney general, reportedly weighed secretly recording the president with an eye to removing him from office under the 25th amendment.

Now Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post offer A Very Stable Genius. As befitting Pulitzer winners for investigative reporting, their book is richly sourced and highly readable.

It sheds new light on how the 45th president tests the boundaries of the office while trying the patience and dignity of those who work for or with him. It is not just another Trump tell-all or third-party confessional. It is unsettling, not salacious.

Trump himself was quick to criticize the book, calling its authors two third rate Washington Post reporters. In a tweet on Saturday night, the president said the book was all for the purpose of demeaning and belittling a President who is getting great things done for our Country, at a record clip.

Rucker and Leonnig lift the curtain on internal battles over immigration and the attempt to replace John Kelly with Chris Christie as White House chief of staff. It also closely examines the scrum between Bill Barr, the attorney general, and Bob Mueller over Barrs handling of the special counsels report on Russian election interference and links between Trump and Moscow.

Trumps West Wing is tantamount to a family business and everything is personal

Trumps West Wing is tantamount to a family business and everything is personal. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump obtain security clearances because they are kin.

After publicly punting the issue to Kelly, Trump is described as applying pressure privately. I wish we could make this go away, he reportedly told Kelly. This is a problem. Said differently, protocols and national security were treated as impediments, not safeguards, when Javanka got involved.

When Trump cuts Kelly loose, Kushner and Ivanka are depicted as coveting the job. Their ambitions go unfulfilled but they continue to lurk in the background.

Told by Rudy Giuliani that Trump wants him as his chief of staff, Christie asks why he would want the job if Kushner isnt leaving. For record, as a federal prosecutor Christie sent Charlie Kushner, Jareds father, to prison for one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes on Christies watch.

Why the fuck am I going to take this job? the former New Jersey governor exclaims. You guys are nuts. Im not going in there.

Still, Ivanka purportedly telephoned Christies wife, Pat, to assure her bygones would be bygones. It didnt work.

A Very Stable Genius also chronicles the back and forth between Trumps lawyers and the special counsels office and the interplay between Barr and Mueller. Under George HW Bush, Barr was attorney general and Mueller headed the criminal division at the justice department. The two men were friends.

Yet when Barr rolled out his summary of Muellers report, Leonnig and Rucker write, the special counsel looked as if hed been slapped. When Mueller sent a rebuttal letter, objecting to Barrs summary, Barr was pissed, thought the letter nasty and felt personally betrayed. Barr and Mueller spoke by phone, a tense conversation that ended on an uplifting note.

As for Trump and name-calling, nothing has changed. As a candidate, he mocked John McCain, a gold star family, a Latino judge and a disabled reporter. Life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has not alloyed that spirit.

At a meeting in the Pentagons inner sanctum, the Tank, the draft-dodging Trump derided Americas generals as dopes and babies. He added: I wouldnt go to war with you people. Debasement was a coin of the realm.

When Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of homeland security and a Kelly deputy, balked at Trumps demands on immigration, he berated her looks and height. For good measure, according to the authors, Trump would call her at 5am, just for the sake of harassment.

After James Mattis advised Trump of his intent to resign as defense secretary, Trump moved his departure up two months. At a cabinet meeting, the president bragged that he had essentially fired the four-star general. For the president, policy differences invariably exploded into a matter of honor.

Mattiss resignation letter omitted any praise for the commander-in-chief. Because you have the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours, he wrote, I believe it is right for me to step down.

Likewise, Trump mocked HR McMaster, Michael Flynns replacement as national security adviser, for his mien and wardrobe. The scholarly McMaster was always on borrowed time.

Says one of McMasters aides, Trump doesnt fire people he tortures them until theyre willing to quit.

Clearly, Trumpworld has its share of casualties. Paul Manafort, a campaign manager, and Michael Cohen, a lawyer, sit imprisoned. Flynn and Roger Stone, a longtime political confidante, await sentencing.

Trumps allergy to reality remains on display. His contention he doesnt know Lev Parnas is belied by video and email. The US now admits 11 troops attacked by Irans missiles were treated for concussions.

Leonnig and Rucker quote Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution, who says Trump appears to be daring the rest of the political system to stop him and if it doesnt hell go further. The law has no force without people who are willing to enforce it.

As the Senate marches toward an impeachment trial and the countdown to the election ticks on, truer words have seldom been spoken.

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A Very Stable Genius review: dysfunction and disaster at the court of King Donald - The Guardian

This 2016 map doesn’t say what Donald Trump thinks it does – CNN

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Read this article:

This 2016 map doesn't say what Donald Trump thinks it does - CNN

Trump accuses Dems of using impeachment trial to hurt Sanders campaign – POLITICO

Trumps allegations are not new he has sporadically claimed for years that the Democratic establishment sought to undermine Sanders in 2016, as have Sanders own supporters but they come as Trump has accelerated his offensive against the Vermont senator, who continues to show strength in early polling.

Earlier this week, Trump sought to play up a feud between Sanders and Warren, who are battling for progressive voters, and his campaign has begun to single Sanders out in press releases and on social media more often rather than focusing more exclusively on Biden.

Trump has also recently stepped up his attacks on former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is pouring money into TV ads attacking Trump to boost his late-start bid.

But Sanders rejected Trump's "attempts to divide Democrats" in a statement Friday evening.

Lets be clear about who is rigging what: it is Donald Trumps action to use the power of the federal government for his own political benefit that is the cause of the impeachment trial," he said. "His transparent attempts to divide Democrats will not work, and we are going to unite to sweep him out of the White House in November.

When the trial begins in earnest on Tuesday, all senators will be required to attend each day of the proceedings for as long as they last.

But Sanders isnt the only 2020 candidate who will be kept off the campaign trail as the impeachment trial drags on.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), whom polls have shown is within striking distance in Iowa; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who is hoping for a come-from-behind victory in the Hawkeye State, and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), a longshot who has placed more stock in the New Hampshire primaries in less than a month, will all be sidelined by the proceedings.

The trial could be a huge boon to White House hopefuls like Biden and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who are clustered with Sanders and Warren at the top of the field. The senators currently running for president have all expressed disappointment at being kept off the campaign trail while pledging to fulfill their constitutional obligations and sending surrogates to campaign on their behalf.

Continued here:

Trump accuses Dems of using impeachment trial to hurt Sanders campaign - POLITICO

Trump lawyer dismisses new evidence, including photos of the president with Lev Parnas – NBCNews.com

Less than 12 hours after the White House announced President Donald Trumps impeachment trial defense team, new questions have emerged about connections between some of his lawyers and figures at the center of the Ukraine investigation.

A document dump from the House Judiciary Committee overnight Friday included more information about Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who is currently under federal indictment for his alleged role in the political pressure campaign in Ukraine.

The released documents included photos of Parnas with President Trump as well as shots of him with Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general who is among the lawyers on the president's impeachment team.

Trump has repeatedly said he does not know Parnas.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

Bondi, in an interview on NBC's "TODAY" on Saturday morning, dismissed the photos.

Clearly, Lev Parnas liked to take pictures with a lot of people, she said. "He showed up at events pretty much everywhere where Republicans were.

The Judiciary Committee's release also included information obtained by the FBI when they searched Parnas electronic devices. According to his electronic calendar, Parnas had a breakfast meeting scheduled with Trump in September, just days before Parnas was arrested.

I dont know what that matters, what theyre planning on doing with it, Bondi said when asked about how apparent evidence of the presidents relationship with Parnas might figure into Democrats' strategy at the trial. Were going to stick to the facts and stick to the law in this case.

Besides questions about possible connections of Parnas to the president and Bondi, another person on Trump's defense team drawing attention is Kenneth Starr, who in the 1990s oversaw investigations into President Bill Clinton that led to his impeachment. At that time, Trump called Starr a lunatic and a disaster.

Asked about Trump's prior comments on Starr, Bondi said, Clearly he does not think this now.

Ken Starr knows what hes doing," she said. "He has experience in this field.

Bondi also addressed the question of whether new witnesses might be called at the Senate trial, which is set to begin on Tuesday.

If they want to force a witness to be called, thats going to be discussed, Bondi said.

Katie Primm is a news producer at NBC News in New York for Today and News Specials.

View original post here:

Trump lawyer dismisses new evidence, including photos of the president with Lev Parnas - NBCNews.com

Trump is on trial for abuse of power the Davos elites should be in the dock too – The Guardian

As the Senate debates Donald Trumps future, chief executives, financiers and politicians will descend on Davos in the Swiss Alps for their annual self-congratulatory defense of global capitalism.

The events are not unrelated. Trump is charged with abusing his power. Capitalisms global elite is under assault for abusing its power as well: fueling inequality, fostering corruption and doing squat about climate change.

Chief executives of the largest global corporations are raking in more money and at a larger multiple of their workers pay than at any time in history. The worlds leading financiers are pocketing even more. The 26 richest people on Earth now own as much as the 3.8 billion who form the poorer half of the planets population.

Concentrated wealth on this scale invites corruption. Across the world, big money is buying off politicians to procure favors that further enlarge the wealth of those at the top, while siphoning off resources from everyone else.

Corruption makes it impossible to fight stagnant wages, climate change or any other problem facing the vast majority of the worlds population that would require some sacrifice by the rich.

Popular anger is boiling over against elites seen as irredeemably greedy, corrupt and indifferent

Popular anger is boiling over against elites seen as irredeemably greedy, corrupt and indifferent to the plight of most people struggling to get by. The anger has fueled uprisings in Chile, Spain, Ecuador, Lebanon, Egypt and Bolivia; environmental protests in the UK, Germany, Austria, France and New Zealand; and xenophobic politics in the US, the UK, Brazil and Hungary.

Trumps support comes largely from Americas working class whose wages havent risen in decades, whose jobs are less secure than ever and whose political voice has been drowned out by big money.

Although Trump has given corporations and Wall Street everything theyve wanted and nothing has trickled down to his supporters, he has convinced those supporters hes on their side by channeling their rage on to foreigners, immigrants, minorities and deep state bureaucrats.

It seems strangely appropriate, therefore, that the theme of this years Davos conclave is stakeholder capitalism the idea that corporations have a responsibility to their workers, communities and the environment as well as to their shareholders.

Expect endless speeches touting the long-term benefits of stakeholder capitalism to corporate bottom lines: happy workers are more productive. A growing middle class can buy more goods and services. Climate change is beginning to cost a bundle in terms of environmental calamities and insurance, so it must be stopped.

All true, but the assembled CEOs know theyll get richer far quicker if they boost equity values in the short term by buying back their shares of stock, suppressing wages, fighting unions, resisting environmental regulations and buying off politicians for tax cuts and subsidies.

This has been their strategy for three decades, and its about to get worse. Three researchers Daniel Greenwald at MITs Sloan School, Martin Lettau at Berkeley and Sydney Ludvigson at NYU found that between 1952 and 1988, economic growth accounted for 92% of the rise in equity values. But since 1989 most of the increase has come from reallocated rents to shareholders and away from labor compensation. In other words, from workers.

What this means is that in order for the stock market to do as well in coming years, either economic growth has to accelerate markedly (highly unlikely), or chief executives will have to siphon off even more of the gains from growth from workers and other stakeholders to their shareholders.

This is likely to require even more downward pressure on wages, more payoffs to politicians for tax cuts and subsidies and further rollbacks of environmental regulations. All of which will worsen the prevailing discontent.

There will be no mention at Davos of any of this, nor of the increasing political and economic power of these elites and the diminishing power of average workers and citizens around the world.

Nothing will be achieved in the Swiss Alps because the growing global discontent has yet to affect the bottom lines of the corporations and financial institutions whose leaders are assembling to congratulate themselves on their wealth, influence and benevolence.

Trump, meanwhile, is likely to be acquitted by Senate Republicans who are so cowardly and unprincipled that they will ignore his flagrantly unconstitutional acts.

Trump plans to speak at Davos, by the way: an impeached president addressing world economic leaders while being tried in the Senate. Hell probably boast about the stock market, bully and lie, as usual.

One thing he wont say is that the whatever-it-takes abuses of economic and political power such as he and much of his audience are engaged in threaten to destroy capitalism, democracy and the planet.

The rest is here:

Trump is on trial for abuse of power the Davos elites should be in the dock too - The Guardian

Why Donald Trump is so obsessed with Michael Bloomberg – CNN

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Why Donald Trump is so obsessed with Michael Bloomberg - CNN

Democrats describe how they will beat Donald Trump – CNN

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Democrats describe how they will beat Donald Trump - CNN

The Age of Illusions review: anti-anti-Trump but for what, exactly? – The Guardian

Winston Churchill supposedly said: Americans will always do the right thing, only after they have tried everything else. In his new book, Andrew Bacevich goes far towards proving the second half of that sentence and casts doubt on the first, without offering much in the way of alternatives.

In what is mostly a social history of the post-cold war era dont expect to find an analysis of the Balkan wars Bacevich seeks to chronicle how the US wasted little time in squandering the advantage it had gained. Few would disagree.

Yet he defines Americas supposed post-cold war consensus as globalized neoliberalism, global leadership, freedom (as the expansion of personal autonomy, with traditional moral prohibitions declared obsolete and the removal of constraints maximizing choice), and presidential supremacy. The 2016 election, he writes, presented the repudiation of that very consensus.

The villains in this telling are the elites who pushed the consensus heedless of other views or interests expectations raised, but unfulfilled; outraged citizens left with no place to stand to the point where Donald Trump was elected and no one could understand why.

In 2016, he writes, financial impotence was to turn into political outrage, bringing the post-cold war era to an abrupt end. As for the people who shop for produce at Whole Foods, wear vintage jeans and ski in Aspen, they never saw it coming and couldnt believe it when it occurred.

Bacevich argues that the seeds of this failure were present throughout the cold war, notably in Vietnam and Ross Perots insurgent White House run in 1992. But how could there ever have been a consensus if the country were so divided?

We have been here before, both in the history of the US and of ideology. Post-1989 featured the same universal self-congratulation and flinging up of caps that Thomas Carlyle critiqued in The French Revolution. Bacevich is right to criticize it again. But it is surely wrong to claim, for instance, that Reagans entire presidency was a pseudo-event, its achievements based on the masterful creation and manipulation of images. Mikhail Gorbachev, for one, doesnt think so.

Acerbic, even curmudgeonly his catalogue of Americas social ills is harsh but fair Bacevich veers between the commonplace and the sarcastic. The promotion of globalization included a generous element of hucksterism, he writes, the equivalent of labeling a large cup of strong coffee a grande dark roast while referring to the server handing it to you as a barista.

Clearly, for those who favor an expansive role for America and the west, and operating according to the principles of grand statecraft, the post-cold war years were the years the locust has eaten. Social mobility declined. The plight of the poor worsened. But JD Vance wrote more sensitively about this in Hillbilly Elegy and Bacevich adds little on either the wars or the peace.

Even if the Donald Rumsfeld-endorsed, technology-friendly Revolution in Military Affairs only purported to describe the culmination of a long evolutionary march toward perfection, which great power today does not rely on technology for military might? And what, other than isolationism, would preclude the possibility of another Vietnam?

Similarly, even as he chronicles their failures Bacevich is harshly critical of the view that presidents direct history. Abraham Lincoln, call your office. FDR too.

The elites Bacevich chides had many faults, and no president of the period left office fully content. But sometimes the authors strategy, as well as his history, is simply wrong.

The horrors of 9/11 notwithstanding, he writes, terrorism does not pose an existential threat to the United States and never has. As innumerable commentators have noted, terrorism is merely a tactic, and an ancient one at that.

Yet one nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day, as the bumper sticker read, and any leader is responsible for maintaining vigilance. Which threats can be ignored? Air piracy? Chemical weapons? Nuclear smuggling? Bacevich never offers what he would do to states harboring terrorists, even while noting failures in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The book starts out critical of Trump but then takes a more nuanced position. Chiding Barack Obama as the one who saved globalized neoliberalism and inadvertently laid the way for a powerful backlash, he says Trumps detractors commit this categorial error. They confuse cause and effect. They charge him with dividing America. Yet which other recent president attacked fellow citizens so harshly and took delight in smashing the norms of political debate?

Bacevich focuses on the neoconservative project in terms of wars but ignores its Burkean focus on domestic policy, not least David Brooks idea of national greatness conservatism, a very different thing than Maga. John McCain, who articulated a similar vision of national purpose, and whose policies were designed to help Joe the Plumber far more than Trump has, gets one brief mention.

Some people saw what was happening and sought to answer the question Rabbit Angstrom asked and Bacevich cites: Without the cold war, whats the point of being an American? They were ignored.

Bacevich now urges Americans to ignore the tweets and focus on events. But the tweets are events, the way in which the old guardrails are broken down and the boundaries of legitimate discourse weakened, which has let loose some very dangerous ideas, not least on race and republican norms. A tweet is not a notification to Congress under the War Powers Act.

Despite Bacevichs call for conversation on issues formerly beyond the pale such as abandoning globalism and militarism, his book has a fatal weakness: he never quite says what or who he is for. He is too good a historian not to know there was a tendency of anti-anti-communism during the cold war. Perhaps his book is about anti-anti-Trumpism. But the pale is there for a reason

One hopes some future historian will find the seeds of success in our present troubles. Meanwhile, Americans must pick up the pieces as best they can.

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The Age of Illusions review: anti-anti-Trump but for what, exactly? - The Guardian

NPR coverage of Trumps Milwaukee rally shows how hes broken the media – Vox.com

By almost any standard, President Donald Trumps rally on Tuesday evening in Milwaukee was a bizarre affair. The president went on a lengthy tirade about lightbulbs, toilets, and showers; touted war crimes; joked about a former president being in hell; and said hed like to see one of his domestic political foes locked up.

I tried to capture some of the speechs disconcerting oddness in my write-up of the event. In many ways, the remarks the president made were typical of him. And that provides the media with a challenge: Describing Trump as he really is can make it seem as if a report is anti-Trump and that the reporter is trying to make the president look foolish.

But for media outlets that view themselves as above taking sides, attempts to provide a sober, balanced look at presidential speeches often end up normalizing things that are decidedly not normal.

A brief report about Trumps Milwaukee speech that aired Wednesday morning on NPR illustrates this phenomenon. The anchors intro framed Trumps at times disjointed ramblings as a normal political speech that ranged widely, and the ensuing report (which originated from member station WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio) characterized his delivery as one in which he snapped back at Democrats for bringing impeachment proceedings.

Trump was taking on Democrats on their own territory, the reporter said, when in reality Trump heaped abuse on them, for instance, suggesting former Vice President Joe Biden is experiencing memory loss.

Listen for yourself:

On Twitter, Georgetown University public affairs professor Don Moynihan noted that NPRs report about the rally mentioned specific topics like Iran and impeachment but carefully omit the insane stuff. This is one way the media strives to present Trump as a normal president.

NPR is far from alone in struggling to cover Trump.

As I wrote following a previous Trump rally in Wisconsin last April, outlets including CBS, USA Today, the Associated Press, and the Hill failed to so much as mention in their reporting that Trump pushed dozens of lies and incendiary smears during his speech.

The irony is that the media is one of Trumps foremost targets of abuse. He calls the press the enemy of the people, yet the very outlets he demeans regularly bend over backward to cover him in the most favorable possible light.

The disconnect between the real Trump and the whitewashed version that emerges from mainstream reporting was captured nicely by Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor in a piece she wrote last September headlined, As a foreign reporter visiting the US I was stunned by Trumps press conference:

Ive read so many stories about his bluster and boasting and ill-founded attacks, Ive listened to speeches and hours of analysis, and yet I was still taken back by just how disjointed and meandering the unedited president could sound.

...

Id understood the dilemma of normalizing Trumps ideas and policies the racism, misogyny and demonization of the free press. But watching just one press conference [in real time] helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president can mask and normalize his full and alarming incoherence.

It is difficult to cover Trump, and it is important to honor the publics trust in the press by providing fair and balanced coverage. But we also have to pay attention to how much more alarming the unfiltered Trump is when compared to the sanitized version that often emerges in mainstream media reporting.

The news moves fast. To stay updated, follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter, and read more of Voxs policy and politics coverage.

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NPR coverage of Trumps Milwaukee rally shows how hes broken the media - Vox.com

We shouldnt have to pay for Trumps Wildwood visit so were keeping tabs, mayor says – NJ.com

One of Pete Byrons first jobs as mayor of Wildwood? Making sure everyone keeps tabs on how much President Donald Trumps upcoming rally will cost the city.

The mayor who was sworn in just days before hearing Trump would hold a rally in the Jersey Shore resort town said the city does not have a budget for the event but has asked their first responder departments, along with the public works department to keep detailed accounts for the costs incurred.

Byron said he does not see the costs being as high as some of the rallies held in bigger cities because of the limited access into Wildwood by way of the three roads in, along with the beach and ocean acting as a natural barrier behind the convention center, where the rally will be held on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.

Do I think that our taxpayers should foot the bill for this? Absolutely not," he said. "I will do my best to get a final tally, and I will certainly pass that on to the local Republican organization, and I hope that we get some sort of reimbursement for the event.

Cape May County Republican party chairman Marcus Karavan said there should be a focus on the economic impact of the Presidents visit.

The eyes of the entire country are on Cape May County and the City of Wildwood right now," Karavan said. "Rather than being short sighted and playing partisan politics, Mayor Byron should be thanking President Trump for bringing tens of thousands of visitors to the Wildwoods who will be spending money in local hotels, bars, and restaurants, including the one run by the county Democrat chairman, on a Tuesday in January when they would otherwise be shuttered.

Byron, who is succeeding longtime former Wildwood mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. on the three-person non-partisan commission, began the year focusing on placing new professionals into the city to help with tackling objectives such as boardwalk repairs, and revitalizing the citys downtown area.

Ive always said that when Wildwood was at its best, which was, in my opinion, the 70s and the 80s. You had the balance of the downtown and the boardwalk, Byron said. Now we have very little downtown and many of visitors at our boardwalk. People need other options other than the boardwalk. We are going to make a conscientious effort to do what we have to do to bring Pacific Avenue, which is the center of our downtown back.

Now the newly-minted Wildwood mayor of the town of 5,000 is focusing on preparations for the presidents visit to support Congressman Jeff Van Drew, a longtime Democrat who abruptly switched to the Republican party and pledged his own support to Trump.

The Wildwood mayor said he had heard estimates that 40,000 tickets had been issued for an event being held in a venue that can hold up to 7,400 people. There is also the possibility another 10,000 may show up to the city.

The President brings out the people who support him, as well as who oppose them or both," Byron said. "There is no in-between, and they are all very passionate. You are going to have protesters as well. You have to factor all of that into the equation, but theres going to be a lot of people out on the street.

Byron said that although the presidents visit is a political event, he is taking the personal perspective that party affiliations should be thrown out the door, and people should come to Wildwood and enjoy the historic moment.

It is no disrespect to the president, but I look at this more about the position versus the individual, and I think that we should bask in this opportunity, the mayor said. This is going to give Wildwood national exposure. The cost relative to the exposure, we would never be able to pay the advertising cost to get the type of exposure were going to get nationally, and then youre the middle of January when it is typically a ghost town down here.

Cape May County Administrator Elizabeth Bozzelli confirmed the countys Prosecutors Office, Sheriffs Office, and Office of Emergency Management would be involved in the event. The county would only be paying overtime costs associated with the people working the event, a procedure the county follows when other significant events and busier weekends occur during the year.

In the summer, Wildwood has about 150,000 people on any given day in July and August, Cape May County spokeswoman Diane Wieland told NJ Advance Media earlier this week. With fewer businesses open, it makes that more challenging, but it is Wildwood, and I have no doubt they can do this.

Wieland said that while plans have still not been finalized, there could be the possibility that the overflow crowds may be able to watch the speech outside at either nearby Fox Park or the boardwalk itself.

Chris Franklin can be reached at cfranklin@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @cfranklinnews or on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips.

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We shouldnt have to pay for Trumps Wildwood visit so were keeping tabs, mayor says - NJ.com

UK prepares to ignore Trump’s threats and call his ‘bluff’ on Huawei – Business Insider

The UK government is preparing to defy Donald Trump and strike a deal with Chinese telecoms company Huawei, despite the president's repeated threats to cut off security ties with the country.

Trump has warned the UK that the intelligence-sharing arrangement between the two allies will be at risk if the deal for a role in Britain's 5G network goes ahead, with US officials warningthat "Donald Trump is watching closely."

However, Johnson is preparing to allow the Huawei deal to go ahead despite the threats, amid a widespread belief in Europe that Trump's warnings are a "bluff".

EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan on Thursday told an event in London that the President's threat was simply not credible.

"I don't think that will happen at the end of the day," he said.

"You can call their bluff on that one."

Johnson is now preparing to agree to allow Huawei a "limited" role in the UK's 5G network, with one UK official telling the Daily Mail that the UK security services simply do not believe Trump's blanket ban on Huawei is justified.

"The security world does not endorse the need for a blanket ban on Huawei. They are not naive they are well aware of the risks but they believe they can be contained," the official said.

Another source told the paper: "From a security point of view the risk is manageable."

Johnson repeatedly promised to upgrade Britain's sluggish communications network during his recent victorious election campaign and has publicly backed the possibility of a role for Huawei.

Asked on Tuesday whether he would allow the Huawei deal to go ahead, Johnson told the BBC that "the British public deserves access to the best possible technology."

He added: "If people oppose one brand or another they have to tell us what's the alternative?"

Donald Trump and Boris Johnson Getty

The development came as Johnson's administration responded to Trump's threats by threatening that the UK would cut UK support for future US-led wars.

The UK Defence Secretary told the Sunday Times that Trump's isolationist foreign policy stance meant that the UK would increasingly look to other international allies instead.

"Over the last year we've had the US pullout from Syria, the statement by Donald Trump on Iraq where he said NATO should take over and do more in the Middle East," Wallace said.

"The assumptions of 2010 that we were always going to be part of a US coalition is really just not where we are going to be."

Johnson's administration has repeatedly criticised Trump's aggressive stance towards Iran, with Johnson warning last week that the president's threats to target Iranian cultural sites could be a war crime.

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UK prepares to ignore Trump's threats and call his 'bluff' on Huawei - Business Insider

The pain of losing civil rights icons in the Trump era – CNN

Indeed, there's something uniquely heavy, and even cruel, about the persistent theme of loss -- about having to reckon with its inevitability -- in today's political climate of at times presidentially abetted bigotry.

That's partly because of the sheer scale of our civil rights forebears' work.

Lewis' civil rights background is epochal: one of the few remaining members of King's inner circle, the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s, a key organizer of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches (during one such march, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, a state trooper beat Lewis and fractured his skull).

The Lewis diagnosis followed the death of Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who passed in October of last year at the age of 68.

The son of sharecroppers, Cummings was first elected to political office in 1983, as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates. He then won a congressional seat in a 1996 special election; he served in that role until his death.

In other words, the twin stings of Lewis' grim cancer diagnosis and Cummings' death feel in direct proportion to the figures' remarkable histories of confronting the world and its many betrayals, of defining the political fights of their eras. We're losing legends -- rapidly so.

But the context of loss matters, too.

The country is considering the possibility of four more years of Donald Trump: a President who broadly contorts and distorts black experiences, who has specifically taken aim at the reputations of civil rights giants.

If only the President's racist invective were the end of it. But his rhetoric has been reflected in his administration's policies.

Losing civil rights icons in the Trump era, then, can be thought of as a matter of physics: action and reaction, equal and opposite. One minute they're here -- defying a world that'd prefer that black Americans simply move on, not forward -- and the next they're gone. Meanwhile, Trump remains, seemingly looking to cancel out their work.

Go here to read the rest:

The pain of losing civil rights icons in the Trump era - CNN

The final test of Trump’s domination of the GOP will have nothing to do with his reelection – Business Insider

Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump's belligerent former campaign manager, recently decided against a US Senate run. That's good news for the civil-minded among us who respect a free press.

Lewandowski was famous for his rhetorical and sometimes literal pugilism, if you watched his chaotic congressional testimony or saw his altercations with a reporter and protesters. His campaign would've been Trump 2.0 but on a smaller scale.

Beyond Lewandowski, there are others in Trump's orbit contemplating higher office, including the president's son Donald Trump Jr., Trump loyalist and cable-TV staple Rep. Matt Gaetz, and even George Papadopoulos the Trump campaign aide who, as part of the Mueller investigation, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

As these Trump-adjacent figures start running, it'll be a test for the future of Republican politics and our country.

Trump rose to power with an unconventional, in-your-face style that works for him but not the country. For most of the 2016 primary campaign, he was ignored, considered a crude celebrity but not a president. As he started to gain traction, Republicans like Mitt Romney, an array of national-security officials, and retired military brass began to challenge his qualifications for office.

But they were too late. Trump had the momentum, and the Republicans ushered in the era of divide at will, lie with abandon, and point the finger at people who don't look like you.

And as the Trump presidency has progressed, the GOP has increasingly taken on the image of the president. Republican voters have stayed fiercely loyal to Trump, leading politicians in the party to mirror his style. Fueled by this positive reinforcement, the most Trump-like figures are now looking to work their way up the ranks of the party.

The resemblance between the man in the Oval and his disciples is striking. Don Jr. has been a true a chip off the old block with his Twitter fights, questionable testimony, and clashes with media. And "attack dog" Matt Gaetz's bullying,hypocrisy, and "alternative facts" often land him in hot water. Sound familiar?

So for everyone saying that a Democratic president will bring us a return to normality, the alternative narrative is this: The current game is just the first inning of increasingly incendiary leadership in America. We're already beginning to see evidence of this. Despite the turmoil engulfing his administration, Trump faces no credible primary challengers. As state GOP parties scrap their primaries and caucuses, Trump's takeover of the party has never been more apparent.

Twenty years from now, Trump will seem run of the mill, as the divide that began during the Clinton years seems now.

The vocal GOP opposition candidate Trump faced has long subsided in the era of President Trump. While Republicans continue to grumble about Trump in private, they're afraid to stand up to him publicly, even on the smallest matters. If Republicans can stop Trump's disciples from winning office, they'll have a chance to rediscover and recommit to their principles.

For the non-Trumpist Republicans, there's still room to survive and thrive. But their opportunity and maneuverability are limited with Trump at the helm. Their best bet will be when they drop Trump and his minions and rally around a normal standard bearer.

Republicans will need to make a choice about whether to stick with the Trump brand or reject it. Just as with impeachment, they'll have an opportunity to put country first. If they don't, eventually it will catch up to them. But the damage to the country will be beyond repair.

See original here:

The final test of Trump's domination of the GOP will have nothing to do with his reelection - Business Insider

Parnas’ attorney posted this video after Trump said he didn’t know him – CNN

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Parnas' attorney posted this video after Trump said he didn't know him - CNN

David Wurmser, Key Iraq War Architect, Advising Trump on Iran – The Intercept

David Wurmser was a longtime advocate of war with Iraq in the Bush administration. Eventually, he got what he wanted, and it was a total disaster. Now, Wurmser again has the ear of a president this time, Donald Trump and his sights are set firmly on Iran.

An influential neoconservative in President George W. Bushs White House who became a significant force behind the push for war with Iraq in 2003, Wurmser has recently been serving as an informal adviser to the Trump administration, according to new reporting from Bloomberg News. In that capacity, Wurmser helped make the case for the recent drone strike that assassinated Iranian Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

David Wurmser again has the ear of a president this time, Donald Trump and his sights are set firmly on Iran.

Wurmser wrote several memos to then-national security adviser John Bolton in May and June of 2019. In the documents, according to Bloomberg, Wurmser argued that aggressive action by the U.S. such as the killing of Suleimani would, in Wurmsers words, rattle the delicate internal balance offorces and the control over them upon which the [Iranian] regime depends for stability and survival.

The significance of this is two-fold. First, while it was already clear that the neoconservative movement has powerfully influenced the Trump administration, Wurmsers role on Iran is further evidence of the sway that neoconservatism still holds on the U.S. right despite the catastrophic invasion of Iraq and Trumps disavowal of the war. Second, it demonstrates that neoconservatives such as Wurmser still cherish a peculiar theory about Iranian society.

After Bushs reelection in 2005, the hard-right faction of his administration turned its attention to Iran. These officials had always wanted regime change in the Islamic Republic, but now some of them believed that a full-scale invasion would not be necessary to bring this about. A 2005 article in the New Yorker by Seymour Hersh quoted a government consultant who described the perspective of these officials as being that a bombing campaign against Irans nuclear facilities would spur a revolution led by secular nationalists and reformers. The consultant summarized their view: The minute the aura of invincibility which the mullahs enjoy is shattered, and with it the ability to hoodwink the West, the Iranian regime will collapse.

Wurmsers outlook seems not to have changed one bit. In his memos to Bolton, he wrote that the U.S. will not need boots on the ground because Iranians would both beimpressed andpotentially encouraged by a targeted attack on symbols of repression.

This theory, so popular among neoconservatives, has always been bizarre: Nations generally become more right-wing when under attack. For instance, after the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, Americans did not demand that Bush be impeached and Dennis Kucinich move into the Oval Office.

We should definitely consider the possibility that the neocons dont know what theyre talking about. And yet, here we are, with those self-same neocons again helping shape our foreign policy in delusional and dangerous ways.

The continued self-confidence of neoconservatives like Wurmser is particularly odd given how all their beliefs were proven disastrously wrong in Iraq.

Wurmser holds a Ph.D. in international affairs and worked for the AIPAC-spinoff Washington Institute for Near East Policy in the mid-1990s. In 1996, he was one of the main thinkers behind a policy document titled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm that was prepared by an Israeli think tank for then-incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus government in 1996. The paper called for Israel to engage in preemptive attacks on its perceived foes and a focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.

In 1999, Wurmser wrote a book titled Tyrannys Ally: Americas Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein, which was pretty much what it sounds like. Chemical, biological, and even nuclear weapons are the pillars of Saddams regime, Wurmser said, adding that the menace from Saddams Iraq will continue to grow if the U.S. did not remove him from power.

After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the purported wishes of the neoconservatives collided with reality, and reality won.

After the September 11 attacks, Wurmser was appointed to a two-man intelligence unit by then-Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith. (Feith is perhaps best known for being referred to as the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth by Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the invasion of Iraq.) Among Wurmsers ideas was for the U.S. to respond to Al Qaeda by, as the 9/11 Commission later put it, hitting a non-Al Qaeda target like Iraq.

Wurmser then became a senior adviser to Bolton, who at that point was an undersecretary at the State Department and one of the most vociferous champions of a regime change war with Iraq.

Eventually, Wurmser and company got what they wanted, and the U.S. led an invasion of Iraq in March 2003. At that point, the purported wishes of the neoconservatives collided with reality, and reality won. Hundreds of thousands of people died, the lives of millions have been blighted, and the entire region will be in flames for the indefinite future.

In a 2007 interview, however, Wurmser continued to defend the decision to go to war, though he did question the Bush administrations rhetorical emphasis on democracy in Iraq. Im not a big fan of democracy per se, he said, Im a fan of freedom and one has to remember the difference. Freedom must precede democracy by a long, long time. In the same interview, he stated that if the U.S. failed to trigger a fundamental change in behavior by Irans leaders that America might have to think seriously about going directly into Iran.

In any case, nothing in the past 17 years seems to have made much of an impression on Wurmser; he still maintains a belief in his own skill at precisely calibrated global strategy. Nor has this past calamitous decade and a half prevented him from having the ear of the people who operate Americas killer drones. Notably, the article about Wurmsers current accomplishments, by neoconservative Bloomberg journalist Eli Lake, does not mention any of Wurmsers unfortunate history.

Wurmser did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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David Wurmser, Key Iraq War Architect, Advising Trump on Iran - The Intercept

Donald Trump takes the off-ramp in Iran confrontation (for now) – CNN

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Originally posted here:

Donald Trump takes the off-ramp in Iran confrontation (for now) - CNN

Trump, in a raucous rally, takes on Democrats and touts Soleimani killing – POLITICO

Trump mocked Pelosi by saying shes not operating with a full deck, and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as you little pencil neck" and then added He buys the smallest shirt collar you can get, and its loose!" He returned to his 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, again dubbing her crooked Hillary and prompting the familiar Lock her up! chant from the crowd.

The president boasted of killing Irans top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, as well the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who died in a U.S. raid in northwestern Syria in October.

He was a bad guy, Trump said of Soleimani. He was a bloodthirsty terrorist, and hes no longer a terrorist. Hes dead, and yet now I see ... the radical-left Democrats have expressed outrage over the termination of this horrible terrorist. And you know, instead they should be outraged by Soleimanis savage crimes and the fact that his countless victims were denied justice for so long.

As he was talking, a man in the crowd yelled, Kill them all!

The president said: We stopped him quickly, and we stopped him cold.

Late last week, Trump ordered the killing of Soleimani in a drone strike in Iraq, prompting Iran to retaliate with a missile strike against Iraqi air bases housing U.S. troops. By Wednesday, the president sought to de-escalate the crisis in a White House address announcing sanctions rather than military retaliation.

So we seek friends, not enemies, Trump told the crowd in the 8,000-seat Huntington Center on Thursday. But if you dare to threaten our citizens, you do so at your own grave peril.

Democrats blame Trump for engaging in a confrontation with Iran as a way to distract from his impeachment. The House voted largely along party lines earlier Thursday evening to restrict the presidents authority for military action against Iran after intelligence briefings failed to satisfy several lawmakers on the justification for Soleimanis killing.

The violence between the U.S. and Iran came as the Senate is preparing to hold the impeachment trial, though the timing remains uncertain. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to move forward on a set of trial rules without Democratic support.

The House approved the two articles of impeachment in a mostly party-line vote on Dec. 18 charging Trump with abuse of power for soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election and obstruction of Congress for blocking the Houses efforts to investigate him making Trump the first president to face an impeachment trial while seeking reelection.

On Thursday night, the president lashed out at some of his 2020 Democratic rivals Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., for having a name that Trump says no one can pronounce, dubbing him Alfred E. Neuman and Howdy Doody; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren for inflating her Native American heritage, once again mocking her as Pocahontas.

But he saved the most criticism for Biden, the Democratic frontrunner, who he said didnt know the difference between Iran and Iraq because he mixed up the two countries when speaking this week. Hes gotten it wrong four times, Trump said.

Its, like, my job to try and watch whats the competition, but its like watching death, he said. Those debates are boring and boring. You got to sit through those things for two or three hours. You got to really be committed to the country to do that. I mean, you have some real beauties.

House Democrats officially launched an impeachment inquiry after learning that Trump had asked President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden and Bidens son Hunter.

Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have accused Biden, while he was serving as vice president, of helping secure lucrative deals for his son, who at one time served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma Holdings. Trump and Giuliani have defended their efforts, saying it was part of a broader effort to eradicate corruption in the former Soviet republic.

Then Trump laid into Hunter Biden, whom he accused of trading off his fathers name in Ukraine and China.

As soon as sleepy Joe became vice president, right, he made millions of dollars a year, Trump said. Ukraine took care of him. How about China? He walked out with 1.5 billion to manage and he never did it before, he didnt know anything about oil and gas, he was making a fortune.

Trump said he hoped Democrats would give Biden the nomination so the pressure would stay on his son.

So, wheres Hunter? Where the hell are you, Hunter? he said. But Ill tell you, I sort of hope its Joe, because he will hear Wheres Hunter? every single debate, nine times a debate.

President Donald Trump at the Toledo rally. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Trumps 90-minute speech veered from one issue to another from the booming economy to the increase of funding in the military, from the corrupt media to the Nobel Peace Prize, from the opioid epidemic to the wall on the southern border. He even boasted of completing what he said he would do and more. Ive completed more promises than Ive made, he said.

The president praised the first phase of a trade deal he made with China that will be signed next week at the White House.

Well sign that terrific and fully enforceable Phase One trade deal with China, he said. And again, were keeping the tariffs on because well use that for another one. We are taking billions you remember what I said: Were not paying for it, because China devalued their currency and they put a lot of money into the pot. Were not paying for it. And now theyre starting to say, I guess he was right.

Thousands of supporters at the Huntington Center, many wearing Make America Great Again hats and waving Trump-Pence signs, cheered. He was interrupted once by protesters in the arena, one who was holding a sign that said bone spurs alluding to the medical reason Trump has given for avoiding military service in Vietnam.

The arena, decorated in the typical way for a rally, was full. A large U.S. flag was erected on one side. Keep America Great! showed on blue digital monitors.

Hundreds of people protested outside, and hundreds more supporters stood in an overflow area with a large video screen showing the rally.

Trump is looking to repeat his 2016 victory in Ohio, a state that has voted for every presidential election victor but one since 1944 and is vital to Trumps hopes in November.

Ohio has trended Republican in more recent elections. Trump beat Clinton here in 2016 by 8 percentage points, though he lost Toledo the site of Thursdays rally and the surrounding county of Lucas.

The Trump campaign credits the president with helping bring 94,700 new jobs, including 14,700 manufacturing jobs, back to the state.

This is where they want to be, the president said on Thursday night. They want to be in the United States. Thats where the action is. Theyre all coming back. I used to go around and talk about how everyones leaving. Now theyre all coming back. New ones, old ones, theyre all coming back and many are coming right here to Ohio. And just in case you didnt know it, Ohio just had the best year economically in the history of your state.

But earlier this week, Toledo-area Democrats accused the Trump administration of implementing policies that have hurt the region failing to send money to the area for economic development and environmental restoration efforts.

Trump is expected to increase the number of rallies he headlines now that Democratic voters are beginning the process of choosing a nominee to face him in November. He has two others scheduled for this month in Wisconsin on the 14th and in New Jersey on the 28th.

The Democrats nominating process kicks off with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, quickly followed by contests in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, all leading to Super Tuesday on March 3, when a slate of states will vote.

Polls show Trumps approval rating hovering around 45 percent and in close competition with the leading Democratic candidates in the swing states that will likely determine the winner this year.

Matthew Choi contributed to this report.

Read more here:

Trump, in a raucous rally, takes on Democrats and touts Soleimani killing - POLITICO

Trump’s Art of the Steal – POLITICO

Was it a birth certificate? You tell me, he told ABC News in 2013. Some people say that was not his birth certificate.

That same year, Nunberg arranged for Trump to make his Levin show debut, preparing a memo to familiarize Mr. Trump with Mark Levin, he wrotedeploying tried-and-true ways to pique Trumps interest. Nunberg emphasized Levins ratings history (In the first 18 months on the air, the program jumped to #1 in the time slot), the company he kept (considers Sean Hannity his best friend), his reach (books Liberty and Tyranny and Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America sold more than a million copies, Nunberg noted), and his compensation (a reported annual salary of $12.5 million a year). Nunberg mentioned, too, that what he said on the air often was disseminated on a variety of websites like TheRightScoop.com. People, in other words, some people, many people, a lot of people, were listening to what Levin was saying.

Armed with this advance work, the memo as well as the emails, Trump fit in well with Levin. In addition to shilling for the upcoming season of The Celebrity ApprenticeTrace Adkins, La Toya Jackson, Dennis RodmanTrump delivered to Levins listeners what they wantedwhich essentially was Levins ideas, studiously collected by Nunberg, consumed by Trump and regurgitated back to the host.

If the Republicans are going to win, Trump said, theyre going to have to break away from the Karl Roves of the world and, frankly, get more involvedyou know, the Tea Party, these people are great. Ive done some speeches in front of the Tea Party. They are great Americans, they love this country, they work so hard, and they have been so mistreated by the liberal media. They truly are not treated with proper respect.

And he landed especially hard on immigration and any notions of amnesty for undocumented immigrants.

I watched last night, he continued, referring to Obamas State of the Union that year, as Senator McCain and everybody were jumping up and down, you know, applaudingI never saw him move so fast, you know, nice guy, but he jumped upand was applauding as soon as the immigration became a part of the discussion, a part of the speech.

Immigration, Trump said, will be the next thing, based on what Im watching.

Trump and Levin wrapped up by exchanging compliments.

Im extremely impressed with what youre doing, Levin said.

You just have a great show, Trump said. Im always listening.

Donald Trump, Levin told his listeners after Trump signed off. See that, folks? Very solid. Very conservative. To the right of the Republican establishment. Strong supporter of the Tea Party. Im telling you. Ive been watching this. Ive been listening. People have been sending me his tweets.

There was a reason for that. Hes putting stuff out there, Nunberg told me of Trumps tweets at the time, some of which Nunberg was suggesting, that sounds like Mark Levin.

In the few months before his interview with Levin:

And in the few months after:

This ear-to-the-proverbial-ground political ramp-up wasnt limited to Levin and talk radio. It was around this time as well that Trump began to give more and more talks on the pre-presidential hustings, GOP chicken dinners in places like Iowa and New Hampshire.

He talked to Pat Caddell about what he was picking up on the trail. He would put forth his position or his feelings, and he would judge the level of the response to it, and that helped him organize, I suppose to whatever degree it was organized, his views about issues, Caddell told me in 2018. Things he said that didnt go over disappeared. Things that did stayed.

Twitter, too, increasingly served a similar purpose.

He glommed onto it like it was an oxygen source, Caddell explained. And he would tweet what he believed, and people would retweet or answer or whatever, and it was kind of his ongoing focus group.

He loved it, Nunberg said. He doesnt trust the political people who do the focus groups. Instead: What are we getting the most retweets on?

In 2014 and 15well before Trump came down the escalator and announced his intention to runNunberg sent Trump nearly daily updates of snippets of news and possible topics and wordings for tweets. At the tops of the documents he showed the number of Trumps Twitter followers ticking up (a snapshot from December of 2014: 2,751,488 2,753,548 2,757,190 ) and the number of days left until the GOP primary debate at the Reagan library and the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries ticking down.

A month into the presidential campaign, after the Vietnam-avoiding Trump insulted McCain by saying he was not a war hero and that he liked people who werent captured, he refused to apologize. That, Nunberg said, partly was because of what he had internalized by listening to Levin. Nunberg told Trump it was going to help him. (It certainly didnt hurt him.) He said, Why? Nunberg said. And I said, Because our people despise John McCain. They despise the fact that McCain hides behind his military record to shit on Republicans and you cant criticize him on anything because of his military record. I said, John McCainhe is hated almost as much as Barack Obama on talk radio. I said, He might as well be Barack Obama on talk radio.

Talk radio led the way. Trump followed.

Theoretically, Trump could have changed. As successful as this pattern of behavior had been in the years preceding his run and during the campaign itselfhe was, after all, elected presidentTrump could have adjusted once he took office, having at his disposal, suddenly and quite unexpectedly, the worlds preeminent intelligence-gathering apparatus. But nosticking to that gossip kind of mentality, said ODonnell, the casino exec, Trump has continued to mine Twitter, plucking what he wants, very comfortable with half thoughts, always looking for tidbits of information that he can use to his advantage.

He sees the ones that are the most popular, former Fox News anchor Eric Bolling, identified by Time as someone who speaks regularly to Trump, told the magazine in June of 2018, and getting the most [of the] zeitgeist, most attention on social media.

And then? The last and most important piece of this by now almost rote process?

He repeats it, Bolling said.

Read more:

Trump's Art of the Steal - POLITICO

Chaos and surprises emerge as twin crises threaten Trump – CNN

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Chaos and surprises emerge as twin crises threaten Trump - CNN

A second term for Donald Trump? Michigan is at the center of the political universe – Detroit Free Press

WASHINGTON Tired of politics? Of politicians? Think elections dont matter?

Think again.

This years elections will be some of the most consequential in decades and Michigan is set up to be one of the most consequential states on the electoral map.

Consider:

Not only is it a foregone conclusion that Michigan will help decide whether President Donald Trump remains in office or not, its U.S. Senate race is expected to be one of the most contested in the nation and could help determine control of that chamber. There are also races in suburban Detroit congressional districts that could signal which party holds the majority in the U.S. House next year.

Not impressed?

Those elections will help shape decisions over access to health care, climate change, tax policy, the economy, immigration and U.S. relations with foreign powers, including Iran and North Korea. The people elected will manage or exacerbate a growing federal deficit. They will confirm Supreme Court justices who will decide questions about abortion, gun ownership, freedom of speech and expression. They will decide whether supermajorities will continue to be needed to pass legislation in the Senate. They will make policies affecting poor families, college students, automakers and business owners.

They could decide how to react to an economic slowdown if, as some experts believe, one is on the way. And they could be asked to respond to a foreign war or a nuclear threat to the U.S. or its allies.

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I would consider it the most consequential election of my lifetime and Ive been watching politics since I was 13 years old, said Dee McBroom, a veteran Democratic campaign consultant.

Much of that is because ofTrump, who engenders fierce loyalty in those who see him as an antidote to trite traditions and political correctness, projecting American strength and decisiveness, and an equally fierce distaste in those who view him as a bully and a crackpot, spewing hate on Twitter and unfit for office.

But its not just about Trump, either.

Donald Trump takes shot at Debbie, John Dingell in Battle Creek rally

Donald Trump made a comment about Debbie Dingell and her late husband, John Dingell, during his "Merry Christmas" rally in Battle Creek.

Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press

The elections will be a referendum on how divided the nation remains in what its people believe, what they want from their politics and politicians, and how they bothpoliticians and the people themselves comport themselves. It will help decide whether the nation believes a loss of civility in political discourse has been worth the upending of a status quo that, for many, wasn't working.

Is the Republican Party the party of Trump or is it the party of Romney or Bush? Is the Democratic Party the party of AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) and Bernie Sanders or is it more Obama, Biden and Buttigieg? said Andrea Bitely, a consultant with Truscott Rossman, a communications firm in Lansing, who worked as spokeswoman for former state Attorney General Bill Schuette. Thats what this election is about:Who are we?

So, theres a lot riding on this years elections and Michigan will be at the center of it along with Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and a handful of other states. Heres a look at whats comingbetween now and Election Day, Nov. 3.

Unless youre really trying to avoid politics, you already know that President Trump, despite being impeached by the House in December, is running for reelection and has the Republican nomination in the bag. Even with recent dropouts, the Democrats have a cast of more than a dozen running to be their partys nominee.

Michigans presidential primary is Tuesday, March 10, and its at a potentially auspicious spot on the election calendar.

As the national polls stand now, the race for the Democratic nomination is really among a handful of candidates former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Those same four also hold the polling lead, though not necessarily in that order, in the first four states to vote: Iowa, on Feb. 3; New Hampshire, on Feb. 11; Nevada, on Feb. 22,and South Carolina, on Feb. 29.

Show caption Hide caption Democratic Presidential candidates line up waving to the crowd before the start of the debate at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on Tuesday, July...Democratic Presidential candidates line up waving to the crowd before the start of the debate at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on Tuesday, July 30, 2019. (L to R) Marianne Williamson, Tim Ryan, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, John Hickenlooper, John Delaney and Montana Governor, Steve Bullock.Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press

The outcome in those races will further narrow the field, though two billionaires former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who sits just behind the leaders in national polling,and entrepreneur Tom Steyer have enough cash of their own to stay in as long as they want. Then, on Tuesday, March 3, the race for the nomination will explode with 14 states including California, Texas and some other sizable states among themvoting, awarding about 40% of the total number of delegates available to the candidates.

If one candidate has taken over the race by then, it could be all but over. But if Super Tuesday leaves anunsettled nomination, the next weeks primary calendar includes six states, the biggest prize of which is Michigan.

It is impossibleto guess who will be in the lead at that point the early polling hasnt been conclusive and if some candidate takes a clear lead in the early voting, it could help swing support to him or her later.But if there is still a race, Michigan could matter and in unexpected ways.

Remember, in 2016, it was Sanders, not the favorite, Hillary Clinton, who won Michigans primary despite polls showing her ahead by double digits the weekend before the voting. Clinton ended up winning the nomination but her loss in Michigan's primary may have presaged her close loss to Trump in the state that November.

It's also worth mentioning: Any Michigan resident who is 17 1/2 or older (and will be 18 or older by Election Day) can registerto vote in person at their city or township clerk's office up to 8 p.m. the day of the election. If he or she wants to register by some other method, such as online or by mail, the deadline is 15 days before the election. There is no party declaration in Michigan, so in the March 10 primary, you can ask for whichever partys ballot you want to vote in the primary, regardless of whether you consider yourself a Democrat, a Republican or an independent. And under state law, you can now ask for an absentee ballot without giving any reason and submit your vote early, if you like.

As with any primary, however, an early vote makes it possible you'll be voting for someone no longer in the race by Election Day. If that happens and the candidate gets more than 15% of the vote, his or her delegates will be divided proportionallyamong the remaining candidates.

Even if the Democrats settle on a nominee early,Michiganders should reconcile themselves to being at the center of what is going to be a long, fractious and, at times, hard-to-stomach campaign.

Trump won Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania three states that together hadnt gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984 by about 77,000 votes combined in 2016, giving him an Electoral College edge but by the slimmest of voting margins. Itwill be difficult, if not impossible, for him to win in 2020 without doing well once again in the Rust Belt.

And while there has been little recent polling, the Real Clear Politics average of polls as of October showed Trump trailing Biden, Sanders and Warren in the state(there haven't been enough head-to-head polls between Trump and Buttigieg to say).

That could also explain why Trump reversed earlier threats to slash funding to clean up the Great Lakes and promised to green-light a new navigational lock at Sault Ste. Marie, as well as why he was in Toledo this week for a rally and will be back in Wisconsinnext week as he tries to boost his standing in the industrial Midwest.

But, as always with the president, expect him not only to come bearing praise for himself but attacks on his enemies,such as U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, who called for his impeachment the day she was sworn into office, and U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, I-Cascade Township, a former Republican who has repeatedly called Trump unfit.

Once the Democratic nomineeis determined, he or she will be barnstorming Michiganas well, given that Clintons campaign was widely criticized for taking the state for granted in 2016. But even before then, the shadow campaign iswell underway, with groups targeting voters and spending on outreach. Priorities USA, a pro-Democratic group, early last year announced a $100 million effort in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida; America First Action, a group supporting Trump, said last May it was spending $250 million in Michigan,Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Georgia.

Expect groups tofloodthe state with ads and social media posts, the major parties attacking each other and claims, true and false, flying through the airways.

The Republicans and the Trump campaign snuck up on the Democrats in the 2016 campaign by whatever means. But the Democrats will be more prepared in 2020, said Mike Traugott, with the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan.

In other words, buckle up. Its going to be a bumpy ride.

One thing about Trumps 16 win in Michigan:It came in a year when no U.S. Senate seat was up for grabs, meaning that while Clintons campaign was doing little in the state, there was no other statewide race going on for Democrats and their allies (such as labor unions) to pump up voter turnout.

That wont be the case this year.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, who was the only Democrat to win an open Senate seat in 2014, is up for reelection, and, as it stands now, will likely face off against John James, an African American businessman who lost in the 2018 election as the Republican nominee against Peters Democratic colleague, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters talks with media during visitation of former US Representative John D. Dingell at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn on Monday, February 11, 2019.Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press

There is much that makes it a compelling race. Peters is often ranked as one of the least known members of the Senate while James has made a name for himself appearing on Fox News as a pundit and proved himself an able fundraiser, raising $3.5 million to Peters' $2.5 million in the last three months of 2019 (though it's expected Peters has a good deal more cash on hand; the full finance reports won't out until the end of January.)

But James has also embraced Trump and after a long silence finally came out against impeachment and could be inextricably linked with the president and his fortunes, whatever they are in Michigan.

Peters, meanwhile, has long touted his bipartisan bona fides, calling for cuts in government waste and urging help for small businesses while at the same timeremaining a reliable Democratic vote. Heleaves little to chance when it comes to elections, however, winning his last four three to the U.S. House and one to the Senateeven in Republican wave years.

Show caption Hide caption Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., left,and challenger John James shake hands after their debate at the Detroit Economic Club, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, in Detroit. Stabenow...Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., left,and challenger John James shake hands after their debate at the Detroit Economic Club, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, in Detroit. Stabenow is seeking a fourth term and has led comfortably in polls, and James, a business executive and combat veteran, participated in their second debate before the November election.Carlos Osorio, AP

Still, for Republicans looking to keep control of the Senate, Peters seat is seen as a possible opportunity with James in the field. Some polls have shown James within striking distance of Peters, though the Real Clear Politics average of polls shows the incumbent ahead by about 8 percentage points.

As far as the impact of this race, meanwhile, its potentially huge: Republicans have a three-seat margin in the Senate and are defending 23 seats to the Democrats 12. Whichever party holds majority control, it will determine lifetime confirmations to the Supreme Court with two conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, already being confirmed during Trumps first term.

There alsoremain questions about whether either party could move to get rid of the filibuster that requires 60-vote margins on some of the most consequential pieces of legislation. If that happens, it means the party in control will have a much easier time enacting policy though that, in turn, could also make for an even-more volatile political situation.

In the House, Democrats hold a 36-seat majority after taking control of the chamber last year. The 2018 election saw the party flip 43 seats (and lose three of its own) nationally, including two districts in Michigan, both representing parts of Detroits western suburbs.

And while two may not sound like a lot, those seats could be a bellwether for Democrats in the House nationally.

The question will be whether U.S. Reps. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, and Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, can hold on to them. Both districts have historically been Republican strongholds; both were drawn to protect Republican incumbents after the 2010 Census.

The Democratic women who won in each did so by talking about the need to protect health care, support businesses, invest in the state not by attacking Trump. But now they face Republican attacks carping on their support for impeaching Trump after he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden, without any evidence that Biden had had done anything wrong. Its against federal law to solicit foreign aid in a U.S. election.

Slotkin, a former intelligence official and acting assistant defense secretary, has also been thrust into the limelight over Trumpordering a drone strike that killed an Iranian general and Iran's retaliatory strikes against U.S. personnel in Iraq, cautioning that escalation could lead to war. After speaking from experience over multiple tours of duty, Slotkin wasalso given the responsibility for managinga resolution calling for limits on the president's authority in taking military action in the Middle East.

Trump is almost assured of being acquitted by the Republican majority in the Senate, but the House impeachment could still be an issue for Slotkin and Stevens re-elections.

Helping them, however, are several factors. First, both are in districts where Trump struggled relative to other Republican presidential candidates and that have been trending more Democratic. Second, no big-name, top-tier candidates with independent wealth or overwhelming Republican connections have stepped forward to face them possibly because a whole new set of congressional district lines will be drawn after this years Census, leaving anyone who runs now looking at a whole new district by 2022.

Third, both Slotkin and Stevens can raise plenty of money: As of the end of the last official reporting period on Sept. 30, Stevens, who worked on President Barack Obamas auto task force, had raised close to $2 million total. Slotkin had raised close to the same and said that as of the end of the year, she had raised another $1.28 million. (Official tallies for the third quarter arent due until Jan. 15.)

Much will ultimately depend on who wins the nominations to face them.

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin speaks to a crowd while holding a constituent community conversation on Monday, December 16, 2019 at the Oakland Center at Oakland University in Rochester.Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press

In Slotkins district, which includes northern Oakland County and Ingham and Livingston counties, the announced GOP candidates so far include state Board of Education member Nikki Snyder, who lives just outside the district boundaries in Dexter (a congressional candidate can legally live outside the district he or she is running for as long as he or she lives in Michigan); Paul Junge, a former Lansing TV anchor who also worked for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Washington, D.C.; Kristina Lyke, a criminal defense and divorce lawyer in Lansing; Alan Hoover, whose website says he is an entrepreneur in Ortonville, and Mike Detmer of Howell, who works for an automotive supplier.

Running for the Republican nomination in Stevens district, which includes parts of Oakland and western Wayne counties, at present are former U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Milford; Whittney Williams of Canton, who is an official with a local Republican group and first-generation immigrant from Taiwan;Frank Acosta, a Northville entrepreneur,and Birmingham lawyer Erick Esshaki.

More candidates could enter the races, however, with the filing deadline for the Aug. 4 primary which is for any offices other than president on April 21.

Outside of the state, Michigans two best-known members of Congress could well be Amash and Tlaib, given their loud, pointed criticisms of Trump and the presidents documented history of hitting back via Twitter.

Of the two of them, though, Amash faces the tougher road ahead.

As it stands now, no one with deep pockets, widespread support or high name recognition has stepped forward to challenge Tlaib in the Democratic primary, which will all but determine who wins in this predominantly Democratic district.

Its a much different case for Amash, a former Republican who last year broke with his party over the question of impeachment, believing, after a close reading of special counsel Robert Muellers report, that Trump obstructed justice. He later abandoned the party calling both parties toxic and became the Houses sole independent member.

As of now, Amash, of Cascade Township in west Michigan, is presumably running for reelection and not something else (such as a third-party bid for president). But hes something of a long shot despite being the incumbent.

Republicans have put forward a strong slate of candidates for their partys bid in a district that still favors the GOP, including Joel Langlois, who owns the DeltaPlex Arena in Grand Rapids; Peter Meijer, whose last name is synonymous with the grocery store chain started by his family; state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids, and former Sand Lake Village President Tom Norton.

Some Democrats, meanwhile, believing they could finally flip this district, have entered the race as well, including lawyer Nick Colvin, who worked in the Obama White House and for the city of Chicago, and Hillary Scholten, who worked in the Justice Department while Obama was president and with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. And then there is Amash, who has represented the district since 2011.

The Cook Political Report, a political handicapping site in Washington, lists the race as Lean Republican, which suggests an advantage for the GOP but, especially with Amash in the race, not a necessarily insurmountable one inthree-way balloting.

As for other congressional seats in Michigan this year, the only one that looks like a possible race is in southwestern Michigan, where U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, has been in office since 1987.

The genial Upton is a well-liked politician, including by many Democrats in Congress, but this has also been a district that has trended more Democratic in some years, offering a pickup opportunity. Several Democrats are vying for the nomination but the one receiving the most attention is state Rep. Jon Hoadley of Kalamazoo, a member of the House Appropriations Committee who has pushed for getting rid of partisan redistricting and reducing the influence of money in politics.

The Cook Political Report still lists it as Likely Republican.

As for other races around the state, most are expected to stand pat the only congressman who has said he wont run for reelection is Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden, in a predominantly Republican district. With redistricting around the corner, it doesnt look at this early stage that many big name candidates will enter the races and challenge the incumbents.

Retired Brigadier Gen. Doug (Odie) Slocum, who previously commanded Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, andstate Rep. Shane Hernandez. R-Port Huron, areamong a group of candidates who have filed for Mitchell's seat. Former state Rep. Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline, will try for a third time to knock off U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton.

But anything can happen, especially given the volatility of the president, an uncertain economy,andthe potential for instability in the Middle East and elsewhere.

All 110 seats in the state House of Representatives will be up for grabs as well this year, with Republicans hoping to keep the majority theyve held since 2011.

But the GOP, which currently has a58-52 majority in the House, lost five seats in the 2018 election and Democrats are hoping to flip the chamber this year.

It's also worth noting that, because of term limits, 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans will be leaving regardless.

In terms offundraising, meanwhile, Republicans have a distinct cash advantage with $2.2 million available cash in the House Republican Campaign Committee account, while the House Democratic Fund is far lighter at about $517,000.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is particularly interested in helping flip the Housein order to make more progress on herDemocratic agenda. But given the way districts have been drawn across the state, she could have a tough time doing so unless there is a Democratic wave election that swamps even local races.

Control of the Michigan Supreme Court, where Republican-nominated justices currently hold a 4-3 majority, is also at stake.Two seats on the court are up for election those filled by Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, a Democratic nominee, and that of Justice Stephen Markman, a GOP nominee.

Markman cant run againbecause of the court's age limit of 70 at the time of a justice's election. That means it will be an open seat, and if Democrats win it while retaining McCormacks seat, they would have a 4-3 majority on the court.

While nothing has been certified for the November ballot yet, a number of ballot proposals are making the rounds.

A coalition of businesses, politicians and social justice leaders earlier this week proposed a ballot question that would expand the states civil rights law to protectmembers of the LGBTQ community from discrimination in housing and hiring.

The group could get the signatures it needs to get on the ballot. But it will still face opposition from some religious and conservative leaders, who have pledged to campaign against it. Former state Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, is president of the American Family Association, which promotes what it calls traditional family values, and hassaid such measures have been used "to discriminate against and violate religious freedom.

Meanwhile, Right to Life of Michigan has been gathering signatures to ban an abortion procedure known asdilation and evacuation that isused to end some pregnancies in the second trimester, but voters may never see that question on their ballots.

If the Republican-led Legislature in Lansing approves it, then it bypasses Whitmer who has threatened a veto andit will go intoeffect without the referendum being held. On the other hand, legislators could do nothing and then it would be put to voters.

Finally, Voters Not Politicians, the group that won passage of a state constitutional amendment creating an independent redistricting commission in 2018, has been looking at a possible proposal requiringfinancial disclosure for elected state officials, as well as potentiallyextending Michigans legislative term limits.

Michigan currently requires no financial disclosures by state lawmakers and consistently ranks at or near the bottom of state rankings for transparency and ethics laws. Though no specific term limits plan has been unveiled, one reform proposal would allow lawmakers to serve a combined 20 years in the House and Senate. Currently, lawmakers are limited to six years in the House and eight years in the Senate.

There has also been talk of a constitutional amendment to create a graduated income tax or an initiative or bond proposal to fix the roads, thoughneither appears to be definite.

Voters in metro Detroit arealso going to face questions on public transit and the arts.

On the March 10 presidential primary ballot, voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties will be asked to support or reject a 0.2-mill renewal ballot proposal to support the Detroit Institute of Arts for 10 years.

The ask already has raised hackles in the region because the DIA had previously said it wouldnt request a millage hike again when it first asked in 2012 and now it is making the request two years before the initial millage is set to expire.But museum officials say it's needed to handle costs and that a lot such as the city of Detroit's trip through bankruptcy has happened in the meantime.

Another issue that will probably face voters in Wayne, Oakland and Washtenaw counties in November is a ballot proposal to improve and expand public transit in southeast Michigan. Some work is needed before that can be put on the ballot, however. Changes in the state law that govern municipal partnerships have to happen before the measure can get on the ballot.

As for the parties, both are gearing up for an explosive campaign season.

Last week, at a "Fems for Dems" event in Pontiac, Whitmer whipped up the troops saying, that the word important "doesn't even go far enough to explain how critical this year is."

"The world is going to be looking to Michigan," she said.

That is one of the few things in which she may agree with state Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox.

"The 2020 elections will be fought over the values that define our nation," Cox said. "Michigan will be center stage in the fight to preserve our American way of lifeand the Michigan Republican Party is ready."

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A second term for Donald Trump? Michigan is at the center of the political universe - Detroit Free Press


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